Notes on USEFUL TALKS 1 — On blogs and reflective learning

Lecture by course leader Jonathan Kearney

Date: October 16th 2017

Jonathan began his lecture with a quote (Race 2006) about how reflection is an integral part of the learning process. When we reflect upon our experiences and learnings we are able to adjust our existing frames of reference and internalise and personalise that learning.

Essentially, reflection is not limited to WHAT you have done but WHO you were when you did it. Reflection tries to encapsulate the process of CHANGE. When did change occur, how and how fast and what was the pivotal moment that caused you to change your perceptions upon reflection?

So why is reflection important?

  1. For sense making and understanding your own work, your context and your surroundings

  2. To capture changes (which can often be elusive unless you make the habit of recording them and reflecting upon them)

  3. Understand the process and direction of your practice

The process of reflection can be discomforting so in order to do it successfully we have to find the way that works for us.

An important method of reflection is the double reflection method. The double reflection method means that you first describe and record the activity (in this case, taking the notes of the lecture) and then go back to it later to reflect.

Now because this recording can be an uncomfortable process we can use various methods that make the process easier for us. For example, we can use drawing, which is a bit unconventional but it allows us to accurately reflect the messy process of thought and activity.

Why are reflective blogs so important to our artistic journey?

  1. They are a permanent record of our journey and thoughts. As artists we choose our paths intuitively but with a masters program we need to have more clarification on WHERE we are headed and WHY. A reflective journal can be the way to that clarification. It will allow us to develop our ideas in a deliberate and disciplined way.

  2. They are an extension of our memory. We can record our planning and look back to move forward instead of forgetting the ideas that popped into our heads.

  3. It is a conscious and deliberate process. A reflective blog forces us to deliberate over our own actions and process them which leads to a greater understanding of the motivations behind our implicit behaviors.

  4. It is an opportunity to stand back from a situation. It allows us to step out of our comfort zone, step away from the overwhelming feelings of inadequacy or risk taking and simply put ourselves out there in a public space.

  5. It helps us sort out what matters and what is significant. We can avoid falling into a rut or face artist’s block. Here, Jonathan gave us the examples of two blogs. One student blogger had kept a minimal number of categories and one had kept many. Both methods were okay and a single blog could fall under many categories (the advantages of a digital space). The more important thing though, were the tags. At the end of each blog we can place a bunch of tags which eventually form a giant tag cloud. The larger words in the tag cloud are the ones we frequently use. Referring back to that tag cloud allows us to see WHAT we are actually giving importance to as we note things down and reflect. Often this can change our understanding of ourselves, and help us realize the real perspective on what things we find important.

  6. It helps us monitor and review our own development. If you have nothing to note in your reflective blog you may stop and wonder, WHY? Perhaps you have not done anything that needs recording and that spurs you to action. You end up DOING so you can WRITE.

  7. Regular entries in our reflective journals make for a disciplined approach and keep us moving. It is a way to establish rhythm.

Blogging, he said, is an ongoing personal record of our actions, decisions, thoughts, successes and failures.

A masters’ program is all about self-organized learning. How then, does one go about the process of self-organized learning?

  1. Through communication with our peers and public

  2. Through a process of reflection

  3. Through collaboration with people and the material at our disposal

  4. Through the community around us

  5. Through the use of creative tools

  6. Through amplification

Essentially, through this journey of a master’s program you want to achieve literacyAs Steve Wheeler suggested, skills are simply the beginning of the learning process. Literacy is complete fluency in a particular subject, field or endeavor.

Learners on this master’s journey will need “literacies”  to use:

  1. Social networking

  2. Privacy/identity management

  3. Self presentation

  4. creating/organizing/repurposing/reusing content

  5. filtering selecting knowledge

Ultimately, the objective is transliteracy where we are able to hop between all these mediums and platforms to achieve our master’s goal.

Leave a Reply