I’m gratified to see an emphasis on “deep learning” or reflective learning from faculty members; mostly because I have a tendency to work from my gut rather than theory (I’m working on that), and my gut reacts well to the idea that students need to reflect on what they’re learning. It’s nice to see that other people, who work from something more citeable than their guts, are thinking along the same lines.
I’ve never been that jazzed about the idea of an “e-portfolio”, because it seems a little basic. But I’m getting the idea now; it’s not all that different from where we’re trying to go with institutional blogging. We want blogs that stick around throughout a student’s academic life; not something that’s tied to the course, but to the student. This way, a student can go back over their own process, and as you get farther along, you could conceivably reflect on your entire academic career, tracing the growth of an idea or a concept over multiple classes and multiple years. So I guess I need to stop thinking about e-portfolios as a set item or piece of technology and more as a concept. Obviously I’m already behind the concept.
From a personal perspective, I finally went through and revisited my own archives, and found a post I wrote in 2001 about blogging in higher ed. I read this segment of the post during the presentation yesterday, because I’m surprised that I still agree with my younger self so much:
Iâ€™m getting more and more firmly convinced that blogs are tantamount to essential in humanities classes. I believe this to be true because a) it allows students to speak in a â€˜publicâ€™ forum about their readings and the lectures in a course, no matter what format the class takes, no matter how shy the student is, and no matter how many students are in the class, b) it allows the instructor/TA to read, respond to, and evaluate students critical thinking skills, understanding of the course material, and if theyâ€™re paying attention at all, c) it allows students to read and respond to each otherâ€™s opinions in a â€˜democraticâ€™ space, d) unlike reflection papers or other forms of journaling for class, the responses are not static documents that are handed from student to evaluator, but exist as individual archives of thoughts and information that are permanently available to both the student and the teacher. Blogs as Educational Tools? April 5, 2001.
La plus ca change!
In the session I’m in right now, we’re talking about reflection in learning, and the conversation is really interesting. So much interest on the process! Someone just suggested that if you want to use reflection in class, don’t use the word “reflection”. The questions she suggested asking instead are What? So What? Now what? I like this; there’s a delgate here who’s an undergraduate student from Calgary who tells us that she’s been writing reflection papers for years and only just got it this last term. Students have an idea of what “reflection” means, and they can tell you that they’re doing it while not doing what we’re looking for. This reminds me of so many of the problems we hit in librarianship; the terms get in the way of getting the job done.
This conference is very good; of course, when most of the delegates are faculty, you end up with a roomful of very critical listeners who ask very pertinent and challenging questions.