Core activity 2.4 involves reading several papers on reflection, considering their relation to the OU's methods of assessing our development of our reflective skills in this course, and asks for a blog post reflecting on your own attitude to reflection in learning and on the usefulness or otherwise of blogging as a means of doing it.
I thought I'd write a few notes on my own attitude to reflection here, before I read the papers, to see if my feelings change after reading.
At the moment I'm not too sure what I think. Reflection feels hard - especially when it's a required task. I feels that it comes more easily when it's spontaneous... such as when I begin by thinking about a technical concept, but unintentionally diverge in asking why, and how and what this means for me. This type of organic, unstructured reflection has certinaly made me think in ways I otherwise wouldn't have, but I'm not sure it's the best way to undertake the reflection for this course - that needs structure, and I think that's one aspect of the 'professionalism' of the course title.
Having just reread the course and assignment guides, and their comments on assessing reflective writing I feel that I will have to reflect in a very specific, directed way in order to achieve in the course. This isn't, in itself, good or bad, but it may have different outcomes to if it were spontaneous.
I've certainly done more reflection on this course, its contents, and my own learning because I've been writing blog posts, so in that sense, for me,blogging has been useful. Had I not been writing the posts, I strongly suspect the reflection would not have occurred to such a degree. However, I do note that I am conscious that there is an audience for a blog post. I don't attempt to write for them (they can always choose not to read if they're not interested), but I do feel that I censor, re-work, or re-phrase my writing because I know people are reading. If my blog were private, which it could be, then the outcomes may be different - although I don't know in what way or to what degree. I may try a few bits of reflective writing not in the public blog, and consider afterwards whether I want to post them, just to see if there's a difference. However there will be a conflict as I want to post as much on the blog as possible, and if I start feeling the need to re-write some work for public viewing then I'm going to run into serious time problems. It might be that this re-working and re-phrasing is actually a further level of reflection in itself, or perhaps it's just editing, during which the piece might lose its initial honesty.
I think I'm particularly concerned about the course's requirements to relate content to your own professional practice. Given that I'm not currently in an e-learning role (and that the course requirements stated that you didn't have to be), this is going to be difficult for me. I can speculate on how I would (hopefully will) apply what I've learnt, but it's difficult without a context to relate it to. I think this adds to the anxiety about doing the 'right' sort of reflection to pass the course, which may not necessarily be the same reflection that is natural to me. However, being prompted to think outside my comfort zone will almost certainly be valuable to my development, so it's welcome in that respect.
[Thanks are due to Hazel, Isabel and Madeleine here... this post was going to be a private one, but their comments in the tutor group forum have helped me realise I am among friends, and safe to post here (ignorring all the billions of internet users who fortunately don't read this!)]