Posted by: MandyS | October 7, 2010

Reflecting on the last week

This time last week, I felt as if I was at sea or rather in it as regards the course. Various Activities to complete and little understanding of how to do them. At one stage, I was seriously thinking about giving up. I think this was because the course really started at just the wrong time, coupled with the fact that it was very much a last minute decision to do it. The last few weeks have been hectic; marking eTMA’s, preparing a revision tutorial, doing the Tutor Moderator’s course and coping with my neck. Something needed to give and I think it was my sanity.

After the challenge of Activity 2.1, which was not all I envisaged it to be, I quite enjoyed Activity 2.3. This entailed looking at a case study and determining how an eportfolio had been applied and what the outcome of it was. Perhaps not the easiest case study, as it was spread across 3 institutions, but it related to the implementation of an eportfolio in the legal domain, namely the legal practice course. I have prepared a summary of the findings but I am not sure whether it is what is required. I have not posted it as yet as I need to go over it and perhaps tweek it. Not on the basis that anyone else has done better but that I am not entirely happy with it myself.

Activity 2.4 was slightly less daunting. I basically had to review two papers relating to reflection. This was interesting as I have no concept of reflection and have so far found it difficult to reflect on the activities, other than giving a descriptive. What have I learnt about refelction from what I have read? It is a personal thing but it has a pedagogical pupose, namely learning. The idea is that if we use our existing knowledge base to consider difficult concepts. In doing so we extend our knowledge base and thus learn from the experience. The leading authority is Kolb and his learning cycle:

You have an experience, you reflect on the experience, you learn from the experience and you try out what you have learnt.

I have written a post on my old blog in relation to how I can apply this at work and as an OU tutor. For work, however, I particularly like Schon. I enjoyed listening to his theory on the RLO reflective writing audio. He says that there are two aspects to reflecting on professional development: On action and In action. On action is effectively talking back to yourself, going over what has happened. In action is ‘thinking on your feet’ and it is this abiltiy that is the mark of a true professional. This made me smile as it directly relates to my work as a Prosecutor, thinking on your feet is part of your life as an advocate, but do I consider myself a true professional? Once you have mastered reflecting In action, you are able to deal with the unknown and “know what you are doing when you don’t know what you are doing”. This has to be my favourite phrase of the course so far! I think I found this activity, not easier, but less daunting in that I have begun to write notes of the readings in a book, which I can keep going back to. I had started doing this with OneNote (it being an on-line course) but found that when I wanted to post or type, I was constantly moving between screens. 

Activity 2.5 was interesting in that I was assesing the suitability of a reflective writing activity. I consider this to have been a turning point for me in the course. Although I had read and understood Moon & Creme, I found that this short interactive explanation put reflection in perspective for me. I particularly liked the take on Kolb’s cycle as being:

Something happened

What happened?

So what?

Now what?

A simple series of questions to help you reflect. In addition, it also provides alternative questions, again designed to help you reflect. I have not as yet put these into practice but will be doing so that I can look back and see whether there is any change to how I write now. I do need to complete the 500 word advice to students about reflecting.

Activity 2.6 is still ongoing. Although the highlight has been the writing of a summary of the threads in the forum. Scary stuff, but I volunteered on the basis that I need to do this and now was as good a time as any.

This is a long blog, but justified on the basis that I desperately needed to catch up. Over the last few days I feel that I have now settled down with the course and the whole thing is less daunting. The TMA is, however, looming and I know that I perhaps need to go over some of the earlier ground and ‘put my house in order’ so to speak. I need to bring my newly aquired portfolio up to date and get into it all the relevant documents, just so that I am not doing that at the last minute. I am now conscious that this is more descriptive than reflective so I will end here.

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