Had a conversation today about reflective practice and blogging. As stream leader of the Engineering Enterprise Excellence (EEE) MSc programme I have encouraged the use of blogs as a tool that assists development of reflective practice. One of the key aims of this programme is for the students to achieve deep learning, and reflection is an essential element of this learning process. Why use a blog for this? Why is a blog so much better than a diary? The blog can be used like a diary because you can create private entries. However, the power of this medium occurs when we choose to make our entries public. By making our reflective thoughts public, we engage the social aspects of learning - of inviting others to comment on our thoughts, helping us to build on our ideas and enabling us to become aware of and understand other views. This provides us with a deeper learning experience and with practice this reflective thinking will become ever more natural.
I recognise that some people are nervous about making their thoughts public. It is very easy to restrict access to your blog to a circle of friends or colleagues in whom you can confide your thoughts. As you develop confidence in the positive nature of the bogging community, you will widen the circle and thus expand the opportunities for development of ideas. Your blog will become a learning log that will enable you to track the development of your thinking during your study year.
For the current EEE module I have incentivised the use of blogs by allocating marks for the number and quality of reflective entries. My hope is that some students will continue to use blogs when the module and assignment is over. Perhaps next year I should use this approach from the beginning of the course to increase the probability that EEE students become lifelong reflective practitioners.