The process of reflection has impacted the way I approach my personal life, as a student, and my professional practice. Reflection has been a part of my MALAT journey from the beginning and has enabled deeper learning to occur as I take the time to analyze and learn from my experiences in the program. In the past several months my ability to meaningfully reflect on learning and situations has improved and become a part of my daily thought processes. Wilfred Laurier’s (n.d.) reflective writing guide provides several models of reflection adaptable to various needs, I found two models specifically useful. First, a simple and effective way to reflect is Borton’s “What-So What-Now What” model. I find that allowing myself time to think through these questions in my daily activities has given me more opportunities to take lessons learned forward in my life and professional practice. When faced with more challenging situations that involve conflict or failure, a more encompassing model is the Six Wise Men Model (what, where, when, who, how, and why). The guiding questions force you to dig deep to understand the situation and your role in it. I appreciate that it expands thinking to larger issues such as ethical, political, or social issues that are sometimes missed because we are focused on the situation at a granular level.
Learning to reflect is a challenging and worthy endeavor. At first, I was uncomfortable with this new-to-me style of writing. However, since I have begun to experience positive outcomes from meaningful reflection, I have committed to continuing to improve my reflection skills and sharing the power of reflection with the learners in my organization. I have found value in blogs however, the most impactful reflection practice I use is journaling. Journaling is a personal process where my writing and insights are brave and honest and I am more consistent with it because it does not need to be perfect or finalized in the way that a blog post needs to be. I have also found valuable reflections through debriefing discussions with my colleagues. In LRNT 527, I learned that a good way to incorporate reflection in the design process is a design note that is created to be used in an iterative and collaborative way that enables the designer to continuously circle back and make changes as needed. In future design projects, I intend to further improve my design notes using Saito’s (2018) suggestion to use storytelling to illustrate the problem and solution. Providing a real-world problem and solution in a creative way will clarify the goals with collaborators and hopefully get them excited about the design too.
Learning about and experiencing the design thinking process in LRNT 524 and again in LRNT 527 has prompted several shifts in my approach to learning design. In LRNT 524, my partner and I chose a project that I was actually working on for my organization. I had identified a problem with participation in online courses that had recently shifted online from facilitated due to Covid restrictions. I pointed out that people were not participating because going online was too much to ask, they just did not have the digital literacy skills. Or so I thought. During the empathize phase of the design process my partner and I uncovered that lack of digital literacy skills was not the main reason that people were not participating. Human-centered design challenges us to immerse ourselves in the learner perspective and this is what saved this project from a costly failed attempt to fix the participation problem. Reflecting on that experience in LRNT 524, I had to think about what happened and how my assumptions had led me to misinterpret the problem. I learned a lot from the experience and shifted my focus to empathy and human-centered needs and learner perspectives and needs over prioritizing organizational needs.
Learning about and applying the design thinking process and practicing reflection in the MALAT program has been a transformative learning experience for me. Veletsianos (2011) suggests designs that allow for learning outside of the classroom to occur can facilitate transformational learning experiences, “… authentic or real-world learning where class activities resemble activities that learners may face in their life outside of the classroom” (para.3). I have been able to immediately apply these concepts in my professional practice and will continue to do so.
OpenLearn. (n.d.). Succeeding in post-graduate study: Session 2 – reflective thinking, reflective learning and academic writing. https://www.open.edu/openlearn/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=51386
Saito, J. (2018, February 28). How do you design a design doc? [Blog]. https://medium.com/dropbox-design/how-do-you-design-a-design-doc-d7b2f1fa4a0c
Veletsianos, G. (2011). Designing opportunities for transformation with emerging technologies. Educational Technology, 41-46. https://www.jstor.org/stable/44429917
Wilfrid Laurier University. (n.d.). Reflective writing. Write online. https://writeonline.ca/reflective-essay.php?content=section2