The best way to raise a puppy is, well, thoughtfully. Any learning journey, be it canine or human, requires reflection. When I am in the throws of training a puppy, I do many small training sessions throughout the day, and afterwards, I think about what went well, what did not, and what I might do differently next time. It is all a part of learning.
As an eLearning instructor, reflecting is a vital part of my job. Moon (2001) states that “reflection provides the right conditions for learning” (p. 7). It slows down activity, promotes a sense of ownership, encourages metacognition, and challenges student learning. In ETEC 511 (Foundations of Educational Technology) we integrated Petrina’s (n.d.) philosophy of “slow online and ubiquitous learning”. The idea was to slow down, reflect, and interact in more infrequent but more meaningful ways in our online course.
Initially, I thought the restrictions on posting would limit social interaction, which is integral in the learning process, and would be challenging to work around in terms of my personal schedule. Throughout the semester, however, I found that, being a fairly driven and responsible learner, I really appreciated the opportunity to slow down the pace of posting and spend more time in deeper reflection. I made new connections between my coursework and my teaching and was able to really contemplate the issues presented by the weekly discourse leadership groups. In my group, for example, we asked students to share what leading edge technology has the potential to change education in the next ten years. The discussions that followed were enlightening, sometimes controversial, and highly thought provoking. Reflecting on key issues and questions promoted a higher level of learning.
As I look ahead to post-MET, I am excited by my institution’s professional development vision. Over the course of the next twelve months I will be spending much of my allocated professional development time reflecting on this program, and then implementing some of what I have learned into my online courses. I love that my college embraces life-long learning and values the reflective component that must accompany any learning journey. I have spent more time reflecting on learning during the past two years than ever before, and I look forward to continuing the practice of being a reflective practitioner.