Friday, 23 February 2007

Dear diary syndrome...

One of my tasks on the Learning and Teaching Practice course is to create a Reflective Practice Journal, based around my training experiences.

I always liked the idea of a diary, and set out to write one for almost every year of my teens. However I'd never get past the first page...the pressure of writing that first opening entry, the need for my first mark on those beautful white pages to be deep, tragic or heart-wrenchingly beautiful, and its failure to ever be so, left me with a large collection of beautiful writing books with the first page torn out and no desire to start afresh on any of the seconds. I call it the "Dear Diary" syndrome. The nice thing about blogs is that your first mark doesn't really matter. You can delete it without a trace, rework or promote something you've written half way. Ken Smith calls it circling and circling. There are downsides which I mention below.

The value of blogs for reflective practice is widely recognised and I think for me there are a lot of other reasons why this format will be valuable:
  • It means I don't have to carry a notebook between work and home (I can even add journal entries using my mobile phone)
  • It will be easy to integrate it with other kinds of digital content that I have already produced, or may produce to support my training sessions and my study
  • There's a lot of other useful information already online which I can pull very easily into a blog.
  • Blogs have a lot of useful additional tools like the dictionary that I've added here so if I ever use a word and forget its meaning I can remind myself instantly!
  • It will format my entries for me in a nice clear structured way.
  • Blogs like this one are arranged in such a way that there's lots of space to pull in lots of other useful information - I have started by adding a glossary and useful links section down the right hand side of this page.
  • Because my blog is online, I can give other people access to it so they can comment or join in my conversations
  • I can choose for entries to be private or public. If I make an entry public it's available to the whole world. This bit appeals to my exhibitionist side!
  • Journal entries in blogs can be easily categorised, sorted and searched.
  • I have already been using a blog to record my thoughts on location-based games for learning for 9 months.
  • It's a good way to try out this technology in a formal context before I support everyone else who I am sure will be wanting to use them!
On the downside, I don't like being tied to a computer or mobile phone. When I feel like working outside or at a PC-free desk I will need to use paper and then transfer to the blog. Not everyone likes reading straight off the computer, but I have checked and this one prints neatly and clearly.
There's a temption to fiddle too much and overwork blogs. You wouldn't know it, but I've come back to this particular post 3 times now! After this I'm going to try and be strict with myself and not edit posts weeks later. I would like to keep things in sequence in order that any evolution in my understanding and opinions over time will be apparent.

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