Assignment 4: Reading and Reviewing.

Two journal articles.

I read these.

To further my research for our RSA brief, as part of our Change by Design module, I have chosen to read two of the journal articles I found during assignment 3. These articles are mainly concerned with reflective learning, and learning using social networking sites.

The 2011 article “Expression and Connection: The Integration of the Reflective Learning Process and the Public Writing Process into Social Network Sites” by Park et al, in the Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, looks at the reflective learning process and the public writing process as a way of improving the quality of reflective learning on social networking sites, and it proposes a model for reflective learning on social networking sites based on two key areas of such sites: individual expression and collaborative connection. The most important information in this article, for me, is in the sections related to using social networking sites as a tool for reflective learning, and the areas specifically on individual expression and collaborative connection.

This article makes many references to other articles and studies, and I found a few of the quotes used particularly relevant to my research. Branch and Paranjape (2002) are quoted as saying that reflection ‘brings about “growth of the individual – morally, personally, psychologically, and emotionally, as well as cognitively”.’ Park mentions a 2009 article by Branch and Kastanis which identified three major obstacles in adopting a social networking site framework for reflective learning, which are 1) insufficient time, 2) technical difficulties, and 3) the reflective learning process being insufficiently integrated into the social networking site characteristic – in this article, Park looks to solve this third obstacle. Park also uses several diagrams in this article which I found especially useful: Gibbs’s (1998) diagram of the reflective learning cycle, Kolb’s (1984) diagram of the experiential learning cycle, and Strauss’s (2008) diagram of the public writing process. I found these diagrams particularly relevant, as they display exactly the kind of information I was looking for throughout my research, my question essentially being “Can an online forum environment be used for self-reflective learning to aid in understanding and changing behaviour, and how?”

Park has provided two new diagrams, based on the ones mentioned previously. The first diagram shows the expression process on social networking sites, and it combines Kolb’s and Gibbs’s reflection processes and Strauss’s public writing process. The second diagram shows the connection process on social networking sites, detailing four stages of the connection process: searching, expressing, reflecting, and connecting. Again, I found these diagrams very helpful, as they outline very succinctly the processes of expression and public writing, and connection. Park also gives an exemplary model of and a customisable framework for web-based reflective learning, which is incredibly useful in setting out the stages of web-based learning – there are several stages mentioned, including initiation, preparation, expression, connection (the process of giving and receiving peer feedback), reification (collecting and critically reviewing selected feedback), actualisation, and evaluation. Understanding these stages will be extremely useful in building a successful online learning community environment, because allowing users to participate in these stages will give them a very good basis for self-reflection, and learning about their own behaviours.

The article concludes that in an online learning community environment, the reflection process should be integrated into the processes of expression, public writing, and connection. It also concludes that levels of participation in such a community are subject to change depending on the users’ needs and learning objectives, and that the quality of social networking depends on the media types used, and the development of the content.

Park assumes, however, that the internet is consistently available to everyone. Park quotes numbers of social networking site users from Park and Kastanis (2009) and Ellison, Steinfield, and Lampe (2007), but these figures come from undergraduate class numbers – there are no figures relating to non-students, the middle-aged, etc.

Park also quotes a study which says that reflection is often regarded as time consuming and an annoying interruption, and which goes on to say that learners can become introspective and anxious about their actions, which can affect the quality of their reflective practice. However, Park uses these statements to convincingly support his own argument, that the design of a reflective learning community should focus on the users’ engagement in and participations with others users, and the public writing process.

The 2010 article “Social Learning Networks: Build Mobile Learning Networks Based on Collaborative Services” by Huang et al, in the journal Educational Technology & Society proposes the idea of collaborative services to help service users find learning partners based on shared interests. It contains the results of a survey Huang performed to determine user satisfaction from the collaborative service platform. The key question the article poses is whether or not knowledge sharing in communities of practice is effective, and if users can be assigned learning partners based on shared interests and expected outcomes from the service.

The article contains the results of a survey conducted by Huang and his associates themselves, which positively support the point of the article. Many studies are referenced, but some key sources which I found relevant are Huang et al (2009) – the idea of supporting collaborative learning with blogs, Yang and Chen (2008) – the idea that knowledge sharing communities could be based on social networking sites, and Fischer et al (2002) – where’s it’s concluded that social relationships have an impact on learning in a collaborative environment.

The main conclusions Huang comes to are that learning activities can be well supported by a collaborative learning process, and that knowledge sharing by learning partners assigned due to similar interests and specialties is successful, and rates highly in user satisfaction. The section titled “Results and Discussion” contains the following information, with supporting references:  Knowledge sharing attitude, system quality, information quality, and service quality have positive influences on the collaborative service platform.

The information in this article is geared very positively towards building learning communities based on collaboration and interaction, and the authors found that in such communities, user satisfaction is high. Using the information laid out in this article, and following the references made throughout, could lead us to a greater understanding of what it takes to build a successful learning community, with an atmosphere designed to foster collaborative and reflective learning.

The main assumptions this article makes are, again, that the internet is available to all, and that users will actually want to be partnered with someone based on their interests or specialties, rather than find their own friends and way around an ‘open’ community. There doesn’t seem to be any allowance for letting users work by themselves, as the author shows that learning communities work well when users are partnered up – however, there should perhaps be the option to work alone, and opt out of being partnered with other users based on shared interests and specialties, at least until the users feel comfortable within the community environment.

I am happy with the information I have gathered through my research into this topic. I came at this assignment with quite a specific question – can an online forum environment be used for self-reflective learning to aid in understanding and changing behaviour, and how? I think that through my research I can say with a degree of certainty that an online community environment can be used for self-reflective learning and understanding behaviour, as long as the framework is right. Of course, learning is a very changeable and diverse subject, and the service’s success would depend very strongly on the users’ attitudes and commitment to it.

One article is based on the results of a study conducted by the authors themselves, and the other uses secondary sources of information as a base for the points it makes, but both of my chosen articles do seem to support each other. They both conclude positively towards online learning communities in a similar vein to social networking sites like Facebook, and even though our idea was more along the lines of a forum or bulletin board, I think the conclusions presented still apply to our design. Park et al propose an actual model for reflective learning on social networking sites, which has given me a greater understanding of what reflective learning actually is, and what it entails. It is quite an in-depth process, but along with personal expression, public writing, and connection with other users, I think it could be an extremely helpful process to give users a better understanding of their own behaviours.

I am still very interested in the idea of using personal videos to aid the self-reflection process, either in a candid, simply behaviour-recording way, or as a sort of video blog, so to have a better understanding of this I would like to conduct further research – during my search for information for assignment 3 I noted a number of articles related to using videos in a learning context, so I would like to investigate those articles to see if videos really would be useful in the kind of learning environment that our service would provide.

As part of the assignment, our groups were asked to meet up in order to get a fresh perspective on our projects. Team 8 and team 7 took over the DJCAD cantina for a while to discuss what we’d been looking over. Our groups had both become aware of each others’ projects after last week’s Pecha Kucha style presentations, but it was really refreshing to meet up with another group who had a completely different project, and hear what they had to say in a more relaxed setting.

Assignment 4 meetup.

Teams 7 and 8 discussing our projects.

Bibliography:

Branch, W. T., and Paranjape, A., 2002. Feedback and reflection: Teaching Methods for Clinical Settings. Academic Medicine, 77 (12), pp. 1185-1188.

Huang, Y.-M.,  Jeng, Y.-L., and Huang, T.-C., 2009. An Educational Mobile Blogging System for Supporting Collaborative Learning. Educational Technology & Society, 12 (2), pp. 163-175.

Huang, J. J. S., Yang, S. J. H., Huang, Y.-M., and Hsiao, I. Y. T., 2010. Social Learning Networks: Build Mobile Learning Networks Based on Collaborative Services. Educational Technology & Society, 13 (3) pp. 78-92.

Park, J.Y., and Kastanis, L.S., 2009. Reflective Learning through Social Network Sites in Design Education. International Journal of Learning, 16 (8), pp.  11-22.

Park, J.-Y., 2011. Expression and Connection: the Integration of the Reflective Learning Process and the Writing Process into Social Network Sites. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 7 (1)

Yang, S. J. H., and Chen, I. Y. L., 2008. A Social Network-based System for Supporting Interactive Collaboration in Knowledge Sharing Over Peer-to-peer Network. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 66 (1), pp. 36-50.

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About Hannah

I'm Hannah, a twenty-something-year-old textile design student from Scotland. I'm learning a lot, and I want to learn more.

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