Reflective Journal for My Doctoral Studies – Do It Online?

We just began our Module 2 in my Lancaster University PhD Programme in E-Research & Technology Enhanced Learning, and one of our assignments is to keep a daily reflective journal, perhaps one that is a 5-10 minute entry around the issue “What really matters in my professional practice?”

As an advocate of reflective practice and writing as a practice of processing experiences and making meaning, I like this assignment (and have even used it myself with my own students numerous times over the years), though am considering doing this here on my blog as opposed to in a notebook or someplace privately on my computer.

Has anybody ever tried this or seen this done, perhaps to offer some pointers, suggestions, warnings, or the like?


16 thoughts on “Reflective Journal for My Doctoral Studies – Do It Online?

  1. hey Jeff, it just seems so obvious to post reflections here on your blog. This is a great tool for receiving feedback. From your colleague students and profs, but also from people elsewhere in your network. I don’t think i have advises on forehand, the only thing i’m thinking about is the regularity in which you need to write your reflections. I’m wondering if daily writing would offer new stuff to post and ask feedback for. Reflection is a continuous process (see Schön: reflection in action/ reflection on action). Perhaps its more useful to publish a more extensive reflection on weekly basis (well..theres just 1 advice:)) what are your thoughts on that?

    looking forward to read your experiences.

  2. I thought that you sort of did this already, but less frequently. I suppose the regularity is a way to ‘make you do it’….not sure about that part of it. (bless the educators for making something more awkward than it needs to be!)

    Autoeth is about how to reveal, when to reveal, how much to reveal….I think that this progresses in stages…my sense of you already is that you are quite private and a bit mysterious actually….those would be the areas to explore.
    I fear however that an instruction like ‘what matters in my prof practice’ is a get out card, in this case. I am a big believer in allowing our work, writing, production to be influenced seemlessly by all aspects of (our) life; therein lies the truth and beauty.

    Can your professional practice matter because of the rest of who you are? That’s a place to start anyway.


  3. @Joost Robben

    Interestingly, Joost, one of our readings in a few weeks is Schon!

    I do post things here, certainly, though not with the regularity (or focus) that is being requested for our module. I do get why they are asking us–the more we write and try to capture what we are thinking, the more material we will later have to make sense of (as opposed to forget or otherwise miss a connection). I have heard of these sorts of assignments before, though have never really considered making them public in this manner.

    If anything, it may make my learning process a bit more transparent. Not sure if this is for the benefit of others, or for my own need to process (and perhaps get feedback).

    Appreciate your thoughts here!


  4. @Kip Jones

    Mysterious? That sounds a lot more interesting and exciting than my life really is, though my first thought was denial (no, not that river in Egypt!).

    Private, certainly. I suppose this is one of the considerations I am having about this entire process, in that some of my initial thinking about this process has been in the area of multiple identities, or perhaps multiple facets of identity depending on which “hat” I am wearing at the time.

    I used to have similar assignments for my students, though I never required them to do it publicly (though many of them did blog in this manner as they sought to explore their thinking and interests). While I do not envision having this be a daily, long, very involved, or refined experience, I have been thinking more about sharing the process (while still guarding the privacy of my colleagues in my cohort, trying to “Do no harm” (cf. Hippocrates), and not giving away aspects of my program that the program may not want me to share (I normally share my syllabi, though not all of them as I have been requested not to at times).

    Regarding our professional practice, the assignment goes into considerable more detail, and even so, I find I process things all over the place and make many connections in concepts that may not immediately come to mind, so I do not feel limited at all.

    I really like how you described autoethnographic explorations . . . I think I may come back to that phrasing again.

    Thank you, Kip, for helping to move this along a bit.


  5. I’m not in a PhD program, but I’ve heard they can be pretty political. So, I’d caution you to be sure your very public blog has gone through a good bit of reflection first. Always remember who could be reading this.

    I’ve found from that writing my blog. Because I have to think about what I am writing (since anyone from work can read it) I am learning how to present arguments so that they are more effective, and less inflammatory.

    I have a natural tendency towards the dramatic, so remembering my audience and taking full advantage of reflection has been a very good thing for me.

  6. @gminks

    Good political awareness! The caution is–this is not liveblogging, so be more politically aware, than less. Reflecting a few minutes each day does not mean publishing whatever, whenever.

    Audience analysis with WIIFM. I am writing for myself (I am my audience), though often I do write with others in mind (and hope they find it useful or otherwise engages in reflection.

    Thank you, Gina.


  7. I love this idea! It strikes me that it would be difficult to really just be writing for yourself in an open space. But I think over time we’re getting better at that — reflecting out loud. I participated in a workshop once where we were asked to do ‘low stakes writing’ exercises. These were timed opportunities to quickly reflect (writing, in silence) on what we had learned or still needed to know. It was amazing how the TIMED aspect allowed us to just let loose. Some chose to share what they wrote.

    Ha! How about really sticking to the 10 minutes and tapping out what enters your mind without overworking it?

  8. First: Your blog is esthetically so beautiful! I would like to know the background for the name Silence and Voice.
    About your project: It seems like you know a lot about what to do and what not to do. Reflections are just that – reflective, not spontaneous outbursts, which you seem to be fully aware of. I think this will be the way to learn in the future, possibly also to share research, because after the social media revolution it is no going back to the individualistic “don’t look over my shoulder”-attitude. This could be an active, working “community of practice” or “community of learners” (Etienne Wenger).

    To the research theme:
    There is of course the difference between personal and private, which is obvious (not to all, but to reflective persons). But there is another, less obvious difference between being individual and being a person. The term “individual” comes from the instrumentalistic world of marketing and branding. Being personal is different, it comes from being a real, whole person, reflective, relational, with embodied knowledge. This might be part of what matters in professional practice. Looking forward to following your project!

  9. @Sylvia Currie

    I used to do a regular reflective component with some of my F2F classes called a Stop, Reflect–which was a 3 minutes about writing exactly what you were thinking, sometimes around a suggested topic, as an opportunity for immediate reflective practice.

    I agree with you about writing for 10 minutes “tapping out what enters your mind without overworking it.” That is more likely what would happen with paper reflection as well, so I envision this being the same way.

    I am also intrigued about the issue you raised, which is becoming increasingly important to me as I consider future dissertation (or thesis, as it is called in the UK) topics–the idea about reflecting out load. This just is within the area of the 10-minute reflective piece I just started for today!

  10. @Vigdis Stokker Jensen

    Thank you for your comment! I really like how you framed reflection–“Reflections are just that – reflective, not spontaneous outbursts.” As often is the case, something which is somewhat taken-for-granted has more levels of meaning than immediately meets the eye. While I generally feel most comfortable and at home with the “individualistic “don’t look over my shoulder”-attitude” that you mentioned, though I know I learn more when I get feedback, when my assumptions get challenged, and when some form of intellectual collaboration occurs.

    It is fitting that you mention Wenger’s CoP concept, as that is exactly what we are studying this week!

    I think your reflections, and what I have seen on your on blog about your work thus far, that it seems naturally to begin to view our experiences within a more holistic experience than simple sound bites lead us to believe or consider the world. Taken another way, while I rely in Twitter for my sharing and communicating with my social network, here on my own online space can I try to fill in the gaps and make sense of my world. Easier to do quietly in my own mind, though not as fulfilling as with some feedback.

  11. I just completed a MEd in Adult Learning and as part of our requirement we had to keep a journal. For the last year we were encouraged to keep it online. It was a fantastic experience–making thinking visible and if you are doing it with others you have the opportunity to learn from them as well.

  12. @Erica

    Thank you for sharing about your experience keeping an online journal.

    What did you learn from the process and experience that you are now taking with you?


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