Reflections from the C-EBLIP Journal Club, Feb 23, 2015

by Carolyn Doi
Education and Music Library, University of Saskatchewan

For this iteration of the C-EBLIP Journal Club, I decided to feature an article from outside the LIS literature that deals with the topic of reflection, creative processes and digital technologies in the classroom:

Kirk, Carole, and Jonathan Pitches. “Digital Reflection: Using Digital Technologies to Enhance and Embed Creative Processes.” Technology, Pedagogy and Education 22, no. 2 (July 1, 2013): 213–30. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1475939X.2013.768390

This paper caught my attention for several reason. The discussion of creative processes and incorporation of technology in the classroom is particularly interesting to me and these are topics that often come up when I discuss teaching strategies with other librarians. I was also looking forward to exploring the idea of reflection, both in the classroom and as part of the research process. This is something we have discussed in our institution and in particular through our own Library Leadership Development Program.

The authors of this paper are both scholars at the School of Performance and Cultural Industries at the University of Leeds who have shared the results from a teaching and learning project called Digitalis (http://www.digitalis.leeds.ac.uk/), which “investigates ways in which digital technologies can be used by teaching staff to facilitate reflection on creative practices within performing and creative arts disciplines” (p. 213). The study used action research methodology led by members of a cooperative inquiry group who incorporated reflection and digital technologies into their own teaching practice. They took this a step further and also incorporated reflection as one of the four project phases (planning, action, collection and reflection).

The study featured modules in five areas of study: performance design, dance, music, theatre & performance and museum studies. In each module, students were asked to reflect on their learning and experience, assisted by different types of digital technology. In one example, students in a second year compulsory Dance Choreography course were asked to use a flip camera to capture thoughts, ideas and observations, which were used in combination with written reflection and posted to a private blog. The other modules used varying types of reflective processes. Methods of digital capture included flip cameras, audio recorders and digital still cameras. Digital reflection mechanisms included blogs (on Blackboard), PowerPoint and Photo Story 3.

In some cases, the technology may have interfered with the process of critical reflection as some students ended up “concentrating too much on slick production values to the detriment of critical thinking” (p. 224). The paper mentioned that ease of use was an important factor in getting students to feel engaged in the reflection activities. One recommendation that came out of the paper was that digital reflection technologies should be introduced incrementally, as opposed to all at once.

We discussed the value of incorporating technology into the classroom, and also of the importance of not letting the technology ‘get in the way’ of the learning process. Some in our group remarked that they were still surprised that the incorporation of technology in the classroom still might be a barrier for some students.

The paper reports that students found digital reflection to be advantageous when ‘looking again’ at material which would otherwise have been lost in the creative practice. The digital capturing acted as a way they could benchmark their own impressions of the event, and allowed the performer to experience being an audience member of their own performance.

We discussed the benefits of reflection in two veins: 1) for integration into the classroom and 2) for integration into our own practice. Some questioned the viability of incorporating reflection (especially non-written reflection) into library instruction as we are often faced with the challenge of limited classroom time where it would be difficult to follow up with students. Librarians who teach in disciplines outside of the arts felt that they might just not be able to get their students to try a less conventional reflection method such as video capture. The article prompted some to think about video capture as a means to document and reflect on one’s own teaching practice. Others were thinking about incorporating reflection into other aspects of practice or research, or are currently embarking on projects that do incorporate an element of planned reflection.

The journal club is always an engaging gathering and it’s been interesting to see the various opinions and perspectives that emerge out of the group discussions. I look forward to many more discussions around the journal club table in the coming months!

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

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