By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience which is bitterest.” Confucius
By reflecting on my recent experiences teaching a masters level course on researching in professional contexts, I hope to gain wisdom as both a teacher and researcher. By doing this reflection, I model for my students what it means to be a reflective practitioner of both research and teaching. Since this is the noblest of methods for gaining wisdom, I attempt to bring meaning to the course we have shared together. As I reflect, I think about mathematical reflections using flips, slides, turns, translations, and tesselations. How might my reflection shift and pivot my teaching around a solid point of rotation, a line of symmetry, or a slide from one position to another?
Collaboration and Connections
I begin with a reflection of the structural design of the course and how it may have supported student learning. One element that became evident as I read through the students’ journal reflections, was the importance of the collaborations and peer-to-peer connections. These were structured into the weekly activities as:
- partner tasks conducted in Zoom or other digital spaces;
- small groups connecting in Google slides;
- full group annotations using Hypothes.is;
- large group discussions in the learning management system.
There was fluidity in the connections and collaborations established each week of the course. This design appears to have had a positive impact on student learning. For many in the course, this was one of the first experiences not only with the masters program, but with online learning more specifically. Being able to connect to others in meaningful ways was important. Being able to clarify assignments and discussions with others supported the overall effectiveness of everyone’s understanding. Several students in the course mention gaining a deeper connection through shared interests and experiences, and some will maintain these connections beyond this course and into their ongoing masters level learning.
Multiple Places and Spaces
The course design with multi-contextual learning activities may have been a challenge, since online learning was new for many in the class. Many students reflected on the challenges with learning how to engage within the multi-contextual spaces and places where learning happened. One student noted the “dichotomy of wanting everything in one place, but also wanting power not to be centralised to a particular platform controller”. This highlights the binary challenge between a push vs pull form of learning where notifications and pings can catch our attention, but interfere with deeper thinking.
This list is rendered from one student’s reflection and showcases the multiple places and spaces where learning occurred throughout the course. As I glance at this collection, I reflect on the volume of items on this list – are there too many?
How might I reduce this to better serve the learning needs of the novice researchers coming into the course, particularly those who are new to masters level learning and those from international contexts with limited experience with online learning.
- exploring Google slides
- interview methodology
- zoom meetings, recording, captions
- Otter.ai trancriptions
- snipping tool for screen captures
- Zotero and word integration
- Review matrix spreadsheet
- APA formatting
- Canva presentations and recording
- critical appraisal
- Knowledge Mobilisation models
- spiral journal reflection
- Padlet discussion with memes
Writing as Reflection
This comment comes from one of the student reflections: “I find that sitting down and actually have to write something down is helpful because it usually forces you to have to critically think through what worked and didn’t work, it can also be just good practice in generally to build that reflective thinking” which echoes my own reflective writing practice around ‘hupomnemata’ as a ‘contemplative intellectual activity’ [see Hupomnemata blog post].
Writing can feel easy or feel difficult, as this video with Jim Carey depicts (as shared by one of my students). While the assignment structure of this course does not rely on a volume of writing, it does require some thoughtful writing times to present information and communicate research findings in unique ways.
Sometimes, the work within the course may have felt as frenetic as Carey’s typing depicts.
There are some elements that I wove into the fabric of the course, like the gratitude reflection activity in week 4, the mini-moments of calm in week 6 (with the series of videos in this playlist), and the fireside chat activity in week 9. These are ones that I feel bring a human quality to the learning environment, particularly one that is predominantly asynchronous and online. Holding multiple open drop in sessions throughout the course also brought an element of responsiveness so students could ask questions and get an immediate response.
With gratitude, I extend thanks to the students, from whom I have learned much about interesting things like factors impacting paramedicine in Ontario, content language integrated learning (CLIL), culturally responsive pedagogy (CRP), research into factors impacting the care of elderly persons, Indo-Portuguese colonial history, student engagement in online high school sciences, research into developing respectful collaborations in kindergarten classrooms, engaging Indigenous learning in higher education in the Canadian north, and so much more. I am convinced that the research efforts by students in this course will ripple outward into the professional contexts in which they live, work, and learn.
With gratitude, I bring this course to it’s natural conclusion, knowing that my learning and the learning of my students, will never truly end.
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