ZML Didaktik / Innovative Learning Scenarios

Posts Tagged ‘reflection

Reading Schön’s book „Reflective Practitioner“ is a great pleasure for me. In this post I will focus on the preface and Part I: Professional Knowledge and Reflection-in-Action (p. 3-69)

In the eighties Schön speculates that universities are committed to an epistemology of hard knowledge and science – mostly ignoring practical competence and professional artistry. In the first part of the book Schön explorers the causes for the crisis of confidence in professional knowledge and presents a new approach.

Since the Reformation the advancement in science and technology  and the industrial movement contributed to an increased importance of the profession. Professionals as doctors, lawyers, managers, teachers, military professionals… were shaping our society and were expected to define and solve our problems. Society depends on the work of professionals.

The Crisis of Confidence in Professional Knowledge

But in the last century there were many failures of professional actions and therefore a „crisis of confidence in professional knowledge“ emerged. Professionally designed solutions to public problems often didn’t work as they should and had negative side-effects as pollution, poverty, shortage of energy and others. New technology couldn’t fix the problems and often created new problems.

In their practice professionals were confronted with situations of complexity, uncertainty, instability, uniqueness and value conflicts. The professional knowledge couldn’t catch up with these new demands. Professionals were confronted with „messes“ –  dynamically changing, complex and connected problems. This situation has led to professional pluralism where competing theories arise – which further reduces the teachability of this practice.

Nevertheless practitioners of all fields somehow succeed to make sense of complexity and reduce uncertainty in their day-to-day practice. The art of practice appears to be learnable for individuals, whereas educators struggle to describe manifold processes in terms of the model of professional knowledge.

From Technical Rationality to Reflection-in-Action

According to the model of Technical Rationality „professional activity consists in instrumental problem solving made rigorous by the application of scientific theory and technique“ (p. 21). Professional work is based on general principles with respect to specific (standardized) problems. Therefore educators train specialized skills based on an underlying theory.

The model of Technical Rationality focusses on problem solving and ignores problem setting.  Professionals face a dilemma, „their definition of rigorous professional knowledge exclude phenomena they have learned to see as central to their practice“ (p. 42). There is a gap between professional knowledge and demands of real world practice. Within the model of Technical Rationality professionals resolve this dilemma of rigor by „cutting the practice situation to fit professional knowledge“ (p. 44) and therefore misreading situations or manipulating them. The model of Technical Rationality is incomplete and limited and therefore not entirely useful for the education of professionals.

„When ends are confused and conflicting there is as yet no problem to solve“ (P. 41). Problem setting is a process to name things and to frame the context by setting boundaries and impose coherence upon the problem. Methods of inquiry of successful practitioners combine experience, trial and error, intuition, and muddling through. A new approach – an epistemology of practice implicit in the artistic, intuitive processes –  is needed.


Knowing-in-action / knowing-in-practice: Our knowing is ordinarily tacit and implicit in our actions – „our knowing is in our actions“ (p. 49). „A kind of knowing is inherent in intelligent action“ (p. 50). As professional practice also includes repetition, practitioners develop a repertoire of expectations, images, and techniques. In this way the knowing-in-action becomes increasingly tacit, spontaneous, automatic.

Ordinary people and professionals think about what they are doing; often stimulated by surprises they reflect their action. This process of reflection-in-action is central to the art by which practitioners deal with situations of uncertainty, instability, uniqueness and value conflicts (learning-by-doing). Through reflection a practitioner scrutinizes the tacit understandings and can make new sense of new situations.

For reflective practitioners reflection-in-action is the core of practice. „Nevertheless, because professionalism is still mainly identified with technical expertise, reflection-in-action is not generally accepted as a legitimate form of professional knowledge“.

Donald, A. Schön (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. Basic Books.


This week is a rather hard one for myself. The semester has started now, face-to-face and virtual student groups on slack, twitter, moodle, canvas, zoom, hangout and in the classroom (!) are fighting for my attention. I’m preparing a presentation which I have to deliver in about 5 hours … and I’m learning in two MOOCs. So – what better to do than to carry out an activity in the bizmooc Learning with MOOCs for professional development.

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As initiator of the cope14 mooc and in my actual role as moderator I’m thinking about the motivations of the learners. Actually we are in week 4 which is the most challenging week with a lot of materials and assignments. In this week there are not so many learners actively posting contributions and it is easier to analyze fewer persons. Nevertheless my feelings about the learners were developing during the former weeks as well.

Self-motivated learners with lust for learning

There are learners who want to learn about the topics of cope14, they are curios about the content and they immerge in their learning processes. I suspect that these leaners are older than 30 or 40 years. Observing them I perceive that some of them have already had experiences with MOOCs but others are newbies. I admire their energy for learning. A part of them comes from abroad and all profit from the openness of cope14.

Semi self-motivated learners who bond with their teachers

There are students in our MOOC who got invited to cope14 by their teachers which are not their business teachers. And in some cases business is not a part of their study degree at all. I love to read their comments, they are funny learners who are open to new and challenging topics and they try to understand what’s going on in a special week. They seem to be satisfied with the insights they gain in their learning processes. (these students are coming from our university as well as from other universities).

In their attitude they are similar to the self-motivated learners with lust for learning. And … in some of their postings I got the impression that their bond with their teachers helped them to enter cope14 with an open mind and to overcome the challenges of learning in our MOOC.

Externally-motivated demotivated leaners

Furthermore there are learners who didn’t succeed or do not want to understand the principles of learning in cope14. (During the preparation phase I discussed the cope14 MOOC with many teachers and asked them to include it as part of a regular class and to allow freedom of learning for their students). Many of these learners are business students and were invited by their business teachers. My first hypothesis is that the open approach of cope14 is very different from the day to day experiences as business students or business teachers.  My second hypotheses is that the dialogue and negotiation between teachers and students about learning in cope14 failed as well as the briefing process between teachers and cope14 initiators.

I expected some of the business students to love the openness of cope14, the materials and questions, the videos and the efforts their teachers invested into preparation of the weeks. In week 4 I cannot detect any of these students which is rather strange.

Of course these are my preliminary findings based on my observations and feelings and my leaners‘ lists. After the end of cope14 we will evaluate all the material we gained during our MOOC experiment in more detail.

As I was trying to answer the comments to my last post additional ideas emerged so I will summarize my answers to your comments in this post.

Apostolos K wrote: I generally try to do this (reflect) a week or two after a MOOC ends.

As the Change MOOC lasts so many weeks (I remember that I was happy about this long period during the first 12 or 15 weeks) I need some „time out“ for reflection. And I never could start to participate in a new MOOC parallel to the Change MOOC (in contrast to some of my Change MOOC fellows).

Of course I’m seduced by the Connectivism and Connective Knowledge 2012 MOOC, but I believe that for my real MOOC experience I should focus on one MOOC and not hop in and hop off. I try to convince my students as well that they should stick to one tool (e.g. twitter) and explore its potential for at least 2 months before they „hop on“ to the next nice tool.

George Siemens commented: I feel like I spend too much time taking in information and not enough time connecting it by spending time in reflection and critical thought.

It’s great to detect soul mates 🙂 Often I’m convinced that I don’t use today’s technology sufficiently and if I would organise my tools in a better way or discover the „ultra-tool“  I would understand in greater detail what’s happening in the MOOC. As George doubtlessly is using more and more advanced tools and nevertheless struggles with similar problems I return to my starting point: that learning, understanding, sensemaking don’t depend that much on technical tools.

I like Doris Reeves-Lipscomb comment a lot and I got some interesting insights. An exerpt of her comment:

… that a MOOC participant must have considerable tacit knowledge and tech skills and personal time management tools in order to participate fully in a MOOC…. Can ‘ordinary’ people ever catch up? …. Since the facilitator doesn’t seem to intervene in a MOOC to help participants succeed …

Like Doris I’m moderating online learning groups for several years. Until now I prepared a password-protected room with materials, questions, and room for my participants to discuss and reflect and contribute based on a social-constructivistic approach. The max number of participants was 15 and in spite of my support there were dropouts, persons who couldn’t become active in the virtual room.

Currently I’m establishing a network in Google+ (no password-protected room, about 60 participants, every day there is a different number of participants) and my training approach is less supportive than in previous trainings. I offer tasks and materials, and aggregate their content on a website, but I nearly do not provide individual support. I have the „feeling“ that the training runs ok but I’m curios of the evaluation!

Jaap wrote: … your time for reflection and connecting to experiences was a subject of Geetha Narayanan session today.

Great! Just during my „time out“ the most important questions are discussed! I will try to catch up on the session with Geetha Narayanan during the weekend.

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Serenaturri writes

Come trasformare l’oceano di dati in conoscenza?  How to transform the ocean of data into knowledge? Come trasformare il medium digitale in un osservatorio che riflette l’ intelligenza collettiva? How to transform the digital medium into a observatory that reflects the collective intelligence? Come sfruttare questo nuovo mezzo per migliorare il processo di cognizione sociale e controllare lo sviluppo umano? How to exploit this new medium to improve the process of social cognition and how to control human development?

The problems in this process are l’opacità semantica, l’incompatibilità dei sistemi di classificazione e la frammentazione linguistica e culturale – the semantic opacity, the incompatibility of classification systems (in programming) and the linguistic and cultural fragmentation.

Jenny connected shares her impressions (in English 🙂 there were some postings in Portogues as well, but I didn’t read them…).

The focus of his book is the need for a symbolic medium and a new indexing system to replace current systems such as those based on the ways in which libraries organize information.

He writes that ‘the crowd’ is not stupid; it is essential to our collective intelligence and knowledge, but the individual’s role in collective, creative conversions is not forgotten or underplayed.

These topics are on the heart of my experiences in the Mooc as I try to organize myself, to keep an overview of all the activities, to swap languages (using Google translator sometimes – and it isn’t that bad). I’m looking for tools, which will help me in my efforts, I’m testing them – and I want to be open minded about frameworks which can support me. Nevertheless I’m sceptical that a programming language can do what I’m doing …. structuring, evaluating, skipping.

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It seems that in these weeks after Christmas I’m only lurking in the MOOC and I’m reflecting if this is ok for me??

As the semester ends there’s some grading to do, there’s a deadline for European project proposals, I’m moderating my Gender and eLearning course and I’m preparing an online training for google+ which is rather tough work. I do not have that  much time for the Change MOOC.

But I’m thinking about the  MOOC and I’m doing some work around it: writing an article about the MOOC for our university’s newsletter, working on our version of the MOOC cow, planning some articles about my MOOC experience. I even took part in the online meeting yesterday with Preetha Ram, Hua Ali and I wrote some notes about social filtering but it was not enough for a blog post.

What about you other MOOC participants? Do you share my experience of variable committment?


End of Week 1 in my Gender & eLearning course – time for reflection 🙂

What are the differences between my Gender & eLearning course and the MOOC?

  1. In the Gender & eLearning course I’m the moderator / social artist / eTutor / facilitator / …and in the MOOC I’m a participant.
  2. There are at the most 15 participants in my course compared to over 2000 in the MOOC.
  3. My course lasts 3 weeks, the change-MOOC 36 weeks.
  4. In my course the participants should invest about 25 hours, in the MOOC my time of investment is not fixed. I made a kind of estimation at the beginning of the MOOC and wanted to spend at least 3,5 hours for the change-MOOC. Some weeks I have more time, some weeks less.
  5. There are no lurkers in my course, the access of participants who do not become active during the first week is cancelled, whereas in the MOOC many participants are reading and reflecting without sharing their insights with others.
  6. My course is using a closed environment – the MOOC is an open environment.

What is similar between the Gender & eLearning course and the MOOC?

  1. An expert or experts prepare/s the room.
  2. The assigments are open assignments.
  3. The participants are working mostly asynchronous  – there are only some synchronous meetings (in my course one meeting in week 3, in the MOOC two meetings a week).
  4. The concept of my course is to encourage participants to relate their every day work to the topics of the course. – I’m doing the same in the MOOC.
  5. In my course the participants are collaborating / cooperating by discussing the topics, reflecting there observations, learning processes, interaction with others – whereas the collaboration in the MOOC until now is an open questions for me.

What did happen during the first week in my Gender & eLearning course?

14 participants enrolled into the course and 12 of them became active members. The course is based on Gilly Salmon’s 5 stage model of virtual groups. According to Gilly Salmon access & motivation and online socialisation are the first steps toward a virtual group. The basic component of this course is the anonymity of the participants. They have to choose a nickname and a photo to represent themselves. As the first week is the week of online socialisation they reflect their observations of each other during their discussion of Gender issues (netiquette, media observation).

From my perspective as social artist the course start and week 1 went well. The participants are active and enjoy their discussions. Some of them reflected their fantasay-identities and tried to investigate their own choice for a name and a photo.

I have fun observing and reflecting my reactions to their names, symbols  and contributions. There are several groups of names, e.g. Illy & Billy, or Pop & Pillepop, or London & Down Under, or Powder & Schneemensch (both names around snow=Schnee). The name Oxygen excited memories of a song „Love is like oxygen“ from the 80s (and I’m listening hits from the 80s all the time now), other names didn’t ring any bell, so I struggle to perceive these participants as intensively as the others. At the moment I’m reading Karl E. Weick’s „Sensemaking in Organizations“ with special attention to his chapter about „Identity Construction“ to get some theoretical basis for my thoughts about Online Identities. Is there somebody who has a link to  great online ressource regarding Online Identites??

In any case the work of moderating the course was one of the reasons because I skipped this week in the MOOC 😦