Reflection as part of the Curriculum: How can technologies encourage reflection? (Revised*)

How important is reflection in an era so fixated on technology? Are students skimming on the surface? Do they still have the ability to make deeper, meaningful connections in the classroom? How are educators adapting to the digital landscape? What technologies encourage reflection and how? At Pace, we use ePortfolios to do this. What about blogs or other forms of technology?

What are your views on reflection? Have you/your students used reflection to demonstrate a deeper level of understanding- learning outcomes, strengths and weaknesses, personal or real-life connections based on class material? 

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We use reflections to develop greater understanding. What makes you feel that technologies would hinder reflection? Through technologies such as blogs and online collaborative sites if used correctly, they might actually acheive greater understanding.

Hi Michelle,

On the subject of critical reflection per se, I think the technology used has little to do with it, whether it's face to face coversation with pencil and paper, online forums or blogs, or virtual classrooms. I think that what does make a difference is the curriculum (Is it a front loaded information dump or a voyage of discovery?) and the assessment (Does critical reflection count towards anything or does the end of course test win all?)

If the "powers that be" don't value critical reflection, then neither will learners and teachers. We could try to encourage it but we run the risk of being perceived as irrelevant and unhelpful by our learners. To get an idea of a learning system that encourages critical reflection and enabling learner independence, the Reggio Emilia approach is a good place to look, at least Jerome Bruner thinks so.

Last week, in my physics class, I was attempting to motivate my students to do research on alternative energy sources that will help to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere.  The emphasis is on replacing the production of electricity from combustion sources like coal or natural gas and favoring wind energy or solar photovoltaic cells.

Each day at the start of class I would mention yet another climate change occurrence that I had read about or heard about on the radio that was at the detriment to our survivability as a species on this planet.

On Thursday I mentioned the following climate changing occurrence:

The director of the World Meteorological Organization at the United Nations reported that the Arctic ice pack melted over an area larger than the United States during the summer of 2012. The polar ice pack shrank to a record low in September before slowly beginning its fall and winter growth.

“The alarming rate of its melt this year highlighted the far reaching changes taking place in Earth’s oceans and biosphere: Climate change is taking place before our eyes and will continue to do so as a result of the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which have risen constantly and again reached new records,” Michel Jarraud, director of the WMO, said in a statement.

Jarraud noted the increasing incidence of extreme weather across the planet, with drought covering as much as two-thirds of America’s “lower 48″ states, and much of western Russia. So far, despite a cool, later winter/early spring, 2012 has been one of the nine warmest years in the 160-year history of keeping climate records.

As to the Arctic icepack, “The trend is not only continuing but accelerating. The more it melts, the faster it will melt,” said Jarraud.

Two other climate-related developments have made news this year.

The Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has found that the global sea level is rising at a rate 60 percent faster than previously estimated, according to a report in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

“It confirms the trend toward a warmer planet,” said the report.

Sea levels are 20 centimeters, or about eight inches, higher than a century ago. They increased by six centimeters between 1990 and 2010. The trend threatens to imperil coastal cities, as witnessed in the storm surge from Hurricane Sandy that devastated coastal New Jersey, portions of Staten Island and low-lying beachfront neighborhoods on Long Island.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have also noted changes in the Chukchi Sea off Arctic Alaska.

Non-Arctic species such as gray whales and orcas (killer whales) are feeding in the Chukchi Sea, site of a controversial lease where Shell Oil plans to begin drilling next summer.

The global news follows Tuesday’s release of a Washington state panel’s report on ocean acidification. It found that about 25 percent of human-generated fossil fuel emissions are being absorbed by the oceans.

“As a result, the average acidity . . . of the surface ocean has increased about 30 percent since 1750,” the panel reported. “Today’s ocean acidification is important not only for the amount of change that has occurred thus far, but also for how quickly it is happening. The current rate of acidification is nearly ten times faster than any time in the past 50 million years.”

The panel found that acid buildup is putting in peril Washington’s $270 million a year shellfish aquaculture industry.

 

In the physical science classes that I teach at the high school level, I am implementing engineering-based curriculum initative that have really stretched my abilities as an educator. This has required hours of thought and preparation dating back to the summer planning months when I was able to explore, for myself, fundamental questions about how students learn science. The motivation comes from the advocation of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the emphasis on engineering-based learning as core components of the new way we want students to learn science.

Reflection is a key element within a culture of learning because it helps to provide the means to be creative. It is a process that provides a soild basis from which new models for teaching and learning can be designed.

It can get obsessive for determined teachers as they creates as well as implement cutting-edge curriculum initatives in the science classroom.

I do not think technology limits reflection in anyway. Certainly there are some products, such as twitter, that do not naturally encourage reflection. To summarize technology as a whole in such a conversation would be similar to equating a cocktail party to all human gatherings.

This question could have been better asked as follows:

"What technologies can be used to augment and encourage student reflection?"

Without technology this discussion is not even possible. Without technology there would be no way for students to get the large volume of information they have access too including primary sources for current world events. When you do some reading about augmented human intellect you might reformulate your question to the following:

How much teaching and assessment be modified to accommodate modern learners and prepare them for the future?

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