- A place to reflect upon new ideas, and make abstract connections between these.
- A place to reflect upon the studio making, in a more detached, analytical and critical way.
- A place to make notes, in a way that is organized.
- A place to document visually (with drawings, photographs, and even video) the process, to aid in reflection, and for outside evaluation.
- A place to store links for further research.
The list could be extended, but suffice to say, the reflective nature of journal marks it out as a critical tool in the artist’s growth. The journal becomes a 'thinking tool', to enable higher 'meta-cogntive' learning:
JOURNALS AND META-COGNITION
"Meta-cognitive regulation is a key for successful learning...performance, and academic success" (Alt, 2020) One of the most effective tools in increasing meta-cognition is the reflective journal, that is "written documents that students create as they think about various concepts, events, or interactions over a period of time for the purposes of gaining insights into self-awareness and learning" (Alt,2020).
But how do students write reflectively, with meta-cognition, and not simply just write descriptions of work? One of the simplest ways to start reflecting is to formulate questions to prompt meta-cogntive reflection. Students may initially require some help in learning how to do this; they may even require some initial 'prompting' questions from the teacher, "however, gradually over-time, the prompting questions might be internalized by the students and become part of their high-quality reflective thinking and self-directed processes" (Alt, 2020). Teachers might also need to help students "make
specific connections between them as individuals and the broader social, cultural and structural environment, by understanding how our ideas, beliefs and assumptions might be at least partially determined by our social contexts" (Alt, 2020)
ADVANTAGES OF ONLINE JOURNALING (USING A BLOG PLATFORM)
Online journals or blogs have many advantages over traditional handwritten documents, including:
- The automatic archiving features of a blog allow students to keep track of their research, with date and categories, for example. This also can remind them to make regular (daily?) posts.
- The date/time stamp allows the teacher to track that the student is making regular reflections, and make recommendations in formative assessment; and, evaluate how far they have engaged with the practice when it comes to summative assessment (students cannot simply throw some ideas together at the end of a course).
- The student can easily add to the blog with their phone at any time, without having to carry a separate journal.
- The blog can be easily shared with the teacher, so that timely help can be given.
- The blog is easily searchable - so ideas or research links can be easily accessed at any time. Without this technology it is very easy to lose track of one’s research.
Some art teachers have even encouraged the use of online journals or 'web blogs' because they allow for easy communication of ideas between peers, and a continuation of the critiquing process, as well as being a space to 'record and reflection on ideas' (Overby, 2009).
Of course, a Google Doc could also be created and added to by the student as a journal, and shared with the teacher, and fellow students for viewing. This too has the advantage of allowing hyperlinks. However, it lacks some of the powerful searching and archiving aspects of the blog platform. Security is not a major issue with blogs (although using them is always a good opportunity for learning cybersafety, digital citizenship, and ethical questions) as they should be kept anonymous by the students; however, if this is an issue, then the Google Doc or similar could be used as an alternative. It certainly has many advantages over traditional paper journals.
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