Reflections on learning

Learning Manager, Kevin Maye, takes a look at some learning theories and how we can use them to improve our online platform of free digital skills courses, Learn My Way.

What’s the theory?

When we talk about Reflective practice there’s not a single theory or process that we’re all thinking about. There’s a lot written and some of the differences are wide and some subtle.

So I’ll use an example to get at what I’m talking about. When I was learning to juggle a lot of my time was spent dropping balls.

Occasionally though I’d stop and think about what was leading to my missed catches. This is the reflective bit. Then I’d make a change to how I was trying to juggle.

Sometimes that made things better, sometimes worse, but over a couple of weeks I improved until I could juggle.

So for the rest of this blog I’m talking about this; taking time to stop, thinking things over and considering how to improve.

People might do that mentally, like me with juggling. Some people prefer to reflect by talking to others about what they’re learning. Or they might want to do something more structured like a reflective journal. Or write a blog. Whatever helps their reflections.

Where do we currently include this?

Trying to get people to stop and reflect on what they’re learning is difficult. If you take a look at the session plans we provide you’ll find a few minutes at the end to review what’s covered.

Learn My Way courses encourage people to recall and review what they’ve learned with questions, quizzes and recap screens.

Does that work?

These techniques will work for some people. But they have flaws.

If you use one of our session plans and things go off track the most likely part to get skipped or rushed is the last bit. That’s because the most likely time to notice time running out is at the end.

If you’re reading an online course, then you’re likely to skim the summary bits. That’s because you’ve just read that stuff in more detail.

What will change?

Well first let’s say what we’re not going to do. I’ve done courses that need a full page reflective journal for every class. That quickly became an exercise in writing anything to get the mark and move on, we’re not doing anything like that!

Our online materials won’t change much. We’ll occasionally ask people to make a note of something they want to reflect on later. But mostly we’ll try to nudge them to think about it.

We’ll also experiment with learner handouts that you can use for people to take away and reflect on later.

And our session plans will have reflection points throughout rather than just at the end.

How will I know if that makes things better?

If these moments of reflection help people to learn and remember they might change how they use Learn My Way. There may be fewer people repeating courses, so we’ll watch out for any changes in use.

Of course the changes might be more subtle than that. So this is one of those things where we’re interested to hear what you experience. Do the changes we make have an impact for your learners? Email us to let us know, or to get even more involved in how we improve Learn My Way in the future.