Blogs and the e-Flective Practitioner: Professional, not Confessional

Blogs and the e-Flective Practitioner: Professional, not Confessional

Paul Lowe (University of the Arts London, UK) and Margo Blythman (University of the Arts London, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-884-0.ch009
OnDemand PDF Download:
No Current Special Offers


In a context of mass higher education it can be a challenge to build a reasonable level of personalised learning into the student experience. This chapter explores the relationship between personalised learning, reflection and the use of blogs in the building of a collaborative learning community through opportunities to build professional identity. The authors outline how the postgraduate programme in the Media school at the London College of Communication, University of the Arts London uses web 2.0 tools on the photography programme, in particular blogs, in developing reflective practitioners within a collaborative community of practice. The unique opportunities presented by live blogs in opening up the process of articulating experience into learning, enhance what the authors characterise as the ‘E-flective practitioner’.
Chapter Preview

In my opinion, nothing comes closer to a critical assessment of my major project than my almost day-to-day account of my progress with the project (and my studies in general) in the form of this blog. What is more, the blog entries were written in ‘real time’ while I was working on my project and therefore are, in my opinion, more valuable to analyse my thought processes and my approach to the project than any ex post dissection could be. And in a sense, this blog also reflects – in an unvarnished fashion - my successes, excitement, frustrations and failures along the way without the benefit of hindsight.(Student on MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography, LCC)


Introduction And Context

Our postgraduate programme at the University of the Arts London is specialist and largely vocational. It aims predominantly at developing the knowledge and skills of professional media practitioners. As such, it has implications for any practice-led education where the emphasis is on solving real world problems and developing professional experience. The contemporary world requires a demanding range of skills and attributes from those working in the creative industries. These industries need people who not only have technical skills, but also an aesthetic and creative sensibility, an understanding of ethical issues in a professional context and the capacity to network and market their work. They need to have a sense of themselves in the world. Reich (1992) argues for the need for the education of 'symbolic analysts'. For Reich, symbolic analysts need to refine their skills of 'abstraction; system thinking; experimentation and collaboration' (p229). He argues for a curriculum that is:

fluid and interactive. Instead of emphasising the transmission of information, the focus is on judgement and interpretation….. the student learns to examine reality from many angles, in different lights, and thus to visualise new opportunities and choices……..Rather than teach students how to solve a problem that is presented to them, they are taught to examine why the problem arises and how it is connected to other problems. (230 -1)

Reich's argument clearly connects with 'mode 2 knowledge' which Delanty (2001) outlines as:

a form of knowledge production characterised by reflexivity, transdisciplinarity and heterogeneity (p.102).

Additionally, and this is particularly true of our case study, we are operating in a world where our students come from diverse cultural backgrounds across the globe and are working in a range of physical locations which may well be culturally new to both them and us. Thus we have complex work to do with our students yet we are within the pressures and expectations of contemporary UK higher education. It is a time of increasing student numbers but declining resource where multiple competing demands are made of both staff and students creating a demanding sense of time pressure. (Giddens 1990).

The MA Photojournalism and Documentary Photography course is aimed mostly at mature students who are mid-career professionals looking to deepen and extend their practice, or wishing to gain the skills and methodological toolbox to operate as professional photographers in an editorial and documentary context. Our students are from a wide range of backgrounds and countries. Central to our teaching strategy is the development of critically aware practitioners who are able to combine high levels of technical expertise with compelling aesthetics, underpinned by a strong ethical perspective. There is a high level of interaction with industry, evidenced especially by extensive use of professionals as visiting tutors and mentors. The quotations in this chapter from students all come from participants on this programme; their diversity of age, gender and background means that their experiences are relevant for other courses in other disciplines that involve lifelong learning as well as undergraduate or post graduate education.

Our intention is that students learn through growing into a collaborative learning community, based on professional practice which then enables them to be part of the wider community of practice of photojournalists. For us, legitimate peripheral participation includes:

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: