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Micro-reflection: Mobile=feedback loop

Some comments on my recent blog post from Ivan @iwannt about how the term I used “micro-reflection” relates to connectivism had me thinking a bit.

I like a term “micro-reflection”. When I read this post first time, the term reminded me the concept of granularization of interaction, described by George Siemens here:

I would have to agree that “micro-reflection” is very connectivistic (is that a word?). Further, it has great application for mobile learning not only in the granularization of the communication structures (Twitter, Facebook, audio, camera, video), but also the persistence of their feedback cycles. Mobile devices provide the possibility of endless feedback loops of responses to queries, posts, information seeking activities, and so on. These loops serve learners to micro-reflect, ie reflect on their learning progress potentially hundreds of times a day. For example, a math quiz from a teacher delivered on mobile immediately delivers the results to the students. A micro-quiz would be one question at a time delivered throughout the day. A constant, persistent reminder of learning progress and context.

I see micro-reflection more as conversation rather than reflection as more of an isolated writing activity. I think there will always be great merit in long-form reflective activities, the kind promoted by blog posts, essays, dissertations, and papers. Absolutely a need for that. But mobile affirms the notion of perpetual feedback cycles, ones that offer guidance on navigating day to day learning needs, ones that stress agility and network cultivation/curation. All of this is well served by mobile. For example, I am a field researcher studying the archaeology of African cultural heritage sites (Timbuktu, for example). I am in the field documenting the erosion of the great mosques of Timbuktu and trying to determine the nature of both the erosion and the original design itself. I use mobile to document the structure, send those photos to a larger network (even Flickr to some degree), ask for consultation from my network, receive responses, re-evaulate my original premise and move on. All of this from the field. Now, if my network fails to deliver some feedback, or provides inaccurate feedback, trust is lost, the field experience is diminished in terms of impact. My network becomes less trust-worthy. Time to curate my network a bit more for greater impact. Mobile allows me to do that on the go, in the field, at any time. It is a persistent engagement with learning itself.

Thanks, Ivan for the good comments!

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About Author

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

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