It is a widely-accepted fact that the process of reflection is a fundamental construct of transformative learning, allowing learners to make deeper meaning of their life experiences, attitudes, and assumptions by linking the same to the conceptual models and theories of their actual practice (Lamb, Lane & Aldous, 2013). Researchers contend that the developmental process of having to nurture the abilities of learners by exposing them to tons of new knowledge in their areas of practice has consistently been a challenge for trainers and supervisors, particularly because of the different learning styles that exist in the classroom setting. There is consensus, however, that the best way to instill new knowledge is to let learners engage the theoretical concepts presented in their practice in the context of their own life experiences. Journaling has conventionally been used to facilitate this process. Written journals have been commonplace in this regard, but video journals are fast gaining prominence, particularly in the context of adult learners, who, as research indicates, "prefer that their mode of reflection be verbal, rather than writing" (Parikh & Janson, 2012, p. 313). Towards this end, this text seeks to examine the specifics of video journaling, in which case it will outline how it supports the process of learning and how it addresses the problem of diverse learning styles.
Video Journaling in Transformative Learning
The 21st century breed of adult learners, commonly referred to as digital natives, represents a group that has grown up in a digital era, and that enjoys, therefore, living in cyberspace's public arena. Further, since technology has been able to essentially cater for this group's every need, its members have grown to become much more demanding in regard to their educational needs and expectations. Towards this end, it is the educator's role to identify their students' learning preferences, and adapt their teaching methods to be able to yield academic benefits for all students. This, according to the authors, explains why web 2.0 technologies have continued to gain prominence in learning settings. Worryingly, however, most of these have focused on bettering the academic domain (the teaching process), and have to a large extent ignored the students' domain (the learning process) (Kuhn, Russell-Bennett, and Rundle-Thiele, 2010).
Judging from the breathtaking rise in the popularity of Youtube.com, it is evident that today's adult learner finds pleasure in making videos of their life experiences, and sharing the same with others. Towards this end, educators could adopt the use of self-produced online videos as reflective journals in a bid to respond to the broad range of learning styles in their classrooms. The technique has been used to boost informal learning and active learning in teacher education (Clarke, 2009) as well as in hospital ICUs (Brandt & Hillgren, 2005). It would be prudent to mention at this point, however, that video per se., does not reinforce active learning; it only does when used in a manner that allows for student interactivity and hence, suits an individual learner's learning preferences/style. This perhaps explains why such techniques as the use of video in the delivery of lectures (Karns, 2006) and lecture webcasting, though quite popular, often have insignificant effects on learning outcomes. The subsequent sections focus on demonstrating how video journaling or video diaries help an educator go over the problem of diverse learning preferences.
Video Journaling and Learning Styles
According to Kolb's (1984) learning theory, learning is a cyclic process composed of four elements -- active experimentation (AE), abstract conceptualization (AC), reflective observation (RO), and concrete experience (CE), the interplay of which determines an individual's learning preference. Since different learners have different endowments of the four elements above, there are deemed to be variations in learning preferences and intelligences among learners in a classroom setting. In order to ensure effective and learner-centered learning, therefore, educators ought to "adopt a variety of teaching approaches and methods of assessment to accommodate different learning preferences" (Kuhn, Russell-Bennett, and Rundle-Thiele, 2010, p. 3).
As shown in table 1 below, video journaling has the ability to cater for different learning styles and preferences -- this it does by shifting power to the student and making the instructor more of a facilitator than an executor in the learning process (Kuhn, Russell-Bennett, and Rundle-Thiele, 2010). Students can make, view, and share their videos online, thereby demonstrating their level of understanding. Instructors, moreover, could use these self-constructed videos to identify individual students' learning styles and assess their understanding of specific concepts.
Table 1: Application of Video Journaling for different Learning Styles
Application of Video Journaling
Students of this kind learn best by doing, and would not necessarily think first; often preferring tasks that are daring and flexible
Video journaling allows students to speak their minds without necessarily having to plan their thoughts. Flexibility is brought about by the fact that the format of the video is determined solely by the learner, who then has the opportunity to make themselves the center of the video.
Learners of this kind prefer to apply techniques, theories, and ideas practically; and would often prefer tasks that require practical experiments and research
Video journaling provides platforms for students to share their personal experiences with others; further the use of video enables them to experiment with technology and also communicate their ideas with others
Learners of this kind prefer to solve problems in an objective, rational, and logical manner; often focusing on building theories from the ideas they have by structuring the same in a logical manner
Video journaling allows students to structure their past and present observations in a logical manner, and to consequently develop theories and models that could contextualize their life experiences
Learners of this kind prefer to observe situations critically, gather data and then analyze the same at their own time to draw their own conclusions
Video journaling allows students to develop their videos at their own time, and to tailor them to their own specifications. Moreover, students could be provided with a list of reflection questions, which would offer guidance and structure, and thereby increase their confidence and certainty to carry out the task at hand
(Source: Kuhn, Russell-Bennett, and Rundle-Thiele, 2010, p. 5)
Further, the technique is likely to improve students' collaboration and dialogue skills; and at the same time expand their opportunities for deeper learning by allowing them to keep records of their personal learning experiences, record the development of their insights and ideas, and reflect on both their learning process and the course content (Kuhn, Russell-Bennett, and Rundle-Thiele, 2010).
How Video Journaling Works
Vimeo and YouTube are the most commonly-used video-sharing platforms; however, for classroom purposes, platforms such as Mindlogr, which offer more privacy could be used. The instructor could create an account on such sites, and subscribe their learners to the same, allowing them to maintain private video recordings of their life experiences, and also share the same if necessary with the rest of the group. They could record video diaries about the week's activities (individually or as part of a group, depending on the class size) via a video camera, mobile phone, or webcam. As a stimulus, the instructor could pose specific questions touching on the week's course content or extending beyond the brief's scope; and the students could then upload their videos to the site. According to Kuhn, Russell-Bennett, and Rundle-Thiele (2010), a good video-sharing platform should allow students to view the videos of others and also to access their past experiences across semesters.
By examining the video recordings of individual students, the instructor would be able to gauge their understanding of the question under investigation, and also to identify the teaching strategies that would best suit their identified learning style and yield positive outcomes.
Video Journaling in Use
Birmingham City University in the United Kingdom was one of the earliest users of video journal technology. The university currently operates an official YouTube page, which has more than 100 subscribers, and thousands of videos by students and faculty members on among other things, research, facilities, innovation, and business success. Ross Golightly, a second-year student in the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work describes how the video platform enabled her, then a student in Film Studies and Journalism, to interact with a professor in the nursing department, who after viewing her videos, advised her to take up a course in care, and offered her placement at a summer camp for children with learning disabilities. Thanks to the video platform, the professor was in a position to identify Golightly's strengths and weaknesses and advise her accordingly. I have attached the link to the university's official YouTube page in the references section of this text.
The West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas is another notable beneficiary of video journaling technology. According to Barbier, Cevenini and Crawford (2012), the technology has had significant benefits, including improving the security and safety of students and faculty, and enabling real-time communication among students from around the world. Through an…