From Stephen Bigger,
I note you have tried to keep EJOLTS criteria at the front
of your mind, for which well done. However my overall first impression is that
this piece is overly descriptive, with a mass of contextual material I got
rather lost in. The trouble is that reflecting on life needs to be rigorous and have hard edges. I tend to look hard for
criticality, especially in the conceptualisation of the phenomenon discussed
(i.e. evidence of theoretical underpinning).
It leaves me with a number of
questions which may be the place for you to start revising. We can deal with
typos and presentation issues later but your first task is shaping your
What is gained and lost by opting for distance
over face to face learning? You could talk about the place of group discussion
in learning, and discuss whether Moodle can ever be a replacement. Clearly
distance has a logistical advantage, so enhancing student interaction with
tutors and fellow students is key.
Living theory starts with the notion that
practitioners want to improve. This means that a) there was dissatisfaction
with what was done before (please
itemise and explain), b) a journey into deeper understanding of the issues
(please discuss), c) a plan to bring about change (please discuss your choices
and reasons for them), and d) finally an evaluative process to check that the
changes are fit for purpose. It may be that aspects of these are buried under
the description but they need to be central and signposted.
academia stands on the shoulders of giants, and debts have to be
acknowledged, but the overall feel of the references is that they are antique.
Innovative theoretical work over the last two decades should be strongly
represented, and your conclusions should move theorising forwards. Future
scholars should be referring to your work in their own journeys, and in reading
this I am not convinced that they will. Try to put your finger on what you
could conclude which will help the journeys of others.
I ran a distance learning M.A. unit in the 1990s.
We had limited face-to-face in an opening and mid-point weekend
conference. That set the tone and
expectation and it is hard to see how things would have worked without it.
Students needed content which might be provided by reading lists and specially
commissioned materials. It also needed thought provoking stuff which ideally is
part of the assessment process. I arranged assessment to be experiential - not
only reflecting on performance but introducing new experiences which challenged
thinking. There might be elements here
which will help your signposting.
This leads to thoughts on reflective practice.
Given that Schön was a pioneer, who has extended the concept and how? In
particular, how can reflection be critical and think outside the box?
I see the
Frankfurt School lurking, but the critical studies agenda could be more
central. This defines improvement in terms of equity, social justice, democracy
in the face of authoritarianism, prejudice, discrimination and repression. (The
roots of the Frankfurt School were anti-Nazi. They will certainly be anti-Trump
also). This would seem to be one approach to criticality.
Recent literature on phronesis is centrally
focused on work-related skills. It would make a strong addition to your
discussion and theorisation.
Similarly there is a literature on dialogue -
enhancing the sense of internal dialogue in the course would strengthen it. How
to stimulate dialogue is a vital teaching aid, even more important in distance
learning. This is rooted in the work of Mikhail Bakhtin.
Activity theory, stemming from Vygotsky's sociocultural
work can also provide a framework for interrogating reflection on experience.
I have tried to be provocative about criticality
and theory. I think you need to reduce the vast descriptive passages and make
them subservient to a critical theoretical
argument which is introduced at the beginning, signposted throughout,
and summed up as a model that future scholars can use. I see this as your next
Good luck. Stephen