"Adobe Visualise” Photographic Critical Reflection
Dept. of Business Technology & Entrepreneurship
Dept. of Business Technology & Entrepreneurship
“AdobeVisualise” teaching initiative aims to improve information and critical literacy of students taking Capstone 2 – Industry Consulting Project (BUS30009) using Adobe Portfolio (Pf) to create a Photographic Reflective Portfolio.
This website will act as a platform of a reflective diary for journaling student’s learning experiences in BUS30009 and narratives by involving them in processes of self-assessment and self-reflection. Their own photos that have a reflective, introspective, and personal value related to the Unit’s weekly learning experience will be added, evaluated, and linked to make critical statements to bridge the experience and subject matters creating an analytical distance between their feelings and the subject matter.
This photographic reflective portfolio is a new form of expression and a freedom for choices such as place, time, angles, and location while also generating critical insights into subject matters.
Students will capture their weekly learning experiences in the unit through self-imagery; creatively showcase the experiences in the photographs by creating an e-portfolio using Adobe Portfolio (Pf) application; and critically reflect on the captured experiences by applying, analysing, and evaluating theoretical knowledge and the practical consulting experience with the industry partner and synthesising current learning into future implications. This encourages students to capture, and creatively showcase their emotions, inhibitions, and personal growth within the learning journey in the Unit. By attempting to visualise their learning experiences and develop connections between them and subject matters, students gain information literacy. In addition, by being able to learn the application of Adobe Portfolio (Pf) to create a personalised website to exemplify their learning experience, students master both critical and technical literacy.
This 3-hour (approx.) lesson plan supports the implementation of a major individual assessment task in any experiential learning-based Business Management and Entrepreneurship Unit. The aim of the assessment is to equip students with the critical thinking skills to reflect on their learning experiences. To support educators the following marking criteria sheet has also been created.
This resource is also available to an international audience on the Adobe Education Exchange!
Reflective writing skills are widely regarded as a means of improving students’ lifelong learning and professional practice in higher education particularly, but not exclusively, in courses that include work-integrated learning. Built on experiential learning principles, BUS30009 – Industry Consulting Project delivers an authentic learning experience of a live problem-solving industry project. During the last few semesters, I observed that students’ reflections on learning experiences in the Unit seem to be poorly written with a lack of critical literacy. Many of the reflections comprised mere outlines of learning contents of the Unit and criticisms of team members for their lack of commitment instead of critically reflecting on the experiences. A poor reflection of the learning experience creates an incomplete experiential learning environment. Reflective thinking is an activity that needs to be learned and an ability that bridges knowing and doing. Therefore, the “Adobe Visualise” teaching initiative enables students to create visual diaries of learning experience giving students the voice of the camera and serving as a means for grappling with emotions and stimuli, such as the physical context of students they find themselves in rather than traditional report-based dry reflections.
The “Adobe Visualise” teaching initiative aimed at improving the critical thinking skills of students taking the Industry Consulting Project Unit. Using Adobe Portfolio (Pf) students created a personalized e-portfolio that acted as a repository of self-imageries capturing the main learning experience of each week in the Unit and the associated narratives of reflections on each learning experience. This photographic reflective portfolio involved students in a process of self-assessment and self-reflection through a new form of expression and freedom for choices such as place, time, angles, and location instead of traditional reports and essay-based reflective writing exercises. Students were required to take photos that have a reflective, introspective, and personal value related to the Unit’s weekly learning experience. By choosing what they frame, students must evaluate and assess their surroundings and make critical statements linking the experience and subject matter. This process required and created an analytical distance between their feelings and the subject matter. Examining their own experiences focusing on emotions, inhibitions, and personal growth within the Unit helped to uncover their most deeply embedded allegiance and motivations as learners. These are essential parts of the approach to critical reflective writing, in which the practitioner takes a conscious look at his emotions, experiences, actions, and responses, to draw out meaning and have a higher level of understanding.
This visual diary of learning experiences addressed students’ feelings and inhibitions at various weeks in the Unit. The self-imagery added an imaginative new dimension to reflection processes by providing a mechanism for ‘reflection-in-practice’. It allowed the students to become better aware of what they were doing in the moments of learning in each week of the Unit. Furthermore, idea clarifications and modifications happened due to the need of presenting knowledge in a different form during the reflective writing process resulting in developing a new understanding and viewing the information from a different perspective.
By attempting to visualise their learning experiences and develop connections between them and subject matters, students gain information literacy. In addition,
Digital Literacy outcomes
The ‘Adobe Visualise’ teaching initiative was built on technology literacy and critical literacy skills. Access to short demonstration videos on Adobe Portfolio (Pf) from Adobe Hub of the Swinburne University of Technology and ‘how to guides’ from Adobe Inc was provided to support technology literacy skill development. Critical literacy skills development was supported by providing short videos on reflective writing, class discussions on critical reflection, and thinking prompts to complete the assessment task. The critical reflective practice in this case presents an alternative practice of completing reflections. Photographic reflection can improve critical thinking and establish a sense of control. Therefore, the assessment took a progressive developmental approach to build the needed flexibility in assessment completion, and thus, students submitted their reflections at three different stages in the semester (i.e., Week 5, 10, and 13). This progressive approach allowed students to receive feedback from the Class Coach and improve their expected digital literacies gradually. By being able to learn the application of Pf to create a personalised website to showcase their learning experience, students master both critical (i.e., ability to question the strengths/weaknesses and the uses of Pf) and technology literacy (i.e., confidence and ability in using Pf) as they learned to question the overall learning experience. Weekly critical reflections on their learning experiences for 10 weeks continuously within the semester enabled students’ critical literacy skill development.
Whilst targeted digital literacies of the piloted teaching initiative have supported the critical reflection skill development of the students, the following observations were made upon the completion of the project. Despite the survey outcomes, I noticed that some students tend to be driven by inbuilt inertia to learn new skills and consider these learning activities as something ‘additional’. I also noticed that this attitude negatively affected the enthusiasm of the teaching team to try innovative approaches to skill development. Highly engaged students valued the progressive development of the portfolio. Yet, some students took it as an opportunity to procrastinate the weekly reflections and subsequently accumulate the work which in turn led students to add photos that are not capturing the learning experiences and engage in reflections without a critical focus. Therefore, alternative motivation mechanisms and an in-class Adobe Portfolio construction workshop for both students and teaching staff need to be introduced to support the future implementations of the teaching initiative.
Human research ethics approval was sought well before the implementation of the teaching initiative to run the surveys measuring the impact of the teaching initiative. Three mini surveys were disseminated in Weeks 6, 11, and 14 to collect data on digital literacies and critical reflection skill development of undergraduates taking BUS30009. The data analysed employing the Independent sample t-test confirmed that there is a statistically significant difference between the level of confidence in using Adobe Portfolio before and after taking part in the Adobe Visualise teaching initiative of BUS30009 [t(77),=-3.83, p<0.01]. A set of simple linear regressions were performed to analyse the effects of the use of self-imagery and digital literacies (i.e., technology and critical literacy) on critical reflection skills (i.e., cognitive, behavioural, and affective). It was found that the use of self-imagery (photographs) predicted a positive relationship with cognitive [β=0.22, R2=0.11, F(1,43)=5.36, p<0.05], behavioural [β=0.30, R2=0.19, F(1,43)=10.05, p<0.01], and affective [β=0.25, R2=0.12, F(1,43)=6.22, p<0.05] dimensions of reflective learning skills. Regarding the effects of digital literacies, it was found that the higher the level of technology literacy the lower will be the overall level of reflective learning skills [β=-0.58, R2=0.19, F(2,38)=4.7, p<0.05]. However, there was no statistically significant relationship between the level of critical literacy and the overall level of reflective learning skills. Interestingly, technology literacy was found to be a statistically significant predictor of both cognitive [β=-0.51, R2=0.23, F(2,38)=4.7, p<0.05] and behavioural [β=-0.89, R2=0.23, F(2,38)=5.66, p<0.01] levels of reflective learning skills: the higher the level of technology literacy the lower will be the level of cognitive and behavioural reflective learning skills. Yet, the level of critical literacy tends to be positively related to behavioural level reflection skills [β=0.52, R2=0.23, F(2,38)=5.66, p<0.01]. None of the literacy pillars predicted the affective level of reflection learning skills.