Using a personal learning journal
What is a personal learning journal?
A learning journal is a collection of notes, observations, thoughts and other relevant materials built‐up over a period of time and maybe a result of a period of study, learning and/or working experience.
Its purpose is to enhance your learning through the process of writing and thinking about your learning experiences.
Your learning journal is personal to you and will reflect your personality, preferences and experiences.
Why use a learning journal?
- To provide a “live” picture of your growing understanding of a subject experience
- To demonstrate how your learning is developing
- To keep a record of your thoughts and ideas throughout your experiences
- To help you identify your strengths, areas for improvement and preferences in learning
Using a personal learning journal helps you to be reflective about your learning, this mean that your journal should not be a purely descriptive account of what you did but an opportunity to communicate your thinking process: how and why you did what you did, and what you know think about what you did.
Structuring your learning journal
Using a personal learning journal may be called several different things: a learning log, a fieldwork diary or personal development planner – in fact whatever you want to call it. Different subject areas may ask you to focus on different aspects of your experience and may have different formats.
What is reflective learning?
Using a personal learning journal – Reflective learning (Metacognition) is a learned process that requires time and practice. It is an active process: involving thinking through the issues yourself, asking questions and seeking out relevant information to aid your understanding.
Reflective learning works best when you think about what you are doing before, during and after your learning experience. Reflective learning is therefore not only about recognizing your something new, it is also about see reality in a new way.
Reflection is an important skill to develop and requires you to think about how you are personally relating to what is happening in the workshop or in your work.
Content of your learning journal
A learning journal should focus on your personal responses, reactions and reflections to new ideas or new ways of thinking about a subject that you have been introduced through:
- Workshops, seminars, training sessions
- Research and reading including any visual research includingtelevision, film and internet.
- Conversations and discussions with other participants and other learners.
- Significant experiences in your learning.
What should you write about?
What you think about issues discussed during your learning?
Any flashes of inspiration you had.
What you understand so far.
What you find puzzling, difficult or contradictory.
How can you reach a better understanding.
What do you need to know more about, and how can you go about finding out more?
What resources have helped you to understand and/or been interesting to use?
How do you feel about the way you have approached the subject/topic so far?
What new knowledge, skills or understanding have you gained during the process of writing your journal?
Regarding your long term development;
- Have you changed your opinions or values during the process/experience?
- How can you improve your learning, thinking and learning in the future?
- Have you identified the next step for your development?
It may seem labourious at first, Using a personal learning journal, but it is a very useful tool to really engage in Lifelong Learning and will help you keep on track with your learning and become a more autonomous learner in the process.
If you’ve never thought about Using a personal learning journal, try it! You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.