2 Backgroundsbut they are not logs only in the sense of recording data at particular points in time or place. An example of the latter would be a ships log in which data is written at fixed points in a ships passage. A learning journal is very likely to include some factual recording about place or time but for the sense here, it means morethan that. Sometimes a learningjournal, as we have said, is the same as a personaldevelopment plan, a progress file or a record of achievement (NCIHE, 1997;Cottrell, 2003). It may, likewise, coincide with many aspects of a portfolio inwhich a range of leamers work or evidence of work is accompanied by a reflectivecommentary. There are other words that have been or rnay be used to describebroadly the same activity as the keeping of a learning journal. Old terrns are commonplace or common-day book (Rainer, 1978) which could be descrip-tive or might have a more constmctive purpose. Think place or think book, notebook and workbook are other terms that arise in the literature. There aresome other words such as ponder that rnight be engaged here. Precisely defining words - such as journal - is unhelpful here because it is a situation in which the creative development of personal terms is an aspect of thevery process of reflective learning. In this book, by learning journal, we refer toan accumulation of material that is mainly based on the writers processes ofreflection. The accumulation is made over a period of time, not in one go. Thenotion of leaming7 implies that there is an overall intention by the writer (or thosewho have set the task) that learning should be enhanced. For this reason, the descriptive diary that never goes further than describing events is not part of the subject matter of this book. Within this generalized form that we describe here there are vast creative possibilities with many illustrations of these in this book. So we are not talking about something with a fixed definition here. The definition has fuzzy edges. For example, the idea of writing a journal mostly implies an activity that is personal and relatively solitary, but one form of journal-writing involves two or more people who construct the same document. Dialoguejournals represent a written conversation between two or more people, eachresponding to the others entries, usually around an agreed topic, though, as in thenature of any conversation, the topic rnay shift and a new one rnay be introduced. Shifting on in meaning a little brings us to email conversations, and the various software mechanisms whereby a large nurnber of people can read or contribute toa discussion, with the topics organized into strands (e.g. blogs and wikis). Another example of activity that rnay or rnay not fit our notion of learningjoumal is the autobiography. In the past few years the literature on story and narra-tive in education and professional development has increased greatly (e.g. McDruryand Alterio, 2003). As an example, many teacher education programes utilizeautobiography as a means of exploring students pre-course conceptions of teach- ing, teachers, school and other concepts that rnay distort their new role as teachers. Sometimes this form of work would not be sufficiently continuous in time to fit ourdeñnition, or it rnay be an exercise within a learning joumal. An aspect of the definition on which we have not yet expanded is the form ofexpression of the reflection. It is easiest to think of journal work as written and
Backgrounds 3often it is handwritten. A pen and notebook may not now be vastly more con-venient to cany than a palm-top computer, but they are still cheaper, and for manypeople there is something more expressive about a favourite pen than a keyboard.Electronic joumals have advantages, and one, in particular, is where parts of thejournal can be cornmunicated to others by email - such as in the case of a dialoguej o m a l or the discussion lists that we have mentioned above. Verbal reflection can be recorded on tape. Audio-diaTies have become relativelycornmon on radio. Here they might take the form of the individual making regularrecordings during a journey - or during the experiencing of an event. As this iswritten, an audio-diary broadcasted in the summer of 2005 on the BBC comes tomind (BBC Radio 4, 8 August 2005). It was made by a relatively unknown Scottish band, the members of which were suddenly drawn into top of the chartsstatus in Serbia. They reflected on their journey to Serbia across Europe in an oldvan, the brief experience of stardom and the trundle back into everyday life. We do not assume, either, that joumals are always verbal. Words can be mixedwith drawing or drawing may predominate. Leamingjournals are close or coincidewith the idea of the artists notebook. In architecture or art, the noting and explor-ation of graphic form over a period of time might be the subject of a j o m a l andparallel ideas might be applied in music and it may even occur in dance and acting.These different forms of recording in a leaming joumal need to be borne in mindwhen reading this book but, for convenience, most of the text will refer to thewritten form of recording. The subject matter of joumals - what it is that people are writing and thinking about in their joumals - will be covered in many areas of this book. For con-venience we divide the main approach to the subject matter of joumals into three areas - personal development, journals in formal non-vocational education and in the context of professional education and development. There are large areas ofoverlap of likely subject matter in these areas. For example, few would separatepersonal development entirely fiom professional development (Harvey andKnight; 1996). Equally, professional or vocational issues may well emerge in apersonal joumal but are alse sometimes of relevance to a students developmentwithin his or her discipline. Beyond the three big categories here, however, there are some surprises in the literature. While it is clear to see that there is no limit to the day-to-day subjectmatter of a personal development joumal, there also seems to be little limit tothe subject matter about which journals may be written in the field of formal education. This book will discuss the use of joumals in over 30 disciplines in formal education. These disciplines range far fiom the humanities and arts, wherethe home of joumal-writing might seem to be, to the sciences and applied sciences of engineering and computer studies. It is usefbl that basic subject matter inspiresthe development of different structures for reflection and writing and these dif- ferent structures can then be adapted and applied elsewhere. Many of the exercisesthat are described in the last two chapters of this book have been adapted fiom specific applications in other contexts.
4 Backgrounds Another major variable in joumals is their stmcture. A simple personal leaming joumal rnay be no more than a recording of the features of the day with reflective commentary and consideration of the issues raised. However, an extreme example of a structured joumal is also one most often focused on personal development. Progoff S Intensive Joumal (see p. 132) consists of 19 sections, many of which have associated methods recornrnended for their entries (Progoff, 1975). Between these extremes, there is wide variation, which is often defined by the subject matter or the purposes of the journal. For example, in formal education, journal entries rnay often relate to coursework - the content of lectures and reading work or entries rnay be required to follow a sequence of questions that are designed to structure reflection. Often, however, students who are guided in some of their- entries are encouraged also to write fi-eely in another section. As we noted, we have personal development planning that links the academic experiences of a student with her broader experiences of being a student and with her developing aspirations for career. The question of audience for the writing of a joumal raises some interesting issues. It has three aspects that rnay be linked. First, for whom is the joumal being written, in the sense of who is it who has decided that it will be written? (1s there any choice not to write it?) Second, who will see it - will it be assessed and seen by another in that context or will it be seen by a tutor who will ask only helpful questions to guide reflection to unconsidered issues? Will it be seen by peers? Individuals rnay choose to share aspects of their journal with another for mutual benefit or for their own benefit. There are benefits fi-om sharing journal- writing, but it can be risky, too, and the knowledge that one is sharing can distort the process of writing. The third aspect, of audience, rnay remain in a conscious or unconscious state with the writer. Writers of personal joumals rnay become aware that they are writing for a particular audience - perhaps their children, or others who may see the joumals after the writer has died. Thoughts about this aspect of audience rnay arise in considerations of the confidentiality of joumals. 1s someone quietly prying on a personal joumal or not? If someone pries, does it matter? 1s it al1 right that someone else leams more about ones views and reflections - more than would be revealed in a conversation? The coercion, the power and the nature of the audience can be major influences on joumal writers and their journals. W h y write a learning journal? There are many formal purposes (Moon, 1999b) for writing a joumal (Chapter 5). In this section we seek to provide a feel for the reasons why people choose to engage in this activity. We tackle this task by considering the comments that joumal writers and those who have managed a joumal-writing process have made. These quotations are chosen because they seem, in their different ways, to articulate some of the essence of why write a joumal.