Reflective Writing – A Lost Art?

I have spent a few hours this week reading over different blogs relating to technical communication, instructional design and elearning. I noticed that a lot of blogs are written in a very journalistic style; they are sleek and professional. Not a bad thing, but this got me thinking about my blog and reflective writing in general – is it a lost art form?

So many blogs and youtube videos seem to tell you information or demonstrate something, but lack any thought or personal opinion from the author/creator. I suppose in some cases (especially on youtube) authors have to be very careful of what they say as often they are required to be vendor neutral or are being paid to review something (this is a whole topic in itself) however when did having a (educated, polite and well thought out) opinion about a product or tool become a bad thing?

One of the topics I have been researching is the difference between Articulate 360 and Adobe Captivate. Most blogs and videos list the differences and show the software functionality, but what I really wanted to know is the users opinion and experience on using the software. I can find out about the products on the vendor’s website.

I suppose what you must also take into consideration is that peoples opinions are subjective, and just because someone doesn’t like a particular feature, doesn’t mean that it is an awful product. Reviews on TripAdvisor and Amazon can be anonymous and maybe it’s the anonymity factor that make people reluctant to share their thoughts in blogs and videos?

As a result, I started looking into the different frameworks of reflective writing. The reflective writing frameworks I discovered were:

  • Reflective Practice (Rolfe et al. 2001) – What, so what, now what?
  • Reflection in Action (Schön) – Before, During and After
  • Experiential Learning (Kolb) – Concrete experience, observation and reflection, forming abstract concepts/thinking, experimenting with ideas
  • The Learning Cycle (Honey and Mumford) – Do, reflect, form principles and plan
  • Reflective Cycle (Gibbs) – Description, feelings, evaluation, analysis, conclusion, action

After reading into each framework, I decided that my favourite approach to reflection was Gibbs Reflective Cycle. I think my blog is currently quite similar to this framework already, but as a result I am going to try to ensure that my writing always includes details of the following:

  • What happened? What did I do?
  • What was I thinking? How was I feeling?
  • What was good and bad?
  • Can I make sense of the situation?
  • What else could I have done?
  • If this happened again, what would I do differently?

A great little book I found on this subject is Reflective Writing by Williams et al. it’s only 100 or so pages long and can be read in half-hour or so. It’s very useful for anyone who wants to compare the different reflective writing approaches.

Another important thing to note about reflective writing is that it can form an important part of a CDP (Continuous Development Plan). Often professional associations, such as the ISTC, require you to prove that you are keeping your skills up to date. A great way of doing this is through reflective writing and blogs. A good example of how to do this can be found on the ISTC website.


Williams, K., Woolliams, M. and Spiro, J. (2012). Reflective writing. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.