The purpose of this post-intentional phenomenological research study was to better understand connectedness in personal learning networks. The study was situated within the context of the field of learning design and technologies, and more specifically in distance learning. Literature from online, mobile, and networked learning, as well as formal and informal learning, personal learning networks and environments, and interaction and interactivity supported the research. The conceptual framework comprised of complexity theory, motivation theories (Keller, 1987; Malone & Lepper, 1987; Maslow, 1943), learning theories (Bandura, 1986; Dewey, 1938/1997; Duffy & Cunningham, 1996; Lave & Wenger, 1991; Siemens, 2005), and theories of identity (Rogers, 1959; Wenger, 1998). The philosophical commitments of this study adhered to a phenomenological philosophy of technology (Ihde, 1979) and a post-intentional phenomenological philosophy and methodology (Vagle, 2014). A review of phenomenological research and postmodern/poststructural thought in the learning design and technologies field further supported the design of this research study. The aim of this interpretivist inquiry was to explore the question: how might connectedness take shape in personal learning networks? Six doctoral students from a public, four-year institution in the Midwest participated in three waves of data gathering that included written lived experience descriptions, think-aloud observations, and in-depth interviews conducted via synchronous video. A post-intentional methodology (Vagle, 2014) that included a whole-part-whole process, a post-reflexive journal, and a post-intentional data analysis technique of chasing lines of flight (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987; Vagle, 2014) was used to analyze and synthesize the data, as well as interrogate the tentative manifestations. The findings consisted of four tentative manifestations: connectedness in context, connectedness as motivation, connectedness as learning, and connectedness as identity. In the tentative manifestation of connectedness in context, lived experiences included immersiveness and characteristics of complex adaptive systems: emergence, self-organization, adaptive co-evolution, self-similarity, dynamic non-linearity, and systemic interconnectedness. In the tentative manifestation of connectedness as motivation, the findings encompassed the needs for safety and freedom, esteem through belonging, self-actualization, and the desire for being-in-the-know. Connectedness as learning was experienced through agency, forming goals, observing and modeling, reciprocating, seeking and finding multiple perspectives, discovering serendipitous surprises, and generating syntheses. Connectedness as identity was experienced as an evolving self-concept and identity through practice.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. September 2016. Major: Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Advisor: Charles Miller. 1 computer file (PDF); 3xii, 327 pages.
Being, Belonging, and Becoming in Immersive Complexity: A Post-Intentional Phenomenological Analysis of Connectedness in Doctoral Students’ Personal Learning Networks.
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