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Phenomenology and networked learning: mobilage glimpsed from the inside through an online focus group

Johnson, Mike 2020. Phenomenology and networked learning: mobilage glimpsed from the inside through an online focus group. Presented at: Twelfth International Conference on Networked Learning 2020, Online, 18-20 May 2020. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Networked Learning. Aalborg University, Denmark,

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Abstract

This paper arises from doctoral studies which adopted a multi-methods design which aimed to disclose being healthcare students using a mobile phone for academic work: the student and mobile phone, i.e. mobilage, was the unit of analysis. This paper picks up on a long-term but sparse conversation about the use of phenomenology to investigate networked learning. Reasons for the paucity of work in this area are explored, including the nature of questions that phenomenology seeks to engage: to unveil and convey pre-reflective human consciousness. I seek to supplement this gap, as I see it, in the literature by contrasting two arms of my thesis project: one relied on ten in-person encounters with informants and another an online focus group designed to gather information from within the informant's lifeworld. These two methods frame a discussion of the merits, weaknesses and fidelity of my approach to gathering data pursuant to hermeneutic phenomenology, i.e. considering the difference between methods where the researcher is or is not in the informant'simmediate co-presence. Gadamer's horizon fusion metaphor is arguably easier to conceive of with informant and researcher co-located, where the setting and conversation is informal, perhaps typical of everyday mobile phone use. Ten such encounters were undertaken and analysed through repeated listening to audio recordings and phenomenological writing. In contrast, the online focus group lasted for three months with seven informants who never met physically. Informed by experience sampling methods, weekly trigger messages were posted for the group to respond to, ideally in situ. Acknowledging that all data is mediated in need of interpretation, the paper reflects on the possible effects of data gathering at varying levels of temporal and interpretive proximity, or 'hermeneutic shades', between the researcher and the phenomena carried within data gathered, helping to condition what weight to afford information from different media. Van Manen's analytical method and goal of writing vocative anecdotes to convey aspects of the essence of a lived experience is considered against examples of direct accounts from the online focus group, one of which, it is argued, fulfils his criteria for phenomenological anecdotes. It is proposed that this demonstrates the potential worth of an online medium to not only supply data for phenomenological writing but arguably even represent phenomena without passing through the hermeneutic/analytical writing process.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Date Type: Publication
Status: In Press
Schools: Healthcare Sciences
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Uncontrolled Keywords: M-learning, phenomenology, online focus group, methodology, networked learning, experience sampling method
Publisher: Aalborg University, Denmark
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 1 June 2020
Date of Acceptance: 10 February 2020
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2020 12:45
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/132075

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