Dissertation Abstract

As on September 2013 I have official commenced work on my dissertation. Here is a working abstract for those interested in my work. I will be updating this section of the site on my progress as I mark milestones in the process. Feedback is always welcome!

After over a decade of integrating blogging technology into the post-secondary classroom, where do we stand? The pedagogical practice of asking students to compose in open, online, multi-user space has grown rapidly and steadily in recent years along with an increase in institutional and financial support. There are a host of constituent assertions that support the use of such programs, including cultivating digital literacy through broader audience awareness, interactivity and collaboration between peers, and the nascent incorporation and creation of multimedia in the writing process.This study will investigate the effectiveness of this method, and the claims that these practices foster the development of long-tail, real world skills. The principal investigator will engage in a case study of six consecutive years worth of ePorfolifos, culled from a successful honors program at eight public university campuses. This investigation will consist of three stages; the first, a survey of incoming students, examining their online reading and writing habits prior to enrollment, the second phase, a large scale data analysis of teacher-directed course sites (with particular attention paid to student writing, tagging, and citation practices), and the third phase, a series of semi-structured interviews with the winners of a self-nominated ePortfolio contest and an in depth analysis of the corresponding student-directed sites. Once complete, results will be available for comparison to similar case studies performed on different student populations, such as the Visible Knowledge Project (Bass et al., 2009) as well as formal educational assessments, in the interest of better informing future digital literacy pedagogy.

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