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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10791/240

Title: Learner experience of silence in cohort-based distance education
Authors: Duran, Leslie
Supervisor(s): Conrad, Dianne (Centre for Distance Education)
Examining Committee: Moisey, Susan (Centre for Distance Education)
Perry, Beth (Faculty of Health Disciplines)
Rose, Ellen (Faculty of Education, University of New Brunswick)
Degree: Doctor of Education (EdD) in Distance Education
Department: Centre for Distance Education
Keywords: Silence
Distance education
Online interaction
Phenomenology of practice
Distance learners
Issue Date: 27-Nov-2017
Abstract: This study explores how distance learners experience the phenomenon of silence online. Guided by the primary research question – What are the lived experiences of online silence for learners who are members of distance learning communities? – and a phenomenology of practice approach, I interviewed 12 post-secondary learners who were engaged in cohort-based distance learning to explore their lived experiences of silence online. I further investigated how participants described the four phenomenological existentials of lived body (corporeality), lived space (spatiality), lived time (temporality), and lived relationship with others (relationality) in relation to their experiences of silence online. The participants were forthcoming in their interview and generous in sharing their experiences with me. The interviews, 22 in total, yielded thick, rich data. I carefully transcribed each interview and used iterative rounds of a whole-part-whole interpretive process to discern key features of the four phenomenological existentials and to identify key themes that inform our understanding of the phenomenon under study. Following each interview, and in between each round of interpretation, I used journaling to reflect on (a) my developing understanding of the phenomenon of online silence, and (b) the unfolding research process. The participants’ experiences highlighted that silence is a complex, multifaceted phenomenon that was both enacted and received by the participants. Speaking out online was done carefully, sometimes with partial voice and sometimes in fuller voice with a sense of spontaneity and connection. Participants described profound ways that they experienced corporeality, spatiality, temporality, and relationality in the online learning environment. Participants described challenges and successes while becoming embodied through their words in the discussion forums, mediating the physical separateness and asynchronicity of the online space, and maintaining relationships with others in the distance learning community. The six themes that emerged were: (1) Learners enact purposeful silence; (2) Learners absorb silence from others; (3) Learners perceive, and use, silence as demarcation; (4) Learners experience silence within voice; (5) Learners use deliberate, complex strategies while engaging in online discourse; and (6) Learners hear each other in trusted community. These six themes give new understandings to the silence online and reflect multifaceted and nuanced aspects of the participants’ experiences of this phenomenon.
Graduation Date: Jun-2018
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10791/240
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