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Interview 4

January 6, 2011

I completed interview 4 last night. This particular person was an Ed.D, and had a somewhat more theoretical position informed by their studies on learning. They actually mentioned learning theories in the interview, and spoke of their philosophy of how learning occurs. While everyone I have interviewed has/is educators, and at some level I knew there could be a chance the person I was speaking to might want to veer deeper into theory than practice, I still found myself feeling a bit taken back and questioning again the questions I had prepared ahead of time. While the interviews are semi-structured and phenomenological research allows for flexibility in the conversation – a willingness to follow the lead of the participant – I fear that I am setting myself up for a nightmare of analysis when I try to extract some meaningful theme from these interviews.

This interview was interesting. Like the previous interview, there was a level of critical thinking by this educator about technology integration in education in general, and his use of Twitter was markedly different from others in the study. His perspective was closer to my previous interview than it was to the first two interviews I have done in that there was a real desire to use Twitter to engage and dialog with colleagues and peers. Not that this desire wasn’t present with my first two participants, but the last two people I have spoken with use the platform much more for dialogue and interaction than resource sharing. Last night’s participant also shared with me an example of a collaborative project where he received support from his Twitter network, in much the same way that my first interview did. The connections made with colleagues

There is also an interesting thread emerging, I believe, about the scope of a Personal Learning Network and Twitter, especially among my last two participants who both spoke about Twitter and those on Twitter being just a part of their PLN, and that their PLN extends far beyond the people they follow and their followers on Twitter. The interview last night was especially emphatic that his PLN included his colleagues at work and people he connects with face to face and never on Twitter. And then he said something interesting – that his PLN includes resources and, by extension, the people who created those resources. The boundaries for this person on where their PLN ends are broad and fuzzy.

Another theme I see emerging is that the Personal Learning Network could more rightly be called a Professional Learning Network, which is slightly different from how I envision it. I see a PLN as something that could potentially be broader than professional colleagues, although that set of people would be quite important. But in my view, a PLN as a personal learning construct could potentially be larger than professional contacts. It could encompass many facets of your life and include many different types of people. However for all four of the people I have talked to about both the members of their PLN and who they follow on Twitter as being primarily other educators, making it more of a professional learning network rather than what I might define as a personal learning network.

One final note about last night’s interview was a great discussion on the potential echo chamber effect of networks in general when it comes with choosing who to follow and who you communicate with. It’s a piece that I want to go back and listen to again soon.

Onto my next few days…it never rains, it pours. Somehow I was in a desert prior to Christmas with potential interviews, and now I somehow have 4 confirmed and another 3 possible in the next week. With the 4 confirmed, that would bring my total to 8, and if the other three pan out, 11 in total. That would be a fantastic data set for this research. However, even if the 3 in the fire don’t pan out (and I suspect 2 of the 3 will), I still will have 8 in the can by the end of next week. While it is too early to say, I think that 8 will give me a decent data set to work with.

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From → Thesis Research

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