Research II: Qualitative Data Analysis

Collect some data using one or more qualitative methods, for example semistructured interviewing, participant observation, or discourse analysis. Analyse the data you have collected, demonstrating how you established coding rules, and developed categories and themes. What have you learned about data analysis in this exercise?

Coding edonis interviews using a Grounded Theory approach

The edonis project began during October 2009, when over one hundred learning professionals chose to take part in my EdD research. Participants had been approached directly by myself or had found out about it through the ‘blogging’ and ‘tweeting’ around the project of those who had signed-up early. During the first audio and textual communiqués from me (Noble, 2008), I stated that my research would be mostly qualitative, and that the main methods of data collection would be monthly online surveys for one year, using a mixture of open and closed questions and comment boxes; and semi-structured interviews, most of which would be conducted using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Participants were informed that: this was an iterative study, with a regularly updated research question; that an online community of practice had been created around the study with fortnightly, publicly-available edited research interviews (Noble, 2009); and that the theories generated would not be generalisable to the population. Of significance, I mentioned that I intended for the project to continue beyond the three-year commitment which I was asking for from those who signed-up. selection of Grounded Theory. This open-endedness would later influence my

Between November 2008 and August 2009, I issued eight monthly online surveys and recorded twenty-nine interviews with edonis participants. My plan, while carrying out research alongside the taught phase of my EdD, had been to analyse the data collected during these ten months from November 2009 to April

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2010.

I would then take the focused-upon categories and concepts, and

theoretical codes and statements, to a further twenty-one interviewees and several online focus spaces. However, aside from being ignorant of

methodology at this point and having constructed a research question which was “enough to fill seven or eight theses”, I was receiving too much data for a sole EdD researcher to handle (Appendix A). I recognised that, although in terms of response rates my questions and prompts were of interest to most participants, the structure of my surveys and broad interview areas was due to my interest in studying ‘professional development’, the ‘social web’, and ‘personal learning networks’. These are social constructions, extensively written about, which predate the edonis project. I considered that around sixty people have continued to take part during the first year of the project, and that many of these are learning professionals who frequently communicate online for professional purposes, or whose practices and stances are known by people around the United Kingdom and elsewhere due to them having an online presence. Additionally, the

communication, collaboration and learning tools and spaces which many act through, appear to be continually developing, and I decided to use a methodology which would enable me to construct, with the data from the edonis project, substantive theories which would be new, though always uncertain and unfinished. Strauss and Corbin (1998:5) refer to these as being, “qualifiable, modifiable and open, in part, to negotiation”; reflecting the ontological position that the social world is constructed; and primarily so through action and interaction. However, to “continually construct, defend, repair and chang(e)

social realities” (Silverman, 2007:38), I would eventually need to be able to juxtapose the data emerging from similar contexts of participants, with other parts of the social world, and would need to alter my approach to interviewing to one which ensured the possibility of unexpected data (Silverman, 2007), and which supported the narrowing of my focus.

For deep engagement with the data, I selected a Grounded Theory methodology (Glaser and Strauss, 1967). This, I hoped, would enable me to analyse data

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using constant comparative methods (Glaser and Strauss, 1967). I might be able to keep my research relevant through the ongoing relationship and shared experiences between myself and the project participants. At this stage, it

became evident that I would need to build a process to show how the “action/interaction evolves” (Strauss and Corbin, 1998:179), ensuring that theory would be open to “fresh … and … novel concepts and categories” (Charmaz, 2006:24). The process consists of, “a series of evolving sequences of

action/interaction that occur over time and space, changing or sometimes remaining the same in response to the situation or context.” (Strauss and Corbin, 1998:165)

Grounded theory is a “research strategy whose purpose is to generate theory from data” (Punch and Wildy, 1995:2). It was established by Glaser and Strauss (1967) and its progress has been contested and shaped by each, with writers like Charmaz (2002) and Bryant (2002) showing how its abstractedness can lead to positivistic assumptions, and who aimed to reconstruct it as humanistic. Charmaz (2006:7) recognised that, latterly, “Strauss brought notions of human agency, emergent processes, social and subjective means, problem solving practices and the open-ended study of action to Grounded Theory”. This tension is relevant to me in that I am researching with, rather than on, participants, therefore my closeness to some necessitates self-reflection and action to ensure validity. I do not engage further with such tensions in this paper, as there is general agreement that all Grounded Theory processes should include, for example, memo writing and coding, and this is my stage and focus here. Strauss and Corbin (1998:110) define a memo as “(t)he researchers record of analysis, thoughts, interpretations, questions and directions for further data collection.” Memo-writing, personal and informal, was, for me, the most important part of the process following data collection.

Grounded Theory allows you to view the world in a certain way, by “studying social reality” (Charmaz, 2006:69). I came to recognise that, through my

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interviews, I had been engaging in symbolic interactionism. The interview, and its visibility online, was something which: focused on everyday activity; allowed negotiation of meaning and shared assumptions to emerge; and could become a focus for others to “consider, assess, communicate with, and act towards.” (O’Donoghue, 2007:18). Interviewees could envisage the interview as an event, and, if published online, the interview would become an artifact through which others could have their experience of the world “confirmed, modified, reinforced or changed” (O’Donoghue, 2007:19). However, through the six broad questions which I was repeatedly asking (see Appendix B), I, as researcher, was not part of an interpretive process whereby shared meaning and future action was being changed through the transparent social space of the interview.

I decided to reread and listen to all the interview data that had been collected, up to interview number nineteen. I was looking for a common issue or puzzle, or mundane action or problem, which I would then use the data relating to it to start building theory through initial coding and memo-writing, and conceptualising and categorising. If I was starting the project again, I would have carried out less structured interviews, and recorded them before any surveys were issued. Nevertheless, I moved quickly through this data and felt that there were open questions and unprompted talk around being within a network. Charmaz

(2006:14) suggests coding “(r)ich data … (which) reveal participants views, feelings, intentions and actions as well as the contexts and structures of their lives”, and I decided that initial, open coding would be carried out on the data from a portion from each of interviews; twenty-two, twenty-three, and twenty-four; in which participants spoke of a, the, or their, network or networks (see Appendix C). I would analyse how their talk was ordered; how they act socially; and what they have or are attempting to come to terms with (Silverman, 1997). Before transcribing, I revisited the memos which I wrote during each interview (Figure 1).

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Figure 1 Memo-writing during edonis interview #22

It is unlikely that I would conceptualise data during interviews, however I could trace, by revisiting the memos, if there now appeared to be early, provisional concepts. I highlighted some of the interviewee’s assumptions, his concepts of change and what it is to contribute online, however upon completion of the interview, I found that the memos mostly consisted of descriptions. Strauss and Corbin (1998:102) define a concept as “a labelled phenomenon”. It is “an

abstract representation of an event, object or action/inaction that a researcher identifies as being significant in the data”.

Going back a little, one could conceive of the period up to these three interviews as a process of sensitising. Charmaz (2006:47) states that this enables you to be “sensitive to meaning without forcing (my) explanations on data”. My

selection of Grounded Theory may have arisen from my increasing sensitivity

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following each survey return and interview. Over the past year, there has been a sustained level of participation, though an absence of engagement with the iterative research question through the online community. Presently, it is not publicly discussed or mentioned online by participants. recognise many specific, I have been able to

and some common, issues from the data.

Unfortunately, I have missed an early opportunity to “sample on the basis of emerging concepts” (Strauss and Corbin, 1998:207). However, as someone who is visible in several online spaces, variable in size and activity, I am able to sensitise myself through daily updates of blog posts by participants which are fed through the project website. By taking notes on those self-published works which have content relating to the description or problematising of networks, or action and interaction around the conception of it (and in addition to those initial notes during the interview), I am able to recognise a number of issues (potential categories) that might relate to dealing with networks. At this point, where I am about to start open, line-by-line coding and I am in a “conceptual mode of analysis” (Strauss and Corbin, 1998:66), it is important to continue to develop my sensitivity as I am at the pre-categories stage, unsure of which data will be relevant in the construction of codes and concepts. I found that a Grounded Theory approach enabled me to take a year of sensitising myself and building trusting relationships through the edonis project, into coding and memo-writing, with categories beginning to emerge; helping me to prepare for my next interviews (October 2009 – August 2010). I would be able to move to a second stage, that of interviewing to sample, based on emerging concepts (Strauss and Corbin, 1998). Meantime, I recognised that my initial interviewing methods had probably, to a degree, “foreclose(d) on discovery” (Strauss and Corbin, 1998:207), due to the structure before and during the interviews.

In relation to the three interviews segments, there were two types of memos written. Firstly, I wrote operation notes as the interviewee spoke (Figure 1).

Such a memo included my: early categories; ideas for deep, possibly tangential questions and areas for discussion; and possible ‘in vivo’ codes. Charmaz

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(2006:32) encourages one to “(p)ay attention to participant’s language, meanings and lives”. They were mostly descriptive rather than analytical and were

diagrammatical, to the extent that related text was clustered around specific parts of the memo sheet. Operational memos should be “orderly, progressive,

systematic and easily retrievable for sorting and cross-referencing” (Strauss and Corbin, 1998:220), however I feel that the important working documents, to which I will return, change, and use for greater insight, will be the memos written while listening to, or reading, the interviews several days after the event, and prior to line-by-line coding. Each memo is dated when it was written and is titled with the number of the interview from which it derives. It contains: emergent codes and categories, and changes in them; raw data, analytic ideas, and breaks in logic (Strauss and Corbin, 1998). Appendix D shows an excerpt from the memo Further questions, emerging concepts,

written for interview twenty-four.

properties and dimensions, and inconsistencies and variables, are colour-coded, and from the memos for the three interviews, were compared for similarities to form the early categories (Appendix E). These were formed while also carrying out line-by-line coding of the transcripts, to which I will turn shortly. Memos will be written from now on after the collection of new data, with earlier memos being redrafted if impacted upon. Charmaz (2006) ascribes importance to moving

quickly through the data and writing informally, so that thoughts are recorded spontaneously. However, I am lacking experience of memo-writing at a time in the project’s life when the data-driven research question needs to emerge and new data will be collected shortly. Also, the memos written for the three interview segments ran to six thousand, four hundred words; much longer than the transcripts. Between analysing the memos and writing the early categories, I have realised that my memo-writing needs to be more focused around new codes which appear to be relevant, and the broad categories which now exist.

I openly coded portions of the three interviews, making “notes, comments, observations and queries” (O’Donoghue, 2007:136), and fracturing the data in the process. My aim was to break down the data into concepts using a line-by-

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line approach.

To do this, I split my desktop screen.

On the left was the

transcription of edonis interviews twenty-two to twenty-four; on the right was a blank Word document (Figure 2).

Figure 2 Line-by-line coding of edonis interview #24

Each of the three interview mp3 files were ‘queued-up’ for me to easily relisten to if necessary, via the iTunes player. Working between the transcript, coding file and audio file, I generated codes for each action and description spoken by the interviewee. Open coding requires me to interrogate the data to ‘give up’ codes, including ‘in vivo’ ones. Recognising these, even if they are shortly-after

discarded, can only be done once the researcher feels sensitive to the data, as well as the participants. I had always thought that a wonderful new metaphor would be spoken, which would stimulate my analysis. It is seductive to preserve a participant’s meanings (Charmaz, 2006:55), however the ‘in vivo’ code must be able to move beyond the context and the individual, and be comparable and analysable, and I found that I was interpreting almost all of the data.

Charmaz (2006) suggests that it is difficult to separate open from axial coding, therefore during this microanalysis I was trying to work seamlessly so that rather quickly I would be able to move from fractured data to concepts and categories, and the construction of properties and dimensions. Having immersed myself in the research over the last year, and being able to listen again to the interviews

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and read transcripts from wherever I was in the world, due to the data being stored on my mobile device, I was confident that I would soon be “identifying the variety of conditions, actions/interactions and consequences associated with a phenomenon.” (Strauss, 1987:126) However, the familiarity of the interview

portions, and the entire social and academic structure of the project within which it existed, meant that I needed to be reflexive in order to distance myself from the origins of the mass of data and start to “creat(e) abstract interpretive understandings of the data.” (Charmaz, 2006:9) One example would be how I dealt with talk around ‘personal learning networks’ (PLNs). In the transcribed portions, I, and the interviewee often mentioned this phrase, conceptualising it as something and ascribing properties, some of which were preconceived while others appear to have been constructed during a conversational part of the interview. However, constructing categories around ‘personal learning networks’ would be too descriptive and too focused upon those people within the project (small numbers, as indicated in one of the surveys) who already subscribed to the notion of the existence of PLNs. As I am looking to facilitate the emergence of new concepts and categories, through codes which “stick to the data” (Charmaz, 2006:45), I had to step-back from my pre-existing relationships and experiences of conducting the interviews. I had already communicated

preconceptions during the preparation guides for each of my first stage interviews (see Appendix F), and so coding required extra effort to work only with the text in front of me. Of benefit in the long-term is that I also come to

understand participants’ preconceptions. These can be ‘wrestled with’ during later interviews and enable me to identify pre-existing ‘in vivo’ codes; though these may be found to be helpful in framing data later.

As I moved through the transcripts line-by-line, I was asking, “what is happening here?”, and attempting “to understand acts and accounts, scenes and sentiments, stories and silences from our research participant’s view.” (Charmaz, 2006:46). Quickly, I became aware of what was being struggled with (Glaser, 1978) and I continued through the text at a steady pace, creatively naming each

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line. As I did this, I was considering the content of my memos which were being written around this time, and the next stage; focused coding (Charmaz, 2006:42). I was making links between initial codes as I worked, jotting these into a further word processing document. Line-by-line coding ran to three thousand words, exceeding the length of the transcription. As an education technologist who, nonetheless, does not wish to invest time and money in more ICT-based ‘solutions’, I chose to immerse myself in the codes using a word processor; using only Wordle.net to help me with a visual representation of my coding (Figure 3).

Figure 3 Wordle representation of line-by-line coding of edonis interviews #22-24

Wordle allows you to copy and paste text into an online ‘field’. One is then presented with the most prominent words and phrases which appear in varying sizes, depending upon the frequency of appearance in my codes. Although not fit for formal research purposes and the making of final decisions on emerging concepts and categories, it did assist me in pulling-together what was being spoken about across the three interview segments. From patterns in the data across my memos and coding document, I interpreted that there were several issues (categories) for these learning professionals. Strauss and Corbin

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(1998:124) define a category as a “problem, issue, event, or happening that is … significant to respondents.” From my memo writing and open coding, I

constructed these as: information flow and management; data and people; what it means to meet and to know people; delineating relationships by social setting; positioning oneself in a/your network; the self-publication of data; how text becomes visible; the act of service; learning in a space other than a physical one; individuals’ experiences; the nature of talk; affective projection; artifacts and action; and learning and earning. ‘Artifacts and action’ would shortly be

subsumed by other categories which had similar properties and dimensions.

I have written the categories in a way which allows me to explore them in other contexts with other edonis participants; enabling comparison, and expanding properties and dimensions on the way to building substantive theory. At this stage, with over nine thousand words of analysis across my memos and line-byline coding, I reduced the categories and focused on coding around only those which remained (Strauss, 1987). I then revisited my initial coding, to gain a greater understanding of the created categories. This process encompassed focused coding and the revisiting of properties and dimensions which emerged during what could have been discretely recognised as the axial coding part of my activity. I recognise that this is an early stage of my teleographic theory, though being able to suggest relationships between and within categories informs the way that I am changing the new interviews, including how I, “choose the sites, persons and documents that will maximise opportunities for comparative analysis” (Strauss and Corbin, 1998:211). I had moved from my memos and line-by-line coding to a list of concepts with emerging properties and dimensions. To pull together “what is going on here?”, I needed to group these into categories, which, explain Strauss and Corbin (1998), enable the abstract labelling of phenomena, allowing explanation and prediction. By phenomena, Strauss and Corbin (1998:120) mean, “repeated patterns of happenings, events, or actions/interactions that represent what people do or say … in response to the problems and situations in which they find themselves”. Strauss and Corbin

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(1998:79) state that the properties of a situation convey similes and metaphors, and “transcend the specific situation”. Examples from my analysis include, under ‘Dealing with new data’: ‘dipping in’, ‘channels’, ‘passing the parcel’, ‘opening packets’, and ‘turning a switch’. These examples are some of the many listed which were constructed by me and were recognisable in each of the interview segments. As other data is examined using them, with the possibility of the properties and dimensions being refined, people will be helped to know and understand an aspect of the social world. These may be emerging elsewhere or will do so later, however I am becoming sensitive to them now; building theory with my research participants. They help me to ask other questions and to be prepared for later, wider comparisons. It is noticeable that concepts, properties, and dimensions appear in multiple locations in Appendix E. It is natural that classifications relating to phenomena will not be singularly pidgeon-holed, though I may be able to relate some categories shortly.

In my activity, open and axial coding periods were indistinct.

I started to

construct categories as I was memo-writing, then when I was carrying-out open and focused coding, and again when I returned to my memos. Axial coding is where I “relat(e) categories to sub-categories along the lines of their properties and dimensions” (Strauss and Corbin, 1998:124). It answers the when, where, why, who, how and with what consequences (Strauss & Corbin (1998:125). Strauss (1987) outlined the following as required tasks: Laying out the properties of a category and their dimensions, a task that begins during open coding; identifying the variety of conditions, actions/interactions and consequences associated with a phenomenon; relating a category to its sub-categories through statements denoting how they are related to each other; looking for clues in the data that denote how major categories might relate to each other. I recognise that although axial coding was a early feature of my work, there remain parts of the latter tasks above to be done before I collect more data. In examining the above categories, I would, for the purposes of my next interview plan, be wanting to progress with around three categories, and several sub-categories. These

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would be heuristic devices to allow me to write coherently about how learning professionals deal with new relationships, data, and spaces, though there may be further changes as “puzzling new data … or new categories (could) emerge” (Strauss and Corbin, 1998:71). The framework from which I am now working can be seen in Figure 4. One can see the categories along the top of the page, with subcategories emboldened throughout. Within the text boxes are properties

common to the three interview segments, and dimensions along which each participant could be placed.

I analysed concepts, properties and dimensions across the interview segments to identify which had emerged in more than one setting and should be present in the categories and subcategories. I had to be creative to recognise, group and name the emerging categories, and to identify follow-up questions and foci. This came from comparing data across the interviews, and looking for similarities and differences. As I construct this text document, I become concerned on two

levels. Firstly, have I “forced” my explanations on the data (Charmaz, 2006); and secondly, to what extent are the words that I bring to the categories already constructed by my experiences? Strauss and Corbin (1998) state that one

should self-consciously bring this to the analysis as it is not likely that it can be entirely hidden, but that it should not ‘drive’ the analysis. I chose to develop each initial category by moving through my transcriptions, memos, and line-by-line coding once more. I was looking to identify subcategories and possibly reduce the number of categories. By now I was operating in the abstract, that is the etic and emic codes were written in a way which could not be contextualised or attributed to an individual. I was increasingly applying an analytical framework to the data (Charmaz, 2006:162), which restricts what I can know and, with experience, I would consider avoiding.

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Dealing with new relationships
PLN pre-defined…individually defined…undefined owned…exists network…networks…blurred with everything pushing data…pulling data known membership…unknown membership open actions and thoughts…closed actions and thoughts keeping an eye…engaging perceived flat…perceived hierarchy

Dealing with new data
dipping in…immersed…drowning immediate…delayed switching off…turning over single…multi-media…interactive pass parcel…scattergun pushing packet unopened…pushing packet opened…pushing packet filtered proactive…reactive channels…mass

Dealing with new spaces
old friends…old work…new work…new friends offline…online quantifying…trying to…not quantifying duty to…no duty exciting emergence of relationships…mundane established relationships peripheral … core moving inwards…moving outwards hidden networks/connections … visible networks/connections technologically mediated…not technologically mediated participant … attendee

positioning oneself in a/your network
servicing…being serviced within a PLN…centre of my PLN known before…newly known…unknown listening…talking…discussing group…individual aware of service role…unaware of service role

information flow and management
artifacts…filtering…action formal…informal performative…autonomous constructed…off the shelf valued action…unvalued action comfort...discomfort individual…government linked to focus of network…crossover…not linked to focus of network giving to…giving and taking…taking from giving well…giving badly needing to publish…feeling compelled to publish…disinterested in publishing contributing media…contributing support…not contributing

delineating relationships by social setting
known…not yet known…unknown permanent…temporary subscribing…targeted…habit interest in person…interest in data single channel…multi-channels published once…republished wisdom of one…wisdom of many numbers…comment baton dropped…passed on…becomes a stick…becomes of use visible…missing…missed accessing other’s mind…accessing other’s lived life relevant to him or her…irrelevant to him or her text message…essay displacement of artifacts … change in workplace

the act of service
mentor…mentee publisher…consumer access help…access group full attention…no attention known for actions…known for role shallow meeting…deep meeting reading…responding…meeting likely to meet…may meet…unlikely to meet disinterested periphery…surveillance core old grouping of people…new grouping of people revealing oneself…concealing oneself

self-publication of data
valuing data…valuing people PLN…PrN… edtech…project people by similar role…mix…people by keyword no costs of entry…costs of entry fluid relationships…fixed relationships acting on data…consuming data known data source…unknown data source

how text becomes visible
elevate network … elevate teacher crowd source…expert formal…informal preplanned … spontaneous text…talk on tap…ordered expert…expertise online…offline hidden expertise…visible expertise visible reflection…hidden reflection learner at the centre…learners at the centre official channel…unofficial channel

what it means to meet and to know people
centre…core…periphery silent…loud passive…dormant…disappear sanction…opportunity cost easy to drop…abandoning…difficult to drop ignoring…discarding reading…unable to read social…formal agency…amenable…persuaded

data and people
improving practice…improving performance…improving profit tech…non-tech transmission…construction collaborate with customers … collaborate with competition permanent work … project work

individuals’ experiences
change…difference…reflection…being informed always on…breaks…always off urgency…social wasting time…valuable use of family time nil response…single response…multi-response physical overload…mental overload missing data…not missing data interested…disinterested knowing PLN…knowing family in balance with network…out of balance with network gratitude to person…gratitude to network…no gratitude

learning in a space other than a physical one learning and earning
multiple…singular synchronous…almost synchronous…both…asynchronous connected…unconnected bounded…unbounded direct…indirect known…unknown wading through…scooping up forward focused…backward focused conversation…venting outcomes-based talk…professional talk…social talk

affective projection

edonis project categories, subcategories, and emerging properties 14 and dimensions – 25/9/09

the nature of talk Figure 4

The twenty-one second stage interviews will now sample these three major categories across contexts. The categories will form the areas which I will hope to cover, but not force during the interviews. They are rather broad, so not only will I remain alert to tangential conversation and extra questions leading to new or expanded categories, properties and dimensions, but after a further ten or so interviews, I will look to collapse these again. The interviewees will continue to be found across the UK, the USA and Australia, and from a number of learning professional roles and sectors.

Before this, however, I will return to those who I interviewed and whose data I coded. They will, as a group of three, be invited to an online video conference call, where I will share the present iteration of the major categories. Such an approach should be replicated throughout the three years to ensure that I work rigorously, empirically and formally (Silverman, 2007). They will be able to

comment on the validity of my emerging theoretical scheme, and see whether it fits their case. If I have “crystalised participants’ experiences” (Charmaz,

2006:54) here, then my study can be said to fit the empirical world. Additionally, instead of taking what has been said to me as a snapshot of their world, this gives me the opportunity to explore preconceptions, vague ‘in vivo’ codes, and metaphors; at the same time building relationships as I offer these participants “new insights into their practice” (Silverman, 2007:110).

Conclusion

Using a Grounded methodology has transformed my approach to research. Working within a loose ‘open source’-style community of educators for the last four years has forged me as a practitioner, broadcaster, leader, and researcher who attempts to be reflective and reflexive, and whose recent work is testament to constructing voices and artifacts. Recently through my edonis activities, I have started a journey to develop hypotheses inductively and transparently. I have

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met an early target of developing categories which fit the data derived from segments of three interviews. Version Four of the research question or problem is now more owned by the project than by myself. It borrows its style from

symbolic interactionism, which was my route into Grounded Theory, and the identification of problems or issues in the data. Presently, I communicate that I am examining “(h)ow participants … ‘deal with’ … a phenomenon.”

(O’Donoghue, 2007:32), that is, ‘How do participants in the edonis project deal with new relationships, new data, and new spaces’. I can consider making

comparisons across the edonis participants and/or move to sample the emerging substantive theories across other communities and contexts. I will continue to work with the categories, and will be sampling, refining and collapsing them over the next year. I may go on to write propositions, or construct models and Once the categories are

classification schemes (O’Donoghue, 2007:54).

“saturated”, that is when no new information emerges through coding (Strauss and Corbin, 1998), my next task will be ‘conceptual ordering’ and then the building of substantive theory which will be “’checked out’ against incoming data and modified, extended, or deleted as necessary.” (Strauss and Corbin, 1998:22)

My analysis could be termed anti-realist and subjective, in that mine is not a disinterested approach. There are difficulties in constructing categories from

interviewees who are representing their own world. A Grounded Theorist would argue that follow-up interviews, for example, are where recognised assumptions are dealt with and are not adopted into the analysis . I may still work too rigidly and need to consider the many settings in which data can be collected to refine the concepts and categories, or later, theories. This could take me out of the study into a relaxing environment, and see me less bounded by time. Finally, Charmaz (2006:19) asked, “(a)re the data sufficient to reveal changes over time?” I am confident that with my plan for collecting new data, the established relationships with research participants that I have, and the broad, changerelated categories under development; I will develop substantive theories by the end of the three-year cycle.

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Appendix A
Screenshot of the edonis project account at http://www.surveymonkey .com. Note the numbers of responses to each survey

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Appendix B
A screenshot from http://edonis.ning.com, showing a blog post from April 13, 2009

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Appendix C
Excerpt from the transcription of edonis #23

You are someone who has mentioned previously on the edonis site that you are actively developing a personal learning network, but what does that mean to you, what does it look like, who or what does it consists of? For me it is primarily a combination of blogs coming into an RSS reader, and I think I am probably subscribed to about 120 at the moment, of which about half are education blogging, probably the rest of that split three ways between marketing and things like that, technology and various social ones, friends of mine that are blogging and the other key component of that these days is Twitter and following about 190 being followed by about just under 400 I think and so that allows me access to a wide range of expertise but as I said earlier I am the one filtering it and I control everything I read, I just dip in depending on what other priorities I have got going on at the time You mentioned about subscribing to blogs as maybe part of your personal learning network, does that mean that you would count an educator in the States whose blog appeals to you, would you count them as being in your personal learning network? Yes Let’s imagine you had never actually synchronously communicated with them, would they still be part of your network? Yes, for me, even if I have never met them, even if I have never commented on them, if what they are doing is making a difference to my learning then they are part of my PLN. There are people who I can have immediate access on them almost on a day by day basis and there are probably a handful of people that I will Twitter backwards and forwards or comment on their blogs regularly, all the way down to people who I have never spoken to, never met before and may well never do, but they are having an influence on my thinking and more directly to my practice You have touched on it a minute ago, but could you expand more on how you go about managing the information that comes to you through your PLN. My feed read is broken up into various folders. I try and stay on top of it and go through it once every couple of days and on days when I can’t there are probably half a dozen blogs that I will pick on directly, and if the worst comes to the worst, everything else gets marked always read because what seems to happen is if there is something that is important enough, someone else will pick it up, someone else will either share it or tweet about it so I will kind of pick it up another way. There was a point where I went through desperately trying to read everything but that then got in the way of various other things so I have abandoned that approach. Just playing around the last couple of weeks, I have installed Seismic to filter Twitter because I was getting to the stage where I felt there was quite a lot I was missing, so I have got a group there of probably about 20 people whose tweets I don’t want to miss.

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Appendix D
follow-up questions properties dimensions concepts

Is Da selecting a description ‘off-the-shelf’? He reveals that the PLN is something which he has considered, but which he remains unsatisfied. What is ones

relationship to those in the PLN? There is no typology being used here, though it appears that one would be helpful to Da. I could compare conception of mentors and mentoring between those who claim to have a PLN, and those who state that they have a mentor. Where was the term PLN first used, and in what context? Does it come from theory-building or has it developed through online artifacts related to professionals’ action? This could be a term which grew from online action and is now being claimed for ongoing, pre-existing relationships in traditional public and private spaces. How do offline relationships help Da? He appears to suggest that now relationships online and offline are not noticeably distinguishable. I could ask about what “things” he is helped with. Is there then a difference in what the PLN helps him with? For example, does the help relate to education technology more than, say, classroom management? How have those initially online-only relationships developed to where he now gives them “real life” status? What does a “real life” relationship look like? Is it mutual? How does Da presently make new professional relationships? How do the unknown, futuresupportive people become known? How are questions asked of those who are not contactable digitally? Is there an internal hierarchy relating to responses to questions ie how are the responses treated and weighted in relation to each other, and to the little-known context of Da’s professional life? Da appears to value asynchronous help and the potential for gathering multiple responses. Does a response elevate someone within his PLN? What options does he give himself for taking forward action with continued support? Does he return to the person who gave the best answer? What about those whose advice he chooses to discard on this occasion? Which “specific issues” are asked about online?

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Appendix D (continued)

How does he classify these issues? How does he balance the possibility of an early, short response versus delaying support in the later identifying of, and approach to, a specific person and space for (one-to-one) discussion? How does one work towards the goal of being “guaranteed a response”? I could ask Da to illustrate what might be learnt in a “learning network”, or what the foci of his network/s are (which I could then categorise – he mentions “support” or “advice”, though feels to an extent these are interchangeable). He mentions the formality of Edtechroundup. This is not a corporate space, so where does the formality derive from? Does formality relate to frequency, length, implicit and explicit Is there pressure on the self-publisher to write

structure and hierarchies?

“formally”? Where does this performative demand to blog come from? Is it the (perceived) audience; from individual histories of constructing text; or the permanency of the artifact? Is formality related to factors other than structure? Da appears to suggest that “learning” is relative to greater time and space for thought and live discussion. What would make learning less likely in a network or to be less of a priority for the owner of the network? There appears to be an issue with the degree of learning which occurs in a mentoring or helping role, and which occurs in a flattened group space. Which education topics are more likely to be discussable in an online space by a group? How could his valued online learning (group) experiences be replicable in his non-digital professional groups? What types of impact does Da wish to experience? What is “taken out” of a structured space? Is it something which requires further processing or is there something ‘off-the-shelf’? What, if anything, is constructed at the end of the discussion or listening period? Does the network activity continue afterwards or is there a break in communication? To what extent does the network connect with other networks, experiences, artifacts and theories?

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Appendix E
Dealing with… information flow and management dipping in…immersed…drowning immediate…delayed switching off…turning over single…multi-media…interactive pass parcel…scattergun pushing packet unopened…pushing packet opened…pushing packet filtered proactive…reactive channels…mass data and people valuing data…valuing people PLN…PrN… edtech…project people by similar role…mix…people by keyword no costs of entry…costs of entry fluid relationships…fixed relationships acting on data…consuming data known data source…unknown data source what it means to meet and to know people mentor…mentee publisher…consumer access help…access group full attention…no attention known for actions…known for role shallow meeting…deep meeting reading…responding…meeting likely to meet…may meet…unlikely to meet disinterested periphery…surveillance core old grouping of people…new grouping of people revealing oneself…concealing oneself delineating relationships by social setting old friends…old work…new work…new friends offline…online quantifying…trying to…not quantifying duty to…no duty exciting emergence of relationships…mundane established relationships peripheral … core moving inwards…moving outwards hidden networks/connections … visible networks/connections

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Appendix E (continued)

technologically mediated…not technologically mediated participant … attendee positioning oneself in a/your network PLN pre-defined…individually defined…undefined owned…exists network…networks…blurred with everything pushing data…pulling data known membership…unknown membership open actions and thoughts…closed actions and thoughts keeping an eye…engaging perceived flat…perceived hierarchy self-publication of data artifacts…filtering…action formal…informal performative…autonomous constructed…off the shelf valued action…unvalued action comfort...discomfort individual…government linked to focus of network…crossover…not linked to focus of network giving to…giving and taking…taking from giving well…giving badly needing to publish…feeling compelled to publish…disinterested in publishing contributing media…contributing support…not contributing how text becomes visible known…not yet known…unknown permanent…temporary subscribing…targeted…habit interest in person…interest in data single channel…multi-channels published once…republished wisdom of one…wisdom of many numbers…comment baton dropped…passed on…becomes a stick…becomes of use visible…missing…missed accessing other’s mind…accessing other’s lived life relevant to him or her…irrelevant to him or her text message…essay displacement of artifacts … change in workplace

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Appendix E (continued)

the act of service servicing…being serviced within a PLN…centre of my PLN known before…newly known…unknown listening…talking…discussing group…individual aware of service role…unaware of service role learning in a space other than a physical one elevate network … elevate teacher crowd source…expert formal…informal preplanned … spontaneous text…talk on tap…ordered expert…expertise online…offline hidden expertise…visible expertise visible reflection…hidden reflection learner at the centre…learners at the centre official channel…unofficial channel individuals’ experiences centre…core…periphery silent…loud passive…dormant…disappear sanction…opportunity cost easy to drop…abandoning…difficult to drop ignoring…discarding reading…unable to read social…formal agency…amenable…persuaded the nature of talk multiple…singular synchronous…almost synchronous…both…asynchronous connected…unconnected bounded…unbounded direct…indirect known…unknown wading through…scooping up forward focused…backward focused conversation…venting

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Appendix E (continued)

outcomes-based talk…professional talk…social talk affective projection change…difference…reflection…being informed always on…breaks…always off urgency…social wasting time…valuable use of family time nil response…single response…multi-response physical overload…mental overload missing data…not missing data interested…disinterested knowing PLN…knowing family in balance with network…out of balance with network gratitude to person…gratitude to network…no gratitude learning and earning improving practice…improving performance…improving profit tech…non-tech transmission…construction collaborate with customers … collaborate with competition permanent work … project work artifacts and action was removed at this stage

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Appendix F
An example of the core text sent by email to interviewees prior to the interview. Note that the content varies slightly depending on the type of learning professional.

The following are areas I would like cover during the interview:
    

Brief background about you and your career in education your experiences of ICT-related training and professional development your notion of 'learning network' uses of the social web that you have been attracted to the extent to which you see your use of ICT as a learning professional changing over the next 3 years.

Please let me know if there is anything you would like to be added to the list, or have removed. For the final part of the interview, I would like to talk about practice which you previously indicated you would like to talk about (relating to Question 6 of the 'interview preparation'). You stated:

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Bibliography

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Glaser, B. G. and Strauss, A. L. 1967. The discovery of grounded theory. Aldine: Chicago

Glaser, B. G. 1978. Theoretical sensitivity. The Sociology Press: Mill Valley, CA

Noble, D. 2008. edonis project update [Online] Ning (Updated 17 October 2008) Available at http://edonis.ning.com/profiles/blogs/2199644:BlogPost:1402

[Accessed 18 September 2009]

Noble, D. 2009. edonis project [Online] Ning (Updated 20 September 2009) Available at http://edonis.ning.com [Accessed June - September 2009]

O’Donoghue, T. 2007. Planning your qualitative research project: an introduction to interpretivist research in education. Routledge: New York

Punch, H. and Wildy, H. 1995. ‘Grounded theory in educational administration: leadership and change’, Paper presented at the ‘International Conference of the Australian Council for Education Administration’, Sydney, July.

Silverman, 2007. A very short, fairly interesting and reasonably cheap book about qualitative research. Sage: London

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Strauss, 1987. Qualitative analysis for social scientists. University of Cambridge Press: Cambridge

Strauss, A. L. and Corbin, J. 1998. Basics of qualitative research – techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory. Sage: London

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