Here is the Methodology that I intend to use for my dissertation. I will likely need to modify this a bit as I get closer to finalizing my proposal and to the point at which I will need to analyze the content. For now, this seems solid and logical for the topic and data that I plan to collect.

Using a social phenomenological inquiry to examine this subject as an intrinsic case study model, this study will critically examine and perform an embedded analysis on the application of the online video conversation in the asynchronous online classroom as a method that potentially alters the participant-perceived social presence level.

“A phenomenological study describes the meaning of the lived experiences for several individuals about a concept or the phenomenon.” (Creswell, 1998). In this type of study, researchers set aside or bracket all prejudgments and search for the essence of the phenomenon and the meaning of the experience for participants. The nature of this study–examining an online communication method–is one of social acts. Therefore, I have selected a social phenomenological approach, based on the work of Alfred Schutz, who was interested in how people develop meaning out of social interactions.

The choice to use an intrinsic case study model, which focuses on one case due to its genuine or unique nature, is based on the unique characteristics of this communication form. My research will not examine the case of a single individual, but rather will examine a single, specific application of a video technology within a particular context and setting. While no single communication element of the online video conversation, such as visual/video, audio, text, participation, etc. is particularly unique, it is the way in which these elements are combined that produces a rare communication situation. The embedded analysis, which refers to a focus on a specific aspect of a case, as opposed to the entire case, will examine the level of social presence created by this communication method. It seeks to determine this information through a series of mixed data gathering methods, including online surveys, direct interviews, and content analysis.

Data Gathering
Data gathering will occur through a combination of both quantitative and qualitative methods. Over a course of two semesters, I will gather information from the students in TWC 301, General Principles of Multimedia Writing, an asynchronous online course I instruct for the Multimedia Writing and Technical Communication program at Arizona State University. In this course, I apply the use of both Viddler and Seesmic through a variety of assignments that require the students to post videos and interact with both the instructor and fellow-classmates. In this way, students directly use the online video conversation in the classroom, and are intimately and uniquely aware of what effects it has on them. I acknowledge a potential downfall to this situation: that I am requiring them to use this technology, thus removing the ability to determine how they might freely use it. However, the educational setting is one in which students have many tasks imposed on them; I am structuring one relatively open-ended situation in which the students are directed to use the tool. Additionally, there are many non-required situations within the course in which the students can use the technology for their own purpose and benefit, which is a separate point I will examine.

Student Surveys
Toward the end of each of the two semesters, I will present to students a 25-30 question survey to determine the student’s perception of and comfort with online video, of the importance and existence of social presence in the asynchronous online classroom, and of their experiences with the online video conversation, specifically. This data will produce both quantitative and qualitative data that I will collect and analyze.

Instructor Interviews
I will also conduct interviews–via Skype, IM, or Seesmic–with instructor members of Viddler, who use the tool in the classroom (located through listservs, such as TechRhet, TTU-TCR, Online Adjuncts, and Viddler forums) to determine how they use the tool and their perceived benefits of the embedded video/textual comments, perhaps even in the classroom setting. This data will produce both quantitative and qualitative data that I will collect and analyze.

Content Analysis
I will perform a content analysis of the collected student video conversations. Specifically, I will collect, watch, and annotate a set number of online video conversation topics in which multiple comments (both textual and visual) have been made, identify specific elements present in each video’s added comments as well as in the overall conversation, taxonomize these elements and track them, establishing commonalities (style, structure, length, purpose, open-endedness, debate/agreement, etc.). Whereas the surveys and interviews consider the meaning on the online video conversation experience for the individuals, this content analysis may take more of a grounded theory approach to discover what sort of trends and commonalities are manifested during my analysis of the videos. In this way, I would open-code the information, and then create categories based on my findings.

Creswell, J. W. (1998). Qualitative inquiry and research design : choosing among five traditions. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.

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