Dissertations distance education 1990-present

I discuss the need for inclusive rhetorics and rhetorics of equality in popular culture by offering the notions of metis, kairos, and beholding. Literacy, in its dominant form of print or digital alphabetic text demands visual engagement, ignoring and negating other senses. Such visual hegemony constrains the literacy practices of individuals who are blind or low vision. Further, braille is considered by many to be the only legitimate form of literacy for people who are blind.

A focus on braille, in combination with the visual hegemony of print, negates the audio-based literacy practices used by many people who are blind or low vision. This study explores the literacy practices of adults who are blind or low vision, with particular focus on how study participants use sound to read, write, and understand visual culture.

The study employs a collective case study approach with interviewing and observation as its primary methods. I interviewed twenty-eight adults ages ; interviews emphasized participants' literacy life histories and daily literacy activities. Three individuals participated in follow-up interviews and observations, which focused on literacy activities related to specific assistive technologies. Study participants' literacy practices are diverse, multimodal, and constrained by assumptions about how literacy should be practiced.

The study considers the intersections of literacy, disability, multimodality, and technology in order to elucidate literacy's modal flexibility and to support the creation and circulation of accessible documents and literacy artifacts. Rapidly evolving technology and cultural convention is changing the practice of technical communication and pushing it further into a "pictorial turn" Mitchell, , p.

Simultaneously, changing circumstances such as globalization and the proliferation of user-generated YouTube video has diminished the opportunity for traditional technical communication. To learn how to best embrace the use of imagery and harness it for the advancement of our profession in a user-directed environment, this dissertation examines technical communication as it has been historically expressed in illustrated do-it-yourself magazine covers.

To this end, my dissertation examines a random sample cover from each year of the Popular Mechanics corpus to study how the evolving cultural, commercial, and technological developments seen over the life of the publication can be harnessed for the practice of technical communication.

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For the purpose of this dissertation, the process of explaining technology through the illusion of artful illustration is categorized as a useful fiction, and to establish context for the analysis, the historical development of illustrated useful fiction in terms of technical communication is reviewed. To account for these relationships, two methodologies, GeM Genre and Multimodal analysis and O'Toole's semiotic framework were adapted in a unique fashion as a hybrid to examine and account for the entire array of meaning-making components seen in multimodal composition.

GeM allows the genre space of a multimodal composition containing text and image to be systematically decomposed into its fundamental elements. It also provides a mechanism to recognize and account for the variety of meaning-making structures seen in the composition and the constraints that provide definition to the genre space. GeM is used to examine covers drawn randomly from each year of the corpus. On the other hand, O'Toole's semiotic framework, which is deployed as an overlay to GeM for 12 purposefully selected covers, provides a way to decompose the image itself into fundamental meaning-making elements.

Once these elements are identified, image-editing software is used to fragment the composition and isolate the fundamental elements. These are rearranged into hierarchical diagrams, which allow the examination, in a serial fashion, of the features, which grammatically connect the fundamental elements together.


Finally as the Popular Mechanics magazine corpus reveals a rapid movement to electronic publication expressed in a postmodern manner, which deploys content derived from 3D models, this dissertation proposes an approach to technical communication that better integrates the skills of practitioners into enterprise resources and emphasizes the potential opportunities in the configurable nature of future documentation.

In this study, I examine neonatal intensive care unit NICU communication between nurses and the parents of premature infants from an intercultural perspective using the workplace qualitative methodology, contextual inquiry CI and observation, interview, and textual artifacts for data collection at two research sites. The first research site is at the Rigshospitalet's Neonatalklinikken in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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Data from these research sites was analyzed using grounded theory. A third research site, Sweden, is examined using rhetorical listening to understand the Swedish cultural logic of a rhetoric of equality. Research questions guiding this study range from the role of gestures in these intercultural NICU communicative exchanges to the kinds of information that is shared during these exchanges. Major findings of this study include acknowledging the roles of rhetorical eavesdropping and mirroring or mimesis as two methods parents use to learn "the hospital way" and gain agency in the care of their babies in the Danish Neonatalklinikken.

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Other major findings of this study include the roles of witnessing and monitoring as methods to reinscribe the hospital clock and biomedicine in the UMC NICU in Texas. Using rhetorical listening and deconstructing and constructing a Swedish cultural logic revealed yet another major finding: the rhetoric of equality that pervades the definitions, attitudes, and actions in Sweden. Furthermore, methodological implications from this study suggest the importance of actively and constantly listening for microwithdrawals of consent from participants during the data collection process.

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Framing students as users of course documents, this research project asks the following question: how does the transfer of syllabus material from a print-based format represented as a PDF versus a web-based format affect a students' usability of the document and comprehension of the document's content? To answer this question, this study tested two hypotheses: H1 Users navigate and locate information more efficiently with the web-designed syllabus than with its PDF equivalent and H2 Errors in syllabus comprehension are not affected by syllabus modality. To test these hypotheses, 42 student users participated in usability testing: 21 users tested a PDF syllabus and 21 users tested the web-designed syllabus.

Users performed five tasks and retrospective recall after completing tasks if the test observer needed further information about user decisions while completing tasks. Testing results found that H1's null hypothesis could not be rejected. Users did not demonstrate more efficiency with the web syllabus than with the PDF syllabus. H2's results also failed to reject the null hypothesis, showing that errors in syllabus comprehension did not seem to be affected by syllabus modality.

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Additional quantitative and qualitative data were collected to analyze errors within the syllabus system. These data indicated four distinct error patterns: 1 Mode and efficiency patterns indicate that when users thought a task was easy, they tended to select the wrong information to complete the task.

However, when users perceived the task to be more difficult, they spent more time completing the task. Poor design choices for the web document also caused navigation confusion. When terms from the task question did not appear in the syllabus, users found completing the task more challenging. Because the syllabus represents a complex information system, the various users and purposes that surround the syllabus can cause confusion and disruption for the students as they navigate the syllabus for information.

This suggests the role of student as user is often overshadowed by the need to accommodate other users e. Overall, these data suggest a need for instructor's to compose course documents that are user-centered. This dissertation examined the online interactions of a Facebook group over a six-month period of time in an effort to answer questions about group identity, meaning making, and cultural impacts on the group.

The dissertation was exploratory in nature and did not seek to prove a theory but rather to provide a more descriptive examination of group processes. In order to understand the impact that socially situated knowledge had on a virtual group [Facebook group] of people primarily located in Papua New Guinea, a process analysis was used to examine the most widely discussed posts occurring during the period of May through October, Providing a different perspective to the group interactions, a conversation mapping tool, adapted from the field of genome mapping, was also used.

Findings related to the group's common identity indicated that the primary characteristic exhibited by group members was information sharing in the form of suggestions, opinions, and orientations instructions and clarifications. A second characteristic was found in expressions of solidarity seen in posts that provided encouragement and support.

Findings relating to meaning making indicated that rather than reliance on top-down information sharing from the group administrators to the general membership, for example, exchanges between and among all levels of members occurred in most of the interactions. This sharing of information among members with varying degrees of knowledge resulted in a continuing process of meaning making within the group. Findings related to cultural impacts on the group's identity introduced a more malleable, more fluid, blurred edge model of cultural differences among group members than was expected based on previous cultural group studies.

Additional data provided by this study indicated the group functions in much the same way as face-to-face interactions and as online interactions between more homogeneous groups in spite of the group's diversity and the fact that the primary topic of discussion, gender based violence in Papua New Guinea, is considered by many to be a socially tolerated practice. The scholarly and popular literature on the U.

This dissertation takes a different approach by reflexively listening to students' experiences of silence in their U. I collected data from interviews and focus groups with 63 students, surveys with 25 students, and interviews with 20 career counselors and instructors "advisers" from three research sites.

These constructs have become equated with ideal applicant qualities, such as initiative and sociability, as well as genre standards, such as relevance and design. But demonstrating these constructs can be problematic for people who are unable to access "appropriate" experiences. The United States healthcare super-industry is wrought with ineffective documentation practices, inefficient information sharing habits, a lack of standardized data transfer protocols, and largely non-interoperable electronic notation platforms, all of which likely contribute to inflated costs and compromised care quality.

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Currently active legislative initiatives have proven unsuccessful, and the American dream of an all-encompassing national healthcare data network is still unrealized. American clinicians, medical centers, and hospital systems have been motivated to incorporate electronic medical records into the delivery of care through the threat of government-imposed financial disincentives, and some American technology superpowers, like Google and Microsoft, have even attempted to develop and promote individualized personal health records that are compiled, controlled, and disseminated by each citizen-patient.

In theory, the two digitized health record platforms, when used together, establish patient agency, reduce costs, and improve care quality and safety; however, the public's reported desire to participate in personal health record maintenance is grossly disproportionate to the actual adoption and usage rates, and a rationale explaining such a phenomenon must be fully explained and corrected.

As such, a mixed methods research approach is deployed through the theoretical lens of Actor-Network Theory in an attempt to ascertain, "What is preventing the widespread adoption of personal health records in the United States?

Corrective scenarios and suggestions are presented in the last chapter. The definition of a "media lab" has traditionally been limited to physical location. But many organizations are increasingly using digital tools to extend the agile working style of media labs to include the virtual and colocation. This dissertation uses activity theory to study how a recently reorganized team of information experience designers at a multinational corporation employs an agile workflow in both physical and virtual places to manage projects, collaboration, and teamwork, and how the team negotiates contradictions and disruptions in their work.


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The case study of the team at CTI pseudonym has applications for technical communicators in academic and nonacademic contexts; applications for the use of space, place, and thirdspace and its influence on organizational communication; and applications for multiliteracy center leaders. In recent years, scholars have discussed the cultural, social, and rhetorical significance of video games as artifacts worthy of further study—and perhaps more importantly have formed an academic basis for legitimizing the field of studying games.

What these studies lack, however, is an understanding of how to apply such knowledge. That is, we know that games are valuable modes of rhetorical, social, and cultural inquiry; what we do not know is exactly how and why they function the way that they do. Additional studies have emphasized not just the theoretical importance of games but also the application of learning with games.

Exploratory studies on community building, participatory culture, and formations of self, gender, and identity, have further strengthened the argument of the powerful pedagogical possibilities of games and virtual worlds.