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Configurations of Community and Collaboration in Online Learning: An Assemblage Approach


Delivering engaging and rigorous learning experiences in online environments has become a key priority for higher education institutions, driving prolific innovation in tools, pedagogy, and research over the last 20 years. The design and research of collaborative, networked learning experiences in particular has been fueled both by socially-turned theories of learning as well as the meteoric rise of social media and digital networks, which have introduced radical new forms of connectivity and sharing in daily life. In this dissertation, I offer three articles that each focus on one tool in the SuiteC collaborative learning system, a set of interconnected software applications designed to foster peer-to-peer sharing and collaborative, remix composing in a gamified environment. Looking across four semesters of student usage of the SuiteC tools in an online/hybrid undergraduate education course, I employ a mixed-methods approach grounded in “assemblage theory” that leverages learning analytics mined from the SuiteC database, content analysis of student artifacts, and student feedback to explore the kinds of social interactions and collaborations that emerged in the course. Findings suggest best practices and curricular strategies for the design of peer-centered online learning courses, recommendations for software tools, and the utility of assemblage concepts in studying complex sociotechnical systems.

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