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Higher Education Students' Learning and Knowledge Sharing: a grounded theory study of blog use

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ABSTRACT In the 21st century, higher education is under increasing pressure to take advantage of new technologies. Recently, the blog has emerged as an online publishing tool increasingly being used by students and staff within education for communicating and sharing information. Since
2002, although a growing number of studies have been conducted into this phenomenon, there is an urgent need for further research in this area, particularly from the students’ point of view, to conceptualise the new generation web-based learning and sharing. This research study therefore is not about blog technology itself but to explore the nature of blogging, and how blogging and reading blogs would facilitate individual learning and knowledge sharing practice in a network environment.

For the purpose of this study, the researcher adopted a user-oriented, process-based, exploratory and grounded theory study. In particular, the research questions were developed over the conceptualisation process by using theoretical sampling, in-depth interviewing, and three-step
coding, constant comparison data analysis methods to generate a theory towards interpreting the studied phenomenon. Forty eight higher education students who had blog use experience were interviewed.

The emerged theory is illuminated by interpreting key findings about what elements (drives), how (contextual conditions, strategies), and why (consequences) students use blogs. It sheds light on the role of experiential learning theory and narcissism theory in this field and adds to our understanding of the ways in which learning is conceptualised, tacit knowledge can be made explicit, communicated and shared within different contexts of using blogs (e.g., self-therapy, interpersonal skills development, and intellectual abilities development). Furthermore, this thesis summarises the implications and limitations of the study, and suggests some further work. It
provides an important step towards providing educators and educational organisations with real data that defines good practice in the use of blog technology.

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