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Sandra Arch, VIDL Graduate Fellow, Introductory Post

Posted by on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 in News.

In what ways can digital technologies support collaborative relationships and productive interaction between students?

Sandra Arch

As a graduate fellow at the Vanderbilt Institute for Digital Learning (VIDL), I am engaging this question through a research project on strategies used to foster an intellectual community among undergraduate students that facilitates collaboration; promotes learning; and helps create open, constructive classroom dialogue. This project reflects my broader research interests in communities, the sociology of work, and the ways in which digital technologies connect people offline and influence in-person interactions.

I am a PhD candidate in the Sociology Department at Vanderbilt.  In my dissertation, I examine meanings of work and the formation of community in post-bureaucratic organizations.  The particular case I investigate is coworking spaces.  “Coworking” describes a flexible work arrangement in which independent workers, not typically employed by the same agency or organization, share office space and resources.  In recent years, information and communications technologies have shifted the nature of work from stationary offices in bureaucratic organizations toward flexible forms of employment and mobile working conditions.  While these newer forms of work offer greater independence and autonomy to workers, enabling them to work from anywhere with an internet connection, they also reflect a larger trend of social isolation in the contemporary era, with its declining rates of membership in social, religious, and voluntary organizations.  My dissertation research reveals how independent workers leverage flexibility, mitigate risk, and cultivate community in this era of declining community membership.

Over the course of the academic year, I will be blogging regularly about community and collaboration, and I anticipate cross-pollination between my dissertation research and my work as a graduate fellow at VIDL.  I welcome comments and invite readers to post their thoughts on my upcoming posts using the “Leave a Reply” feature below.


One Comment on “Sandra Arch, VIDL Graduate Fellow, Introductory Post”

Hi Sandra,

What a great topic! I’m sure you have lots of interest in your dissertation, and I look forward to future blog posts on the subject. Quick question out of curiosity: you mention the rise of social isolation and declining rates in social groups. I was wondering if you examined the rise of online forums and groups as a means of mitigating, or at least as an alternative to this social isolation? I travel a lot for my research, and I’ve noticed a tendency to spend more time on sites like reddit and imgur when I’m abroad in part I think because I feel like I get some human interaction from the experience. Not sure if that falls into your research topic but I was curious so I thought I would ask.


Zoe LeBlanc on September 2nd, 2014 at 2:10 am

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