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Pedagogy of the American oppressed: Understanding online knowledge sharing by impoverished adults

, Capella University, United States

Capella University . Awarded


The growth of online social networking presents new challenges to the field of instructional design for online learning. Although this form of social networking began as amusement, the skills and activity required for participation involve many elements necessary for successful interaction in the online classroom. Members of these online sites come from all economic strata including those at the poverty level. Although these impoverished members demonstrate success in online social networking, they have not traditionally been successful in completing educational goals. The purpose of this study was to examine how young adults living at the poverty level participate in online social networking sites to identify cognitive styles used to develop knowledge or share knowledge, and then to consider the implications of these approaches for the design of online instruction for impoverished students. Following qualitative research methodology, case study interview answers were used to develop main themes. Questions were asked of 10 impoverished young adults and 10 middle class young adults. Although some themes identified were common among respondents in both groups, only themes unique to impoverished respondents were compared to established patterns of communication and knowledge sharing among traditional face-to-face impoverished communities. The results of the study identified five major patterns unique to the impoverished participants. These participants were receptive to interaction and sharing of ideas with individuals they met as strangers online. Also, they tended to prefer some kind of background noise from music or television while participating in the virtual environment. This pattern was closely tied to the next one: These participants wrote and spoke responses that followed a Millennium Learner cognitive style. A fourth difference was that impoverished participants demonstrated a preference for the use of casual language as presented through Internet shortcuts and abbreviations. Lastly, impoverished respondents were much more likely to view the real-time online environment as a part of their daily interactions with other humans. The research data were then used to develop strategies to meet the needs of impoverished adults as a part of the process of instructional design for online learning.


Sale, R.A. Pedagogy of the American oppressed: Understanding online knowledge sharing by impoverished adults. Ph.D. thesis, Capella University. Retrieved September 25, 2020 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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