Fall 2018



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Trish Harvey

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Meghan Kelly

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

David Williamson Shaffer


The everyday, informal, out-of-school learning adults participate in has drastically changed in the past two decades as information and interaction online has grown and evolved (Blaschke, 2012; Skyrme, 2001). Instead of attending in-person workshops and noncredit courses, sending away for fact sheets and the like, much informal learning today occurs online, often beginning with a search engine or social network. However, long-standing, nonprofit, and governmental institutions have largely failed to understand and capitalize on the new information and education ecosystem, while nimble start-ups (e.g., Wikipedia) have thrived (Fuad-Luke, 2009; Skyrme, 2001). This dissertation aims to provide a model for a pedagogical approach to the design and evaluation of public websites that will support the vision and understanding needed to move forward more successfully in this complex and quickly evolving work (Sandlin, Schultz, & Burdick, 2010). I have chosen a collective case study methodology to explore the educational content and platform design and outcome evaluation strategies employed by the organizations, and in doing so, to illustrate public pedagogy for the web for a wide variety of possible applications. The study identified that website and content design is focused on storytelling and curation for the curious public. Furthermore, social media sharing of educational content fosters organic, pop-up communities of inquiry around discrete topics. Lastly, it was determined that the development of evaluation best practices to measure learning outcomes and effectiveness of website and social media content is both needed and desired by practitioners in the field. (241 words)

Research Methodology

Case Study, Interview, Netnography, Quantitative Ethnography, Epistemic Network Analysis


Website design, Social media, informal learning, heutagogy








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