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  • 2018Johnsonphd

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Using mobilage thinking to study healthcare students’ experiences of using and learning to use mobile phones for academic work

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Mike Johnson
Publication date2019
Number of pages167
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This thesis adopts a realist ontology, hermenutic epistemology and phenomonological methodology to ask, 'What is learning at university like for healthcare students in a mobile assemblage (mobilage)?'. ‘Mobilage’ blends ideas from Actor Network Theory and educational theory to provide a wholistic unit of analysis, student-with-a-smartphone, rather than splitting subject/object or fixating on the human or a technology. The study launched with an online survey which gathered background information and advertised an online focus group (OFG) and exploratory meetings, ‘mobilage encounters’. The OFG ran with 7 informants over 3 months and there were 10 encounters. Data from these were combined with autobiographical insights in a narrowing interpretive focus on mobilage.
The OFG sought to avoid intrusive informant observation while enabling participation from anywhere, especially within mobilage. Weekly trigger messages were sent through Microsoft’s Yammer platform, akin to experience sampling/cultural probe methods, yet with the potential for shared responses. Consensus formed around several themes, including the challenges and artfulness of mobile phone-based work.
Encounter data was gathered and used to re-play the encounter into my consciousness, often while walking secluded coastal pathways. These experiences were combined with the data corpus to help create ten phenomenological vignettes, with the goal of re-presencing readers. A discussion section accompanies all but one of the vignettes. Mobilage is a site of struggle for deliberation and phronesis due to the multiple virtual and actual lines and layers of connectivity between psyche and the life-world.
The thesis concludes noting the incursion of technology and economic/pragmatic meta-discourses into academic work. In the face of these challenges, higher education stakeholders must assert the importance of scholarly values and humanistic goals (such as Bildung (Gadamer, 1992)) which students are doing to some extent.