Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name



Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Ingrid Guerra-Lopez


This exploratory, mixed-methods case study investigated supervisor/manager-level employees in a hospital health care organization to examine how they created and used personal learning environments (PLEs), what internet/Web 2.0 technologies were used to solve work-related problems (or for professional development), and what strategies were engaged to meet learning goals. Research questions addressed: what internet/Web 2.0 technologies were used to find and retrieve information, build networks, collaborate, and create and share knowledge; what triggered employees to use internet/Web 2.0 technologies to solve work-related problems; how they evaluated information found; how they determined completion of learning goals; how much confidence they had in their in their abilities to locate, analyze, and use information; what actions they took; and what types of learning activities they engaged in.

Results indicated that the work environment influences decisions employees made regarding use of internet/Web 2.0 technologies. Almost 40% of survey participants reported that they did not use social network sites. Two factors played an inhibitory role: (1) perceptions of lack of organizational support for use of these technologies and (2) concern over accidental violation of confidentiality rules specific to the healthcare industry. The majority of study participants were confident in their abilities to find, critically analyze, and apply information they found (an important requisite for success in a PLE). Participants rated “traditional” technologies of online courses and Webcasts as having the most credible information. In general, learning needs for interviewees were stimulated when they needed more information to answer questions. Participants judged the quality of their learning based on a sense of accomplishment and on the end result, as well on opinions of others (e.g., co-workers and supervisors) or on a set of industry standards. The top six learning activities listed were: accessing email, accessing the internet, reading information on the internet or social media sites, seeking consultation, participating in webinars, and online courses offered by the company. The nature of participants’ PLEs, as defined in this study, were in early stages of development, both in the variety and complexity of the tools/technologies being employed, and in the learning strategies used.