Constructing radical community: an ecological model for shifting from an EdD to a We-dD in online doctoral programs.
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Online learning is often associated with the alone together paradox that suggests that online students are constantly connected to one another yet feel more alone due to a lack of real social connection. While research has approached this issue from an environmental perspective, some scholars have recently suggested that aspects of online students' complex ecologies, beyond the online program, may also influence the degree students engage socially. This phenomenological study explores the experiences of 10 students enrolled in an online doctoral program in education. In-depth interviews were conducted to discuss how various ecological systems affect students' ability to socially connect in the online program, revealing students reporting feeling apart, but together, rather than alone together. This study encourages online doctoral programs and researchers to take an ecological approach, as opposed to an environmental one, in order to construct a more thorough understanding of the online doctoral student experience.