The communication between students in the mooc I have enrolled in is markedly different to that afforded by, and encouraged in EDC. Here, we can contact and engage each other via blog posts and comments (on both our own and the EDC blog); we can communicate on the mscde hub and on twitter; we can email each other or use direct tweets for less public messages; we can see each other in hangouts; we have reached out to other communities and contacts to expand our community.
Even contained within the most restrictive LMS and confined to a discussion board, learners in courses on the xMOOC spectrum nonetheless are exposed, in effect, to a fledgling network.
The network on the mooc I am enrolled in (most suitably described as an xMooc I think now) could definitely be described as fledgling, but I am not sure that it is “sow[ing] the very seeds of new literacies that challenge and undermine that instrumentalist perspective on education and expertise” (Stewart, 2013, p.234) to which Stewart lays claim (some unstructured thoughts on Stewart, 2013 here).
For the most part, as far as I have observed, the participants fit into the Newbie category defined by Kozinets because they can each be aptly described as
a new member who is using the community to learn about the core consumption activity
although, over time, I think their commitment to the community might grow and their interaction and participation types change.
At the moment, I have no way of knowing if my fellow-students on the mooc fit into Kozinets’ Network category. They may have strong participation in other communities and have “reached into” the mooc for the specific purpose of following and being credentialed for the course.
My forays into the mooc have probably passed unnoticed by the other students. I have not posted anything regarding the motivation behind my presence, although I did email the course leader to ask for his permission. His response came promptly and was kind and interested, asking whether I would give him a copy of the report and to get in touch if I needed him to act as ‘informant’. I am prompted to think about how,
even online, the relationship between ethnographer, reader and research subjects is still inscribed in the ethnographic text
Although what form the text should take hasn’t fully emerged yet :).
I am also interested to read Hine on informants:
while pursuing face-to-face meetings with online informants might be intended to enhance authenticity via triangulation (Silverman, 1993; Hammersley and Atkinson, 1995), it might also threaten the experiential authenticity that comes from aiming to understand the world the way it is for informants.
(Hine, 2000, p.49)
My mooc has turned connectivist! Lots of activity in the Discussion Forums – much food for ethnographic thought.
Hine, C. (2000). The virtual objects of ethnography, Chapter 3 of Virtual Ethnography. London: Sage. pp41-66
Kozinets, R. V. (2010). Chapter 2 ‘Understanding Culture Online’, Netnography: doing ethnographic research online. London: Sage. pp. 21-40.
Stewart, B., (2013). Massiveness + Openness = New Literacies of Participation? MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Technology, 9(2), pp.228–238.