Broadbent’s research focuses on the ‘democratization of intimacy’. The video above highlights how interactions have changed between individuals and their loved ones since connectivity with phones and the Internet has improved. She makes reference to how institutions have prevented people from connecting to one another because communication channels have been locked down, historically. She says we are conditioned to focus and pay attention on the tasks we need to complete for work or school and this perpetuates isolation.

Kozinet (2010) makes reference to how Correll (1995) suggests that ‘community experience is mediated by impressions of real-world locations’. I wondered, while watching Broadbent, whether the reason there seems to be a lack of meaningful interaction on MOOCs is because people have been conditioned to focus on the task dictated to them by institutions, thereby denying development of intimate interaction between participants. If we assume that the MOOC model could represent the academic institution, people are focused on the tasks they should complete and are not of building intimate relationships that will help develop learning.

Another idea is that we restrict with whom we choose to become intimate. Those people we choose to connect with on a regular basis are important because we have a long standing emotional connection to them. A MOOC is such a vast space full of people it is difficult to discern who of the many, will provide meaningful learning opportunities.

Kozinets, R. V. (2010) Chapter 2 ‘Understanding Culture Online’, Netnography: doing ethnographic research online. London: Sage. pp. 21-40.

TED. (2009) How the internet enables intimacy. Retrieved: 17 February 2017.