I’m pleased to say that this weeks ethnography piece has been progressing quite well since I made the decision to jump form my original open course on Learing Analytics to the entirely different subject on the power of colour through the Future Learn MOOC platform.
In comparison to the first course the new one on the subject of colour, its interpretation, physical characteristics, the way humans perceive and its application in design and living has been explosive. From the very get-go the subject has fostered a multitude of commentary, feedback and activity beyond just the topic of the programme which has provided a proverbial smorgasbord of ethnographic angles upon which to base this mini study.
Being an intrinsically creative subject the interaction has been expressive and, well, colorful.
What has been especially interesting is that, due to the ethnographic angle I have undertaken with this course, I feel much more the observer than the participant. This is my 10th MOOC and my 6th on Future Learn but never before did I pay much attention to the backgrounds of the participants, the frequency of comments made or the emergence of dominant voices which have the ability to present and lead a topic. Some of Boyd and Ellison’s work as alluded to in Lister (2009) as well as inputs from Baym have provided a unique angle to view the progression of the MOOC from. I found myself particularly enamored with the comment ‘typing oneself into being’!
Another emerging observation is that this MOOC is not necessarily taken by people to learn about the subject it self. Some participants, its appears, are taking the programme to improve their written English, and are using the community aspects to practice presenting questions, responding in kind or trying to develop conversation. How this puts a spin on the use of the OER!
What has also emerged, and what reflects what was highlighted in the Lister reading, is that much like Wikipedia, much of the interaction and commentary is driven by a small number of very active users (the 80/20 rule).
I’ve still not found evidence of any kind of greater community or one that is even emerging but their is mostly certainly evidence of micro-communities who have found common themes upon which to interact.
The study continues….