I’ve never used Thinglink before, so here’s my first ever attempt, trying to use a visual format for my MOOC report:
I’ve structured it around an airport image, and specifically an airport security image. Like an airport, the MOOC struck me as a temporary site, a transit zone within an ongoing journey of learning.
It also struck me as a policed zone. I encountered this when signing up, via the usual kind of terms and conditions, now experienced as a researcher. I also encountered it via a friendly and constructive email from the moderators, when some learners had queried the nature of my involvement in the MOOC. Having adjusted my involvement according to their suggestions, I also encountered this when confronted (and I choose the verb deliberately) with an aggressive response from one fellow learner. After some deliberation and reflection, I reported it to the moderators as a personal attack. A few days later, the comment was removed by them, and marked as such, which felt like some kind of addressing of this situation (but with no email response from them).
Ethnographically, this encounter had knocked the wind out of my MOOC-learning sails, but also provided the insight I needed for this mini-ethnography.
On the Thinglink, my matched ‘A’ comments seek to contrast the nature of ‘open-ness’ within a MOOC, and some of the tensions within it. My matched ‘B’ comments do likewise regarding entering the MOOC space: the learner’s sense of empowerment and disempowerment, and especially when played through the lens of a rookie on-line ethnographer (albeit one with significant offline experience).
The trio of ‘C’ comments offer the core of my observation. As with any online community, it’s not formed from a tabula rasa. And learners’ expectations come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. I’ve sought to contrast two which I encountered, and I’m pleased with the mirrored wording and mirrored architectural graphics I’ve managed to include. At the heart of my findings, I think the mini-ethnography problematised and extended Kozinets’ typologies for me. I’d found the typologies helpful and illuminating, and still do, but the ethnography has revised my working hypotheses regarding them. I’m more persuaded, after the ethnography, about the importance of course design, scaffolding for learning, and learning facilitations and interventions.
The trio of ‘D’ comments try to capture this, both as a lived experience in the MOOC and as a working hypothesis for further consideration. I’ve tried to use some ordinary-but-unsettling images from the airport scenario to capture something of this. And then, with the ‘E’ comments, I’ve tried to illustrate them with more conventional myths of the airport as site of consumption and mobility, but not completely without the sense of policing and threat. That, for me, attempts to encapsulate the tensions I’m left with from my brief but very stimulating MOOC experience.