Week 5 Summary

This week in my Lifestream and in #mscedc in Twitter I’ve witnessed:

  1. An increase in ‘social’ posts
  2. An increase in conversations (as opposed to just sharing links) in Twitter
  3. Convergence of conversations and areas of investigation/inquiry

The increase in social posts could potentially be explained using Kozinets’ developmental progression of participation, which suggests that with increasing time and number of communications, participants’ communications move from topical information exchange to become coloured with ’emotional, affiliative and meaning-rich elements’ (Kozinets, p. 28).

Increased ‘conversations’ may arise out of increased trust in the learning potential or capability of our ‘learning partnership’ (Wenger, 2010), or perhaps from frustration with ‘shouting into the void’ in our chosen MOOCs for the micro-ethnography (at least, in mine).

Core themes which converged were moderation or policing of community values within online communities and the ability of ‘private’ sites with commercial interests to serve the interests of community. Alongside this, multiple conversations about whether community participation is necessary to success in MOOCs (and on courses in general) also converged.

Two conversations on participation converge:

Click the image to go to Thinglink and view the image, which has links to posts and media from the week


Conversations and inquiry into the role of moderation of communities and the significance of community infrastructure being privately owned and profit generating converge:

Click on the image to go to Thinglink


So far, my micro-ethnography notes remain offline as I’m conscious of inadvertently revealing more details about the data’s origins than I plan to.

4 Replies to “Week 5 Summary”

  1. Hey Renee,

    Kudos on this post. It’s really impressive. I like the way you have taken a mandatory blog task and then used one of the readings to demonstrate your knowledge and critical thinking skills. It also gives the summary a consistent focus.

    I’ve tended to make my summaries themed but not necessarily tied to a reading. I tend to do that with my other blog posts where I don’t have a word limit.

    I’ll also try writing something similar using this part of the Kozinet’s reading.

    1. Thanks, Daniel – that’s a really generous comment, I feel. I’m not terribly au fait with the tools I tried to use to produce my images, so the integration of links to the posts is a little ‘sloppy’ at times.. I also really struggle with the suggested word count, every week..

      I’ve just had a quick look at your blog – it is wonderfully creative, and your use of more substantial blog posts (rather than trying to IFTTT everything all the time) provides for a much more coherent reading experience. I’ll come back later in the week for a longer read – looking forward to it as you seem to have written in depth.


  2. Nice use of Kozinets here to frame our own EDC community. We’re now pretty much at the half-way point of the course, so I guess our engagement will be richer! It is interesting to think about that in the context of the potentially transient groups involved in MOOCs. I thought one of your earlier comments on Christopher Poole was interesting in this context too, highlighting the time and work required to forge an ‘authentic’ community position.

    Your Thinglink diagrams are fantastic too, and really show how you are exploring relevant issues and connecting ideas.

    I suppose that many of the sparsely populated conversations in typically designed ‘xMOOCs’ are so because the courses aren’t really designed with ‘community’ in mind. But does that mean learning doesn’t take place? I thought the reference to Gourlay was a good critical angle here too – our commitments to ‘social constructivism’ structure what we look for and what we find when trying to explain learning.

    The other excellent area I was interested in was community moderation – a super critique for lazy advocacy of ‘openness’. Communities are governed spaces that entail work – there is a labour dimension there which would link to the Lister et al. chapter quite well. I wonder what ‘moderation’, if we take that as a central factor of community space, says about ‘folksonomy’?

    1. Thanks for your comments, Jeremy. As usual, you’re keeping me from slacking off 😉

      “I suppose that many of the sparsely populated conversations in typically designed ‘xMOOCs’ are so because the courses aren’t really designed with ‘community’ in mind. But does that mean learning doesn’t take place?”

      I have mixed feelings about the first part of this – at times the course design is behind the lack of conversation, but not always. In the MOOC I’m doing presently, students are frequently asked to post in a forum and to reply to others. The instructional approach encourages dialogue – but because students are not notified when their posts are replied to or ‘upvoted’, and because there is not a search function within the site’s forums, it is very difficult/time consuming for students to keep track of whether their posts have been replied to. In this case, the design is to blame, but the design of technological infrastructure/architecture rather than the pedagogical approach taken. I guess this is a socio-technical obstacle?

      A second reason I have mixed feelings about course design being the cause of a lack of conversation is because I suspect that whether students engage in conversation or not depends on more than course design. For instance, the transience of MOOC populations (or, lack of anticipated future interaction, to use Walther’s 1994 terminology) and the belief in the expertise of other participants (which influences ‘trust dynamics’, to use Wenger’s 2010 term), both of which I’ve discussed previously on the blog (so I won’t go on). In addition, I suspect it matters whether whatever is studied is central or periphery to participants’ senses of self/identity, with conversations increasing in likelihood amongst those who more closely identify with the topic/subject. Similarly, the individual learners’ concepts of what it means to be a student, and the identity standards individuals attach to the student role, will influence whether or not a participant on a course looks to participate within a community. Further, the individual preferences of learners matter, regardless of whether those preferences are attached to perceptions of the student role. Whereas some people look for support and like learning socially, others do not. Since most MOOC participation is ungraded, presumably participants will be less concerned about fulfilling identity ideals, and will complete them according to their preferred style of learning. By extension, since learners are situated, if they want community, they may seek it offline, within their already established networks and not within the cohort they are studying with.

      With a multitude of reasons why students might not form a community, does this, as you ask, mean that learning doesn’t take place? I don’t think it does. I am cautious, because I acknowledge that access to information is not ‘learning’, but I feel that denial of learning outside of (human) ‘communities’ both denies the role of nonhuman actors (i.e. Actor Network Theory, Latour), and that humans internalise social processes with which they can interrogate and hold dialogue with nonhuman materials.

      Since I’ve already been rather long-winded, I’ll come back to your point “I wonder what ‘moderation’, if we take that as a central factor of community space, says about ‘folksonomy’?”

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