Lifestream, Comment on Micro-ethnography by Renee Furner

This is a really engaging read, Stuart ‘ thank you!
The digital cacophony at the beginning was really disorienting ‘ I can see why people may want to turn away from it when learning.

One of the points I thought of with regard to the scale of MOOCs (and mine was an infant compared to yours) was that in order to participate in forums, users need a sense of the history of that forum. Without this knowledge, the information can be overwhelming, and if enough people lack knowledge of the history, participation norms are difficult if not impossible to establish.

As one of the ‘steps to success’ in a MOOC
, Cormier suggests that participants need to ‘cluster’, so that they can filter the noise/information, and make it manageable.

It seems though, that within your MOOC there was no opportunity to network and find those on with shared interests (excepting Chenée) – and similarly I’ve seen scant evidence of this in our peer’s ethnographies. What kind of environment would have supported that, I wonder?

Really interesting observations – a pleasure to read.


from Comments for Stuart’s EDC blog

Lifestream, Comment on My microethnography: Stories of a MOOC #mscedc by Renee Furner

Another really impressive and creative piece from you Anne – thank you. It’s a really emotive arrangement.

I really liked your comment:
“When MOOC members go beyond participation and become teachers, contributors and storytellers, the online community is enriched and strengthened.”

In a sense, the MOOC members are projecting themselves into the community – their experience, their feelings, their history their knowledge. In this sense the location of what is valued/what can be learned from becomes ‘distributed’.

I also thought that one reason your MOOC might have been more participatory is the role of empathetic listening when dealing with such fraught subject matter. While we should listen empathetically more frequently, I doubt many do (certainly based on most of our peers’ experiences in their MOOCs). In contrast, one’s humanity prevents one from speaking over or ignoring sensitive subject matter, or those things very important to another (like in Philip’s MOOC). Maybe listening is the key (an idea which I must also credit to Linzi, through her posts on my blog).

Thanks again for sharing. Your artefact construction is inspirational!

from Comments for Anne’s EDC blog

Week 7 Summary

For such a busy week my lifestream seems relatively quiet. Mostly, I have been commenting on other people’s micro-ethnographies, and working on creating my own: final observations, analysis of data and presenting findings. The lack of observable data generated while working on my ethnography acts as evidence to a post from last week in which I referenced Lesley Gourlay (2015): the narrative of student engagement privileges publicly observable ways of being a student and undervalues quiet, solitary acts. Yet, in the end, the product of my silence is observable – both in the prezi-come-video ‘breaking up with MOOC’ and the wordier, text-based sway presentation ‘looking for community’.

Key themes arising out of my own ethnography and those of my peers included:

  • an instructionist or behaviourist focus and transmission pedagogies (Dirk)
  • discordance between subject matter and delivery (Helen)
  • constructionist pedagogy and participant formation of connections around the materials within their own, place-based communities (Clare)
  • The scale of the MOOC, course design and student motivations impeding community formation (Stuart)
  • the potential to enrich and strengthen community through an expansion of participant roles to teachers, contributors and storytellers, and the role of personally meaningful disclosure in creating a sense of kinship (Anne)
  • the role of the LMS/digital infrastructure in opening up or shutting down participant interaction (mine)
  • the impact of shortness of time and lack of anticipated future interaction on the developmental progression of communities (mine)
  • the importance of personal motivations (Dirk, Linzi) and validation (Linzi)
  • financial incentives for MOOC providers (Linzi)
  • the role of empathetic listening in community building (Anne).
Kozinets, 2010, p. 28. The interaction period in my MOOC was too short to see norm development or much beyond identity exchange.

In other (non-comment/non-ethnography) posts, connections were made to some of the ideas arising out of the ethnographies. From Pinterest, a connection was made to the importance of empathetic listening in building a MOOC community, as well as to the value of facilitating location-based communities for MOOC participants. Another Pin, from Martin Weller, focused on the need for financial sustainability in order to make MOOCs viable. Through Diigo, I shared an article which gave me insight into research approaches for examining social learning within MOOCs.

Also through Diigo, I followed up on my questions about materiality and discourse from last week. I hope to return to these ideas, looking further at agency.

And now: onward to algorithmic cultures!

Lifestream, Comment on A Micro-Ethnography? by Renee Furner

Your wry observations made me smile, Dirk – and it was, as others have commented, impressively crafted.
I’m interested to know what the course materials were like for creating online and blended learning – were they similarly ‘instructionist’?
You note that those seeking an online course should be careful to choose something that matches what they are looking for – be it community or content. Do you think that the choice of ‘best’ learning environment is just down to individual preference, or do some have more pedagogic value than others?

Also – I blogged about ‘the intimacy of the xMOOC’ while on IDEL. If you’re interested, I’ve opened the post up – I can’t seem to see how to make it public but you should be able to view it when logged-in to EASE. If it doesn’t work (and you’re still keen to read it – there is mention of pyjamas, ice cream and toilet trips) let me know, and I’ll add you as a user.

from Comments for Argonauts of the Western Pathetic

Lifestream, Comment on Digital_Ethnography by Renee Furner

Even though it wasn’t what you fully intended, I thought this was very nicely put together, Clare. Your use of image is really effective.

For the 5000 participants, was this on this, single iteration of your course or spread of previous iterations as well? If just this one, then wow – that really is massive!

I liked your observation that “Many people applied the taught elements to their own local community based projects.” Perhaps nowadays when our lives are so enmeshed in technology we are less likely to seek community online (i.e. because tech is ubiquitous the novelty and or utopian vision has worn off somewhat). Certainly I’m aware that I’m generally (not always) more likely to engage in dialogue about concepts from my studies with friends and local peers than I am with fellow course participants.

Or, has the rise of SNSs changed the types of community we seek online? Moving away from affinity groups and towards communities based on established relational (friendship/peer) networks? Or, perhaps it is as Walther (1997) suggests, and community is to a degree dependent on anticipated future interaction… more questions than answers from me (as usual), I’m afraid.

Thanks for sharing.


from Comments for Clare’s EDC blog