Mini-ethnography for EDC '17
<div>'Open' can suggest freedom, wide-open spaces to travel...</div>
<div>... but the lived reality is: inhabited, striated (Bayne, 2004: and certainly scaffolded. </div>
<div>Everyone comes in equal, having entered the system (and having done so in its terms and conditions)....</div>
<div>... but what are the rules, especially for research here, and are they clearly in focus, and visible to all participants?</div>
<div>And people bring in their own baggage, and differing reactions to being there, and differing hopes and strategies to what online learning will mean for them. </div><div><br></div><div>(MOOCs standardise the learning experience to some extent, but the users make the experience, albeit within the framing provided for them.)</div>
<div>For some learners, the MOOC is a place of protection: a sanctuary, a confidential confessional. They bring a traditional class-room model with them...</div>
<div>... for other learners, a MOOC can be a place of projection - a site for society, for confident ego-promotion, a chat-room model.</div><div><br></div><div>(And, of course, there are many other strategies in place and play. In effect, Kozinets (2010: 21-40) is a map, but not the territory, for online communities and participation.)</div>
<div>The community is policed (1): 'mentors' and the 'lead educator' are good at sniffing out learning, and also encouraging and nurturing it.</div><div><br></div><div>(In my MOOC experience, I was impressed by the levels of involvement undertaken in this regard. Helpful scaffolding for learning. I'd be curious to know the extent to which this was automated, or according to pre-determined protocols, and the extent to which it was context-derived.)</div>
<div>The community is policed (2): other learners ideally sniff out learning, and also encourage and nurture it, with positive network effects.</div><div><br></div><div>(In my MOOC experience, I was impressed by the levels of interaction undertaken in this regard. But then it wasn't a very 'massive' course.)</div>
<div>The community is policed 3): the moderators sit back, but are only the click of a flag-button away.</div><div><br></div><div>(In my MOOC experience, I was impressed by the moderators, both in terms of friendly and constructive advice offered to me as a researcher, and in their response to a personal attack. Their role is vital in keeping the MOOC healthy. At the same time, their role is a tricky one: not too hands-on, not too stand-off.)</div>
<div>The MOOC feels like a transit community. One is passing through, on the way to somewhere else. Most learning communities are, but is this especially like Zygmunt Bauman's 'cloakroom community'? </div><div><br></div><div>(The MOOC I was on did, on my superficial impressions, do a better job than I expected in this regard. I'd need further time and attention for a more acute analysis, but my first impressions were more positive than I expected them to be.)</div>
<div>And, looking back at the MOOC, everyone is passing through, moving towards their own destination. It can be a solo, a silo, experience, in hope of future lift-off. But, also, it's a place of interaction, of encounter (of sorts). Things are uncovered, re-arranged, sometimes left behind. It can be an important, even a vital, part of the learning journey, for some at least.</div>
<div>Ethnography is helpful in getting beneath shiny graphics and examining the lived experience of the MOOC learner.</div>
<div>Does everyone read the signs on the way in? Terms and conditions, how this experience will be like and unlike what you expect and might want it to be? Everyone comes to the MOOC with a pre-history of learning, and a catalogue of hopes and fears for the experience.</div>
<div>Does one size fit all...</div><div>Does variation happen, and help, and in what ways...</div><div>Does regularity in form facilitate, or fatigue....</div><div>MOOCs raise many questions for critical educational research.</div>
<div>What goes on in the box? MOOCs are 'open', but also the outer-facing edge of massive corporate strategies, business models, and submerged algorithms. That they are then peopled, makes them all the more complex as spaces, as learning spaces.</div>
<div><span style="font-size:16px;">What is a MOOC?</span></div><div><br></div><div>Narrated by Dave Cormier Video by Neal Gillis - Research by: Bonnie Stewart Alexander McAuley George Siemens Dave Cormier Created through funding received by...</div><div><br></div> Narrated by Dave Cormier Video by Neal Gillis - Research by: Bonnie Stewart Alexander McAuley George Siemens Dave Cormier Created through funding received by...

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