On completion of my ethnographic study, I have uncovered, in one particular discussion thread of my chosen MOOC, a certain degree of ‘shared value’ – a key component of online community, stipulated by Mark Wills’ in his TEDx speech. This was evident in the commonality and repetitive nature of the language being used throughout the thread, from post to post. The visual results of this are shown in the word cloud in the attached ThingLink, along with commentary of the methodology and results.
Some key reflections:- In carrying out this study was frustrated by the fact that I encountered far more limitation in the digital ethnography than anticipated. Firstly, finding a MOOC discussion forum that engendered enough dialogue to allow for a study to take place was perhaps the biggest challenge. And once this was finally done, being able to immerse myself fully into the MOOC discussion was not always possible due to time constraints – as such I found myself acting as a passive observer, rather than an active participant. Furthermore, the qualitative nature of the results made it difficult to analyse and draw precise conclusions. This is likely due to the fact that the study was small in nature. Had this been scaled up and carried out over a longer period of time, a clearer perspective of community and shared values could have been extrapolated from the results. Consequently, I do not feel that the results of my ethnography give a true representation of the community culture that exists within the MOOC forum, but merely a tiny fragment of what it may be.