"Digital libraries" by Jared Zimmerman is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
“Digital libraries” by Jared Zimmerman is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

As with block 1, the core and secondary readings for this section of the course are available here.  Some of the chapters and journal articles are copyright protected so you will need to be logged in via EASE to access them.

You will need to read the three Core readings over this 4-week block, alongside undertaking your MOOC micro-ethnography. The Secondary readings will provide important examples of current MOOC research, which will be invaluable to your own studies, so aim to read at least two of these.



Knox, J. 2015. Community Cultures. Excerpt from Critical Education and Digital Cultures. In Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory. M. A. Peters (ed.). DOI 10.1007/978-981-287-532-7_124-1

Lister, M. … [et al.], (2009) “Chapter 3. Networks, users and economics” from Martin Lister … [et al.], New media: a critical introduction pp.163-236, London: Routledge

You will almost certainly find this entire chapter very useful as we make the transition into block 2 and notions of community cultures.  However, in particular you should focus on:

  • 3.16 Wiki worlds and Web 2.0 p204-209
  • 3.17 Identities and communities online p209
  • 3.19 Belonging p213-216
  • 3.21 The Internet and the public sphere p218-220
  • 3.22 User generated content: we are all fans now p221-222

Taking a media studies approach rather than one specifically aimed at the ‘online’, this chapter will provide an important grounding for our considerations of community cultures in this block.

Kozinets, R. V. (2010) Chapter 2 ‘Understanding Culture Online’, Netnography: doing ethnographic research online. London: Sage. pp. 21-40.

This chapter gives an excellent overview of the ways in which communities have been theorised and studied online.  The descriptions of early research in this area will provide important context for our interest in community cultures during this block, and the focus on ethnography will help ground your micro-studies of MOOCs.

Bayne, S., Evans, P., Ewins, R., Knox, J., Lamb, J., Macleod, H., O’Shea, C., Ross, J., Sheail, P., Sinclair,  C. (2019 DRAFT). The Manifesto for Teaching Online.

For the core reading this block, you only need to read the following two sections:

11. Openness is neither neutral nor natural: it creates and depends on closures: pages 50-53

12. Massiveness is more than learning at scale: it also brings complexity and diversity: pages 54-58

Our book is currently in draft form and is currently going through the publishing process with MIT Press therefore we ask you not to share this draft beyond the EDC group. If you do want to share the Manifesto, or simply want to learn more about how it has evolved, a separate journal article by members of our team was recently (December 2019) published.


Saadatdoost, Robab; Sim, Alex Tze Hiang; Mittal, Nitish; Jafarkarimi, Hosein; and Hee, Jee Mei, “A NETNOGRAPHY STUDY OF MOOC COMMUNITY” (2014). PACIS 2014 Proceedings. 116. http://aisel.aisnet.org/pacis2014/116

This paper usefully demonstrates some of the approach you will be undertaking in this block, by conducting a study of a MOOC through the lens of ‘community of practice’, and a methodology inspired by Kozinets’s ‘Netnography’.

Bell, Frances and Mackness, Jenny and Funes, Mariana (2016) Participant association and emergent curriculum in a MOOC: can the community be the curriculum? Research in Learning Technology, 24. ISSN 2156-7077

While this paper considers a very specific kind of MOOC design, quite different from the platform-based MOOCs, the discussion of participant perceptions of community should be useful for your explorations in this block. The idea of the ‘community as the curriculum’ may be an interesting contrast to the MOOC you choose to study.

Taskeen Adam (2019) Digital neocolonialism and massive open online courses (MOOCs): colonial pasts and neoliberal futures, Learning, Media and Technology, 44:3, 365-380, DOI: 10.1080/17439884.2019.1640740

This paper provides some interesting critical perspectives on the MOOC, drawing on a range of postcolonial theory to highlight some of the problematic orientations that underpin such digital education initiatives. Such ideas suggest particular limitations for MOOC communities that may be useful for you to explore further.

Esposito, Antonella. 2012. Research Ethics in Emerging Forms of Online Learning: Issues Arising from a Hypothetical Study on a MOOC. Electronic Journal of e-Learning, v10 n3 p315-325

This paper offers some important reflections on the ethics involved in studying online communities, such as you will find in MOOCs. Given that you will be acting as a researcher in a ‘public’ educational space, you will need to consider your role carefully, and this paper provides a useful framework to begin this process.

Hine, C (2000) The virtual objects of ethnography, chapter 3 of Virtual ethnography. London: Sage. pp41-66

Hine’s seminal work on virtual ethnography will provide you with important context for your micro-ethnographic explorations, and will be an interesting comparison to the core Kozinets reading.