From Ethnography Posts

Greetings from the MOOC participants

Geographical locations of participants in the Metaliteracy MOOC (as per the Welcome Forum)

“The shimmery hope is that free courses can bring the best education in the world to the most remote corners of the planet, help people in their careers, and expand intellectual and personal networks” (Pappano, 2012).

An article by Kamenetz (2013) states that two-thirds of participants live outside of the USA, and that they are adapting the courses “to fit their local communities and cultures”.  In some instances, these MOOCs are being used as part of a formal educational course, and are being delivered to groups as part of a blended learning experience, which allows third-world students to experience first-world educational resources.

It appears there are a majority of participants based within the USA and Europe on the Metaliteracy MOOC.  However, there are also participants in Argentina, Ukraine, South Korea and Ghana to name a few countries.

The multinational participation does bring problems. For example, one forum thread raises the question of grammatical errors arising where English is a second language. The consensus of opinion was that as long as the message or intent is clear then the grammar should not affect the overall mark.  However, one participant was keen that their grammar was corrected as this was part of their learning journey.  Another participant remarked on how difficult it was for them to judge grammatical content as they did not feel fully confident to do so.

If confidence with the English language is an unspoken requirement of taking part in a MOOC then I do question how ‘open’ it is.  The video material is spoken English with English captions only.  The written material is English only.  Although, it is possible to translate the written documents using Google Translate, or an alternative service, this often strips out the formatting which makes it harder to understand, even when the translation is accurate.  The MOOC also requires you to complete written assignments each week.

“Another factor is language of course because had I no English as my second language I would not be able to discuss these issues with you but the fact that I can communicate in English opens up a whole digital world that would otherwise be a closed book to me” (Metaliteracy MOOC participant).

I do believe that a truly open MOOC would be delivered in several languages.

Another issue that has been raised is legislation,

“Just something that poked me in the eye: only the copyright law of the USA is discussed in the reading material and the quiz.
Do I understand right that the copyright law varies country by country? Because then that part of the material is kinda useless for learners in other countries (which I bet there are many of in a MOOC)” (Metaliteracy MOOC participant).

The power of methaphors



The original poster, Nicole, creates the metaphor of ideas as electrically charged particles being set free into the world.  Colleen takes in the particle and changes her attitude towards her passive consumption, becoming Empowered.

I wonder how many other participants will feel this charge?

Perceptions, filters and design issues

there is an interesting discussion thread starting around the subject of design principles and branding.


The initial poster poster later identifies himself as possessing ’30 years of experience in the advertising field’.  I am particularly enjoying this forum thread because of the different viewpoints that are expressed and exposure to expert opinion.

i also want to say here that I believe we all filter information naturally through the lens that we are most comfortable with.  Brent is assimilating new information into his existing cognitive structures which are grounded in the advertising world. Joe, on the other hand, does not have this experience and is taking a wider view of the potential designer role.

Another thread discusses the way various platforms use algorithms to manipulate it’s users. Sounds like the filter bubble argument to me, which is negated by forums of this type.




Metaliteracy: Empowering Yourself in a Connected World

  • image

Platform: Coursera


  • Open SUNY
  • SUNY Empire State College
  • University of Albany
  •  Overview

the course is relatively easy to navigate in a mobile device although the discussion forums would be easier to acces from the main menu rather than via the menu items.

the first weekly reading is thought provoking and is generating some interesting discussions around the role of social media in learning.

Powerful tools for teaching and learning: Web 2.0 tools

Prior experiences

none with Mocs and none with ethnographies.

chosen mooc

Title: Powerful tools for teaching and learning: Web 2.0 tools


platform: Cousera

Institution: University of Houston System

Overview of the course

its not good. My only experiences of online learning are UoE and this just does not live up to the standard.  It is difficult to navigate, although this could be down to the platform being used on a mobile device – a borrowed iPad. I can’t find the forums. The video material uses the most awful music and the thought of having to watch another one makes me want to physically walk away.  The core document is simplistic, I like this, it makes it accessible to everyone but does not really give you anything to get your teeth into. The course talks about exploring Web 2.0 tools and then gives you a short list to choose from, a little prescriptive, I would have imagined that it would encourage a wide range of explorations. I can’t spend 4 weeks in this place, I just can’t.