Week 5 – Deep in the MOOC of Things

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It is end of Week 2 of the Scandinavian Film and TV (ScanFilmTV) Culture that I have chosen for conducting the micro-ethnographic study. I have spent considerable time this past week studying about the Week 2b ScanFilmTV topic on Dogme 95 hoping that there would be enough data to study, but that has not proven to be the case. I immersed myself in researching the topic, spent time watching two Lars Von Trier films, Dogville and Antichrist, and doing a few prescribed readings, so that I could converse intelligently with other participants in the MOOC. I posted five comments in the discussion forum in respond to the Question: “What, if anything, has Dogma 95 contributed to contemporary cinema in terms of both style, content or other matters?.” Halfway through the week, I realized that I was experiencing a ‘role conflict’ between my role as a MOOC participant and that of an ethnographer. I found that I was getting so much into the subject matter, as a participant, of studying the Dogme 95 film movement and the influence of Lars von Trier as the main provocateur that I lost sight that was not the primary aim of my ethnographic research. Rather, my objective was to observe the participants in the MOOC.

I posted a few related Tweets below in this Lifestream blog throughout the week as I was studying more about Kozinet’s influence on this field, of what has been called “netnography.” Some of the Netnography video materials that I posted below were particularly helpful in enabling me to re-orient on the task of ethnographic observation of the ScanFilmTV MOOC. A couple EDC peers seemed to appreciate these resources. At this juncture, based upon my initial assessment of the data available, I am inclined to investigate the ‘forum reputations’ of the ‘top forum posters’ in this specific MOOC, as the focus for the micro-ethnography. This approach is quite different from my point of departure last week when I was very focused on the specific topic of Dogme 95 and Lars von Trier. It is not that I am a major fan of von Trier, but I projected that this controversial director would generate consideration discussion on his work and influence.

I continue to have ethical concerns about how to manage this project. I have not explicitly requested permission to observe this MOOC from the organizers because on the one hand, I thought that there might be some resistance to allowing this type of research, and on the other hand, I thought that I could manage to find a way to handle the data considerately and not intentionally violate the privacy or anonymity of the other participants. The further that I get into the study, could more readily understand the Challenges to Research in MOOCs (Fournier,H. Kup,R. & Durand,G. 2014) what the ethical implications might be (Marshall, S., 2014). Also, my shift in the direction of the research, from participation to observation, has prompted to re-think the packaging and delivery of the research; noting Alan Levine’s warning that it (the research) is not about the tools, from his 50 Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story website.

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