Tag Archives: internet

Week Six Summary: Constructing the Micro-Ethnography


Typical screen shot of video lecture from ‘ScanFilmTV’ MOOC of lead instructor University of Copenhagen Professor Ib Bondebjerg

This past week I have been focused primarily on constructing my ‘Scandinavian Film and TV Culture’ (ScanFilmTV) MOOC micro-ethnography. I have found the processes of virtual ethnographic research (e.g., data collection, analysis, tool selection) to be more demanding, time-consuming, yet more interesting than I had anticipated. Constructing the micro-ethnography has distracted me from blogging activities, but it has also taken me down some divergent paths of learning and re-discovery.

For example, I did some Google and YouTube searches (aided by analytics based upon on my recent search preferences) on “ethnography” and “tools” that prompted me in a couple unexpected directions. I recalled undergraduate coursework I had done in anthropology, and the work of Napoleon Chagnon who did classical ethnographic fieldwork with the Yanomamo Indians in the Amazon rain forest 50 years ago. More recently, Chagnon wrote Noble Savages: My Life among Two Dangerous Tribes – The Yanomamo and the Anthropologists (2013), which I have read and highly recommend. In effect, Chagnon wrote an ‘ethnography on ethnographers.’
Yanomami Girl Yanomamo Girl

As it relates more directly to our EDC course and digital learning, I have sensed the ‘metacognitive’ linkages of ‘deep learning’ of the micro-ethnography project this past week whereby I am concurrently participating in the ScanFilmTV MOOC and learning about Scandinavian cultures as well distinct sub-national film cultures (Danish v. Swedish v. Norwegian), while also conducting ethnographic research on a sub-set of the ‘top forum posters’ within the MOOC, while also learning about the field of virtual ethnography, and additionally leveraging the resources and network connections of this EDC course. I have assumed an “active engagement” posture to the project by becoming an active participant in the MOOC. This approach has been informed by our C. Hine’s reading on “The virtual objects of ethnography” (2000). I have tried to invoke an “ethnographic sensitivity” (p. 60) to the ScanFilmTV MOOC online community that I have been studying. Hine notes that there are “many different ways of designing and conducting an ethnographic project”, where “choices and movements are made on the basis of strategic and often arbitrary decisions.” (p. 62) Importantly, he points out that “stopping the ethnography becomes a pragmatic decision.” (p. 64). I found this an astute insight (made in year 2000) that certainly resonated with my own decision-making about when I had sufficient data for this ‘micro-ethnography.’ Ethic considerations have also been at the forefront of my design that I will elaborate on in this final artifact. Hine, C. (2000) “The virtual objects of ethnography” from Hine, C. Virtual Ethnography, pp. 41-66, London: Sage.

I tried to adhere to the Alan Levine’s (http://50ways.wikispaces.com/Storyideas) advice that digital storytelling is “not about the tools,” but I had to finally select and commit to a platform for constructing the micro-ethnography to move forward. I was impressed by the virtual ethnography by previous EDC student Steph Carr on www.fiatforum.com using the tool www.slidespeech.com. This is currently Plan A for constructing the ScanFilmTV MOOC micro-ethnography. I spent considerable time ‘shopping around,’ reviewing the other platforms (Dipity, Spotify, Slideshare, etc..), but Slidespeech seems to accommodate the visual effect that I am trying to achieve which is to give the viewer of the micro-ethnography something of the ‘cinematic sense’ of the ScanFilmTV MOOC. At one point, I entertained producing a video to achieve this effect, mimicking the delivery of the ScanFilm TV MOOC, but I assessed that the production and logistics would prove to be too time-consuming. I estimate that am about half-way through my data collection of the study, and that I need at least about 15 hours more to complete the project: analyzing profiles of six more MOOC posters, writing the speaker notes of the PPT presentation that will be exported to Slidespeech. Steph Carr experienced some technical issues and challenges with the Slidespeech tool when she produced her (2013) ethnography, so I am formulating contingencies (Plan B) if Plan A goes awry.

Most of the Lifestream blog postings below were areas of interest that I happened to came across while researching certain aspects of constructing a virtual ethnography. They may not exhibit any particular coherent themes, but they generally reflect my interests and explorations this past week, including: the future of learning, MOOCs, the potential for leveraging digital technologies (e.g., the posting below about comparing national Constitutions), as well as the vulnerabilities (e.g., the posting below on the need for a Plan B for the Internet). The Chimps v. Humans posting below recalls earlier EDC reflections on the human-technology binary, about what it means to be human, but in case, the quandary is inter-species presaging the feasibility of a future Planet of Apes scenario.

I recommend that EDC peers take a look at the UK Government Report at link below on “Maturing of the MOOC.”