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Journal Article

Research ethics in emerging forms of online learning: issues arising from a hypothetical study on a MOOC  pp286-296

Antonella Esposito

© Aug 2012 Volume 10 Issue 3, Special ECEL issue, Editor: Sue Greener and Asher Rospigliosi, pp257 - 379

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Abstract

Abstract: ReseaThis paper is concerned with how research ethics is evolving along with emerging online research methods and settings. In particular, it focuses on ethics issues implied in a hypothetical virtual ethnography study aiming to gain insights on participants experience in an emergent context of networked learning, namely a MOOC … Massive Online Open Course. A MOOC is a popular type of online open course, that provides free content and expertise to anyone in the world who wishes to enroll. The p urposes of this article are to briefly outline recent debates on online research ethics approaches and then to explore competing views on ethical decision‑making when researching in a globalized, online and open learning setting. Considering the challenge s of this new elearning inquiry context, issues as the underlying research ethics models, the roles of researcher and participants and the integrity of the research process are discussed in their interplay with the evolving ethos of the ethnographical met hodology being adopted to investigate participants views. Elements drawn from a hypothetical design of a qualitative study are here utilized to identify an empirical instance that shapes and is being shaped by research ethics decisions. The study aims to answer the following question: what are the affordances (opportunities and challenges) of online open courses as they emerge from the participants perspectives? This paper considers the potential operationalization of the above research question and d iscusses both theoretical and methodological issues arising from applying research ethics to this specific case of Internet inquiry. In this sense, ethical approaches in online research contexts as well as main ethical decisions are discussed and justifie d, envisioning a submission to an institutional ethics review board before undertaking the ethnographical study. Topics such as privacy concerns in a public online setting, choice between overt and covert research, researcher as observer or participant, n arrow or loosely defined application of the informed consent and anonymity are outlined, presenting a range of different options. This article intends to show that ethical decisions are an iterative procedure and an integral part of the research design pr ocess. Moreover, it endorses the opportunity to produce localized and contextualized ethical decision‑making. To this end, it takes into account the guidance available (research ethics literature; narratives of ethics procedures applied to empirical case s); the ethics debates within the ethnographical tradition and the nature of the setting being researched (the specific format of the networked learning instance being examined). The discussion here proposed orientates ethical decision‑making towards a n overt and participant research approach, an informed consent intended as a public notice and a consideration of participants both as authors in the online setting and as human subjects embedding unexpected privacy sensitiveness. However, such decision s are considered as many starting points to build a research ethics protocol intended to a degree as a work in progress, in a problem‑solving approach guided by the practical wisdom of participants emerging over time.rch has been fertile in producing stud ies on pedagogical change and innovation through technology in Higher Education Institutions, namely the integration of the social media in pedagogical practice. However, there is a lack of studies on the integration of the social media in the particular field of lectures. In this context, commonly practiced, the teacher faces a wide audience and feels the need to activate mechanisms of direct instruction, for reasons of economy of time and because it is the most dominant pedagogical model. As a result th ere is a communication paradigm 1.0 (one‑way communication, one‑to‑many, low or non‑existent interaction). In this study, exploratory and quantitative in nature, an approach to the thematic of the exploration of the social media in order to upgrade the cognitive communication from 1.0 to 2.0 (many‑to‑many, interaction between all the participants) in lectures was made. On the approach to the problem, we explored a PowerPoint presentation with the integration of the micro blogging tool Twitter, as a ba sis for addressing the characteristics of cognitive communication 2.0. For data collection a questionnaire was designed, based on literature, and intended to evaluate several dimensions of the resource used, namely: i) pedagogical issues, ii) technologi cal aspects, iii) cognitive learning; iv) interactions in the classroom; v) positive behavior in the classroom and vi) negative behaviour in the classroom. The results indicate that students recognize the potential of this tool in the dimensions asses sed. Twitter integration in PowerPoint allowed the teacher and the students to read each others views and each had the opportunity to contribute to the debate. It also allowed the release of multiple choice questions to the audience, with answers via Twi tter and projection of results via PowerPoint. This way, a true cognitive communication 2.0 took place.

 

Keywords: internet research ethics, massive online open courses, virtual ethnography, situated ethics

 

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Journal Article

An exploration of autonetnography as an eResearch methodology to examine learning and teaching scholarship in Networked Learning  pp322-335

Lyz Howard

© Dec 2016 Volume 14 Issue 5, Editor: Robert Ramberg, pp291 - 349

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Abstract

Abstract: As an experienced face‑to‑face teacher, working in a small Crown Dependency with no Higher Education Institute (HEI) to call its own, the subsequent geographical and professional isolation in the context of Networked Learning (NL), as a sub‑set of eLearning, calls for innovative ways in which to develop self‑reliant methods of professional development. Jones and De Laat (2016, p.43) claim that NL is different from other eLearning sub‑sets, for example, Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) and Computer‑Supported‑Collaborative‑Learning (CSCL) because of its “focus on pedagogy and understanding how social relationships (and networked practices) influence learning rather than having a predominantly technical agenda for change in education”. NL, rather than TEL or CSL, therefore, locates the context for this paper. My intent was to develop a bespoke professional development framework to facilitate independent and self‑directed NL teaching development. To scaffold my professional development autonetnography (ANG) was chosen to facilitate my learning. The concept of ANG was introduced by Kozinets & Kedzior (2009) as an autobiographical extension to the ethnographic genre Netnography defined by Kozinets (2006) as an interpretive research methodology to examine online observations and interactions. Whilst recent researchers of digital learning claim that has potential to add to a growing body of knowledge that accepts the post‑modern use of self as an insider researcher (Ferreira, 2012; Persdotter, 2013; Mkono, Ruhanen & Markwell, 2015) none have explained how to undertake ANG. There appears here, to be a theory‑practice gap (Kessels and Korthagen, 1996) and the problem lies within the argument that there is no current theory upon which to practice ANG. This opportunity to examine more closely the subjective and reflexive insider researcher perspective of being an online scholar (as a learner or teacher) would respond to this gap in current eResearch knowledge. This paper uses meta‑ethnography (Noblit & Hare, 1988) as a method to systematically examine methodology relating to autoethnography, with the purpose of working towards developing a framework for undertaking ANG as an emerging eResearch methodology. Seven phases of meta‑ethnography formed the method for synthesising autoethnographic methodological data and translating these into ANG methodological data. Findings from this synthesis are reported through the autoethnographic tripartite scheme of mimesis, poiesis and kinesis (Holman‑Jones, Adams, & Ellis, 2013a). From this synthesis, the autonetnographic “I” framework was developed and forms a methodological basis for future ANG studies to examine teaching and/or learning scholarship in NL and the potential for considering adaptation of ANG for use in eLearning more generally.

 

Keywords: Keywords: Autonetnography; ANG; autoethnography; meta-ethnography; eLearning; networked learning; reflexivity; eResearch methodology; online learner and teacher scholarship; online professional development

 

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Journal Article

An e‑Learning Team’s Life On and Offline: A Collaborative Self‑Ethnography in Postgraduate Education Development  pp33-45

Alison Clapp

© Apr 2017 Volume 15 Issue 1, Editor: Robert Ramberg, pp1 - 103

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Abstract

This paper primarily discusses the methodology of a case study into interactions and working practices of an e‑learning team, on and offline. Although several ethnographies have been published on online learning, there are apparently none involving communities developing courses. This is a unique insight, bringing a new view of course and staff development. The e‑learning team develops courses in the Faculty of Medical Sciences Graduate School in a UK higher education institution. Interactions occur online and offline, the team’s workplace ‘setting’. The ethnography is to inform future staff development by analysing interaction outside the team with the subject specialists, generally time‑poor clinicians and research scientists who have varied experience of e‑learning, but are required to provide course content and to teach their subjects in online distance learning courses. Records kept by team members were enlarged upon via weekly interviews and collated by a team member who developed a narrative, subsequently coded into content themes. The main themes were technology, pedagogy and communication. Conversation analysis provided theories on methods useful in staff development for later action research. Consideration was also given to issues of power within the interactional relationships. The paper discusses challenges and strengths of this collaborative self‑ethnography as a research methodology in this e‑learning setting. It was concluded that collaborative self‑ethnography is a highly suitable research methodology for this type of study.

 

Keywords: E-Learning team, online distance learning, ethnography, staff development, pedagogy, technology, communication, power, Foucault

 

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Journal Article

Moving Outside the Box: Researching e‑Learning in Disruptive Times  pp59-69

Paula Charbonneau-Gowdy

© Apr 2017 Volume 15 Issue 1, Editor: Robert Ramberg, pp1 - 103

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Abstract

The rise of technology’s influence in a cross‑section of fields within formal education, not to mention in the broader social world, has given rise to new forms in the way we view learning, i.e. what constitutes valid knowledge and how we arrive at that knowledge. Some scholars have claimed that technology is but a tool to support the meaning‑making that lies at the root of knowledge production while others argue that technology is increasingly and inextricably intertwined not just with knowledge construction but with changes to knowledge makers themselves. Regardless which side one stands in this growing debate, it is difficult to deny that the processes we use to research learning supported by technology in order to understand these growing intricacies, have profound implications. In this paper, my aim is to argue and defend a call in the research on ICT for a critical reflective approach to researching technology use. Using examples from qualitative research in e‑learning I have conducted on three continents over 15 years, and in diverse educational contexts, I seek to unravel the means and justification for research approaches that can lead to closing the gap between research and practice. These studies combined with those from a cross‑disciplinary array of fields support the promotion of a research paradigm that examines the socio‑cultural contexts of learning with ICT, at a time that coincides with technology becoming a social networking facilitator. Beyond the examples and justification of the merits and power of qualitative research to uncover the stories that matter in these socially embodied e‑learning contexts, I discuss the methodologically and ethically charged decisions using emerging affordances of technology for analyzing and representing results, including visual ethnography. The implications both for the consumers and producers of research of moving outside the box of established research practices are yet unfathomable but exciting.

 

Keywords: qualitative research, socio-cultural contexts, ethical issues, critical theory, visual ethnography

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 14 Issue 5 / Dec 2016  pp291‑349

Editor: Robert Ramberg

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Editorial

Guest Editors


Ramberg Robert Robert Ramberg earned his PhD in cognitive psychology at the department of psychology, Stockholm University and holds a position as professor at the department of computer‑ and systems sciences, Stockholm University (Technology enhanced learning and collaboration). Ramberg also holds a position as research director at the Swedish air force simulation center (FLSC), Swedish Defense Research Agency. Broadly conceptualized, his research focuses the design and evaluation of representations and representational artefacts to support learning, training and collaboration. Of particular interest to his research are socio‑cultural perspectives on learning and cognition, pedagogy and how these theories must be adapted when designing and evaluating technology enhanced learning and training environments. And more specifically how artifacts of various kinds (information technology and other tools) mediate human action, collaboration and learning. 

 

Keywords: Higher Education, Action Research, Digital Competencies, Mixed methods research, Technology enhanced learning, Staff development, HEIs , Technology acceptance, Power, Culture, Foucault, Ofsted, Autonetnography, ANG, Autoethnography, Meta-ethnography, eLearning, Networked learning, Reflexivity, eResearch methodology, Online learner and teacher scholarship, Online professional development, e-Learning research, Educational technology, Research designs, e-Learning effectiveness, Methodology, Validity

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 15 Issue 1 / Apr 2017  pp1‑103

Editor: Robert Ramberg

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Keywords: academic staff, attitudes, clinical education, communication, communities, competencies, courses, critical theory, decision-making, Distance learning, e-learning, e-learning projects, e-learning research, E-Learning team, ethical issues, ethnography, expectations, formative e-assessment, Foucault, gaps, health promotion, learning analytics, major project issues, mathematics, Mobile eye tracking methods, motivation, motivation to learn, motivational gap, new model, online distance learning, pedagogy, perception bias, power, pre-course, qualitative research, quality, quality indicators, quality of e-learning, research methodology, satisfaction, service, socio-cultural contexts, staff development, STEM, technology, theory development, training management, training motivation, visitor studies, visual ethnography

 

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