Conversations in Cyberspace: a study of online learning
The world of online learning has researchers interested in student interactions with classmates and the instructor through distant learning. This cyber-ethnography research introduces researchers to the methodology to acquire large amounts of data from complex and diverse communities as an “invisible researcher.”
As online learning is becoming more popular, the opportunity to expand the classroom beyond the traditional face-to-face setting offers learners a richly diverse environment to collaborate. The significance of this study was to explore a new type of research in which the researcher observes online learning and virtual conversations between student-student and student-instructor asynchronous interactions. The article discusses how the asynchronous environment provided a deeper learning experience for students and longer feedback times for instructors when compared to a traditional face-to-face setting. I found these results compared with my own online learning experience. Just like the participants in the study, I have more time to reflect on my writing posts and comments as compared to the sometimes fast-paced traditional classroom setting. With online student collaboration, tasks are not as easily digressing from the subject matter as might be possible in a traditional setting. The number of participants in this study was small with 12 graduate students comprised of 11 women and one man. Similar to my own experiences again, the participants had a closer bond due to their collaborative experiences in supporting one another throughout the learning. The instrumentation of the study was a new research methodology of cyber-ethnography in which the researcher did not meet the participants in person but rather followed their online communication and collaboration throughout the course. This process permitted the researcher to observe the learning environment and acquire large amounts of data at varying times without having to meet during traditional classroom hours. I agree with the conclusions of the study, researchers must comply with a code of ethics for online interaction, termed as netiquette. This study confirmed my own belief of the deep knowledge online learning forces students to develop.
Browne, E. (2003). Conversations in cyberspace: A study of online learning. Open Learning, 18(3), 245-259.
Texas A&M University – Commerce, Gee Library