Perceptions of authority in a massive open online course: An intercultural study

  • Bjarke Lindsø Andersen
  • Jaitip Na-songkhla
  • Cathrine Hasse
  • Norazah Nordin
  • Helmi Norman
Original Paper
  • 29 Downloads

Abstract

Spurred on by rapid advances of technology, massive open online courses (MOOCs) have proliferated over the past decade. They pride themselves on making (higher) education available to more people at reduced (or no) cost compared to traditional university schemes and on being inclusive in terms of admitting vast numbers of students from all over the world. However, MOOCs tend to be tacitly based on the course designers’ lifeworlds, which results in the sidelining of participants whose lifeworlds are different. The authors of this article highlight culture as an important but often overlooked aspect in the research on, and the design and running of MOOCs. They begin with a review of the role of culture in MOOCs research and find that it has been somewhat ignored. Next, they present a methodological framework – the culture contrast method – with which to approach the decisive role culture plays in MOOCs. Third, coming from differing cultural backgrounds, they apply the culture contrast method in a case study, contrasting experiences, interpretations and perceptions of a particular MOOC. Their varying perceptions of how, when and why they experienced a presence of authority emerge as a consistent theme in their data. Through the analysis of their data, they distinguish between the MOOC as an assemblage, consisting of the online interface, the design and hardware they inhabit as course participants, and their respective lifeworlds as their local and situated different cultures. They argue that during the run of the course, lifeworld and assemblage collide and enact a cultural authority. This authority sets the benchmark for what is deemed proper practice within a particular MOOC and it gives preferential treatment to some participants rather than others, thus actually undermining the professed inclusiveness of the MOOC format.

Keywords

massive open online course (MOOC) MOOC design authority culture contrast lifeworld human–technology assemblage 

Résumé

Perceptions de l’autorité dans une formation en ligne ouverte à tous : étude interculturelle – Favorisées par les avancées rapides de la technologie, les formations en ligne ouverte à tous (FLOT) prolifèrent ces dix dernières années. Leur promotion vante leur accès élargi à l’enseignement (supérieur) pour davantage de personnes à un coût réduit (ou gratuitement) en comparaison des cursus universitaires traditionnels, ainsi que leur caractère inclusif grâce à l’admission en grands nombres d’étudiants du monde entier. Néanmoins, ces formations ont tendance à reposer implicitement sur le monde de leurs concepteurs, ce qui entraîne la mise à l’écart des participants issus d’univers différents. Les auteurs de cet article éclairent la culture en tant qu’aspect important mais souvent négligé dans la recherche menée sur ces formations, dans leur conception et réalisation. Ils passent tout d’abord en revue le rôle de la culture dans la recherche sur les FLOT et constatent qu’elle est quelque peu occultée. Puis ils présentent un cadre méthodologique, la méthode de la confrontation culturelle, qui permet d’approcher le rôle décisif de la culture dans les FLOT. Tous issus de divers horizons culturels, les auteurs appliquent ensuite cette méthode à une étude de cas, confrontant expériences, interprétations et perceptions d’une formation spécifique. Leurs perceptions variées quant au comment, au quand et au pourquoi de leur ressenti d’une présence de l’autorité apparaissent comme thème récurrent dans leurs données. En analysant ces données, ils établissent une distinction entre la formation en tant qu’ensemble constitué de l’interface en ligne, de la conception et du matériel qu’ils investissent à titre de participants, et leurs univers respectifs, à savoir des cultures distinctes locales et implantées. Ils avancent que pendant le déroulement de la formation, cet ensemble et leur vécu entrent en collision et instituent une autorité culturelle. Cette dernière établit la norme en matière de pratique jugée appropriée dans le cadre d’une formation donnée, et accorde un traitement de faveur à certains participants plus qu’à d’autres, sapant ainsi sérieusement l’inclusivité proclamée de la formule FLOT.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature, and UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Danish School of EducationAarhus UniversityCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.Innovative Educational Technology Research UnitChulalongkorn UniversityBangkokThailand
  3. 3.Universiti Kebangsaan MalaysiaSelangorMalaysia

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