The OER Knowledge Cloud makes use of cookies. By continuing, you consent to this use. More information.
Research ethics in emerging forms of online learning: issues arising from a hypothetical study on a MOOC
Esposito, Antonella

JournalThe Electronic Journal of e-Learning
Volume 10, Issue 3, Pages 286-296

This 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 ·  · MOOC · situated ethics · virtual ethnography

Export optionsBibTex · EndNote · Tagged XML · Google Scholar

Viewed by 19 distinct readers


The evaluations below represent the judgements of our readers and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Cloud editors.

Click a star to be the first to rate this document


MOOCocracy: The learning culture of massive open online courses
Loizzo, Jamie; Ertmer, Peggy A.
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are often examined and evaluated in terms of institutional cost, instructor prestige, number of students enrolled, and completion rates. MOOCs, which are connecting thousands of adult ...
Match: MOOC; virtual ethnography

Demographic shifts in educational demand and the rise of alternative credentials
Fong, Jim; Janzow, Peter; Peck, Kyle
To thrive in today’s fast-evolving job market, students need flexible ways to quickly develop and demonstrate new skills. Alternative credentialing helps solve this problem. UPCEA and Pearson surveyed 190 ...
Match: MOOC

Understanding learning and teaching in MOOCs from the perspectives of students and instructors: A review of literature from 2014 to 2016
Deng, Ruiqi; Benckendorff, Pierre; Gannaway, Deanne; Kloos, Carlos Delgado; et al.
This article presents the results of a literature review on key learning and teaching dimensions in MOOCs. 95 studies published from January 2014 to October 2016 were selected for review. Four important learning and ...
Match: MOOC

Accessibility in MOOCs: The current state and next steps
Iniesto, Francisco
An effective open eLearning environment should take into account each learner?s abilities, learning goals, where learning takes place, and which specific devices the learner uses. Technologies used in Massive Open ...
Match: MOOC

Using mLearning and MOOCs to understand chaos, emergence, and complexity in education
de Waard, Inge; Abajian, Sean C.; Gallagher, Michael; Hogue, Rebecca; et al.
In this paper, we look at how the massive open online course (MOOC) format developed by connectivist researchers and enthusiasts can help analyze the complexity, emergence, and chaos at work in the field of education ...
Match: MOOC

The pedagogic architecture of MOOC: A research project on educational courses in Spanish
Fernández-Díaz, Elia; Rodríguez-Hoyos, Carlos; Salvador, Adelina Calvo
This study has been carried out within the context of the ECO European Project (E-learning, Communication Open-Data: Massive Mobile, Ubiquitous, and Open Learning) which is being financed by the European Union over four ...
Match: MOOC

Case study as a research method for analyzing MOOCs
Montes-Rodríguez, Ramón; Martínez-Rodríguez, Juan Bautista; Ocaña-Fernández, Almudena
Educational research is one of the many fields of knowledge that frequently use case studies as a research method, particularly when applying an interpretive approach. Based on literature reviews and a systematic ...
Match: MOOC

Book review: Open education: From OERs to MOOCs
Goksel Canbek, Nil
The specific focus of this edited book is to point out the core policies, initiatives and international practices of Distance Education in connection with open and free accessed resources. The book aims to provide a ...
Match: MOOC

A cluster analysis of MOOC stakeholder perspectives
Yousef, Ahmed Mohamed Fahmy; Chatti, Mohamed Amine; Wosnitza, Marold; Schroeder, Ulrik
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are providing opportunities for thousands of learners to participate in free higher education courses online. MOOCs have unique features that make them an effective ...
Match: MOOC

MOOCs as a method of distance education in the Arab World – A review paper
Adham, Raniah Samir; Lundqvist, Karsten Oster
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in the Arab World are still in their infancy. Many Arab countries are now starting to launch their MOOC platforms; however, there are only a few who have actually implemented such ...
Match: ; MOOC