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

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Autor*in(nen): Andersen, Bjarke; Na-songkhla, Jaitip; Hasse, Cathrine; Nordin, Norazah & Norman, Helmi
Jahr: 2018
Dokumenttyp: Zeitschriftenartikel
Publikationstyp(en): Empirisches Dokument
Themen: Blended Learning/E-Learning, Diversity
DOI: 10.1007/s11159-018-9708-z


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.


Andersen, Bjarke; Na-songkhla, Jaitip; Hasse, Cathrine; Nordin, Norazah & Norman, Helmi (2018). Perceptions of authority in a massive open online course. An intercultural study. International Review of Education, 64 (2), 221-239. DOI: 10.1007/s11159-018-9708-z.

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