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Virtual ethnography methodology for researching networked learning
Charnet, Chantal and Veyrier, Clair-Antoine
This article describes the application of a qualitative method based
on digital ethnography in research on networked learning in Higher Education.
The proposed method tends towards a solution for the need of innovative
techniques for the study of new forms of interaction emerging in computer
supported collaborative learning (CSCL) and their effective uses. It is
based on three phases: first, initial exploration and systematic collection,
then, organisation and comparison of data, and finally, analysis. The
corpus is composed of various data (audio-visual recordings, images, texts):
audio-visual and textual data are organised and compared. The results
suggest that an analysis of the process in its development is possible.
The interpretative course is built thanks to the effective situations
of uses. The ethnographical methodology applied to the study of the technological
environment brings a concrete visibility of the implementation tracks
and manners. It gives the possibility of having access to the development
of the non stop process. Taking into consideration all the constituent
elements allows to encircle the diverse activities of the actor. It permits
to analyse phenomena that would be invisible with a quantitative method.
We took into account the digital specificity of the observed object. So
the following methodology joins in an ethnographical observation of sequences
of activities recorded in context of the different situations, and uses
of these devices. This frame of continuous observations requires the participation
of the researchers during the whole process. The data collection reports
the course and the integration of devices in the considered organisation.
Thus we turned to a collection of diversified data which offers the possibility
of a direct observation of situations that are in the field of the anticipation
or of the stabilized use.