Friday, October 14, 2016

Thinking about the literature review...

This week, one of the discussion forums in my doctoral seminar had this question (well, it was part of the question, but I just pulled out this part):

How are you deciding what literature to review for your lit review? What determining factors direct you?

I think that my literature review is probably going to be a little challenging. My overall question is “why do people in MOOCs collaborate on non-assigned course projects?” The actual question will need refining, but this encapsulates the spirit of the question.  My thoughts are that I actually don’t know the why (this is why I am researching it), so I can’t really nail down a definitive list of research and researchers that will be all inclusive and ‘canonical’ if you will.

This to me seems to indicate that I need to be a bit of a cafeteria researcher with my literature review and formulate some hypotheses as to what might be relevant.  For example internal vs external motivation research from psychology might be useful.  Research into Personal Learning Networks (PLN), Communities of Practice (Cop), and the Community of Inquiry (CoI) might be interesting.  Another (informal) buzzword that’s come up in the communities is “FOMO”, or “fear of missing out” so I am wondering if this has been researched yet.  There is also the element of how people engage in MOOCs which has been researched since CCK08 (that original MOOC offered by Downes & Siemens).

So, where does this leave me with my literature review?  I am thinking that I will take on the persona of one of my research informants (I was in some of these groups of people that collaborated) and try to hypothesize what might be some of the reasons that people did so, and try to weave a narrative of factors that might impact the reasons for initial and sustained collaboration in this environment that might explain what occurred in these MOOCs.  This will provide some groundwork to frame the start of the research.  If additional strands crop up during my research, I think I will need to go back into the literature to try to explain what I find, and see if there are connections to existing literature as well.

Note: It's actually now a few weeks since I wrote this post, but for some reason it didn't post...but oh well, better late than never.
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