On Friday, I presented a paper (with Ben Daniel in absentia) on some approaches we have been using to look at virtual learning communities at the Annual IST Conference at Indiana University-Bloomington. If you’re interested, I’ve included an .mp3 of the talk and a handout of the slides.
Here is an abstract of the paper, before you invest 30 minutes in it:
This paper presents an overview of the methods that evolved in a three-year research program on virtual learning communities, including user perceptions of community, interaction analysis content analysis, paired-comparison analysis, and community modeling techniques. Far from describing a rational and systematic application of research methods, this is a presentation of how our research team struggled to find ways to attack undulating questions and also a description of some important things we overlooked. A variety of qualitative and empirical methods were aggregated to determine whether an online community exists, isolate its constituent elements and understand interactions among them, and build a dynamic model of formal virtual learning communities.