New course: CYBERSPACE ETHNOGRAPHY

CYBERSPACE ETHNOGRAPHY

Please allow me to promote my own little experimental course, being offered this semester at Concordia University in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. The title of the course is “Cyberspace Ethnography,” and I plan to revise and add it to the regular curriculum as a cross-listed Anthropology & Sociology course.

This is a new and fairly experimental course of mine, inspired in very large part by my colleague, Christine Hine, in the Department of Sociology at the University of Surrey. I am also proud to say that I have worked with Christine by contributing to her edited volume, Virtual Methods, and I was invited by her to present at a seminar she organized on ethnographic research online sponsored by the ESRC and hosted at Brunel University.

The focus of the coursework involves ethnographic research conducted in online environments, virtual communities, and so forth, with students blogging about their research, their readings, and their thoughts on class discussions and the research process. There are no exams, and the great majority of the readings are from open access and online sources.

As I state at the opening of the course website:

“This course on ethnographic approaches to the study of cyberspace interactions is being offered as an experiment, one whose outcomes and future shapes will largely be determined by students such as yourselves. The current focus of the course is on online situations as such, demanding an immersion in the interactive action, thus treating cyberspace as not just a mere appendage or extension of “the real world”. The aim of the course is not to try to fit the Internet into what we already know, or to ask students to uncritically apply established theories and established ethnographic methods to this still relatively new set of arenas for social interaction and cultural representation. The aim is not to uphold a discipline, to find new bottles for old wine. Instead the aim is to ask of what usefulness the discipline can be in answering new problems, new situations, and new questions. Students should let their imaginations run.”

5 thoughts on “New course: CYBERSPACE ETHNOGRAPHY

  1. This looks like a fascinating course. Is there any future in offering it online and perhaps to students from all over the world? Is there anyway for someone to Audit it as a distance course?

  2. Thanks very much Dina.

    It is still a rough first offering. I am up to Item #45 in my list of revisions that need to be made before I offer it again a year from now, and then it will be cross-listed with Sociology as well. In addition, I have yet to receive student evaluations and I have asked them to give a lot of thought to this in advance, so hopefully their criticisms and suggestions will raise issues I had not thought of on my own.

    It really could be offered online, but I would have to do so independently of Concordia University, which would want formal registrations, payments, etc., and the bureaucracy is not an easy one to deal with. Offering the course independently would mean it would not appear on any transcript, not count for credits, and I would not have at my disposal some of the technical and technological assistance I would have by offering it through e-Concordia.

    Also, my apologies for neglecting to link to your own blog until now, the very impressive CYBER ANTHROPOLOGY site at
    http://www.cyber-anthro.com/. I have added it to my blogroll.

  3. Hello,
    I wish these kinds of courses were offered more widely- then again, I guess that leaves space for me in the future! I am wondering if you might post the syllabus for this course. In case you’re interested, I’ve been doing online ethnography for awhile and have compiled an (incomplete) list of resources here: http://www.jennyryan.net/Resources .
    Looking forward to reading your students’ blogs in the future!
    Be well,
    Jenny

  4. Hello,
    I wish these kinds of courses were offered more widely- then again, I guess that leaves space for me in the future! I am wondering if you might post the syllabus for this course. In case you’re interested, I’ve been doing online ethnography for awhile and have compiled an (incomplete) list of resources here: http://www.jennyryan.net/resources .
    Looking forward to reading your students’ blogs in the future!
    Be well,
    Jenny

  5. For my PhD I am very interested in participating in this course. When does it start and what are the requirements of application? Are tthere simulart courses elsewhere?

    Nina ter Laan
    Utrecht University
    The Netherlands

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