An e-Learning Team’s Life On and Offline: A Collaborative Self- Ethnography in Postgraduate Education Development
This paper primarily discusses the methodology of a case study into interactions and working practices of an learning team, on and offline. Although several ethnographies have been published on online learning, there are apparently none involving communities developing courses. This is a unique insight, bringing a new view of course and staff development. The e-learning team develops courses in the Faculty of Medical Sciences Graduate School in a UK higher education institution. Interactions occur online and offline, the team’s workplace ‘setting’. The ethnography is to inform future staff development by analysing interaction outside the team with the subject specialists, generally time-poor clinicians and research scientists who have varied experience of e-learning, but are required to provide course content and to teach their subjects in online distance learning courses. Records kept by team members were enlarged upon via weekly interviews and collated by a team member who developed a narrative, subsequently coded into content themes. The main themes were technology, pedagogy and communication. Conversation analysis provided theories on methods useful in staff development for later action research. Consideration was also given to issues of power within the interactional relationships. The paper discusses challenges and strengths of this collaborative self-ethnography as a research methodology in this e-learning setting. It was concluded that collaborative self-ethnography is a highly suitable research methodology for this type of study.