Ethnography as an Educational Research Methodology in VWs

Alongside the creation of educational spaces in virtual worlds I also continue with my studies on the MA (Education in Virtual Worlds) and am fast approaching the last step to its completion; the thesis or extended project. Not that long ago I had thought that I was heading for a thesis, but now I find myself still undecided. Although I find writing academic papers and the development of academic projects equally a challenge and both in a good way, my passion tends to lean more towards the creative process than the theoretical. It is my view however that when it comes to educational spaces in virtual worlds, they are immutably entwined.

Academically there may be more miles to be made from a thesis, but in the long run it wasn’t academic accolades that inspired me to take this journey of study; it was the possibility of enriching the educational work I have been engaged in for the past eight years. Reading this I think my decision may have been made, although I do need to discuss it further with my supervisor. I will keep an open mind till I have had that conversation; then we will see.

That said, papers have been written and some in full or part have been shared here. This post’s intent is to share another. This particular paper was written as part of the module, Research Methods in Virtual Worlds. The requirement was to write a critique of a chosen research methodology, my choice being ethnography, as it’s validity as a research methodology in virtual worlds is, I posit, beyond question. If unconvinced it might be that this paper may help to alter that view.

I do acknowledge, as mentioned in the feedback for the assessment, that I do tend to over-quote a little. I have yet to master the skill of paraphrasing ideas that I fully align with, but find myself unable to communicate any more eloquently than has already been done so by the authors. Please forgive this inadequacy.

This critique discusses ethnography as an educational research methodology, considering the researcher as the instrument of research, engaged in a holistic and qualitative approach to inquiry, observing and interpreting emergent phenomena in the context of the complex systems that constitute virtual worlds.

Ethnography as an Educational Research Methodology in Virtual Worlds: A Critique.

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