Exploring Connectivist Networks in MOOCs: A Foucauldian Analysis of Commons-Based Peer Production

Potential Abstract: This research article examines the interplay between connectivist networks and commons-based peer production within Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) through a Foucauldian lens. MOOCs have emerged as a popular learning platform that relies on the principles of connectivism to foster knowledge construction, collaboration, and participation. However, the dynamics of these networks and their relationship with commons-based peer production mechanisms have not been thoroughly explored. Drawing on Foucault’s concepts of power, discourse, and surveillance, this study investigates how connectivist networks in MOOCs shape and are shaped by the processes of commons-based peer production.

The research employs a mixed-methods approach, combining content analysis of discussion forums and surveys with interviews of MOOC participants. The content analysis explores the formation and structure of connectivist networks within MOOCs, investigating the patterns of interaction and knowledge sharing among participants. The survey examines participants’ perceptions of the MOOC platform as a commons-based peer production system, assessing their sense of ownership, motivation, and collaboration. The interviews provide a deeper understanding of participants’ experiences, shedding light on the complexities of connectivist networks and their relationship with commons-based peer production.

The findings of this research challenge the notion that MOOCs are purely connectivist platforms, highlighting the presence of power dynamics, surveillance, and disciplinary mechanisms within these networks. By adopting a Foucauldian perspective, this study reveals how connectivist networks in MOOCs are influenced by and reproduce existing power relations, privileging certain forms of knowledge and marginalizing others. Additionally, it identifies the ways in which commons-based peer production mechanisms within MOOCs can be both empowering and constraining for participants.

This research contributes to the existing literature on MOOCs and connectivism by providing a critical analysis of the socio-political dimensions of these learning environments. It emphasizes the need for a nuanced understanding of connectivist networks and commons-based peer production mechanisms, calling for a more inclusive and equitable design of MOOC platforms. By recognizing the complexities and power dynamics within these networks, educators and platform designers can better support learners’ engagement, participation, and knowledge creation within MOOCs.

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