CALICO Journal, Vol 32, No 3 (2015)

Using Netnography to Explore the Culture of Online Language Teaching Communities

Derya Kulavuz-Onal
Issued Date: 10 Sep 2015

Abstract


Netnography (Kozinets, 2010) is an ethnographic approach to study communities that exist primarily online. Engaging in online participant observation, the netnographer connects to the online community through a computer screen, and the field takes place inside the screen. Although having been used in marketing research extensively, netnography is a relatively new methodology in educational research. In this paper, I overview netnography and its applicability in studying online language learning and teaching communities. Drawing upon a netnography of a globally-distributed online community of practice of English language teachers, Webheads in Action, I provide detailed accounts of my experiences as I made particular methodological considerations during data collection in netnography in order to shed light on the often untold aspects of an ethnographic design in online research that involves participant observation. I conclude with a discussion of possible benefits of participant observer approach in netnography in understanding the culture of online language learning and teaching communities, and invite CALL researchers of such online communities to consider netnography and online participant observation in their future studies.

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DOI: 10.1558/cj.v32i3.26636

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