I’m happy to report that last week Alyssa Wise and I submitted our manuscript to Routledge. Our working title is Looking for Insight, Transformation and Learning in Online Talk. The preface is below. It should appear in 2019 – keep an eye out! A special thanks to Robyn Singleton, a doctoral student at UGA, who helped out with the chapter on quantitative methods of analysis.
From social media and MOOCs to mobile apps and discussion forums, online talk is being harnessed by people in a variety of fields who are hoping to identify the insights, transformations and moments of learning that take place in these spaces. It is surprising, then, that until now there has been no research design text to provide a comprehensive guide to analyzing online talk for evidence of insight, transformation and learning. In this book, we offer a framework to guide the process of analyzing online talk. This framework is designed to help researchers define the precise object of research interest; identify the foundational assumptions about the object that will impact research design; draw upon previous literature and relevant theoretical frameworks to craft research questions; treat online talk as data in ethical ways; inscribe boundaries around online talk for analysis; articulate meaningful units of analysis; and select appropriate inferential (quantitative) and/or interpretive (qualitative) data collection and analysis methods.
To date little attention has been given to the ways in which statistical, computational and qualitative methods can be productively joined in the analysis of online talk, as the majority of texts have focused on one set of techniques to the exclusion of the other. Equally importantly, prior texts have devoted most of their emphasis to specific analytic techniques without dedicated attention to how to set up the larger research design in which they can be usefully employed. In this way, this book is at the cutting edge in its methodological coverage and conceptual grounding. This book is also unique in its emphasis on how differences between researcher-influenced online talk and pre-existing online talk as data have important implications for research design decisions.
Through multiple examples and practical guidance, the reader will finish the book with a better understanding of how to design conceptually congruent research studies of online talk. We emphasize the relationship between theoretical assumptions, research design and treating online talk as data. Additionally, this text serves as a tangible resource to practitioners in a variety of fields seeking to better understand how to study, understand and productively utilize online talk. Finally, the text will stand out as a focus for current and future discussion on best practices around research design to understand what is happening in online talk.
We anticipate that this book will be helpful to researchers across the social sciences in fields such as education, psychology, communication, media studies, informatics, business, anthropology, health sciences, political science and the data sciences. This framework will assist researchers in creating conceptually congruent research designs to answer important questions around how insights, transformations, and moments of learning occur in online talk.