The invitation to participate will be emailed to each participant, along with the consent form. This will include a link to a video introducing them to me as the researcher and the research purpose, plan, and schedule. The interview protocol will be piloted and trialed prior to the research, including one test using the video technology with someone new to that digital environment. I will email the interview protocol to each participant upon reception of the informed consent form, not for participants to feel obliged to complete a written or prepared response, but to ease any concerns or anxieties. In order to model an accessible and multimodal research format, as outlined in the crystallization methodology for this research, an audio recording of the informed consent and interview protocol will accompany the email communications.
Interviews will be conveniently scheduled, being sensitive to time zone differences. The interview will include basic demographic information and semi-structured question prompts which will explore the lived experiences and stories relevant to intersections between OEPr and MDL (media & digital literacies). These interviews will be recorded using Zoom or other recording technology for audio, with optional video recording at the participant’s discretion. Interview transcripts will be returned to participants for review and revision/additions, using ‘track changes’ or ‘suggestions’ in Word/Google doc. Once completed, transcriptions will be rendered into an alternative media remix version using word cloud generator software (e.g. Word Art), which will also be shared with the participant for feedback, since these ethnographic stories have the “capacity to re-present the world in ways that are generative for people and practices” (Winthereik & Verran, 2012, p. 37) and represent an example of crystallization (Ellingson, 2009). Researcher field notes and reflections will be recorded throughout this process.
I will ask participants for access to their selected social media sites (blogs, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Slack, TikTok, etc) and randomly track their participation in those spaces, where OEPr are shared, for up to three weeks. This will provide a rich, thick description of their interactions in open digital spaces. The course syllabi that participants choose to share will add additional links to their OEPr and MDL. They may provide additional sources of information as requested in the informed consent form.
The request for participants to prepare a reflexive story using a digital media production tool of their choice as modelled on my experience with Jenni Hayman for the #101OpenStories event (see https://fiveflames4learning.com/2017/07/27/whats-your-story/). This media/digital production with willing participants will provide an additional data point as this artifact can reveal their ‘storied self’. From this digital ethnography landscape, the interviews, transcripts, blog posts, website information, reflective productions, and media recreations will reveal the cultural and cognitive structures, codes, and networks. In this ecology, the technology is central to the nonhuman and human elements being studied (Markham, 2016).
Data analysis will occur using crystallizing mechanisms to initially and theoretical code the information (Saldaña, 2016). This will provide rich, thick descriptions, extend the collaborations with participants as media re-presentations and transcripts are shared back and forth. Preliminary results will also be shared with participants for feedback prior to finalizing for publication to ensure accuracy, ‘honouring their stories’. Strategies to ensure trustworthiness and credibility (Guba & Lincoln, 2005) will be discussed next, since this will impact the worth and value of this research.