Master Renate Andersen
Mutual Development in Online Collaborative Processes. Three Case Studies of Artifact Co-creation at Different Levels of Participation.
The following main research question guides this dissertation: “What characterizes the online collaborative processes in artifact co-creation where different participants interact and collaborate in further development of a software product or learning resource mediated by an online community?” The following sub-research questions are posed to delve deeply into the topic: 1) What are the implications of mutual development for interaction and collaboration in online communities? 2) What are the characteristics of mutual development that can be derived from a theoretical framework? 3) What methods are appropriate for collecting and analyzing empirical data on mutual development in small group collaboration and in mass collaboration? The first sub-research question is empirically motivated, the second theoretically motivated and the third is methodologically motivated. This dissertation draws upon and synthesizes the results of three case studies, with the common denominator and focus of study being to explore mutual development processes. Mutual development derives from Article 1 and is defined as how different participants (e.g. end-users and professional developers) interact and collaborate in further development of a software product (Articles 1 and 3) or learning resource (Article 2). In Articles 1 and 2, the method of template analysis was used to code and analyze the empirical data, specifically the content in the participants utterances in the online communities, as part of a qualitative approach. In Article 3, an integrative mixed methods approach was applied to integrate qualitative and quantitative data, combining Social Network Analysis (SNA) and Interaction Analysis (IA) to suit the context of mass collaboration. This dissertation makes three main contributions: 1) mutual development as an empirical contribution by exploring variations of the concept in three different case studies, 2) mutual development as a theoretical contribution by providing a new theoretical framework and 3) a methodological innovation by combining two different methods (SNA and IA). These contributions add to the research fields of End-User Development (EUD) and online communities by providing detailed empirical analyses of new constellations of interaction and collaboration between end-users, professional developers and champions in mutual development processes. This dissertation is one of few empirical studies that critically examines participation in Massive Open Educational Courses (MOOCs), and it provides a methodological contribution to the research fields of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) at work and distance education. The author is employed by the Department of Education, Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Oslo.