Navigating online communities constitutes a large portion of what we experience as “the internet,” and yet understanding these communities is not always a straightforward or easy task. This course will explore the nature of online communities, different ways we can come to learn about them, and how we should think about handling the data we collect (and indeed, whether to collect it at all). Students will gain a basic social scientific foundation for thinking about communities and the affordances of computer mediated communication before surveying several established approaches to collecting and analyzing data produced by and about specific communities, including surveys, web scraping, and social listening/monitoring.
Throughout, we will consider the ethical implications and demands of our work as researchers and professionals, emphasizing such values as respect for persons, prevention of harm, and beneficence. Students will conclude the course by developing group research projects using one or more of the methods we’ve learned together to answer a clearly defined research question and presenting their findings within a professional context.
Meets Research Methods Requirement.