Adapting an Ethnographic Study of Learning Communities During a Global Pandemic

Abstract

This case study is an example of how a real-world ethnographic study can be adapted for online data collection during the coronavirus pandemic. The aim of the study was to explore the value of learning communities for adult learners in an adult campus at a tertiary college in the northwest of England. However, the study was disrupted by lockdowns and adult learners having to move to online study. This case study will demonstrate how a flexible ethnographic methodology was used to adapt the research to the changes dictated by the external environment, moving from in-person to virtual research. An important finding of this study is the importance of rapport building for online research and learning. This case study will help other researchers and students to consider building in contingencies during research design and to choose methods that afford flexibility in the field.

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