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Digital culture students choose topics for their MA theses

New MA students in digital culture write project proposals for their MA theses in their first semester, and it's always interesting to follow their work from idea to fully formulated proposal. Here are the topics proposed by the students who started their MAs in August 2013!

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Nye masterstudenter på digital kultur høsten 2013
Kristian, Fredrik, Vibeke, Sissel, Shukadev, Stig, Helene, Synnøve, Renate, Christi og Camilla all have their topics ready for their MA theses in digital culture.
Photo:
Jill Walker Rettberg

Are Norwegian authors' choices about whether to publish digitally or not connected to social capital and power? Do high school students learn more if they use video games in the classroom? What determines whether a photo is "Facebook-worthy"? Is there a difference in how websites we MUST use (e.g. to submit taxes) and entertainment sites include user perspectives in the design process? How has the concept of digital skills and competencies changed in Norwegian schools? How does the use of social media before, during and after a trip affect our role as tourists? What role does technology play in the music communities of Bergen? What is the relationship between surveillance and privacy? Can algorithms help us find love? What do Facebook users feel that they give and get back when they use the service ?

These are some of the questions our fresh graduate students plan to spend a year exploring. Some of the questions are well-honed, others require more sharpening before the project proposal is complete. All were presented this morning and received comments from lecturers and fellow students alike: You need to narrow your focus! What about the method? Have you thought about this theory? Maybe you should write a popular science book about it afterwards!

Some of the students will use interviews as a method. Helene will interview 15-20 users of Facebook , Google (or another service), and Netflix and plans to use discourse analysis to understand whether and how her informants position their use of social media as a transaction or exchange, and if so, what they think they give and receive in the transaction. Sunniva will interview ten Norwegian fiction writers and use Bourdieu and other theories to understand authors' attitudes to ebooks and digital publishing. Camilla will interview web designers about how they considered and involved users during the development of websites. Renate plans to interview users of online dating services. Christi proposes an online survey of Facebook users as part of her thesis, and will use Goffman and Bourdieu to understand visual self-presentation on Facebook.

Some students propose more theoretical or analytical tasks. Sissel is interested in surveillance and privacy, and is considering analyzing official documents and texts from The Norwegian Data Protection Agency, or, possibly, to focus more on the theoretical aspects of surveillance. Kristian will analyze curricula and reports to understand what is meant by digital skills in Norwegian schools today. Shukadev plans to analyse travel websites like TripAdvisor and Couchsurfing.

Stig has chosen an experimental method, and has an agreement with Nordahl Grieg high school where teachers there will teach a three-week module in two parallel classes, where one class uses computer games and the other traditional methods. In addition to classroom observation, Stig will interview students and teachers, and conduct a survey to examine their experiences and learning outcomes. It 's great for a student to have such a close partnership with a school, and Nordahl Grieg has already proven use of games in education, so this will be interesting .

These MA theses may change a lot before they are finished in the spring of 2015. In their second semester, students take two classes together, and only really start writing their thesis in the third semester, autumn 2014. But their topics are clear, and their project descriptions will be submitted for approval in early December.

We look forward to following our students and their projects in the year and a half to come!