Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: Rhetoric and Writing: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Matthew Barton

Second Advisor

Judith Kilborn

Third Advisor

R. Bruce Hyde

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


In the changing landscape of complex networks for free, open education, MOOCs – or massive open online courses – have been touted by some scholars as a recent breakthrough that will transform pedagogical approaches in the future. As we celebrate this year the 20th anniversary of Cynthia and Richard Selfe’s landmark article, “The Politics of the Interface,” our attention should be directed to studying the maps of MOOC interfaces as educational, political, and ideological borderlands. By featuring the findings from a cyber-autoethnographic study that involves a critical-analytical examination on a myriad of composition MOOCs offered by Duke University, Ohio State University, and Georgia Institute of Technology, this thesis reveals current MOOC interfaces as a Western-centric, monocultural structures, and problematizes the kinds of borders established and maintained in MOOCs. By identifying the presence and effects of cultural and infrastructural dominance in MOOCs, this thesis examines ways in which students and teachers can establish new discursive domains within MOOC interfaces. Following a phenomenological methodology, which embodies self-consciousness as a central research experience, I reflect on my own attitudes and feelings about the process of observation and analysis to draw inferences of a writer-scholar’s engagement with MOOC interfaces. Instead of simply blindly rejecting or embracing MOOCs as the “next big thing” in education, I delve deeply into their interfaces to show how they conceal their power structure as a way to open up conversations about power and its exercise in computer interface design.



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