Dynamics of Muslims communications in the digital age: The case of the MOOC on Intercultural Communication


MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) as a rising phenomenon of the digital age, is a platform of international and intercultural communication involving mass individuals across all their divisions of gender, age, culture, class, etc. In this article, I articulated MOOC as a process of communication looking at the “Intercultural Communication” MOOC course of Shanghai International Studies University (run 3). This run started on October 10, 2016, and had 4,635 learners with a total of 16,754 comments posted. Recognizing increasing opportunities “for cross-border interactions,” the course aimed to help learners “benefit from a better understanding of intercultural communication” and “adjust to the new cultural practices.” The study participants are all registered users from Muslim majority countries (countries of origin) who post at least three comments. Seventy-eight participants from 19 countries met these criteria, whereas 20 of them are sojourners living in other countries (41 females and 37 males)—all demographic information of the participants extracted by reading their comments. I argued “following” and “replying” as two primary directional communication (from participant A to B) behavior of participants and recorded them using NodeXL Pro software. Total 1623 unique followings and 3346 replies recorded. All participants categorized into three types of non-communicative (23 persons), less-communicative (39 persons) and more-communicative (16 persons) learners based on the numbers of their replies as the primary factor and followings as the secondary factor. Using network analysis methodology, patterns of communication within participants, as well as their communication with the rest of learners (655 other learners from non-Muslim majority countries), extracted. This analysis identified various preferences and strategies participants undertake in communicating within themselves and with other learners. It was revealed that Mulsim leaners tend to less communicate within each other and their communication with non-Mulsim learners tends to be one-way and not received an equivalent reply. This result and its implication for the dialogue between the Muslim World and Non-Muslims were discussed from a critical point of view in the last part.