This exploratory study examines emotional affordance of a MOOC. Postings in a discussion forum of a MOOC in computer science are analysed following a research design informed by virtual ethnography. Emotional affordance is investigated, focusing on non-achievement emotions which are not directly linked to achievement activities or outcomes. The study identifies two non-achievement emotions in the MOOC. First, altruistic emotion evolves with the collaborative learning community and possibly compensates for teachers’ minimal emotional intervention in a large, diverse class. Second, intergenerational emotional resonance is observed and this bears a key implication on managing age diversity for the future MOOCs.
Emotion evolved with the course, apparently coupling with the formation of a collaborative learning community. Emotion becomes more salient, more verbal, and more public in the MOOC. It also becomes more shared and distributed. Through the mediation of the discussion board, both knowledge and emotion were created by the community. Learning and teaching have an emotional underpinning. A holistic understanding of the emotional affordance would definitely help build massive but personalised, emotion-based learning experiences with MOOCs.