Well. For years I’ve been trying to understand how to make artifacts of the voices in an open course. It’s never worked. So lets try again. Lets build a practical guide for rhizomatic learning. The rhizome will continue… but what can we leave behind?
What would you say, do, show, explain to a colleague about the rhizome to explain it to them? Do you have an example? A video? A koan? What should an artifact of a rhizomatic event look like? What can we leave behind to remind us of the people we were now? How can we tell stories to explain the rhizome?
That’s the challenge this week. Explain the rhizome. Create a practical guide… one post at a time.
Rhizomatic plants are chaotic, aggressive and resilient. It models some of the qualities that can make a good learner. The rhizome, however, can also be an invasive species. It can choke other plants out of your garden such that only the rhizomatic plant remains. We’ve just heard from Aras that “the number of active participants [on twitter] are decreasing while density (interaction in the rhizo community) is increasing”. How do we make sure there is always room for new and contrarian voices? Do we need to create a them to have a we? How do we cultivate a community learning ecosystem so that it continues to grow outward rather than inward? What does that mean for learning?
Must rhizomatic learning be an invasive species?
This week take a critical look at the rhizomatic approach. Are we just replacing one authority structure with another? Trading tradition for community? What does this mean in our classroom? How can this get us into trouble? What are the ethical implications of creating a ‘community’ for learning? Community as conformity?
I heartily invite you to read Viplav’s blog post, but where he talks about learning online generally, I’ve been hoping to focus on more formal education for this course. I think there is value in the ‘course’ in the sense of the eventedness that it represents. It’s a chance for people to come together and focus on a particular topic… it’s one of the ways to garden the internet. But what is the role of the facilitator/teacher/professor where we are using learning subjectives, where learning isn’t measured and where content is actually other people? What cultural concepts do we have that we can use as models? Do we need a new model?
How do we ‘teach’ rhizomatically? Or, even… do we?
I’ve always been a little confused by the word ‘content.’ There is something lonely and unconnected about the word somehow, when i hear it used with reference to what happens in learning. I imagine a lone student, huddled away in a dorm room, reading sanitized facts in the hopes of passing a multiple choice quiz. The content somehow merging with the learning objective and the assessment to create a world where learning is about acquiring truth from the truth box.
We talked a little this week about how Descartes, ‘thinking alone in his room’ was really carrying on conversations with hundreds of correspondents, and with many other people (also mostly old white men) in the record of their thoughts printed in the books in his library. Even the citation in our research methods is about pointing to the web of people’s thoughts… about preserving the history of the story we are telling.
So what happens when we peek under the word ‘content’ to see what lives there? What does it mean for a course to ‘contain’ information? What choices are being made… what power is being used?
Super fun first week. Emotional, exploratory, smart and surprising… what else could you want from a week? One of the major themes that I heard during the week and, interestingly, at the conference where I talked about it, was measurement. We live in a world obsessed with measurement. We’ve had many beautiful examples of ways to visualize what is happening in Rhizo15. I’ve seen a number of conversations around ‘success indicators’ and ‘ways in which i feel good about what I’m doing.’ When we forward the learning subjective, what does it make possible?
This week’s challenge
Get out there and count! What can we measure that isn’t learning? Think about all the other facets of the human experience… can we do better? What about all the fancy tools we’ve seen… can they help? Should we throw it out all together? Can we help people measure themselves? Is there a better way of looking at it? Be theoretical. Be practical… but GRADE ME!
Welcome to week 1.
Ok friends and neighbours, I have no idea where this is all going to get us, but we’re 1000 tweets in and the course starts right now. Or, if you believe @kwhamon, I missed the start of the course by two weeks. Please remember, you don’t have to read everything. Start from your work, engage with individuals. You might find two or ten or a hundred people to work with, it just depends on how you like to work. If it’s your first open course, you might find this ‘how to succeed‘ video useful. If you’d like to know how to reach people, check out my practical guide post.
WEEK ONE TASKS Introduce yourself, follow one of the threads of discussion somewhere. Comment on someone’s work. Get acclimated.
Build learning subjectives: How do we design our own or others learning when we don’t know where we are going? How does that free us up? What can we get done with subjectives that can’t be done with objectives?
The first time I designed a course I got this funny feeling that I didn’t know what was going on. Like somewhere there was a manual to creating a learning experience that I had missed. Like the joke was on me somehow. Who was I to decide what was the ‘correct’ content that someone should ‘know’? How could I decide how to measure the quality of work of people I had never met before? Where was this ‘standard’ that I could honestly and confidently refer to that would make my courses make sense?
Rhizomatic learning is a story for learning that starts from the idea that this standard doesn’t exist. It posits a learning experience where the curriculum of the course is the people that are in it. Given access to an abundance of content, how can we design a learning experience that celebrates complexity and creativity, rather than an artificial standard of knowing? A course experience where each student is encouraged to map their own learning?
This open course will tackle the practical realities of teaching this way. The participants of this course will be the curriculum.
If you interested in being part of #rhizo15… the only ‘signing up’ that you might want to do is to join the mailing list.