Rhizo 15 - A practical view

Week 4 – Can/should we get rid of the idea of ‘dave’? How do we teach rhizomatically?

I was very excited about my week 4 topic, but i was intercepted by a veteran MOOCer from India, Viplav Baxi, who had a different question: “should we, can we or how do we replace the idea of “Dave”?”

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?


  1. May 6, 2015    

    This makes me think of waaaay back in CCK08, how George and Stephen didn’t show for a synchronous session (I can’t remember why). The people in the room simply would not create something instead, even though I suggested we should just take over and do our own session. They were there for the lecture and wanted the lecture, and did not see the irony of their attitude in a class on connectivist learning theory.

    Just based on that, yes, we need a Dave.

    • May 7, 2015    

      Some of them did go on MOOC-ing after some hesitation. (The “teachers” were in India, congressing, I remember). In Problem-based learning (PBL) the teacher is almost not there.

  2. May 7, 2015    

    I am new (soooo new) to the #rhizo community – I think that we can learn on our own…but that needs to be the expectation up-front. What is the place of self-directed learning in formal ed? It happens – but within boundaries…and always with the “boss” out there, up there, over there – somewhere. As flat as some experiences are – and #rhizo15 is flatter and more ethereal than most…I think the figurehead/ultimate designer is desired – maybe not needed – but greatly desired.


  3. May 7, 2015    

    Don’t we have our own topics anyway? Isn’t that the point about learning subjectives (or emergent objectives)? Maybe I am my ‘Dave’?

  4. May 7, 2015    

    I’ve spent many years trying to get rid of ‘Dave’ in my classes, promoting the notion that the resources are in the room (what we call the community). As a teacher educator it is part of my job to model the sorts of teaching strategies and pedagogical approaches that might find purchase among my student teachers. I want them to build repertoires of teaching strategies that take them beyond the 3 part lesson. Sometimes these work well, sometimes not. These are some of the ‘Daveless’ ideas:
    I take the tables and chairs away and spend time standing and talking about a topic.
    We go on walks to the park and discuss a topic in a sort of Confucian way.
    We try out Sugata Mitra’s ideas on SOLE. I pose a question, leave some source material and then go for a snooze in my staffroom (not really).
    We even turn the interactive whiteboard into a roaring crackling log fire (courtesy of Youtube – there are lots of them) and sit around talking and discussing a chosen topic. I call it the fireside chat.
    We play Six Honest Serving Men and True (Kipling’s poem) where the group set the questions graduating from the easy ‘what’ to the really hard ‘why’.
    I’ve tried out Forum Theatre with groups (Augusto Boal) where the group explores a knotty issue from the perspective of ascene in a play.

    I should write these ideas up one day. However, all these ideas depend on the responsiveness of the group and the enthusiasm and passion of the teacher. They also depends largely on the trust that is built between the group and the teacher. In the case of the fireside chat the content really is the community, but it’s ever so risky in these days of performativity. (How can I justify sitting around for an hour when there’s so much ‘stuff’ to cover?). I suppose I am saying that to aim for ‘Davelessness’ we need to be brave, to build trust, to have a sense of a ‘map’ and then to respect the autonomy of the group. Oh yes, and to wear a hard hat.

    Thanks for setting me off on a reflective journey Dave (less)…

  5. Lyn Goodnight Lyn Goodnight
    May 7, 2015    

    While it isn’t so difficult for us to learn things on our own, it’s always helpful to have a guide who can point us towards valuable ideas we might not have thought to look for. I wouldn’t go on a moose hunt without a guide. I like having a tour guide tell me about paintings in a museum. Descriptive signage makes national park visits more interesting. We can learn from one another, and we can teach one another, and we may not need a Sage on the Stage, but for me, having someone with more experience to challenge what I’m learning is always good. I’m working on my dissertation, and every time my chairperson says “Have you considered this?” (fill in the blank), she points me down a path I might not have taken without her guidance.

    • May 8, 2015    

      @Lyn Goodnight – I think you make a good point but it does raise the issue as to whether the tour guide in the museum is simply reinforcing the standard stories and interpretations of the paintings, which may very well inhibit the discovery of our own. Even the phD chair, from her perspective as lifetime academic, may be consciously or unconsciously narrowing the bounds of what gets thought and discussed, preventing truly new perspectives from emerging. In my opinion the job of ‘Dave’ in a rhizomatic learning environment is not to teach, but to provoke. can that be a new job description, ‘classroom provocateur’?

      • May 9, 2015    

        Thanks Rhizomedc and Lyn
        I agree that we often need a ‘guide on the side’. Teachers have the map and know the territory (usually because we’ve traversed it and have got the blisters to prove it)! But what’s also important is not to reveal too much beforehand. That sense of provocation is delightfully illustrated in a clip from the film Mona Lisa Smile: https://youtu.be/aHCUoDf7KGA
        Here is the transcript:
        cite=””>Giselle Levy: That’s Jackson Pollock.
        Susan Delacorte: In a word.
        Connie Baker: I was just getting used to the idea of dead, maggoty meat being art. Now this?
        Susan Delacorte: Please don’t tell me we have to write a paper about it.
        Katherine Watson: Do me a favor. Do yourselves a favor. Stop talking, and look. You’re not required to write a paper. You’re not even required to like it. You *are* required to consider it.

        That word ‘consider’ is an important one for me as I often find my students resisting the big picture when it doesn’t fit with their existing schema. Provocation disrupts our world view but it’s uncomfortable. As teachers we may never know what the effect of provocation is, but its good to know that there is an effect.
        This ‘slow burn’ of effect is impossible to measure, so sadly the prevailing neoliberal preference is for quick fixes and evidence of ‘learning’ – whatever that is.

        • May 9, 2015    

          oops, my attempt at html tagging failed! Dave can you fix it?

    • May 8, 2015    

      Sounds like Alec Couros’ idea of a sherpa – we need a guide.

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