So, we’re now in week 2 of Dave Cormier’s Rhizomatic Learning ‘course’ (I use that term in the loosest possible way) and I’m only just now sitting down to write some posts about it. I’ve been exploring the various spaces (P2PU, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, participants’ blogs …), reading, commenting. I initially contemplated limiting my participation to just that. But, I feel I’ve got to (steal?) some time now to block out the chatter, reflect, consolidate and try to make sense of the chaos. It’s a challenge because the conversations are so compelling, and the exploration so much fun it can be difficult to tear yourself away.
So: why rhizo14?
It all started when I saw this post from Vanessa Vaile in the G+ Learning and Change community. I’d previously seen Vahid Masrour post about it too, and I just had to take a look…
As soon as I read Dave Cormier’s ‘Unguided tour of Rhizo14’ (a ‘course intro’ of sorts…), I was hooked.
What got me hooked
- I love that Dave acknowledges right up that it’s going to be chaotic and that you may find yourself lost (& possibly thinking things like: “this is the biggest time waster ever”, “that Dave guy has no idea what he’s talking about…”). My experience with xplrpln taught me that messy learning can lead to big breakthroughs in thinking – and that the process entails periods of feeling very perplexed and lost. So the promise of chaos actually appealed immediately.
- I love that he presents this as an experiment and says “I mostly don’t know what I’m doing”. Clearly tongue in cheek but what he’s really saying is that his MO is to try new things. I love this attitude. And this notion of the course ‘convener’/ ‘instructor’/ ‘teacher’ (again, all terms used in the loosest of ways) not having all (or even any) of the answers and learning along with everyone else again reflected Jeff Merrell and Kimberley Scott’s approach to their role in xplrpln (as “scholar-practitioners”). I love this type of learning. It democratises the experience and – I think, is probably an essential position to take when delving into complex topics. Because in complexity, there actually ARE no ‘correct’ answers. (So let’s not pretend there are). And much of what you gain from learning this way is how to navigate uncertainty, the courage to share ‘half baked ideas’ (trademark Jeff Merrell) for others to explore, comment and build on, and the ability to analyse, think critically about, build, adapt and remix the half baked ideas that others put out.
- I was intrigued by the multi-platform setup (P2PU, Facebook , Twitter, Google+, participants’ blogs, and anywhere else you want). Multiple access points and multiple ways to engage provides options for participants, lowers the barriers for engaging (participants don’t have to ‘learn’ or get used to a new and unfamiliar platform), and provides an opportunity for people to dip in and out of different groups. It’s also a potential source of complexity and I’m intrigued by how this will impact the learning experience. I’ve also never used Facebook seriously as a learning tool (very much exclusively social – and not much at that; I’m not often on it, and really, if I am it’s invariably to comment or ‘like’ a post about friends’ babies or children….) , so interested to see if and how my perspective changes on it.
- I love that he depicts it not as a ‘course’ – more like a party or going on camp. Pitching it this way immediately changes the ‘feel’ of this experience, from something potentially esoteric or onerous, to something totally social, fun, and doable: “You might just like to chat with people.” (Yeah, I can do that! And I like doing that!). “You might try to make one really good friend.” (xplrpln showed me it is entirely possible to make more than one good friend through interaction in an online course. An opportunity to do that again is hard to resist). “You might have gone to camp to challenge yourself or to just kinda hang out a little.” (I’d like to aim for the former, but I’ll still get something out of it if I only manage the latter. And the decision of what and how much is left entirely up to me. I like that.). “Don’t know where to start. Write something somewhere and tell us why you joined.” (Ok. Here you go. Bit late, but clearly that’s irrelevant in a course with no explicit objectives – other than those you impose on yourself).
- I loved the sense of excitement I felt at reading his intro – the sense that this was something that would explore the edges of what’s possible in open online learning. And who could resist being part of something like that?
So – despite the fact that I’m feeling somewhat over committed already (what with a Masters to finish, helping get the new #ozlearn Twitter chat up and running, organising a Sydney Third Place meetup, working full time, with a 3 year old and family I don’t really want to neglect….), I’m here.
What are my objectives?
So seeing as the one of the key things of rhizo learning is about finding your own path (there are no ‘course’ objectives…), here are some of mine. I’m sure more will emerge as time goes on….
- explore and engage with people on the full range of platforms – including ones I’m not used to. Observe what differences or similarities there might be: in people, types of conversations, tone, and interaction across different platforms….
- discover and develop meaningful relationships with new people with interests that intersect mine
- reflect on the ‘course’ design – and implications & experience of rhizomatic learning. Consider what and how various components of the design and this type of learning might be applied or adapted to support better learning in a corporate workplace environment
Next up: my week 1 post – in poem form.