Why rhizo14

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…

. G+_rhizopost_VV

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 (P2PUFacebook TwitterGoogle+, 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.

5 thoughts on “Why rhizo14

  1. Jeff Merrell says:

    I love reading your posts. “So – despite the fact…I’m here.” Wow. Me too. Lots going on with my own teaching, etc. and yet…I am (sort of) there.

    Which actually is one of the design things I am reflecting on – the when, how much, and does it matter part of participating in rhizo type courses. At the moment, my participation payments are mostly in arrears. But I am still finding value in that; looking back, reflecting and commenting some. Not so much in-the-stream of live discussions. But as it fits my availability. Something simple but powerful there, I think.

    I also like what you did at the end here: Defining your own objectives. I did the same (mine is about exploring more about “teaching presence” in the community-of-inquiry sense). And that does help. When I do jump into the stream, I have a good question in mind to sort through all the activity.

    And btw thanks for the citation on “the courage to share ‘half baked’ ideas.” Laughing. Made my day.

  2. tanyalau says:

    Hi Jeff! Thanks for stopping by – love getting your input and perspective on things. The xplrpln experience has had such a massive impact on how I view these open learning experiences, and I find myself referencing back to the xplrpln experience to make sense of what this rhizo learning experience is all about; the similarities and differences between the structure, design & approach ; and how this affects the learning experience. The multi-platform approach of rhizo14, and the fact that there’s no real ‘set’ content – i.e. that all of the content (aside from Dave’s ‘unhangouts’ and weekly postings) – consists of participants’ blog posts, content shares, discussions and comments are I think the biggest departures from xplrpln.
    The lack of structure can make the learning experience seem disjointed, piecemeal, chaotic, and slightly overwhelming – the feeling that you’re learning a lot, but that you can’t quite put your finger on ‘what’ it is you’re actually learning (and yes, a niggling feeling that you’re constantly ‘behind’ > but I think that’s just because there’s just so MUCH being posted, shared and discussed. These rhizo participants are such damn prolific bloggers…!). While the highly distributed and unstructured nature of the experience can make it seem chaotic, this is also what I’m loving about it: there’s always something interesting to explore. I’m loving the diversity of participants it’s attracted – it seems like there’s everyone from hardcore academic theorists to highly creative types and everything in between. And as it progresses, I’m definitely getting a sense of the “community as the curriculum” and what this *actually* means. People feeding off each other’s creative energy and their collective experiences – spontaneous collaborating, remixing, creating, researching….this is what I’m excited about. What happens when there’s no predetermined structure, objective, curriculum (other than a list of weekly topics), content, or learning activities? That’s what we’re all here to find out – and contribute to. It’s like reading an immersively engrossing novel and bursting with curiosity about what will happen next, yet not wanting it to end….

    hehe you’ve probably noticed by now that I’m in love with your phrase ‘half baked ideas’ ; ) I’ve referenced it in so many posts – brilliant, and so apt. It’s made a lasting impression on me!

  3. Toni Rose Pinero (@moocresearch) says:

    This, is … so .. funny 🙂

    I initially also didn’t intend to join rhizo14 despite seeing dave tweet about his preparations and even up to my twitter network posting hashtag #rhizo14. But then it came to the point I got curious what’s this cheating as learning trend going on my feed? Was this some article from chronicle or Inside higher ed or another hype? Then I figured out it was from Dave’s MOOC.

    It’s been over a month since my last MOOC classes and yes, I too am taking Masters (comprehensive exams actually are coming up) and I didn’t intend to join any mooc this month. … But well.. here I am.. LOL and I’m actually not regretting my decision. I don’t think it’s a waste of my time, although it is a pretty good distraction. I have spent more time on Rhizo14 than my actual studying … That’s why in every reflection I try to squeeze in my masters in connection with Dave’s challenges.

    A lot of us are busy.. but here we are… still making time for this… (without anybody even telling us that we HAVE to join this class, nor do we have other external incentives..)

    Why we are doing this to ourselves? I don’t know why… :)) I just know that I like it… so might as well keep doing it.

    • tanyalau says:

      hahaha love it Toni! We have so much in common – I feel totally the same way. The previous MOOC I did (xplrpln with Jeff Merrell, that I write about above) totally distracted me away from my masters – I basically ended up doing nothing on it for 5 weeks! (Then stressed out in the following 4 weeks afterwards trying to cram to finish my lit review….)

      I was convinced I wasn’t going to get as sucked in this time around…but it’s hard to resist the pull! I was actually going to write a post about this – why is it that MOOCs like this are so much more engaging than formal study? I definitely think the social aspect is a big part of it, meeting and engaging with people on complex topics, who are as equally engaged as you are – it’s a great motivator. I think there’s also something about it being a less structured experience, and much more self directed, the not quite knowing what’s around the corner and how it will end…intriguing. Thanks for connecting – I predict we might have a few more conversations in the future!

      • Toni Rose Pinero (@moocresearch) says:

        Just a few? LOL We might be even distracting each other in the future, that’s how I see it. haha. So let’s try to make it more constructive and motivate each other not to be so work-avoidant. At least our time zones are a bit closer compared to the others who are totally opposite with our day & night. haha 🙂

        Well, it’s a good thing your xplrpln mooc is actually related to your study! So in a way you were doing something related to your masters. I, on the otherhand, well… I haven’t crossed over comprehensive exam (and it’s not going to be about online learning! unfortunately..) But my thesis will be about on MOOCs, that’s why I’m much more excited to do thesis because it’s going to be hitting a lot of birds at the same time. And I’m getting even more excited because of the mooc network I’ve established, looks like I’m going to be having a lot of “mentors” because we all like the same things. Thus, easier to seek help. :D. That is why my twitter is @moocresearch, initially made just for tweeting my thesis progress but now became more than just that =)

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