‘Rhizomatic Learning’

Woman-with-pen-from-Pompeii

“The Community is the Curriculum” (subtitle of the Rhizomatic Learning course)

This is a recent Google + Discussion by my PLN about ‘Rhizomatic Learning’- a term coined by Dave Cormier who is leading a P2PU course on this topic.

I was introduced to the idea of ‘rhizomatic learning’ while participating in #ETmooc last January and have wanted to respond to the idea, but my personal learning network on the web has answered some of my questions about the concept.

Vanessa Vaile

Originally Posted in Learning and Change (General)  –  Jan 13, 2014

Who else here is in (or other appropriate preposition) +dave cormier‘s Rhizomatic Learning #rhizo14 ?  PS there’s a G+ community too
Jeff Merrel

I am!
Vahid Masrour

Me 2!
Tanya Lau

My subconscious NY resolution was to focus on one or two things at a time…but there are way too many interesting things going on! I saw +Vahid Masrour post this yesterday too…don’t think I can resist checking this out…I’m in too!
 
Jeff Merrel

+Tanya Lau when all else fails, we can always adopt a resolute lurker position and think that it’s alright. 😉
Janet Webster

Just signed up!
Tanya Lau

Me too…LOVED Dave’s course intro, totally sucked me in!
Rick Bartlett

I’m loving this course. It’s exactly the arena where my thoughts need to be at this point for a course I’m developing.
Helen Blunden
I’m in but I’m struggling to see the connection between rhizomatic learning in the corporate context.  I think we can do this for social learning and in our organisation, they do encourage creative, innovative or entrepreneurial approaches to problems but underpinning that are performance measures, enterprise behaviours, compliance standards and measures that we are accountable to follow.  So even though they say they like this thinking, sometimes  the conditions and environment is not conducive or rewarding for those who do.  It’s a catch 22…
rhizo14badge
Tanya Lau

Hi Helen, yes…I was thinking about this in relation to your other post (in the rhizo learning community) and I think we’re coming up to tge same barriers as with implementing PLNs in orgs ie personal vs organizational objectives (as rhizomatic learning is all about each individual finding their own path rather than workong to imposed objectives). I added a bit more in my comment on your other post but thinking maybe relevance is more in the mindset and way of thinking that rhizo learning promotes – ie outside conventions…but you have a point, sometimes this can cause problems and there may be only so far you can go fighting the system….hmmm…not sure. Maybe a clearer option will emerge as we progress….

Rick Bartlett

I really appreciate both of you +Helen Blunden and +Tanya Lau being in this course. I value the cross-pollination that occurs because you work in business and not education. It’s so useful to hear your perspectives. I hope you also get some snippets of useful information along the way.

Helen Blunden

+Rick Bartlett Thanks Rick, can’t speak for Tanya but I know I do.  I love reading other perspectives but one thing is clear. The professional development aspect is important – keeping up and role modelling the behaviours. Part of me thinks that there will always be educators but will there always be a Learning and Development unit/team/department in businesses in the future?
Tanya Lau
Aww, thanks +Rick Bartlett – and l feel the same way as you and +Helen Blunden  Diversity and getting insight into how other institutions operate (higher ed, k-12, not for profits etc…), and different perspectives is a big part of the appeal of these types of open online learning experiences. I have always enjoyed the analytical nature of academia so rather enjoy the geek aspect of that too (though I think some of it is starting to go over my head a bit…! And funnily as I was writing this response got distracted by a thread on fb about how some of the more academically / theory focused people might be going a bit overboard and excluding and/or condescending those from a non-academic background. Interesting.  I think I’ve missed that undercurrent as I’ve only had pockets of time to go in and out of places and spaces and have only read a tiny fraction of what’s been posted. Just par for the course in an experience like this, when there are so many people, voices, posts, comments etc flying about.+Vahid MasrourThis is an interesting point to consider (ie whether rhizo is suitable only in adult learning). The suggestion reminded me of the video that +dave cormier posted of him questioning his 5 yr old son on his knowledge of dinosaurs (I saw it on fb, but may have been posted elsewhere too…not sure). I’m still getting my head around the whole concept of rhizo learning but I think this question goes to the perspective on the role of the ‘teacher’ / ‘educator’. I recall reading something from Dave saying that teachers will always play a role even in rhizomatic learning contexts…so using Dave’s video as a reference point, perhaps what the rhizo approach brings to teaching children is a mindset of not just focusing on simple questions and recitation of facts…but instead asking kids to describe their observations, explore, and come to their own conclusions of what that means, experiment, look at the evidence to see how their conclusions match up to this (i.e. supporting critical inquiry). And rather than giving them the answers straight up, encouraging them to seek them out (e.g. look things up, or ask different questions). This also means as their ‘teacher’ not being afraid of asking them open ended questions that you don’t necessarily know the answer to, so you can explore things together.  It’s a bloody hard thing to do though, especially after years of being conditioned by school to recite facts and come up with the ‘correct response’. (Which, btw, is also a lot of what corporate learning approaches perpetuate – simple knowledge checks with one ‘correct’ response…maybe because that’s what people expect, maybe because it’s quicker and easier to develop – probably a bit of both).
Janet Webster
If I understand ‘rhizo’ learning correctly, I think this is exactly how children learn-they are driven by their curiosity-we may lose this ability to follow our natural curiosities as adults as we get conditioned to more formal ed structures or ‘corp production’ parameters.  My 2 cents.
Vahid Masrour

+janet webster but how do you make sure all the children have the minimum shared platform of knowledge that will enable them to interact/participate meaningfully with society at large if not by having a teacher/educational system that will guarantee that all have built this platform by a certain age?
Janet Webster

+Vahid Masrour Just saying that children’s natural curiosities about the world lead them into learning-‘rhizo-style’. Of course, they need guidance. Also, public ed supposed to be the great democratizer but as Ken Robinson points out in this video (I’m sure you’ve seen it) -public ed can also be faulted with an outmoded factory model of conformity which many of our cMooc communities (#etmooc, #xplrlns , #rhizo14 ) seem to be railing against (perhaps railing is too strong a word?)
RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms
Janet Webster
Here is another good video where a student lambastes standardization and common core curriculum:

Vanessa Vaile

I think I saw that — or maybe another, the TN student lambasting the state legislature about common core. the students are doing what the adults should have — same thing in HE.

Tanya Lau
Hi +Vahid Masrour – I agree with you on the need to teach foundational knowledge and skills; and I don’t think that this is in conflict with rhizomatic learning – but what rhizo learning maybe does  question is HOW these things are taught. i.e. is it by rote, sitting kids dow, n and saying ‘hey kids, now we’re going to learn about numbers’ showing them a list of numbers, then asking them to identify, or count numbers 1-100? Or is it by getting them to understand the concept of numbers by helping them to make the links with an everyday context they are already familiar with? For example, if playing with a car you could introduce the concept of numbers by pointing out that the car has 4 wheels and counting them – or better – asking guiding questions which prompt the child to observe which parts of the car that look similar, and introducing numbers through this exploration. Yes, it’s probably going to take a bit longer to teach this way but they’re probably going to have a better grasp of concept of numbers compared to learning them through recitation.

Janet Webster

Oh yes, of course foundational knowledge needed! But isn’t rhizomatic learning about an approach to learning?
Jeff Merrel

This is such a wonderful conversation. Interesting – I am still lightly diving in and out of #rhizo14 just because of time crunches (I teach this quarter and have been extra busy this month). But I came here to read this thread because, well, you all are part of my PLN. :-)I think you all know that I straddle the corporate world and higher ed world – our students are in corporate or non-profit settings, not K-12 teachers. And my background is in corporate as well.It seems to me – and I see some of this in this thread – that “rhizomatic learning” may simply be forcing us to think about and address this question how we get learners (children and adult learners) to be – capable learners. Call it self-directed and self-motivated maybe. But I do think it’s something about just being competent in figuring out how to own your own learning, when presented with a structure (course) or opportunities (job projects, PLN development) to do so.What I am struggling with in #rhizo14 a bit is: This is NOT a new question or challenge. We clearly haven’t addressed it well on a large scale, but it’s not entirely new. I love Cormier’s stuff – he’s a very innovative educator and change agent. An exemplar really of what can be done. And he has clearly created some new pedagogical tools to get at this issue that he also says he struggles with.But the underlying question – how do develop capable learners – is a really freaking old question.I came into the #rhizo14   course with a question in my mind of understanding “teacher presence” (see http://jeffdmerrell.com/2014/01/14/rhizome-plosion-part-ii-rhizo14/) and our role as educators (higher ed or corporate) in designing experiences that help build or rebuild individual learning muscle. Still haven’t followed up with more blog posts on that topic. But my ever-evolving mental map puts this question of “developing learners” at the center, with innovative sets of practices like rhizomatic around the edges, giving us new tactical ideas to use in a more webified world. But it’s not changing the underlying question.Trying to synthesize here. Maybe taking a long road to get to a blinding glimpse of the obvious. I’ll blame it on the cold in Chicago.
Rick Bartlett
Thanks +Jeff Merrell for synthesizing. I found it very useful to help me clarify my own thoughts on this topic.
Vahid Masrour

+Jeff Merrell I think at least part of the answer to your questions may be answered in this post, where i discuss the “enforced independance” under the concept of “participation”: https://plus.google.com/+VahidMasrour/posts/gk8UJFcdqHkInterestingly, i think that Participation makes even more sense within organizations (other than educational). In as much as people are choosing/deciding to focus their thoughts, energies, and action into what they are (supposed to be) doing, the more they will bring. A related concept would be that of becoming “stakeholders”.Does anyone going through high school really believe he is a stakeholder in the process he is submitted to? What percentage of higher education students see themselves as participants in a capability building process? And finally, how many teachers believe in their heart that their “participants” should be doing something else than paying attention/listening and answering correctly when they’re asked a question, instead of developing capabilities?

Jeff Merrel

+Vahid Masrour Yeah…wow. Spot on. Read your other post and I really like the participation angle. And laughing re: your high school example.I think this still gets at why I am so interested in this “teacher presence” construct (and I am pulling it from the community-of-inquiry framework). One of the bits behind the definition is that the teacher presence doesn’t necessary — and shouldn’t — always be performed by the formal instructor. That the “students” should also participate (there’s that word again) in the “presence.” All to say – the roles are more fluid. Teachers are both instructors/learners, and students are both learners/instructors.Ok. Back to my real job. :-0
Vahid Masrour
+janet webster exactly. The rhizomatic approach is about the how we educate, though it is granted that changing the how in turn demands take a second looking at the what, and jumping from there to the why is a hyperlink away.
Janet Webster

 +Jeff Merrell Thank you for your synopsis. I agree that some of these ideas are not new, but we are being given some new language or new metaphors ( rhizomatic learning) to help us work through some educational dilemmas in an increasingly ‘webified world’.
Jeff Merrel

 Actually…like that positioning of rhizomatic as metaphor…..
6fjhi
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One Response to ‘Rhizomatic Learning’

  1. Pingback: Rhizomatic moments #rhizo14 | Jeff Merrell

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