I know that it is going to take me a few blog posts to get through week 4 of #rhizo15 – there are a lot of things going on with this prompt that I need to unpack. But I had to put out some initial thoughts.
First off, just like during week 2 when Dave said that learning was a non-counting noun and that we needed to just set that off to the side in thinking about measurement because it is something that we cannot measure…
…I’m going to do the same thing with the question of if we should get rid of dave. I say we need “teachers” and “dave” (simply because learners are teachers) but I am also going to take it one step further and say that #rhizo15 needs Dave Cormier. Let’s just take all of that and set it off to the side for now.
Rather, I would like to focus on the second part of the question; what does it mean to teach rhizomatically? I love this question as I work with faculty in a faculty development center. I think that Dave has done a good job of modeling rhizomatic teaching and I feel that perhaps I have some kind of sense for it because it is resonating with me so much but this is a really new kind of question for me as I don’t have a lot of experience in “rhizomatic teaching”.
For now I just have these two thoughts:
First off, I want to point out that what Dave just did in this prompt is something that I think is fairly rare in institutionally based online learning and while I’m not sure about cMOOCs … I know it happens all the time in face to face learning. This thing seems essential to rhizomatic learning… I’m talking about spontaneity. Allowing the conversation to derail and head in another direction. As a student I love instigating this in a face to face environment (I guess its the trickster in me) as it allows me to connect the conversation to something adjacent and hope to bring it back around… eventually. I find that this increases my learning. But I have never seen it in an institutionally based online course.
I googled “spontaneity in online courses” and I found this blog post entitled “Online Teaching is Inferior to the Classroom Experience” from 2013 on a blog called The Contrary Perspective that articulates this lack of spontaneity very well. But I think that Dave has just shown us that it is possible in an online environment.
Second I wanted to dive into the metaphor of the rhizome a bit. I haven’t gotten into Deleuze and Guattari at all yet but it seems to me if the rhizome is a metaphor of the community connecting different ideas together perhaps the teacher is the gardener? You don’t have to have a gardener. As rhizomes run wild all of the time – but when you do you get some pretty beautiful landscapes.
Of course it is the gardener who decides between the “weeds” and “flowers”… sets the parameters of the garden, and ultimately decides who lives and who dies – but that is my next blog post.