A call for more #HumanMOOC discussion groups. Or. The very human problem of access with more thoughts on the Interpersonal Multitudes Barrier (IMB)

So I planned this participant led discussion inside of #HumanMOOC. In terms of process I tweeted that I wanted to do this and asked who else might be interested. With those that responded I opened a DM channel and configured a time. Then I advertised the time on the tag to see if I could get others involved.

But then I got this tweet

And it brought up such a little flurry of thoughts in my head that I had to blog about them.

My first reaction was a pretty human one… I’m not an organizer of #HumanMOOC. I can’t please everyone ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I’m not responsible to please everyone.

Then I thought “that was a pretty selfish reaction”.

Upon reflection I can see this process is filled with possibilities of inequality.

  1. Those that answered may have done so because they already knew me – feeling more comfortable responding to someone familiar.
  2. They had to of seen that first tweet so they would have to be paying attention in the right place at the right time.
  3. I did offer 12 Noon EST as a suggestion and it just happened to work for others but it was based on my own subjective availability.
  4. I’m more comfortable doing this because of experience with Virtually Connecting and others may not be.
  5. I’m sure there are a ton more – I am planning for the hangout to be conducted in English (cutting out everyone who does not speak English). I am going to live broadcast it and record it (cutting out a large number of those that will be uncomfortable with that for whatever reason). The list goes on and on…

These all seem to fall on limitations of access, experience, and participation… probably other things too. Yes it is true the sun does have a part to play here (or perhaps it is the old archaic beliefs that accentuate the sun’s importance) but those are hard to overcome and trying to impact that is hard with small incremental reward over long periods of time. The real question is what can we do provide more access, experience, and participation to everyone.

Because I’m of this romantic notion that the more diverse perspectives we can intersect with the better we are as (a) people.

We got the time zone thing worked out and then Maha tweeted this

Of course this is the Interpersonal Multitudes Barrier that I have been talking about. I know this may have a nicer name and be fleshed out somewhere in communication theory elsewhere (please let me know where I’m looking for more info on this). But it is the basic idea that as you add more people to a discussion you loose that interpersonal connection a little more. Maha seems to be keenly aware of this. This is another barrier to group dynamics. In this case is mediated in a Google Hangout by the fact that the technology limits you to 10 participants.

And after all of this it turned out I misunderstood Maha in the very beginning. 

Because she started with my name I thought Maha was addressing me but I think she was just trying to start her own participant discussion group.

Ah Ha!! That is the answer. For more people to do what they can to bring people together. I love our #HumanMOOC way-finders as they are calling themselves (organizers, profs, teachers etc…) but they can only do so much and they have already done so much. This is our learning experience. Let’s claim it.

There are so many things that are standing in the way of us all talking to each other. The sun, the IMB, lack of experience with the technology… it goes on. But if more people tried to do these things maybe it would break down these barriers. We could offer groups in more timezones and in more languages. Maybe try different technologies other than GHO to see what limitations are going on there.

I’m more of a subjectives girl myself but check it out… I also notice that demonstrating uses of an interactive tool is a competency in the #HumanMOOC syllabus… so huh… go figure.

I say start a #HumanMOOC discussion group of your own and see where it goes.

P.S. I will say that the garden has some dangers out there so this call is not without possible downfalls. Remember the other part of Maha’s tweet where she said she wished that there was a way for people to just jump in and jump out.  The only way I know to do that is to publicly tweet the join link. I’ve done that in the past and it has been bad with someone who we had never seen before coming in cursing and talking about things that were not relevant. Not horrible … but it could be worse.

Still, it is hard for me to condemn this process. Last year I saw a tweet from Sean Micael Morris with a link to a hangout. I thought it was a view link but it turned out to be a join link. I joined though I mostly listened. This Dave guy showed up and reminded me about this rhizo thing he does. At the time I had only heard about it peripherally. I joined and participated. Yeah… that kind of made a difference.

Why We Rhizo

There is no dark side of the moon really. As a matter of fact – it’s all dark. The only thing that makes it look light is the sun.
~Gerry O’Driscoll Doorman for Abby Road Studios
partly heard on Pink Floyd’s Eclipse

When questions about reasons and why collide with WEs and THEMs

The “Why do they cMOOC – Why do they Rhizo?” Question

All semester we had pondered the nature of technology and what it means for human learning. Week 1, Heidegger drew this line in the dirt saying technology was in opposition of nature to the detriment of man. Clark swooped in for week four claiming the stick Heidegger used to draw the line was an extension of Heidegger’s human will and that in doing so Heidegger had himself become part machine.  The arguments flew. I wondered where the girls were. I wandered into the wrong link at the right time, had a memory, put some pieces together and ended up in #rhizo15. I decided the informal and formal needed to/should hang out for this one even if I were to be the only bridge (and I was not).

End of the class; middle of the MOOC, the question came up:

Why do they cMOOC – (for me “Why do they Rhizo?”)

They’re not getting paid for it.
They seem to be having fun but it takes up so much time.
Maybe it is just to see if they can – I’m sure that is a part of it.
Ha! Maybe they just do it just to get new people – all eyes on me
“Uh oh look out I’m about to get sucked in….” everyone chuckles.

The class ended – #rhizo15 continued.

It’s been three months and now I find I’m asking myself:

The “Why do we Rhizo?” Question

And I’m struggling with the idea that getting more people might be the big answer! No. That cannot be right. There is just something in me saying that is not a good enough reason. One does not create community for the sake of creating community. Community can be messy. That is a dangerous proposal.

Then I hesitate. Gosh I sound like a sad and disgruntled old man. Reaching out to more people in a community to grow knowledge is a great reason; a noble reason. Of course we want to create opportunity where it is possible. Open doors where they can be opened for people that want in that particular door – where it has been closed before.

But the sole reason?

I think some of my hesitation may also be selfish – Ron Samul, a fellow rhizo newbie as of 15, helped me out in unpacking that one. I think I may be just wondering what happens to the new girl when she’s not so new anymore? Especially when she is preoccupied with thoughts of longevity and questions about what get’s left behind.

But here I am and without a doubt that question has shifted from a “they” to a “we” for me. And now I am struggling with it. Now it is personal.

What about those doors? (Warning Metaphorical Space Ahead)

The thing about the corridor of doors is that often we think of the doors as being closed as one walks along the hallway but I think the truth is that the doors are in all different kinds of states. Some are open, some are closed, locked, unlocked, ajar, propped… some squeak and stick… some swing… others slide… sometimes they’re those split dutch doors and either half could be in any of these states. Trap doors. Hidden doors. And the state of the door does not belong to the door itself. No, it changes depending on who is trying to access it – it is a very strange place.

The doors symbolize barriers yes but they also symbolize opportunity. Opportunity to change state. They can let people in but they are also the way out – and that happens – I think that is okay but what does that mean?

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is: infinite.
~ William Blake
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

There is something so freaking satisfying about opening those big heavy doors that have been locked for a long time. The doors that were locked to our mothers and fathers that are now open to us. Doors that held us back because of time and space, for instance. Distance? Time zones? Miles? Kilometers? Where the sun is at in it’s chase of the moon? Never mind any of that door – crash! You’re in!

Something so powerful about that.

Power is a funny thing and I find I have this affinity for subtlety.

Why We Rhizo

I had dinner with a colleague the other night and I found myself saying something like this in relation to the effect that #rhizo15 had on me:

“No longer can I accept this argument that you cannot form meaningful connected relationships in an online course. Yes, there can be barriers and those can vary from person to person, discipline to discipline, and I agree there are some environments where it is not going to happen but no longer can anyone tell me that it is not possible at all.”

And I’m not sure I ever really bought that argument for myself but I used to cut people some slack for it and I don’t think I can do that any more. That is not a little change. I’m already seeing a difference in the way I speak to people about online learning. It’s not a small thing – I’ve taken something valuable here.  So, I feel like I’ve got a debt to pay in terms of making WEs of THEMs and it is one I am glad to attempt to pay as best I can – honestly I get more than I give when I make those attempts. However, I struggle to say that is the end – to my means.

I think that, for me, being a part of a knowledge community is centered around the discovery, creation, and communication of knowledge. In writing this I struggled with even agreeing to the term “knowledge community” thinking that could be perceived as static or fixed in some way – I was thinking maybe questioning community or community of critical thought – but that all does seem, in the end, to lead to knowledge.

The thing about knowledge is that it is slippery and can take on all kinds of biases depending on your lens. (There is a good chance all of this is me just applying my thoughts, experiences, and personal bias in education theory in general to rhizo). So, we need other people; a diverse pool of people to look at knowledge from all different angles and perspectives. If we really want to say that we are a knowledge community then I feel like we need other people to challenge each other, create with one another, give perspective to one another. It is in this way, I think, that making WEs of THEMs is tightly tied to the idea of a knowledge community without being the sole reason for it.

Public Space vs Wild Space: A #clmooc Reflection Without Much Background

I’m sad that I couldn’t find more time for #clmooc. But I think it might be fun that if I only get two posts in, that it be one at the beginning – my Untro – and one here at the end on public spaces.

I was not sure what was going on when I noticed many of my friends were changing their icons to little rangers on twitter. What the heck is the deal? That was when I realized that this final #clmooc prompt had to do with public spaces.

I caught some of the calls to pin maps with people’s favorite public spaces, photos, blog posts, and a twitter chat the other day which I actually got to take part in… but to tell the truth I did not get a chance to really dive into the conversation. Still, I’m inspired by this prompt… so without much background here is my reflection.

One of my first thoughts was about the open web as a public space and how that plays into digital citizenry. What the responsibilities are of the citizenry in public spaces of all kinds but then how that plays out on the web. How communities like #clmooc (and #moocmooc and #rhizo15) serve as good examples of digital citizenship by encouraging people to not just be on the web but to think, create, question, converse… build affiliations, acquaintances, friendships,… by using tools of the web to reach out to one another and be creative in positive ways that encourage a better public space for everyone. It seems that is an important part of a public space – realizing that it is public and that it is shared and that to share we need to work together to make a better space.

But then I had wondered if I had used the wrong metaphor in calling the open web “in the wild” for the #tomereaders book group that I facilitated on the open web. I did so because there were some people that did not want to participate in the open web and wanted a closed LMS instead – which I coined “in the lodge”.  I used these metaphors somewhat based on the fear that was expressed from the people that did not want to use the open environment and I’m not sure it was the right fit. This got me thinking about wild places and what it really means to be a wild place.

A wild place is different than a public place. It seems to me a public place is a place for people. In contrast a wild place is a place where nature comes first – not nature as in flowers, rocks, and animals but nature as in that sense or source of energy of the way things would be without a lot of man-made rules, structure, or laws where the flowers, rocks, and animals are there because of a shift in what is valued. In one sense a wild place is dangerous because it has not been massaged by the rules of humans and the wild things could have their way with you if you were out in the wrong place at the wrong time. But in a bigger sense the wild is vulnerable because we all know how humans can bend the wild to their own needs with pavement, machinery, and bureaucracy.

This led me to think of the recent protests in Portland OR where the protesters were trying to stop Shell from transporting equipment they needed to drill oil in the Arctic. The protesters were dangling themselves from a bridge putting their bodies in the way of the barge so that it could not pass. To some they are troublemakers and standing in the way of legal drilling that was given the go ahead by the government. But to others they are standing up for that value of the wild spaces that are vulnerable to the impact of humans.

And then looping back to the digital citizen in how all of this is documented and tweeted and blogged about; debated and conversed about on the open web leading to redefinitions about what it means to be public, what it means to be wild, what it means to be a citizen and be responsible to each other and to the public and wild spaces.

I’m not sure where this all goes and what this all means but I’m grateful for public spaces to have the conversation and think about the different spaces in our world.

Technologies, Taxonomies, and Acronyms! Oh My: A MOOC-ish Taxonomy

Lately, I’ve been coming across a lot of posts regarding definition around the MOOCs.  So I thought I would collect some of what I am seeing on the web and in my own personal network into a blog post.

Recently, Fred Mud posted on the xMOOC, cMOOC, and the rMOOC. With the rMOOC being the rhizo MOOC citing Dave Cormier’s #rhizo14 and #rhizo15 as the impetus and prime example. Apostolos Koutropoulos (AK) just took a critical look at SPOCs – I have to agree it is a silly acronym but I am a fan of the small open endeavors. And while it is not recent, I found this Hybrid Pedagogy piece from 2012 created by hundreds in a google doc that spells out the MOOC acronym and challenges the ideas of teacher/student. It is a great reminder that this is not a new discussion.

In personal conversations I’ve found some avoiding the acronym MOOC entirely, while others augment it to meet their needs by changing what the letters mean, some keep the core MOOC but throw something on the beginning or the end, and others create whole new acronyms.

About a month ago I ran into Vicki McGillin at a local conference where she presented as a part of a group that was creating an assessment tool for MOOCs. The tool is aimed at helping schools assess their MOOC endeavors and thus for a moment the conversation shifted itself to MOOCs not designed by schools. The acronyms started flying and Vicki mentioned that she had created a taxonomy of MOOCs. My ears perked up. I asked her to share with me and then asked if I could share with the world – and she agreed so here it is Vicki McGillin’s MOOC-ish Taxonomy.

A MOOC-ISH TAXONOMY

V. McGillin (August 2013)

cMOOC

xMOOC

bMOOC

wMOOC

gMOOC

Known As “Connectivist” MOOC; Also SPOC (Self-Paced Open Course – anyone can jump in anytime, anywhere) and some DOCCs (Distributed Open Collaborative Course co-developed) MOOC – most common understanding of what a MOOC represents “Blended”/  “Mash up” MOOC;MOOC as Text/MOOC as Open Educational Resource “Wrapped” MOOC ; full MOOC course connected in some manner to an existing credit-bearing course “Guided MOOC; Also SMOC (Synchronous Massive Online Course) and MOOM (Massive Open Online Masters – Georgia Tech)

Initiated

2008

2011

2012-13

2012-13

2013

Offered By Original Canadian MOOC  developers (George Siemen), feminists (DOCC), UMary Washington Coursera, Udacity, EdX, Blackboard, Canvas, NovoEd, Coursesites, Open2Study Anyone, e.g., Cuyahoga Community College is developing materials for remedial math on a MOOC platform Any MOOC platform Any MOOC Platform (e.g., Georgia Tech MS in CS; UT – Austin F’13 Intro Psych class)
Pedagogy Learning-centered; Co-learning by all; goal to develop communities of practice Teacher-centered; Video lecture /quizzes/peer-grading; Content is downloaded to students who are quizzed on competency; some group work/peer feedback Students study selected background material from MOOC (and other online sources) as an Open Educational Resource to better discuss/engage in fcredit-bearing class/learning lab Face to face class incorporates entire MOOC either as prelude or throughout blended / flipped learning class Students complete xMOOC with support from Assistants assigned to respond to questions/facilitate online discussions/grade
Role of Instructor Collaborate in developing content/goals; take lead initially Creates content, assessment, activities & learning pathways Create course experience including content; select MOOC and other content sources to incorporate; create assessment and feedback for students Create course experience (may be a completely separate class) including other content, exercises, assessment and feedback; Select MOOC around which to wrap/follow the course Instructor-Same as xMOOC; Role of Assistant – to guide experiences, facilitate discussions, evaluate assignments and grade outcomes
Role of Student Open enrollment, Co-creation of experience; share knowledge; create projects and join communities of practice Open enrollment, Receives information; participates in group work, responds to quizzes/assignments Normal admissions; Receive MOOC and other content information; apply concepts in credit-bearing class; assignments Normal admissions; Receive MOOC information; apply concepts to wrapped course materials/assignments Normal admission of LARGE number of students; Receive MOOC information; complete assignments, participate in groups
Credit None ACE recommended Transfer credit for 8 courses; Three state systems approved as transfer credit (given review on campus); More adding F’13 through prior learning assessment Credit awarded for on-campus course Credit awarded for on-campus course; some offer credit for MOOC upon completion of on-campus “half” or other test of learning in the MOOC Credit/degree awarded based on performance on assignments evaluated by GAs
Business Model None Certificate fees (Coursera/Udacity); Modified tuition; Licensing content or platform (Udacity) Normal tuition charged for on campus course Normal tuition charged for on campus course; IF also award transfer credit for MOOC upon completion of campus class, COULD earn two courses worth of credit for one paid enrollment Modified tuition charged for MOOC guided courses (Georgia Tech; UT-Austin); S. Thrun (Udacity) believes this is the formula
Strengths Promotes collaborative discussions; Creates communities of practice; excellent for professional development Efficient download of information that does not change over time; Effective with adults with degrees; Assessment best when R/W answers, machine-scored; EFFECTIVE use of adaptive learning technology helpful. Most non-quantitative courses are survey/intro classes to this date. MOOCs as Open Educational Resources providing mini-lectures, exercises – enhances efficiency if same materials can be used in multiple courses; addresses criticism of MOOCs through promoting student participation in credit-bearing class; help prepare students for in-class, in-depth engagement with the material; “flipping” classroom enhances in-class engagement with learning/application Same as bMOOC but use entire MOOC as primary OER content source. Two courses for the price of one is possible. 1 professor/50 tutors is much less expensive that 50 professors, so can charge lower tuition; student will have someone to engage with and provide valued feedback on performance; adaptive learning software COULD increase effectiveness of quizzes; possibly viable business model and compromise educational model.
Challenges Not efficient if working with stable, consensual content material; no business model Lecture=least effective mode of pedagogy whether face-to-face or online; criticized for western hegemonic model of education; Not efficient if content changes quickly Udacity/Coursera licenses may preclude “reuse” of material; without agreement, unless put in the Commons, no guarantee course/materials would be available Same as bMOOC but more so as dependent on one source for “flipping” materials; like xMOOCs, not at all efficient if content must change quickly Same as xMOOC

(derived from an article written by Jeannie Crowley, Campus Technology 2013/08/15)

#clmooc UnIntroduction

For #clmooc’s first Make Cycle we were asked to unintroduce ourselves which was just a fun way to ask us to take a new look at the introduction. I decided that I was unqualified to introduce myself considering all of the different people that I am in different contexts and situations and all of the different qualities that I have that are important in so many different settings.

So, I decided I was going to drag my online and face to face friends into a video intro for me. I asked some online folks to send me videos and many did – thank you everyone – and I asked others that I happened to run into face to face to introduce me. I also ended up back in Detroit visiting my parents at this time so I got my Mom and Dad to contribute as well!

So here it is – my #clmooc untro

Connecting Virtually – Considerations from a Virtual Participant

What is Virtually Connecting?

Recently, I had the privilege of being able to participate in a couple of Virtually Connecting hangouts;  an experiment set up by Maha Bali and Rebecca Hogue. What is Virtually Connecting?

Well, for a while now bigger Ed Tech conferences have been streaming sessions, sometimes for a price and sometimes for free. It is great because you can tune in and watch sessions that you are interested in and sometimes they even have a place where you can type in a  question and a moderator will relay your question to the presenter.

But let’s be honest, sessions are only one part of the conference experience.

A huge part of the conference experience is that person that you bump into in the hallway who just happens to be doing similar research or someone that you end up sitting with at a shared lunch table who last year implemented that same technology project that you are working on right now. It is those serendipitous little connections that just sort of happen.

How do you attempt to replicate that virtually?

Well… this is how it happened for me.

I was attending the Nelsonville Music Festival in Nelsonville Ohio, the first multi-day music festival I have attended in a long time, trying out my new 2 person Big Agnes Mountain Glo tent as accommodations for 3 nights and making food on my old propane 2 burner camping stove. Not bad data on the cell service but not the best either.

Nelsonvilletent

This is my attempt to replicate my situation/internal dialog/conversation with Maha Bali:

…Oh look a tweet from Maha about a hangout with some people from the HASTAC conference. I’ve always wanted to go to that conference; looks like a blast. I bet that hangout would be a blast; wish I could play but I am on my way to see this band – hiking the path from the camp site to the festival grounds – I’ll just favorite the tweet to show Maha my support.

Oh… DM from Maha ‘do I want to join the hangout’. Yes! I do want to join the hangout but I’m at this thing without all my tech – I only have my phone. What? There is a Google Hangout app? ‘It starts in about 90min’. That would give me some time to gather some things; earbuds, power cord, find a quiet place… Okay I’m in at least to try…

What was it like?

Well you can see for yourself:

But let me give a little more.

So, the majority of the labor for a thing like this falls on the virtual host and the on-site coordinator who together work out times, onsite location, technology set-up, etc. As a virtual participant you really get the sweet end of the deal – you just get to drop in. I ended up being a virtual participant in three of these sessions over the next few weeks with Maha as the virtual host each time.

They were Hangouts On-Air so besides the people in the hangout who are participating there is the potential for a whole other audience that might be tuning in and they are recorded so others might be tuning in later. I had at least one experience with someone blogging about our conversation after the fact when Simon Ensor reminded me about the magic of technology. I thought it was a wonderful way to extend the conversation.

Overall, it was a great experience each time. I got to meet some really smart people including Mia Zamora who I’m encountering again as she is helping to facilitate #CLMOOC. I also got great insights to some conferences (HASTAC and DML) that I have been wanting to check out for a while.

The spontaneous nature of the thing encouraged that serendipitous energy and each time it really did remind me of bumping into someone at a conference to chat over coffee – that thing that is so hard to replicate in virtual conference offerings.

I will admit to a bit of social anxiety, which people say I hide pretty well but it is there.  I was meeting people that I had never met before and who’s work I was not really familiar with so in the beginning there was a little bit of anxiety. However, Maha was a great host and did a wonderful job of getting everyone acclimated and it was easy to feel comfortable once things started rolling.

If you get a chance to be a virtual participant I would highly recommend the experience. It is a wonderful way to broaden your network and connect with some people that are doing good work in the field. The Virtual Connecting website also has suggestions on how you can run your own Virtually Connecting sessions if you want to give it a try.

Here are a few other blog posts and articles that describe the experience from the other sides:

Articles from Maha and Rebecca in Hybrid Pedagogy and in The Chronicle Of Higher Education’s Prof Hacker blog.

Insights from Alan Levine and Andrea Rehn on being an on-sight participant

Reflections on the start of #tomereaders: Disclaimer on a living artifact

Well, #tomereaders is set to “start” this week and I am feeling a little out of sorts. I mean what the heck was I thinking opening this thing up to the whole world? I’m not Dave Cormier or Jessie Stommel – I’m just some girl with a twitter account and a newly christened blog. What if this goes horribly wrong? What if I say something mean and hurt someone’s feelings? What if I commit some egregious online sin and they all laugh at me? What if I break some kind of law? Sigh… Old age should burn and rave at end of day… I suppose…

You may have noticed I like disclaimers – If not let me just state “I like disclaimers”. Maybe they don’t do anything but make me feel better, however, they spur the conversation in my head and help me set the extremes of what things are and what they are not; somewhere along the way I realize the gradient of in betweenness.

I don’t think #tomereaders is a MOOC

I’m not sure what #tomereaders is exactly but I don’t think it is a MOOC. It is not a course – it is a book club. There is no way it is massive – I think there are less than 20 of us. It is online but I am meeting face to face with just as many people most of who are not participating online. I want to discuss the online interactions face to face… I’m sure the face to face discussions are going to shape my blog posts – which will be “in the wild”. I’m not sure what #tomereaders is but I don’t think it is a MOOC – I am borrowing from what I learned in #moocmooc and #rhizo15 and I have debt to those experiences for sure but I think #tomereaders is different from a MOOC… I could be wrong…

I don’t think #tomereaders has a teacher – since it is not a course

I can’t speak for Matt but I am not really thinking of myself as a teacher or even a facilitator (okay maybe a facilitator) – I suppose I have promised prompts… (why did I do that?) I’m just reading this book. I would love it if other people would read this book too and talk about it so that I could process it from multiple perspectives… because that is how I learn best – and I think that some other people like to learn that way too…

“Focal Dates” work for everyone

I want to announce that the first prompt is not coming on the 11th (it will come out around the 11th) that daily Spur’nMakes may not come every day and that they might actually start before the 11th… What can I say… On a nomadic journey you never really know when or where you are going to end up or what is around the next corner… embrace it…

I’m not sure #tomereaders is rhizomatic

#tomereaders is a living artifact of #rhizo15 born from my desire not just to learn online and in the open but also to serve as an example to some others in my face to face life about how that works.  I am sure that I will be applying what I learned in #rhizo15 to #tomereaders. It is rhizomatic for me – but I’m not sure it will be rhizomatic for everyone. I’m still figuring the rhizome out and I’m not sure if I can convey it to others. I want to embrace the spirit of the rhizome but I’m not sure if it will answer. Let’s see.

The Living Artifact: An Open Letter/Invitation/Call for Help to the #rhizo15 Community

Dear #rhizo15 community,

You guys were an awesome curriculum. I need to thank you all for helping me to put some structure around what I have long considered the natural way that I learn. That may sound really strange – the rhizome as a form of structure – but all of those metaphors, memes, arguments, conversations, contradictions, challenges, questions, cartoons, music, etc. were like a solid example of the way that I try to make connections in learning. I think that most people do but I am just speaking of my own experience here. As I consider the last prompt I had to start with a thank you to all of you from me as the individual.

Now on to my response to the prompt –

Dave, in the last challenge you asked us “What would you say, do, show, explain to a colleague about the rhizome to explain it to them?

I’m not sure if the rhizome can be made intelligible by saying or explaining.

I think that we may have better luck with showing and doing.

A few times a term (but at least in the summer) I try to get the faculty at my home university to do a book discussion together. It is a great success for some reason, getting better attendance than any of my other workshops.

This year I settled on Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom will Improve Student Learning by Jose Antonio Bowen. Several of my faculty have recommended it in the past and though I have not done a deep read of the book I have gotten into it enough to find some of the arguments compelling for conversation.

Again “What would you say, do, show, explain to a colleague about the rhizome to explain it to them?

When I try to explain the rhizome I get some interesting looks from people. Maybe I’m just bad at explaining it but I think that maybe it is not something that can be explained by showing examples of what it was. Not that reflection is bad – please don’t take that from what I am saying. It is just that as a metaphor of something that is living it needs a living artifact to truly reflect it’s essence.

I wanted to offer my book group as a living artifact and see if I could get others to join. Besides opening it up to the faculty at my home university I approached the leadership of a group that I knew was looking to create some shared professional development between different local universities.  They loved the idea but what they did not love was the idea of doing it on the Internet open and free. They offered a closed LMS.

I said yes – I never want to leave anyone behind but I have been wondering… Can I still do something open, connected, rhizomatic, with this book group? Can I do it simultaneously with a face to face group and a closed online group? Can the face to face group and the closed online group be my colleagues that I am doing this explaining for and the open rhizomatic group be a living artifact of #rhizo15 that serves as a kind of explanation? They might get it – they might not.

Maybe I’m crazy.

I put out a tweet. Maha Sarah Honeychurch (the rhizome is so helpful I can’t keep up) connected me to Laura Gogia. We scheduled a hangout.

Laura, you blew my mind in about an hour listening to my ideas and talking to me about Twitter Journal Club, Connected Courses, Creative Makes… I had no idea so much was already going on. Whew. I’m still spinning after that conversation. I took notes but I should have taken better notes.

So, now here I am with this face to face book club and this closed online book club and what I want to know is if there is any interest in a rhizomatic moocified connected book club that is open?

We would not have to read the whole book right away – it could run over the summer and we could chunk it out.  We could do Twitter Chapter Chats based on the type of stuff that Laura is doing with the journal club (did I mention that I’m doing my first one of those in June) we could do some creative makes around interesting ideas from the book…

As #rhizo15 comes to an end everyone in the community will start working on other projects. If we take parts of our #rhizo15 experience and incorporate them into our new projects then they become living artifacts. My little book club will be a living artifact even if we are not able to moociify it… and that is okay. However, I think that it would be a great example to the other two communities that I am working with if I could even organize a few open conversations around the topics that they will be considering.

That is only one reason why I would like to do this – the other reason is somewhat selfish. I think that I learn more and learn deeper when I am getting more input and when I am able to make more connections. I think that creating this other layer to this experience will deepen it for me, that I will learn more, and that I take more away from it.

If you are interested in participating and can get your hands on the book leave a comment, send me a tweet, message me on facebook or g+ and I will gauge what kind of activities people are interested in…

If you have ever run a twitter chat, creative make, mooc, or connected course and you have ideas or would like to help me organize please reach out – I have virtually no experience in doing this.

Again, I want to thank the community for an amazing course.

Let me know,

Autumm

Is Rhizomatic Learning an Invasive Species? You Bet Your Sweet Ass It Is: The Wild vs the Civilized; A Serious Response in 4 parts

Part 1 – introduction

I get the impression that in some interactions around the Internet I have come off as being on the side of answering “No” to the question about if rhizomatic learning is invasive but please be assured that the jury is still out for me. I really am pretty agnostic in most things.

All of this talk about invasives made me think of a few years ago when MOOCs were all the buzz and everyone in higher ed was afraid that they were going to kill higher education as we know it. I felt more excitement than fear about MOOCs and I found myself participating in #EDCMOOC as well as the #moocmooc Moocification.

During #moocmooc I was prompted somehow to write up this Coyote myth about MOOCs. It’s silly and rereading it now I can see how my context as someone who persuades faculty and administrators that technology is not something to be afraid of but something to embrace, explore, and examine comes through as the main takeaway of the story. I was trying to show that MOOCs were not something that had to be feared but were a natural indicator of change to be embraced.

Rereading the comments I realized that Scott Johnson (who I have gotten to know and appreciate a little better here in #rhizo15 through several enlightening conversations) provided an eloquent rebuttal with his badger myth.  Scott showed the other side of this where nothing really changes because the administration is so steeped in tradition.

What happens when the wild bumps up against the civilized? When the trickster runs through the hallowed halls screaming “Silence!!!” giggling and jumping all the while?

Part 2 – definitions

To be able to do this I feel that I need to set two definitions for myself. 1. what is an invasive species and 2. what is rhizomatic learning?

As far as I can tell there are several factors that are often considered in defining an invasive species:

  1. That it is foreign – though this is up in the air sometimes
  2. That it is harmful to humans
  3. That it grows and grows and grows never ending and taking over

I hedge in defining rhizomatic learning only because I heard the words “rhizomatic learning” for the first time a few months ago. It seems to have a philosophical base with Deleuze and Guattari but I have yet to even get to that (damn you Ernest Becker).

When I first entered #rhizo15 I noted that it reminded me of some nomadic traveling that I did in my youth; moving from town to village not really sure where I was going to next. At the time, I had not read Dave Cormier’s thoughts on rhizomatic learning nor had I heard some of the other voices using this metaphor – it just felt the same, being in the course, as when I was a nomad. It seems like a very natural way of learning – maybe a reflection of how people naturally learn without schools or structure of any kind.

So, at least for the purposes of this post, I will be working with rhizomatic learning as I understand it as:

  1. Learning in the wild
  2. Learning from connections – branching, forking, splitting, hacking and the like
  3. Learning as a natural creative chaotic process

Part 3 – contrast and compare

Okay so now that I have laid some ground work in terms of what each of these two things are lets do some comparisons:

Invasives are foreign 

If rhizomatic learning is a kind of natural learning that is outside of structured learning I suppose it can be perceived as foreign in a structured environment.

Invasives are harmful to humans

Again, outside of it’s natural setting (in the wild) I can see how those that rely on structured learning could see rhizomatic learning as being harmful.

Invasives grow and grow out of control, never ending, and take over

Here is where my limited knowledge really does hold me back. My gut tells me that the rhizome must die – eventually. I suppose I am getting this from my experience as a nomad – the journey is filled with endings – new beginnings yes – but beginnings don’t exist without endings and to focus only on those beginnings just feels hollow to me.  But everyone that has more experience than me with rhizomatic learning (well… those who will even entertain this notion at all) swears that the rhizome does not die… it just goes on and on and on and on…

When trying to discuss this sometimes I feel like this guy

It doesn’t help that my name is Autumm which is very close to Autumn and if thought of metaphorically…

I wonder if the invasive rhizome ever feels this way?

Part 4 – conclusion

So, the thing about invasives that I find interesting is that their identification is so subjective. It has a lot to do with bias and fear. It has a lot to do with what is harmful. But I think it is true that Sometimes Invasive Species are Good.

Is rhizomatic learning invasive? You bet your sweet ass it is. But an invasive is only given that label because someone has deemed it to be foreign, harmful, and immortal. I think that in the larger scheme all of these things are over exaggerations most of the time… however, a warning to any tower creatures that may have stumbled onto this post; invasives can be very dangerous if they find fertile soil outside of their natural environment.  But perhaps we need to check our own biases before we pour the weed killer too liberally.