Monday, May 25, 2015

Rhizomatic Learning - The Practical Guide

Well, it's week 6, the last week of #rhizo15 that Dave will host. The topic of this week brings us back to the original topic of this rMOOC: A practical guide for Rhizomatic Learning. It's hard to really come up with something that encompasses the meaning and approaches  to rhizomatic learning  - heck, I am only now starting to "understand" it and I've only been really thinking about it for 18 months.  Sure that was that brief exposure in Change11, but that almost doesn't exist in my mind.

I started off thinking that in #rhizo15 I would finally be able to read an engage with Deleuze & Guattari and their book a thousand plateaus, but that didn't quite happen. I was deep in the thick of it with my second doctoral course (end of first year, yay!) when the #rhizo15 started, then I was working on a #rhizo14-related project with fellow "classmates" from #rhizo14 on Actor-Network Theory, so I ended up starting to read Latour, and now we're at the end of of #rhizo15, so no D&G this year.  Oh well. Foiled Again! ;-) I do wonder who engaged with D&G in #rhizoDG this year - maybe Aras knows!

So, what would I tell someone about teaching rhizomatically?  I would say that first you'd start with a topic and let your learners explore the topic.  Engage in it but don't be preachy.  Also, design your course so that there are a few weeks left at the end where the "lunatics" can run the asylum, sort of like how we did in #rhizo14.  I think that two of the bigger hurdles in implementing rhizomatic learning in higher education are the following:
  • How do learners "cope" or deal with their new-found "freedom". Many learners expect to be lead, sort of like that Lisa Simpson GIF that was posted early on in #rhizo15.  How do you help learners acclimate to this "open" environment?  Also, how do you deal with preparing learners for this?  I think that it would not be a stretch to say that most people who made it through to the end of both #rhizo4 and #rhizo15 are people who are (at the very least) determined, curious, stubborn, and can deal with ambiguity (and some of them can have fun while doing this). Institutionalized learners don't necessarily have this (think 1984 Apple ad and people sitting in neat little rows). How do you prep learners for this "revolution"? It's not fair to them to dump them on the deep end of the pool.
  • How do you assess the learning that is happening in the course? I know that we have independent studies as examples of how to assess learners in an emerging environment, but how do you deal with 10-15 different assessments in a fair manner.  Is fairness or sameness something we should be striving for in a rhizome or not?  Are fairness and sameness the same?

In the end, no matter what the intention of the designer and the course instructor (Dave in this case), the rhizome will find its own way! It seems that the thing to train both learners and instructors is how to deal with uncertainty.
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