The Online Teacher


A Web of #ETMOOC Connectedness

ragno_the_spider_with_a_simple_web_clip_art_20169#ETMOOC reflections on Rhizomatic Learning

Although I have to confess I haven’t had time to attend any #ETMOOC Webinars this week, my filters have enabled me to siphon off enough information to feel like I was actually present (thanks to recordings, blogs, Twitter, Google+, etc.). My RSS feed has directed me to some great readings, and more importantly, to some thought-provoking questions. I have witnessed the self-doubt of seasoned university educators (in no way indicative of weakness, but instead an attribute to their ability to self-evaluate in the desire to grow and pursue better learning experiences for their students), and the frustrations of others who are seemingly stuck in a workplace not keeping up with the integration that technology allows. However, here I sit in a web of #ETMOOC connectedness, learning through others.

What should we know about rhizomes and rhizomatic learning?

Rhizome: The plant 

  • A rhizome is a plant stem that grows horizontally under or along the ground and can produce new plants when it sends out roots and shoots from its nodes (i.e., ginger, irises).
  • If a rhizome is broken into pieces, each piece may generate a new plant.
  • As opposed to the organization of the root-tree system, a rhizome is a sprawling connectedness, with no beginning or end. Do you see the analogy?

The philosophical concept and rhizomatic learning

  • The philosophical term “rhizome”/“rhizomatic” was originally developed by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in their Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1972–1980) project.
  • Dave Cormier points out (Dave’s Educational Blog: Rhizomatic Learning – Why we teach?), “Rhizomatic Learning is a way of thinking about learning.” The rhizome is a kind of network that is “messy, unpredictable … and grows and spreads in strange ways.” The community is the curriculum and the syllabus the garden space in which the curriculum grows.
  • April Hayman states in #etmooc Rhizomatic Learning: “A community is a living breathing thing and so is learning (particularly in the sense of rhizomatic learning). You cannot force it, but if you do, like putting bamboo in a pot, you stunt its growth.”
  • Rosemary Powers states in Machines, revolutions and uncertainty: “Importantly, the conversation we had this week with Dave Cormmier about rhizomatic learning confirms for me that the real transformation in education isn’t about the technology, but the shared construction of knowledge and action that new technologies can facilitate.”

Making the connections

Just as rhizomes can spread and grow in unpredictable ways, we too can develop through reaching out and interacting with our community. We need to establish and grow trust, and through this, we can construct knowledge. By nurturing and expanding our personal learning networks and environments, and by allowing ourselves the freedom to ‘get messy,’ we will open ourselves up to learn and grow in a web of connectedness. However, will everybody’s experience be the same? My educated guess is no, because everybody learns in their own unique way, and the needs of individuals vary. Michelle Franz shared The Challenges to Connectivist Learning on Open Online Networks: Learning Experiences during a Massive Open Online Course. This article addresses the challenges to connectivist learning, including levels of learner autonomy, presence, and critical literacies required in active connectivist learning. However, these are discussions that warrant more time and depth, and MOOCs, like individuals, have their own unique set of characteristics. From my personal experience, since joining #ETMOOC, I have learned a considerable amount through a web of connections. This experience is beginning to translate to my workplace, thereby adding ‘action’ to the cycle of connectedness. As Glenn Hervieux has mentioned in his blog, in order for true change to occur, we need to effect a change in three dimensions; how we see, speak, and behave (Which came first, the chicken or the egg?). I look forward to continuing the ‘action’ and, indeed, learning from a steady stream (and sometimes flood) of information and discussion that now comes my way. Thank you #ETMOOC community for all the connections!