Rhizo14 in Sunlight and in Shade, part 3

I’ll continue with my reflections on the article by Jenny Mackness and Frances Bell (Open Praxis 1, 25-38). The research article is close to my own interests to follow learning in open MOOCs and I know the researchers and appreciate their aim to get deeper insight into open online learning: What is going beneath the surface? Perhaps this article will be remembered for its results concerning the light and dark sides of participants’ experiences and the ethical implications around this issue. So I think that I have to handle this theme here in my blog.

My orientation comes from psychology and I interpret the happenings in Rhizo14 as usual interaction problems between people who have different expectations. I commented immediately when the worst (?) misunderstanding influenced the atmosphere in the course. What is an attack or what is honest feedback? This question is still unresolved and people speak passing different opinions while following only their own truth. Jenny comments in her blog (March 5 Light and Schade)

But the paper seems, for some readers, to have further polarized discussion about the learning experience in Rhizo14, making the light and shade even more obvious and oppositional than it was before. An emerging light for me is that some of the issues that were raised by the paper are being discussed, which is surely a better outcome than the paper being ignored.

My opinion is that the principles of connectivism are ideals or dreams of what human interaction were at its best. People are not autonomous, they live in the prison of their own mind and life history. They are defensive and only partly conscious about their needs. When one man is facilitating an open course for hundreds of participants, he is seen as a guru, a father, an enemy or whatever. Very few people are interested in what he really says and what are his aims. When I read my own blog about Rhizo14 times yesterday I found these comments useful: Jaap Febr 4 2014

.. rhizo people do share a culture? Inhabitants of that global village recognizing some shared interest. Nobody ever uses the Global Village any more.
Dave Cormier is an artist, his questions are more and more stupid and yet most people stay in the course and try to answer. Does that make the rhizo course a kind of congregation?

Another comment that touched me was Simon Ensor’s saying that he participates in Rhizo in an affinity space. That could be a key for deeper interpretations.

There is plenty of research about human interaction in open courses. Mariana Funes mentioned T-groups in her blog post. They were called Sensitivity Training groups in Finland when I brought the idea to the university education for psychologists. The frame was social psychology and all the concepts were well grounded in both social sciences and practice. The process and its phases are well-known psychological knowledge:
1. positive (fall in love) and careful (inner control by participants)
2. incident (I had to use dictionary and learned that incident has a negative connotation)
3. emotional stir up > after that people know each other better and the atmosphere changes, more commitment and identification with the group
4. new level of trust and better collaboration etc.
Shortly said: forming> storming> norming> performing> mourning.
BUT if we are a crowd or network or tribe or whatever is the new concept which describes cMOOCs – we should have new concepts for the process – or do we deny the process and “just network”. Do we need new ethics for free networking?

I have lost my focus on what I intended to say today, but
I want to end this post with a EdTechTalk video about The ethics of innovation in education.

Rhizo14 in Sunlight and in Shade, part 2

I’ll continue with the theme which I began in the previous post. I will try to find answers to the question: what do I learn about the newest research article by Jenny Mackness and Frances Bell. I chose my line in the previous post: I copied the open survey questions and the reported results as positive (sunlight) or dark or negative (shadow) sides of participants’ experiences. I told that this is a normal situation in any massive courses, how else could it be? Many love, some hate and most people are between. I consider these results as some kind of side effects, very obvious and simple as such.

I am more interested in the content of the answers. The first three begin with “How does the image of rhizome relate to” and continues “prior experience of teaching/ learning (1) or learning in Rhizo13 (2) or future pracice (3). The questions are relevant of course but for instance I could not answer them although I had participated actively and blogged many posts. I do not understand how that image could help me in my learning or teaching. I told this to the researchers and they tempted me to answer the 4th, totally open question about my experiences. So I did, because I always support research about MOOCs.

I didn’t find my original answers from my computer but I am wondering if I can interpret my experiences as positive or negative. It is both as always. I learned what I wanted and my interest didn’t die even it didn’t focus on rhizomatic thinking. The researches mention on the page 31 that the principles of Deleuze and Quattari were not discussed but nevertheless influential in the way the course was designed and experienced.

I suppose that other participants could answer better than me and I should like to know what is the meaning of this sentence: “For some the course promoted deep or wide learning, was transformational and had a positive impact on classroom practice” (p. 32). Perhaps explanations will come in the next article, I can wait. I am writing in order to find my own thoughts.

Is there a hidden belief that Rhizo14 offered some quite new or revolutionary pedagogy in the history of pedagogy? What if a participant has lived in the middle of similar experiment for many decades? People have a tendency to love what they do and appreciate the courses in which they participate. It is a group process with known dynamics which makes people happy for some time, nothing wrong with it. But it not all learning. It would be a theme of a new research to follow for instance happenings in the FB Rhizo group. It is still alive but why and for which purposes?

Ethical implications are still lacking here, even they are the focus of the article which I have handled. So I’ll have to write more some day. Thanks to Jenny, Frances and Mariana for getting me and Simon Ensor to comment!

Rhizo14 in Sunlight and in Shade

Jenny Mackness and Frances Bell have published findings from Rhizo14 in Open Praxis, vol 7, issue 1, Jan-March 2015, pp. 25-38. The title of the article is “Rhizo14: A Rhizomatic Learning cMOOC in Sunlight and in Shade”. I have written about their research earlier and I was very interested in reading this publication. What is new, are there any deeper interpretations about learning in cMOOCs?

First I’ll refer to the data collection and the main results. The main data consisted of answers to four open questions in open Survey Monkey. The questions were as follows:

  1. How does the image of a rhizome relate to your prior experience of teaching, learning?
  2. How does the image of a rhizome relate to your experience of learning during Rhizo14?
  3. How might the image of a rhizome represent your future practice?
  4. If the above questions did not allow you to fully explain your learning experience in Rhizo14, then please comment in the box below on those aspects of the course which were significant for you, and what kept you in the course or caused you to leave early.

Following this initial survey – they got 47 answers -the researchers sent further questions by email to 35 survey respondents who agreed to receive these followup questions. The final stage of data collection was a Skype interview with Dave Cormier, convener of the Rhizo14. And then the results (p. 31) :

For many participants Rhizo14 was a very positive experience. They valued the metaphor of the rhizome for teaching and learning. It gave a new way of framing education, exploring education and thinking about education. (A long list of adjectives which I can’t follow 🙂 ). These participants valued the lack of a centre = the lack of traditional tutoring and the lack of prescribed content. They valued the high emphasis of learner autonomy, self-organization and handing over control to learners. The course was experienced as a spirit of exploration, openness and experimentation. These were thought to be important aspects of Rhizo14. The Facebook group was active also after the official course time and this was the light side of Rhizo14 (page 32). The majority of survey results were positive.

There was also a dark side for those participants who did not feel connected and could not find a voice in the community. They felt isolated, They felt unable to make meaningful connections despite in some cases being experienced MOOCers.

  • One viewed the emphasis on community as an unnecessary pressure, which led to artificial effects, exclusion and limited learning.
  • Another viewed the community as disjointed networks of pre-established subgroups.
  • Another described the community as having a dark edge.

These participants felt that there was a lack of appropriate facilitation, and there were inappropriate exhibitions of power and politics in the course. Some felt that the course was based on weak philosophical foundations and that the rhizome was an empty signifier, Some questioned the lack of content and felt that the course lacked depth and theoretical discussion (and many adjectives again which I can’t follow).

This was a short summary of what I consider as essential results in the article. I agree with the researchers that it was valuable to get some descriptions about the dark side of MOOC learning. Usually those participants leave the courses without telling more about their experiences. The positive side of learning communities is so well known that I suppose educational researchers are tired of reading praises of the pedagogy which the researcher supports him/herself. They are mostly pseudo-science more like religious confessions.

My orientation differs in some parts of the article. I do not think that Rhizo14 is an exceptional pedagogy or a new experiment. I think that the internet is the experiment in which we all are taking part. The background of the research could consist of the developers of the free internet and describe the Rhizo14 as part of this continuum. Dave Cormier began with Jeff Lebow in the year 2005 or so and they have proved that interaction can really work. The roots of pedagogy in the free internet are very old and well-known in the history of educational sciences and practices as well as politics demanding democracy.

I am not sure what is the value of connectivism. It is a list of good principles or aims – and those can be easily forgotten in praxis. I don’t believe that the differences between c and x MOOCs are true. There is political discussion between the free individuals versus all institutions. The world of education is not so simple.

What else could I say to the researchers? There is no need to excuse the number of responses when  you have 47 participants who write to your quite open questions. The data is always partial, it is never complete. The research aims to find qualitative differences, not quantitative numbers. I had a feeling that you excused also the results about the dark side of Rhizo14 (even you told that it aroused your attention). You are so deeply engaged in developing cMOOCs that you want to be closer to the positive side of your results 🙂

How to dive deeper into the qualitative data? The human consciousness of the participants is limited and the ways to illustrate own thoughts or feelings are partial if I use the concept you used describing the data. I can see that some of the descriptions of the  dark side used psychological concepts but those concepts are not well known. We speak about autonomous learning but we cannot be autonomous …

Now I am so tired of using this language that I have to take a break …


E-learning community around #edcmooc

The third edcmooc is nearing its end now. I tried to get a grip of the facilitating process during this MOOC. It was not easy and perhaps I have to stop trying. Edcmooc is a process itself and it is not easy to separate between different realisations. The process of becoming a Community Teaching Assistant has been described already in this fabulous story.  I have nothing to add.

Facilitating random people in #edcmooc

My purpose is  to continue my discussion about network facilitation. During the last weeks I have tried to do some facilitating operations 🙂 in edcmooc. We have a lot of people there and they come from 154 countries and and I cannot imagine their motivations or interests.  I use my photo of a tree which grows by developing branches to many directions. It could be a metaphor of edcmooc.

CTAworkThere are numerous little groups in the discussion forums or around the blogs. The members move from one group to another following their own interests.

The main groups could be for instance interest to teach better or interest to develop games or understand future perspectives or …

It is called identity-based interest which is rather permanent in adulthood. Some people may follow their friends and have human bond -based orientation. Depending on their educational background participants may have academical interests or very practical ones. This description illustrates my header facilitating random people. I cannot know whom I help or confuse more in this complex emerging environment.

How to model networked learning through openness, transparency of my thinking and connecting with others?  It is experiential, and to truly understand the power of networked learning and openness, students need to participate in a highly collaborative connected culture.  So create successful learning environment for needed experiences.

Could gamification help us to develop random facilitation? Here is what Tarmo Toikkanen says in his blog.

As people find the course, they need to be onboarded. They don’t yet know if they are interested, so it needs to be immediately obvious what the benefits might be and how to start. As people sign up for the course, the scaffolding phase begins. Its goal is to minimize the time that people feel they are not really productive or understanding what’s going on. Some have called this unhappy period the suck phase (since it sucks to do that). So the suck phase needs to be minimized by providing various scaffolding, support, tips, aids, and help, so that people can quickly become familiar and productive with the course and start gaining new knowledge and understanding. After this, the course needs to make it clear how students can achieve mastery, meaning in this case how they can complete the course, excel in it, and even go beyond the minimum results.

I also liked the Different people, different ways of fun – paragraph in the same blog. Some people want hard fun and some easy fun, some serious fun and still one: people fun. There is a flower image describing these options. So, what are you seeking for in edcmooc? What about the quality of scaffolding? It cannot be quite clear and work similarly for all participants. The facilitators are not robots or are we? Is there any difference between human and robotic tutelage? Do we sometimes work in a Teacherbot-like-manner? We copy the guides from the navigation side and say: Yes you can. Yes you may. Be brave and just do it. When a human says it, it is human 🙂

One point which I consider important is recognising the critical moments in one’s learning. This is Christine’s comment in a discussion forum. I copy it because I can trust her words more than my English.

There are quite a lot of things I don’t get, and only some that I feel inclined to want to know about. That point comes, I think, when there is a good reason to want to. So before that it’s probably important to have exposure to some technologies that you’re never going to use; when a desire to use a particular form comes up, at least you may have heard of it.

The trick is not to let it make you feel inadequate. I now recognise that feeling when it starts to arrive, and have learned to talk myself out of it and live with some uncertainty and ‘messiness’. Things will unravel and then can be pulled back together.

Those sentences help me to calm down and continue my random facilitation 🙂 Thanks


Facilitating #edcmooc

Elearning and Digital Cultures, EDCMOOC, is taking place for the third time. And I am there, participating again. I was very pleased when Christine Sinclair sent me an email and asked if I could act as a Community Teaching Assistant, CTA, this time. Her request was easy to accept because  I had enjoyed the course very deeply. I recognised there similar pedagogy which I had developed while working as an online teacher. I felt at home there.

Another CTA, Rajiv Bajaj, gives basic information about the participants in his blog post ‘interesting statistics‘. The course is really global, 35 percent of the participants coming from emergent countries and the number of countries is over 150. The education background varies from none to doctors. Participants’ interests vary more than I can imagine.

The curriculum is open and participants choose what to do. Materials are offered for every week with varying themes and discussion forums are in use. Writing blogs were recommended and the course has its own Twitter hashtag. Blogs are aggregated into daily News. For voluntary image competition the course uses Flickr. The studies are distributed and not followable, choosing one’s own way is the key. What can facilitating be in these circumstances? I can answer only partly. Directs questions for help can be answered or commented and CTAs are needed to help in the Hangouts.

But what could be real facilitating on a mooc like this? Christine has published a blog post about ‘who is the teacher?‘ and she gives an answer: teacher cares about the participants, teacher cares what happens during the course. The post is written for the first edcmooc, but it still helps in a similar way. The expert can say it shortly. The students do the work and they understand that so it must go. Peer learning is very important. The participants who register into edcmooc already know very much about the learning process during MOOCs.

What can be said about networked mentoring?
The term is young and its definition will probably evolve as what we do becomes fleshed out through action. For me this is my third time working as an Expert participant, Teaching assistant and now Community TA.  It is possible to define that  network mentoring means the direct and indirect support of individual in their learning through the affordances made available through networking technologies.

More specific examples are listed below (this was begun in some mooc, I copied from Google Drive creative commons)
1. Write blog comments.  Check regularly the aggregated posts. Comment on individual student posts.  You can provide students with rich feedback and a richer sense of audience (I hope I could 🙂 )  If you blog yourself, add its feeds to the reader so that others can find it.
2. G+ community. Feel free to join this space. We invite you to share links and resources in this space, lead or reply to discussion topics, answer students’ questions,  participate in impromptu Hangouts or act in other ways to support the learning of students and the entire community
3. Hangout or Blackboard. Help the instructors to find students’ needs. I left this to the other CTAs who are much more skillful in technological issues and quicker in speaking and understanding English
4. Twitter #edcmooc, please monitor, engage in converstations with participants, share links and resources, offer support when possible. To do it efficiently you may consider apps such as Tweetdeck  which allow close monitoring of hashtags. Rajiv recommended this.
5. other ideas: create screencasts, videos or other media that might assist in a student’s learning generally or to answer specific questions. You could post these to the G+ community or Twitter.  Create your own blog and participate in course assignments, reflect on weekly sessions and or share resources. Curate content  in other tools (Diigo).

The previous text is more like a to-do-list. Actually it is similar to the course guides given to all participants and many experienced students fill these recommendations without being named as CTAs.

I am most interested in the last guide which is as follows:

In general, model networked learning through openness, transparency of your thinking and connecting with others, This process is experiential and to truly understand the power of networked learning and openness students need to participate in a highly collaborative connected culture.  Create successful learning environment for learning.

If I could do that I could have the identity of a network facilitator. I began my work by conceptualising human presence in the previous post (and many others actually) but it is challenging to go further. Coursera’s guidelines for responding to students are obvious to experienced teachers but they had one good point: Engaging students on questions that leverage your strengths or speak to your personal interests will make your time as a CTA much more enjoyable. Perhaps I have been too cautious this time and only followed the discussions, been afraid of speaking about my interests. I am – as licentiate in psychology- very conscious about this advice:  “feed the community, not your ego”.


This post is long and I feel tired of using the English language, I must go to the kitchen for lunch. Have a good day!

Please take a cup of coffee. This mug is my daughter’s – she sent it into Facebook morning coffee conversations today and I got the permission to use it.

Mug humour is something which we will remember  #edcmooc3 – and Whitney Farmer’s parrot taking away her earring in the first Hangout.


Human online presence in #edcmooc

Reasserting human is the theme of week 3 in edcmooc. I am interested in the different ways of being present on the internet,  not only technologies used but human interaction. This post copies some ideas of my blog post a year ago when the first edcmooc began.

What are the different ways of human presence in purely online-held courses? I have a personal history of working as an online facilitator and I had a feeling about being closer to my adult students online than f2f. I am convinced that human presence is possible online, but it is not easy to define. I’ll try now to tell shortly about my findings. I have a feeling that edcmooc is similar with my own way of facilitating adult students’ learning. I worked to the end of the year 2009 at teacher education and I’ve participated in many online courses or communities after that.

Dialogical space is a necessary condition and facilitators have a role in creating it. Dialogical space is safe and supporting, creative and challenging. It is the atmosphere in which everyone wants to do his/her best and enjoys the work. Presence can be described in many ways and the parts are connected to each other.

Dia2Facilitating presence includes all actions which help the students to learn. I’ve used the concept “didactical” but it is not used in English and “pedagogical” does not sound good, so I chose the term facilitating presence. Mentoring and tutoring are near concepts.

Emotional presence is very challenging and interesting to define. The teacher must be personal, it is not good to hide one’s personality. It is good to locate oneself in some ways. In an online  course we took photos about ourselves in a Hangout situation. We could see that we are human beings (with much technology 🙂 ). Emotional connections are between people but also toward online studies. It is good to share problems and solutions and be anxious together. And to build up community humour when it is possible. This all means “being human”.

Cognitive presence is easy to understand, but also it is complex in practice. We have a duty to disturb our students intellectually, said someone in edcmooc. It is good to avoid direct guiding , and better to support students as they find their way. The general guide lines must be clear, but thinking and assessing is students’ work, not only teachers’ job.

When the community reaches a dialogical state and finds its own working habits, every  comment is also a component in the shared dialogue and new connections are found. It is emergent learning, every participant is learning and creating. In edcmooc the photo “competition” in week 3 supports this side of studies, otherwise it could be too serious. The community builds up  it own curriculum, and everyone may participate in this process.

I took a short glimpse at other theorists in this field. I remember Terry Anderson and the many research groups, who were working on this theme in 2006-2007. This image integrates the basic concepts of  Anderson’s presentation.

Dia1In the middle of the diagram is educational experience. In this image Social presence includes emotional presence. Setting climate connects social presence and teaching presence. Supporting the discourse combines social and cognitive presence. Teaching presence means also selecting and recommending the content.

I like the concept of triggering event, it describes the dynamics of learning. Sense of community is another important concept. Otherwise studies can be only external performance. I am myself very sensitive to the atmosphere.

I return back to edcmooc again. Professor Fuller links his talk to our key theme of re-asserting the human. His stance seems to be that ‘you can only be morally credible’ if you are addressing issues of human freedom and equality. Thinking about education specifically, we might see MOOCs as an example of an ‘old humanistic project’, particularly in the promise they appear to offer for democratisation, equality of access and so on? I wanted to say that the humanistic project is possible in certain conditions.

Often the question about online teaching is that what it is lacking concerning human communication. The solution is in offering videos in which the teachers can be seen.  I think that in edcmooc the Hangouts bring the facilitators near us, they are personally present and they have fun as a team, but the most important thing is the atmosphere of equality and enthusiasm all over the studies. We understand elearning and digital cultures from this perspective. We are studying with our facilitators without any hierarchy. This is my view, how about yours?

Growing Old Around the Globe

I’ve just received my certificate from Penn (University of Pennsylvania) for the course Growing Old Around the Globe. I was interested in the topic and I had a lot of knowledge about it. I thought that I’ll watch some of the lectures and follow the discussion forums a little. But actually I watched all the video lectures and did all the assignments and wrote all the feedback which was needed. The lectures were interesting and well implemented (they were discussions actually) but the course became international through the peer interaction in the assignments. I loved the way the facilitators  guided us to work: first a source (video, image, poem, link or whatever) and then a short argumentation according to the choice. It was very easy and enjoyable. It was allowed to give full points to everyone, no demands of a normal curve.

oldgpieniThe most important thing  for me was to find my own thoughts concerning the theme Growing Old. I have knowledge and I got more information during the course, but I had to connect my experiences and my private life with my thoughts. The process opened my eyes. I became aware about my ideas at this moment. I loved the peer feedback from all over the world. If I told that I live in Finland, I got feedback about living in the Scandinavian countries. It is important that feedback is anonymous and that’s why I used examples from my private life more than ever. Growing old is a very personal experience. Of course we handled all the possible levels of ageing as well, but the personal level touched me the most.

The best surprise concerning the feedback was that my peer students understood me so perfectly. I did not expect it, because the assignments were short cuts of my life and my thoughts. I could see myself  in their feedback and I wonder how well they followed my presentations. My style is very personal and original and I hesitated over my choices, but everything went just as I wanted. I received full points for every task, but the understanding in the peer feedback was the real prize. There were 8900 students from 143 countries and the course was open to everyone. How is it possible that all my reviewers could follow me? It is a mystery 🙂

The course was designed very wisely and it worked well. I did much more than I intended. Thanks to Sarah Kagan and Anne Shoemaker and all the guest experts. Growing old around the globe is a theme which must be worked on and shared continuously and you showed the way forward in the last webcast. We have the Facebook group and many other networks in use. All these aren’t made for the old, they are planned with us old people. So we will use them.

My experiences during rhizo14

I’ve been away one week and it is a long time. I’ve missed the last week of rhizo. I watched the last recording and I could see many happy participants there. To me this experience is like many other MOOCs which have been working well. I was not very active, I wrote eight posts and some comments, got three new FB friends and about ten new Twitter connections. I’ll follow some blogs after the course.

These were  my thoughts before the beginning of rhizo:  “How to participate in this international world? I’ve some circles of friends here and there and – after deciding not to participate in any course – I have noticed that many of my friends began the course “Rhizomatic Learning” run by Dave Cormier. I am a member of the FB group “Rhizo14” already and read enthusiastic writings by many people which I’ve met in previous courses. So, what to do? Perhaps I must get acquainted with the course programme and participate those weeks which are immersive enough. The real reason for participation are the people, anyway, I trust their capacity to interact with the co-learners. I follow people, not topics. It is a waste of time to ponder about my aims or interests, I’ll find them only by participating.”

I was interested in the question what makes online communities work. My post  ‘sense of virtual community’ is one of my favourite. So what can I tell about rhizo?  I met the old friends (Frances, Jenny, Jaap, Matthias)  and some new. I don’t mention their names, because I don’t remember everyone just now.  I was interested in some names which I lost soon. Why some connections continue and others not?  Time available is one factor, but there are differences in sensitiveness and openness. The facilitator’s behavior can influence more than other participants. I had seen Dave earlier in many situations and I admire how authentic he is in front of the camera. He is capable of interacting and listening to others. I could see this happening in the last hangout, he kept in the background and gave the space to others. Earlier on the course there was one silly comment from Dave to an experienced participant and I was very disappointed. Dave apologised openly so many times that I’ve had  to forgive him for that event. We are all human beings and make mistakes (a good model if I want to see it as such).

Rhizo is an experiment about totally personal curricula with a power shift to the participants. There must be many curricula in the course and mine is far from the normal one. I didn’t follow the weekly topics as most participants seemed to do. I did not open my heart to rhizomatic learning, I have no reason to study what those guys have said. So perhaps I am a test for personal learning plan (PLP). I wanted to learn about random learning online, what are the signs about virtual community or network. How to interpret the changing events?

The core concept in developing a course must be interaction. It is easy to build connections with like-minded people. It strengthens and sharpens the mind and the will. I remember Frances’ words about me: wise and strong. In rhizo we lived in the middle of self-made abundance. There is a tendency toward surface communication. Perhaps I should stop my serious pondering and say as Viplav in his blog: Dave is our Elvis. We lived in a Dave Cormier fan club some weeks and it was soo fuun. The event may end, but online learning in MOOCs and conferences continues. Viplav said: “A course is just a plot device to get people together, to communicate, to interact, to take part in this common exercise. And in this common exercise our connection between each other and our connections inside ourselves will be exercised, will be increased, augmented, developed — and we learn.” Show must go on …

Network as curriculum?

Now I want to follow my thoughts about the difference between community and network. These concepts have different roots as far as I can follow them. Community includes more psychological knowledge, people are acting in them and and building relationships with each other. A community may be healthy or communication models inside it can be distorted and they can even be called sick. Network is often described using mathematical models. Networks have nodes and connections etc. You have to know the network theory in order to be up-to-date. If you know only communities, you may be old-fashioned. In other words: the community research is old and run by psychologists. The network research is newer and run my mathematical geniuses and young male nerds. I am reading Barabasi LINKED: The New Science of Networks, so don’t blame me about my old knowledge base. 🙂

Communities include all psychological possibilities in them. They can provoke creativity or inhibition, they may be open or divided in small groups. Networks vary between centralised or distributed. It is not a coincidence that in rhizo14 we have community as curriculum. Simultaneously we have some properties of the network tradition.  It means that participants are equal when it comes  to collaborating, producing and sharing content. It also means that we are responsible for the events in the atmosphere or  human relations or whatever. We can try to make the course better, both its content and its working.

Social self-organisation is the concept used on the internet about crowds or networks without a leader: it is a functional model for temporary collective action and collaboration. I have many times been wondering if it is possible. Birds can fly coordinated in a crowd and I’ve had the same feeling in the London Underground when crossing crowds meet without touching each other. But I haven’t seen or experienced self-organisation taken place in complex mental solutions. I have seen fan clubs building up (do we have a Dave Cormier fan club in rhizo14?) Our communication tools lead to defining followers and following people, we get the numbers every day. It is good to be popular.

The tradition in self-organisation has found that  it needs something or someone to coordinate and facilitate:  an anchor (topic) and the organiser (P2P) and leader (Dave), and the tools for sharing and conversations. My conclusion after pondering the rhizo community is that we have many experienced moocers, who are willing to try to implement the idea of shared responsibility in community as curriculum, we are ready to take the power 🙂 Many bloggers have been working on this theme. I copy here some of my favorites, Tanya and Francess, they have better English than me and I can rest a moment when I let them speak.

.. the interaction and conversations have been primarily driven by the participants’ various interests and interpretation of Dave’s ‘questions’ (or thought prompts, if you like). Aside from topic, and these weekly prompts, there really isn’t much else directing what happens, so it becomes up to us. And there is a huge variety of interests and lines of thinking that people choose to pursue. Even discussions in blog posts tend to evolve and morph into directions that may stray from the original post. There’s no explicit ‘goal’ or ‘task’ to complete or focus on that might otherwise lead us to form more tightly focused collaborative groupings. Thus we wander looking for threads of interest, and finding connections along the way. So are we really a ‘community’, or just a network of …
.. the weekly tasks may be shaping the community (and hence the curriculum). I am finding them difficult to interpret, and increasingly samey. .. there is a danger of us getting stuck in polarisations of ideas when what we are trying to make sense of a happening which is much more complicated than that. This ties in with what Tanya says here about community. .. we can also shape the curriculum ourselves if we are honest and tough with civility.

Frances 2. This is copied from her former blog post:

Rhizomatic learning  is the subject of our MOOC,  we could be influenced by what Dave puts in the P2PU space or by agents who promote or suppress topics.  This has significant implications for the ‘community is the curriculum’ – the curriculum can become a site of struggle within the community.
Rhizomatic thinking encourages connections between people with different ‘knowledge’. We all have our own rhizo 14 as we try to navigate the dense forest of posts, links, comments. I am not disappointed as I was never looking for pure theory posts but rather applications of ideas to practice accompanied by dialogue. Some of these ideas might be framed by other people’s ideas (that we could call theories), some might be stories . If none related to rhizomatic thinking/learning I would be surprised. Anyway, I am neither surprised nor disappointed in this respect as I am seeing a lot dialogue where people are listening and talking without defining themselves as one thing or another unless it is relevant to what they are talking about.

I enjoy that description of the happenings in rhizo. This is a creative process.Yesterday I found Maureen’s blog and today Maha Bali told her story. It is not possible to describe everything what is happening in the course.

I add only one source because this post is too long already. Terry Elliot mentioned a video of John Cleese about creativity: a deep dive to the creative mindset. I watched it (36 min) and agreed with its conclusions. Creativity is not a talent but way of operating with playful, open mood. Creativity needs space, time (period), time (enough, no hurry), confidence and humour. Do we have these in rhizo14? Time is lacking but we have shared humour a lot. I noticed many creative headings for this week in the Facebook : World of Warcraft is curriculum by Simon Ensor, Consumity is curriculum (Simon again). Playing as Homo Ludens – do we take the time for it? I have a feeling that we should take better care about pedagogy and not only praise the abundance which prevents learning.

Should I add the links to the comments or blogs which I mentioned? I have become lazy with the links, they may stop working and I speak to a certain community where the people can be found.