My autoethnography about rhizo14

I’ve to write another story about my experiences. Some participants are collaborating on an auto-ethnographical story and I want to support all research about MOOCs. Maha Bali is one of those active students and she asked for more information about my participation. So I decided to answer the questions:

Share your personal “story of rhizo14” in your own voice. You could freewrite, link to some of your blog posts, quote things you said on Twitter/facebook, or if you prefer a loose structure, you might like to consider some of the questions below:
a1. Comment on your reasons for joining #rhizo14,
a2. your level of participation and your experiences of the “course”.
b. Comment on your experiences of inclusion/exclusion in this community
c. Comment on how you are experiencing this MOOC, why or how it engages you, how you navigate it
d. Measures and perception of success??? “”measures of success and perception of the success of their learning.” Bentley et al., 2014

a1. Why I came in? I followed some people and I knew the idea of a connectivist course. Participating is normal to me. I follow the social and intellectual affordances of the internet all the time.

a2. My level of participation varied. During the first week this blog moved to this new address and I had no intention to write. I was not interested in the cheating debate, but I joined to the FB group and began to follow the Twitter hashtag #rhizo14. I started blogging during the second week. I declared my experiences and old and new connections in my post. I blogged two posts in week 4: Sense of virtual community in rhizo (8 comments) and  The community as the curriculum (10 comments). You can see that a community around my blog arose quickly. In week 5 I posted four times : Knowledge in interactive practice disciplines (5), Network as curriculum (2), Real or imagined community (15 comments). In my post “rhizo as a gathering place” I explored the visits to my blog and concluded that this is a European and ‘British global’ course, only 29% of the visits were new.  In week 6 I wrote about  My experiences during the rhizo14 and now I am writing another about the same topic. I used all my normal ways to participate: Twitter, FB group, Diigo, reading others’ blogs and commenting on them.

b. inclusion/exlusion in this community. I continue by telling which parts I ignored and why. I noticed interesting experiments with words and poetry but I did not want to participate because English is not my native language. I heard discussions around some names and cultures, music which I could not follow. That brings an experience about exclusion even it is not meant to be. This ‘culture’ increased into the end and I stopped writing. A good example is the new topic ‘Lunatics from asylum’ – not funny at all in my eyes. I don’t know the TV programmes or movies, from which that concept comes, and I do not care. I stopped following the FB group.

c. experiences. Dave Cormier said in his blog before the course had begun that to some people rhizo will

simply be an extension of your normal practice on the internet. You’ll find familiar faces who make references to previous learning events online, you already have web places from which you speak, and many of you are already familiar with the material.  I’ve been experimenting with online community style learning which I have called rhizomatic learning for about 10 years now.  A journey that will have different results for different people.

I am one of those people which are open to social and intellectual affordances of the internet all the time. This was not my ‘first love’ but one of many in my journey on the internet.

c. engagement I chose to handle the basic concepts network, community, tribe, crowd, curriculum, personal learning plan and network. I blogged and received comments and also commented on others’ blogs. Many participants had the similar interest.

c. No problems with navigation, P2PU was open without registration and I followed the course every week. I found the links to recordings somewhere (Twitter or FB threads).

d. measures of success. This is interesting. I have an intention to handle this in another post, but to put it short: some new names to recognize in the future. Three new names in FB including Dave. Many new Twitter contacts which began to go down 415-414-413-412-411 one per day when the course came to its end (and immediately up again when I started my following course). Some new devices or programs, Zeega to express the findings.

I try to embed here the presentation which Frances Bell has done. It is an excellent way to show the blogs and people behind them. And I am honoured to be one of them.


6 thoughts on “My autoethnography about rhizo14

  1. I didn’t follow #rhiz014, but a few people who did that course are also doing #FutureEd (a Coursera course with Cathy Davidson from Duke University). So there was some cross fertilisation. I was interested to read your comments about “exclusion”. Although we assume that open courses are accessible to anyone, participants can easily create barriers for others without being very conscious of what they are doing (what WE are doing — I can recognise myself here). If we really want to take advantage of the differences between participants (first language, country of origin, local cultural), we have to be more aware of what is going on. It takes some effort to pull back and observe what we are doing, and what is happening. I’m impressed with the success you have reported regarding your blog! For me, feeling involved in the conversation, even if it is just with a few people, is paramount. It’s not about the resources, it’s about mixing with other people, and about what gets created in real time, collaboratively. Like at a good dinner party.

  2. Hi Mark and thanks for the comment

    I wanted to write about my feelings of exclusion, because it seems to be a hidden aspect. The problem is that I don’t have words, because I really don’t know what is the cultural difference influencing there. It is not the age only or language only, but I cannot name it.

    I received feedback myself from a participant about my habit to use “we” and I added an edit description into that blog post. I have lived so long on the internet and assume that other people have the similar perspective. They don’t have.

    When I assess a course and my experiences during it, do I actually find the borders inside my mind: which parts I was able to participate and which not? My borders or barriers, same from year to year or changing …?

  3. Hi Heli,
    really enjoyed your rhizo14 posts exploring community. Was really interested to hear your experiences especially on exclusion too. There would definitely be a bias towards positive experiences in this type of autoethnographic research so it is excellent that you wrote about some of your less positive experiences – good to get some balance there.

    Can definitely see your point about language and culture -and have had these thoughts myself about some of these online learning experiences – yes, they are very heavily biased towards first world, western, English speaking cultures (and I guess this is to a large part due to the fact they tend to originate from such places). I have been involved in some of the poetry stuff – for me this was a form of writing that helped me to express complex thinking. I completely get that it is a form that makes it potentially difficult for others get involved in – even if English is your first language. I think really anyone who hasn’t done any poetry previously would likely feel a bit intimidated – and possibly excluded – from these activities. It’s another form of expression but like anything, if you’re not used to it, it’s hard to get into. And this is something I’m quite conscious of now that it’s become a more collaborative effort. How to invite others to participate in such things is something I’ve been thinking a fair bit about. And – like all that we have been discussing, there is no easy answer.

    Thank you for your thought provoking contributions, I really appreciate discussing things with someone older, wiser and more experienced – the contact with diverse people is one of the things I most value from these experiences.

  4. Thanks Tanya

    You got me think about poetry as
    ” a form of writing that helped me to express complex thinking”. I agree with you and I used to use poems and metaphors in my teaching and facilitating work.
    DS106 was a parallel course with rhizo – Mark mentioned FutureEd – so many of us are participating simultaneously in many courses and they have cross fertilization. This is fine but makes analysing influences more complicated.
    Thanks for your comments, you are very sensitive and open and easy to meet here. I have enjoyed discussions with you

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