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.


2 thoughts on “Network as curriculum?

  1. Heli. Thank you for delving into the question that I am also tackling this week. For me, it is a foregone conclusion that the community is the curriculum (and the curriculum is the community), but I am trying to get a better understanding on the differences between a community and a network. Perhaps a community develops within a network — where ideas, poetry, art and laughter can be shared. The more we ‘chew’ on the idea, the closer we get to why it happens and what makes it work.

  2. Network describes living in the internet, connections are sparsely-knit and loosely-bound, I have got excellent links from your blog post but it does not mean that we meet every day. I used the description by Wellman, a famous sociologist in another post: he considered that we have direction to networks also in family life and other areas. This seems to be true in my country, Finland, but I am not sure about other, more emotional-based cultures (a new concept!).

    Many of our co-learners in rhizo14 have said that community is warm and network is cold. Networks are temporary connections for cognitive tasks.
    Something like that..

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