Open online learning in this blog during rhizo14

The assessment process is going on in the rhizo14 uncourse. It would be most popular to make a Zeega with music and rapidly changing images. Digital culture offers great new possibilities and learning is complex: so we need new artistic media. I’ve nothing against that direction but this time I’ll follow my old style and try to combine practice with theoretical concepts. I try to describe what happened in this blog when we tried to understand learning in our uncourse. My interest was to understand the conditions for well-working online community. I blogged and some old and new friends came to comment on my posts.

My first post in Jan 29th ended in some kind of hype: we have a possibility to create something quite undone earlier in online communities. Jaap understood me at once and was ready to continue. That clumsy sentence meant that I had a hunch about something new, I could not explain what and why, but there were possibilities in the air.

My way was to continue with scientific concepts which could help us in understanding our doings. Actually Jaap had written a post about roles of participants first. Sense of virtual community was my post on Febr 4th and I used a short slideshare of a Finnish researcher Miia Kosonen. In this post I offered some basic concepts to use in exploring in our participation. The comments of Jaap, Tanya, Mariana inspired me and I remembered also my earlier posts about a similar topic (bond or identity based commitment). Jaap gave me the concepts congregation and market, Tanya described her paths and gave me better English to use, Mariana handled power dynamics and choices of trust or not trust. I stepped from my social and cognitive psychology & sociology to the field of communication on the internet. I need a model for describing  the process, in which participants’ experiences meet the scientific concepts.

nonakaThis is a famous model about knowledge creation in innovative workplaces or projects, made by Nonaka and Takeuchi. I suppose that most of my blog’s readers know it and have used it in some contexts. This could still be a good model for understanding the learning events: how tacit knowledge is shared and externalised/ internalised and connected in new ways. The learning event has not changed, we can still use these concepts. A team was the concept used about the participants and it had similar ideas as a network has nowadays: there must be diversity and it must be used in the working process.

This blog received comments from Jaap, Sarah, Tanya, Mariana, Matthias, Frances, Jenny, Rita, Dave, Simon, Pat, Kathleen and Mark and some more in the Facebook. I referred to Apostolos, Ann, Maha, Maureen, Kevin, Viplav and Terry. My first idea was to write the names or faces of all the participants around the model, but soon I understood that it is not possible to put a name only in one place. The real interaction is too complex. (Or should it be a Prezi or Zeega to describe the process and its quick changes?) It was important to notice that people commented to each other, not only to my writings. I think Frances and Jenny were very good at this. They took the whole topic in her hands.

Everyone brought his/her voice into the learning process.  All the differences are valuable and can be used as a step in the spiral process.  It is a collaborative process open to people who want to bring their voices in participation. I don’t describe every post and every event in this process, that would sound boring even it is interesting in my mind. You can read the ten posts and make your own conclusion if you want. There are excellent links, which are worth opening. A rich material indeed.

What is success in this working process? To me it means that my understanding about online communities and learning in them has deepened. I have a feeling that I know these phenomena and the diversity inside them. I also see many borders in my understanding: for instance the participation funnel of open online courses could have been handled more and I have a hunch that it could explain the inclusion/exclusion phenomena. If we don’t see the exclusion process going on, we must be blind (or defensive actually). There are a lot of open questions and there will be more.

What were the emotionally touching moments during the course? I mentioned the enthusiasm with Jaap at the beginning of the course (to do something great, undone before this). It is a normal phase of a community building: get engaged> forming> storming> norming> performing> mourning.  The next emotionally touching event to me was Dave’s comment to Jenny in her blog and the FB group. I had to handle it in my blog “the community is the curriculum” and I could forgive the event after his apologies. How to handle the mistakes made during the process, it tells about the quality of interaction (authentic, honest vs pretended). It was a storming> norming phase simultaneously with working and collaborating.  Now I can see much emotional support in the FB group, when the course is ending and we have the mourning phase going on.

One happy fact still: I found a solution to my problem “how to find interesting books which I want to read”. I went to the local university library and learnt that anyone can borrow books there. I got a card and came home  with McLuhan and Rheingold and some other books. I can easily find the shelf of communication science and will visit there in the future. Perhaps this solution came to my mind when folks were pondering the connection between books and stupidity 🙂

I have often had a feeling of re-inventing the wheel. I have written better posts about similar topics some years ago. Here comes a slideshare from Vahid Masrour: Participation Spiral. I used it also in November 2010.



7 thoughts on “Open online learning in this blog during rhizo14

  1. I was interested in what you said about blog commenting ” It was important to notice that people commented to each other, not only to my writings. I think Frances and Jenny were very good at this. They took the whole topic in her hands.” As the weeks have gone on I have noticed that some deep conversations have developed around posts eg and I wondered if it was that as the conversation on FB died down a bit people were more motivated to go to blogs for conversation.
    It always saddened me a little to see comments on a blog post at Facebook rather than at the blog itself, as its very difficult to find these comments later.

    • Frances,
      thanks for the Clarissa links. I had read some of them but not all. Now I can see much norm-building into the artistic line during #rhizo14. Terry Elliot and Clarissa supporting his creative presentations – much support and Dave’s support gives a feeling that this is the real (or hidden) curriculum of rhizo.
      Clarissa’s story about her empowerment is something that always follows when learner-centered pedagogy is implemented. I love that story. I’ve supported hundreds of empowerment stories in teacher education and elsewhere. Always great, but not the first time in history. Clarissa lives in Brazil and opened the doors to South America (dancing festivals etc)
      I or we could interpret these events again and again…

      • I am fascinated by your comment about real/hidden curriculum. I too detected strong unwritten and sometimes unspoken norms in #rhizo14. My creativity is in textile/fibre crafts and I did try to ‘weave’ those in (as metaphors) but soon saw they didn’t fit so well.

  2. Thank you Heli for your explicit sorting through of rhizo14 experience. I find this a very useful trace to facilitate personal navigation. Intrigued by your use of word mourning. I seem to have spent a fair amount of rhizo14 verbalising a process of mourning. Now I have a glimpse of morning.

  3. Hi Heli, I worry about apologies in a group. That things can cause offense might be truth of what was said and the outreach can as well go the other way in accepting what was said as honesty. Unseen hesitation to speak one’s mind to me creates a false community. I wonder if there is a value in not wanting to be accepted? Not wanting to adapt? Been thinking about lurking as a form of autonomy–a claim to self without paying the membership fee of direct participation. To me, conflict drives inquiry further than comfort.

  4. Hi Scott, I am happy every time when conflict drives inquiry, If you are astonished about “what did he mean?” you have to inquire and find the honest answer.

    I live in a culture where straight frank speech is a norm and it is allowed to be quiet too. I don’t like small talk and apologies all the time 🙂

    I tried to say that the quality of a community’s interaction can be seen in how conflicts are met and handled.

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