I continue my rhizo research topic by pondering on internet communities. The subtitle of the rhizo14 course was ‘community as curriculum’. It includes an assumption that a community develops around the course and creates new connections and content . I studied in this blog many concepts around this theme: virtual communities, networks, crowds, tribes and clusters and found new ones: congregation, fan club, Dave as our Elvis. Network is most popular in describing life in internet, but communities and tribes can be used as well.
Now I am thinking about rhizo14 and notice that I see it as a part of continual process happening in the internet. Most of the people who participated in the autoethnography at the end of the course already belonged to the community. Perhaps it could be named a community of connectivist life long learners or networkers. I don’t like the term connectivist, but I used it because it is known and may help to understand what I am saying. There is no beginning and no end, said Vanessa Vaile. I had a similar orientation in my autoethnography: I just passed by the rhizo14 and studied something. Later in this text I want to say story, I am tired writing the long term autoethnography.
When I read the collected 30 stories, I can recognise 11 names which have lived in the interned many years. They are experienced moocers and self-directed learners and their participation skills are up-to-date. So they come to a course and take what they want and contribute here and there so that others can learn from their comments. Dave Cormier’s transparent live in the internet is very well-known to these people and they like him. They believe that something will happen when Dave is the facilitator. Some of these people were interested in rhizomatic learning and their connection to Dave included this shared interest. A few were very old friends of Dave and co-worked many years with him. Some of the experienced networkers have more general interests about learning and living in online communities. I could name them outer circle ripples of the Dave community 🙂
I found 30 different stories and only three were written by novices in the sense of first time moocers. I appreciate that they have written their stories. So I have about 16 stories left. It is a heterogeneous group of people following actively and participating selectively in the open internet. Some of them were interested in rhizomatic thinking and wondered why it was not studied properly.
I belong to this group. I remember that I had discussions about the allowed interests. I felt guilty of not being interested in rhizomatic philosophy and someone (Tanya) promised that it is allowed to be interested in human learning generally. I was not alone with my orientation. Cath Ellis had a researcher’s orientation and she helped to find writings about Deleuze & Guattari. Some followed her but most participants wanted to be free learners. When the course proceeded further, the artistic ways of describing learning took more space. It is metaphorical and near the ideas of the course, so this trend is easy to understand. Some very touching stories were presented in the blogs and warm support was in the air. Simultaneously I could recognise a norm arousing that writing is boring and linear, do not use it.
Some of the participants had been publishing about learning online in some journals, I remember Apostolos and Maha. Now Sarah and some others were interested in following this line. So we have this rich material of 30 stories in Google Drive. The idea of collaborative autoethnography is excellent and suits the purpose. It is
A form of self-reflection and writing that explores the researcher’s personal experiences and connects this autobiographical story to a wider cultural-political-and social meanings and understandings. source
We have different stories which could be used in various ways. My first feeling was that no one wants to read the stories as such, separated from the context or the community. I have tried to contextualize the stories partly to wider cultural settings in this post. I could use the stories by analysing them focusing in certain questions. For instance I’ll leave the inner circle of experienced networkers around Dave and continue by analysing more normal people 🙂 I have no intention to deepen into rhizomatic thinking and I leave it to them who are interested in it.
I had an idea to draw a map of different motivations but I changed my opinion. One question is how to use the writers’ names. If I connect names into motivation I could get feedback (and many angry comments). So? If I give new names for people it will be ridiculous. Every research effort is valuable in my mind but it takes time. An idea of collaborating is very challenging to implement.
It is a nice summer day today, not too hot, but next week is predicted to be very hot again. Perhaps I’ll rest.