Tag Archives: river

Mixed metaphors. Putting the jigsaw together can be challenging when it’s a rhizome

Image source: Mashable

Warning: My current confusion (chaos) – which is (I remind myself) a necessary state during the process of understanding – has got me clutching at different metaphors in an attempt to liken rhizomatic learning within a rhizomatic connectivist MOOC to this and that.  Already I have mentioned a jigsaw and a rhizome but I will also be talking about a river (which is actually a rapid) as well as swimming and drowning. Sorry.

Feelings and happenings:

So I’ve jumped into the MOOC Rhizomatic Learning, otherwise known as #Rhizo15. In Connected Courses I had my first taste of being part of a MOOC which is a Massive Open Online Course. Some of the people I met and continue to interact with have done #Rhizo14 (Rhizomatic learning: the community is the curriculum) and so I eavesdropped a little and was intrigued.  And by the way, I learned that #Rhizo15 is a cMOOC and not an xMOOC.

So, the MOOC.

It’s massive so you feel initially as if you’ve been thrown into a raging river while trying to study a map. The map you’re using is rendered useless and the only way to keep going is learn how to swim while you’re drowning.

It’s open. As much as you  might be feeling there’s enough to interest you in your career and life, your social network, suddenly it’s as if a section of the planet has been sliced with a giant cheese knife. You can see inside and you realise there is so much activity going on in there  that you didn’t realise,  and from afar it looks both fascinating and frightening. You draw closer to make sense of the activity; you try to find patterns in the activity, guides for the social behaviour, but there is too much going on at once, and so you give up trying to figure it out and jump into one of the conversations. Only when you do, they lead you to so many more – for example, in the Facebook group: Rhizomatic Learning: a practical discussion,  the Rhizomatic Learning Google+ community and around the Twitter hashtag #Rhizo15.

Suddenly there are not enough hours in the day and you desperately want to keep up. But you also want to be everywhere at once. You remember you have a job and personal life and you wish you could put them on hold for a while.

And sleep! What is happening when you sleep! You’re missing out on conversations and posts, and your time zones are not synchronised with much of the population so at the start of the day you have so much to catch up on.

But while you are taking part in conversation in groups all over the place, reading and commenting on posts, you realise that there are books you haven’t read, educational theorists you should be researching. You need background so that you understand more fully what people are talking about. When will you have time to do this?!


At this point I’m stopping before I hyperventilate. Time for a bit of grounding reflection. Dave Cormier introduced the MOOC as a curriculum that writes itself. It’s writing itself now from many, many spaces and simultaneously. I remind myself that nothing is compulsory; everything is optional.  A bit of focus and self control amongst all the choice and I should be able to replace anxiety with a calm acceptance of the raging river, and manage to keep afloat.

Okay so that’s all about how I feel about taking part in cMOOCs.

Who am I? (for some reason I don’t feel like doing this now)

A brief introduction (suggested by Dave Cormier) for those who don’t know me:  I was born in Australia to parents of Russian and German background – mainly Russian. For a while I taught English, German and French at school and a Russian at a Saturday school. Now I’m a teacher librarian but I won’t try to explain my role in this post although I really should finally write a post dealing with the frustrations I have explaining my role.  Currently I’m at a selective boys’ secondary school 9-12.

Happily I found my way into cMOOCs after looking for an online learning community. When I ‘became’ a Google certified teacher I found myself pulling back from going further with this role and I wasn’t sure why; I just knew it wasn’t me, and I felt like a phoney. I love Google tools and encourage their use but I didn’t see myself as a promoter of Google or as an expert presenting Google to others. I didn’t feel at home with the cohort of confident, outgoing people who seemed to have no problem taking on this role. I needed to find people with whom I could ask questions instead of giving answers and continue learning. The cMOOC communities are where I want to be.

(I’m not happy with this introduction.)

More importantly (for me), why am I here? It’s because I’ve connected with super-moocers like Maha Bali, Terry Elliott, Laura Gibbs, Kevin Hodgson, Simon Ensor, Tanya Lau, Sarah Honeychurch, Laura Ritchie and many others through Connected Courses – all people I admire greatly and would like to keep talking to.  And in the last few days I’ve connected with so many more people I want to talk to and learn from.

And how can you even try to keep up when someone like Keith Hamon writes a post that will take me a semester to really get through?

So, what is rhizomatic learning? Many people know a lot about this but I’m just starting so I go back to Dave Cormier’s 2011 post where he talks about successful learning :

Rhizomatic learning is a way of thinking about learning based on ideas described by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari in a thousand plateaus. A rhizome, sometimes called a creeping rootstalk, is a stem of a plant that sends out roots and shoots as it spreads. It is an image used by D&G to describe the way that ideas are multiple, interconnected and self-replicating. A rhizome has no beginning or end… like the learning process.

What does successful learning look like?

the rhizome pertains to a map that must be produced, constructed, a map that is always detachable, connectible, reversible, modifiable, and has multiple entryways and exits and its own lines of flight. (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 21)

I should read A thousand plateaus by Deleuze and Guattari. Someone shared The Beginner’s Guide to Deleuze (I think Sarah Honeychurch and Kevin Hodgson).

Meanwhile others have led me to this 2010 video by Dave Cormier about how to successfully navigate a MOOC. Good place to start.

I really want to write about what happened after I shared the Mr X story in my previous post but I thought I’d get this post over and done with and then devote a post just to Mr X. See you soon. (Or not).