I like very much your comment about engaging the rhizome: “Learning (and I don’t mean definitions or background) and the making of connections of knowledge is something that is steeped in complexity. At each point we are structured in the work (written in a book, sung in a song, spoken in a web session) of others that constantly tests our own connections and further complexifies our understanding. This is the pattern of knowledge as i understand it. It is organic, and messy, and subject to subtle manipulations (intended or otherwise) of power. Having a place of ownership within that complexity, whether we call it ‘the personal’ or not, is vital to emancipated thought.”

It causes me to reflect on the dis-ease some are having with this MOOC, this large, somewhat wallowing rhizome and on the advice you gave in a recent video about how to approach a MOOC. The key phrase for me is “structured in the work,” which I take to mean that if we wish to learn, then we must map ourselves to the rhizome, map ourselves to the book, song, or web session. We must ingest the rhizome and be ingested in turn.

However, this mapping is not a higher-order thinking skill that we usually bring to education, and therein lies the dis-ease of many with the MOOC (Many the MOOC? Sorry, that was an asignifying rupture). We all have our traditional critical thinking skills with which to open, interpret, and analyze whatever canned slice of life our professor brings to us, and these tools work quite well with carefully circumscribed topics with clear definitions and delineated objectives: sidelines, signposts, and goal lines. Mapping oneself to a MOOC (a rhizome) is a different higher order thinking skill altogether, and I think we’re making it up as we engage.

You, for instance, suggested that we cluster, and I like that, so I tried it. It’s really beautiful to see how I (or anyone else) can grab one small comment from one PLENK2010 post, digest it, and all of a sudden (really. like magic) various tonal patterns emerge from the white noise of the MOOC. All of a sudden, a rich conversation in-forms, and I start making sense of the MOOC as it makes sense of me. What do I call that kind of thinking skill? Mapping? Clustering? Works for me.

I’ll have to think on this some more, but thanks for the complex and engaging conversation and for the chance to sharpen my rhizomatic thinking skills.