Unravelling -> a model for an open course?

#rhizo14 will inevitably be an exploration of the possibilities of open learning as well as a space for considering rhizomatic learning. One of the challenges of rhizomatic learning is that it’s new for many. When most people think of the word course, they think of a set of objectives that contain the canon of a particular field with a teacher as the arbiter of ‘learning’. Even if people are comfortable looking to themselves as being responsible for tracking their learning they may not have the basic language or literacies (or technologies) to be able to start along with others.

So we need some structure, at least in the beginning, to make sure that everyone gets to play. Some of this structure can take the form of remediation… where you prepare answers to simple questions that allow newcomers to help themselves. We also need to have an effective way for people to be able to ask the community simple questions and ways to effectively mentor people to a place where they can be fully contributing members of the community.

An Unravelling
The fine folks at P2PU have directed me to the unhangout platform as a possible method for doing live sessions. The idea of having an unconference model for each of the six weeks is very appealing, but i think it would overly favour folks who’ve been working with rhizomes for a long time. So I’m suggesting something that I’m going to call ‘an unravelling’ until someone tells me what someone who thought about it before me called it :). I’m sure someone else has done it… but I haven’t found it.

Week 1
The first week will be very structured. Some foundational readings, a little bit of talk about rhizomes and Deleuze and Guattari (though not much) and a strong focus on giving people specific things to do. Write an introductory blog post, state what your goals are going in to the course, post your blog post by Tuesday… whatever. By the end of week 1, people should be able to tell themselves “yes, i have done the thing i was supposed to do”. The live session(s) will have specific topics delineated for people to join (though we might have a pre-session with interested parties to workshop what those might be). This is the ORIENT part of the process.

Week 2
The second week introduces responsibility but checks in with folks to make sure that people are understanding the orientation parts of the project. Perhaps this would work well with some specifically identified mentors who could lead breakout sessions and help people from a tech/custom/topic perspective to keep conversations on track and facilitate reporting form each of the groups. This is DECLARE week… in order to be a fully functioning participant (and no one is saying you need to be) you should be speaking from whatever platform you like at this point. We’ve unravelled the structure and little… but still lots of support.

Weeks 3 – 5
I’m thinking of these as NETWORK and CLUSTER weeks. We should be able to run unconference type sessions in the hangout and folks should have some sense of what parts of the discussion they are interested in. They might find people to work on a project with, they might find critical friends who will help them push their work further… lots of different stuff. This is where the course starts to really unravel.

Week 6
FOCUS week. I see this week as full of people’s final projects. What have you worked towards during the course? What have you come up with? What practical application do you see (or not see) for rhizomatic learning. Where will it not work? How does it need to be combined with other things? We have unravelled entirely at this point. The community should be the curriculum at this point.

How does that sound?

note: the Orient, Declare, Network, Cluster, Focus comes from early MOOC work in 2010 by Sandy McAuley, Bonnie Stewart, George Siemens and I. Here’s the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8avYQ5ZqM0

Stolen from Jeanne Murray’s blog

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20 thoughts on “Unravelling -> a model for an open course?

  1. Hi Dave

    I think it seems a good plan. It can be compared to the occupation of an abandoned house to transform it in, e.g., a social and artistic building: we need some preplanning in order to not to re-empty what was previously empty.

    In my opinion the “Orientstep” is the big moment and the great chance to transfer life to the network: it´s the moment in which we have to recognize and feel what are our nodes. Thereby we´ll begin to see our minimum creative reach.

    We are already orienting that, and just now are coming to mind (my-and-yours) a lot of metaphors that could be useful to set your game options through these weeks.

    So… it sound really all-tube, Dave Cormier.

    Yeah. I think we gonna have a real gooood time, folks.

    L.

  2. Check out scaffolding and fading, by Vygotsky and Jerome Bruner http://edutechwiki.unige.ch/en/Scaffolding

    More recently, Ton de Jong and others have written about providing instructional support in the context of using simulations, and how it works best with students with lower metacognitive abilities or less prior knowledge, but doesn’t help and can even hurt students with high metacognitive or high prior knowledge. So, for example, you might have your more experienced participants take another role early on, perhaps helping out “novices”, responding to their questions, etc.

  3. hey Dave, that sounds really good… I like the idea of starting with some sort of structure to have everyone in a relatively equal footing at first, then slowly moving towards a less structured more rhizomatic “thing”. I still don’t understand exactly what is meant by an “unconference” :) though I keep hearing the term from some of my favorite people in the field, so I’d like a bit more clarity on what that is, or rather, what it is not? Really looking forward to this! but am a little concerned as to how “central” synchronous sessions will be to the learning – that’s another story I can share separately ;)

  4. I signed up – apart from the interest of the course in general, “Week 1 – Cheating as Learning” is an awesome start.
    Perhaps a tangential example of the need for some structure you mention: the Success in a MOOC YouTube video you link to at the end of this post was streamed to amara.org/en/videos/GD5tAgfR3NeS/info towards its crowdsourced subtitling ca 2 and half years ago and almost immediately subtitled in Portuguese. Then Korean subtitles were added last November. But after I added this Amara page to the “Captions Requested” Amara team only 4 days ago, the video has also been subtitled in English, Spanish and Italian.
    Now “Captions Requested” is perhaps the most loosely-structured of all Amara teams: anyone can join, any member can add video pages and caption/subtitle the team’s videos, no imposed workflows or tasks. Yet it is a structure of some sort, i.e. members can choose to receive an alert when a video page is added, and also when something happens in the subtitling of a given video if they choose to follow it, and add comments etc. It seems to work, partly because there are many members from whom enough are active subtitlers, partly because these active subtitlers are good at interacting.
    Whether or not that’s really pertinent, you’re welcome to grab the existing subtitles for your “Success in a MOOC” video and add them to the YouTube original, should you wish to.

  5. Found Doug Holton’s link to scaffolding very useful. Thinking about what I do when encountering a new idea either some kind of recognition of what my brain thinks it might be encountering or I run away. Without structure or some realization that help or accompaniment is available (the presence of a sense-making companion maybe?) novelty can be pushed aside as noise. Novelty is very important but things that are unrecognizable also trigger a defensive mechanism that protects us from nonsense or non-meaning. The least conservative of us still recoil from things that disassemble the structures we’ve built to understand the world. The fact that many participants in the cMOOC genre repeatedly appear in the “same” experimental learning projects like this suggests to me that encountering the new connects us to trusted companions to both leverage the learning and be braver than we are.

    Looks like a great course.

  6. I really like how the comments on this blog post are helping clarify to me (possibly to others) more about the course. I like Doug’s point about novice vs experienced participants… Sort of felt there was an implicit opportuty for more experienced or confident participants to e.g. Initiate networks or clusters in week 3 of the course?
    I also really like Scott’s observations on scaffolding and people’s reaction to scaffolding. I always had a sense of connectivism not working for everyone and even though I am myself a highly-networked and autonomous learner, I can see why it might be v difficult for others to participate in a cMOOC or any very unstructured learning experience straight away. The points about novelty seeming like noise is a great one and I hope you don’t mind me quoting you with my colleagues at work (it made me realize why the more conservative of them resist novely). Yes, it sounds almost intuitive, but you have articulated really well… So thanks!

  7. Hi Maha, I worked with instructors for a while helping them assemble courses online and at first was taken aback by their almost fear of technology. For people who could read and control a classroom full of reluctant students the move to adding a bit of technology seemed minor. But it sure seemed like we’d past a threshold of adaptability with either too much newness or stripping away too much confidence to make room for new skills. Or, indeed if skills can be added one-by-one as if people were long chains of individual abilities?
    Having been through a lot of change myself recently I’ve been to that place where it all falls apart and wonder about the “lone learner” model of student that seems so popular. To me, the idea of rhizomes suggests a multitude of influences contained within a single mind. Maybe that’s too sci-fi?

  8. Hey Scott, that does not sound sci fi to me, it sounds like it makes sense. I came across a couple of older posts on your blog from 2011 that also offer interesting insights on these issues. Can’t we just start #rhizo14 now? Have we already started it here on this blogpost? ;)

  9. Hi Maha, guess we could call this the start of the course. On a campus this would be the hallway or student union steps where people meet. I like the way MOOCs tend to create a common place on the net for discussions that just flow along. Something here affords learning that I never felt in school where everything was partitioned and brought to you in sealed boxes to be opened under supervision only. I wonder if we try to hard to stage the things we call “lessons”? Better to lure people in with the chance for discovery in an uncertain or incomplete setting. Like this picture from Brain Pickings or the song below it by CocoRosie:
    http://www.brainpickings.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/justdessert_gorey4.jpg
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBWxjAiO_KQ&feature=relmfu

  10. Good posts already before the MOOC has started!
    We’re already configuring the curriculum … ;-)

    I’m very interested in rhizomatics because in my university we want to give the students more freedom, more responsibility for their own learning process.
    Yet still we want to make sure that in the end they can graduate in what they are meant to graduate in (e.g. as dentist, physician, biomedical researcher).

    So, on the one hand we’ve got learning targets, competencies. Students may develop their own “learning journey” to reach those targets.
    But we’re still very not used to this way of “teaching” … eh, learning.
    We’re having as we’d say in Dutch “koudwatervrees” … still afraid that the water will be too cold.

    Does this all make any sense to you?

    I’m afraid I can’t write it any clearer at this moment … that’s why I’m taking the rhizomatic MOOC now. ;-)

    BTW, I don’t know what a unconference is. Any clarification?

  11. I’ve just signed up for this class and I must say I’m quite excited about it. As a student who is still in high school, I look forward to implementing the teaching into such a structured environment and of course into everyday life.

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