Rhizo14 feedback results and explanation

Well… we got 65 responses to the week 2 feedback form. How representative is that? We have about 400 folks registered on the P2PU course page, 177 members of the facebook page, 150 members of the google + page over 3000 tweets of the #rhizo14 hashtag. Your guess is as good as mine in terms of how many people that is. I would say that 65 represents a reasonable enough percentage that we can talk a little bit about what people had to say an draw some vaguely warranted stories about what that might mean.

This is real teacher geek stuff… I can’t imagine who’s going to read this blog post… but i love talking about it!

Full answers available here. If you want the spreadsheet send me an email.

Question 1
Are you currently engaged in #rhizo14?
This is a context piece really. Naturally you’d expect the people who respond to the survey for an open course to generally be the people who are engaged. What I was hoping to get a sense of was what number of people who cared to respond felt like they weren’t ‘fully engaged’. I feel pretty good about this result. Even if those 59 people are the only people fairly engaged in the open course that’s pretty solid. I suspect that there are a few engagees who might not have gotten round to filling out the form. So, from what i can tell, Win!

Question 2
Have you made real people connections in this course?
Not a great question in retrospect. I was looking for the sense people had of the value of the connections they had made. I thought it might be interesting to ask the same questions at the end of the course. This one skews slightly towards more real connections, but is probably representative of the inclusion challenges of this decentralized a course. We’ll call this one a draw.

Question 3
Dave is considering shortening the formal part of this course to 4 weeks. How would you feel about that?
Took some grief for this question. Some people thought I was quitting. 🙂 I was trying to understand how much people were attached to the framework of the course itself. If you wander through the answers, you’ll see that that questions were all over the place. It gave me the answer I was expecting – inconclusive. I was encouraged to see a number of different perspectives. I particularly like the ‘That’s help your completion rates’. I think it could have been better asked, but still, I like this one.

Question 4
Is Rhizo14 a MOOC?
I couldn’t help myself. The majority seem to both understand the question and be beyond it. I still feel sad about the word MOOC losing it’s collaborative edge. Maybe it’ll come back 🙂

Question 5
How would you describe your role vs. Dave’s role in #rhizo14
This elicited all kinds of answers. Among many gems i have to point to one in particular

Somehow Dave got into the room without anyone checking his pockets and there are now frogs jumping around on the linoleum and swimming in the punch bowl. I pick another frog and we hop around for a bit. Seriously, Dave seems ethereal and backgroundy but also attentive like a good tour guide.

how awesome is that? I think if you take the time to look through the question, it provided many with an opportunity to not only reflect on the course, but on the topic of the course as well. There certainly still is a power division there between the roles, but the irreverence must speak to some deconstruction of it 🙂

Question 6
What would make the rest of this course better?
Never hurts to give people a chance to reflect on improving the format. A fair number of people suggesting that they are having some technical challenges. Some excellent advice about people being explicit about their own learning context rather than talking about ‘learning generally’. Some people not liking the timing of the live event (I hear you, we’ve changed it). Someone suggested an IRC channel.

I think, in many cases, people would like the social contract re-explained. They think that people aren’t accustomed to sharing in mixed environments and don’t necessarily know how to play as well with others as they could. This question of the social contract between participants is extremely important and bears further thought. We have people from MANY different cultures, from all over really. How do we find a common ground in which we can exchange our thoughts freely. It’s a good question.

Question 7
Finally… tell me what you like about this course.
Some folks said some nice things about me… and I thank you. More often, however, people are happy to have met people that help them think differently. Hell. What else could you want from a course.

Rhizo14 – Cheaters guide to week 1

Are you part of the crowd of people who wished and wanted but didn’t quite get started in week 1? Feel like you could be getting more out of the experience? Want to know what’s going on? Read on then…

The gist of the discussions
Our challenge this week was to consider cheating as a lens through which to understand learning. I had hopes that by offering a challenge that was open ended we could dig into our assumptions about learning and approach the rhizome from an appropriately indirect angle. We have one group of people who have taken up the idea of cheating in the ‘hacking’ sense. We had others who dug into the ethics of cheating and explored the social contract for learning.

Overall, I was hoping to get discussion going. I think we’re good on that one. I’ve been very impressed with the quality of the engagement and the willingness for people to engage with each others ideas. The thrust of the discussion for most was to question and push our traditional assumptions of the relationship between learners, teachers and knowledge.

If you missed week 1 we’ve all sort of introduced ourselves to each other. We’ve also started the process of building a shared understanding. There’s no reason not be able to pick up and engage with us on the topic, just wander around in some of the resources here.

A birds eye view of the course
Rhizomatic Learning – an unlearning camp Pinterest Page – I have clearly not been giving Pinterest the love it deserves. Check out the overview of work done pinned to a course board.

Martin Hawksey’s tagsExplorer – Subject of the preview post, awesome overview of the folks on twitter.

Or, if you like googlemaps…

View Larger Map

We’ve got an ‘old fashioned OPML file‘ from Matthais Melcher.

Comment scraper from Gordon Lockhart

Answer garden presenting some interesting results here too.

Flickr group!

And of course, we’ve got the google group, the facebook group, the twitter hashtag and the course website!

First week introductory video… annotated.

Some interesting posts
I have no way to pick specific posts among the many awesome ones out there, so i will simply pick out the ones that are currently open tabs in my browser.

Confessions of a Cheating Teacher

Penny Bentley and a really nice introduction to the ideas covered in the week.

Chrissi Nerantzi on her view of rhizomatic learning

Some nice stuff said about the course by the P2PU folks.

Keith Hamon introducing us to the rhizome

A string of three from Jenny Mackness – intro, a critique and a summation.

And one more. Time bending and rhizo14

Looking to next week

There’s lots more out there, if you’re interested these are enough pieces for you to find the rest of them. Next week’s theme is Enforcing Independence. Looking forward to seeing the discussion move forward. Post will be up Monday Night (if i’m lucky)

Thanks to everyone for making this such an awesome experience so far.

Connection Activity – how you can help make more community

Five days into the course and I’m thinking that the next few days are critical for those who haven’t been connected to people yet. It’s hard to be new, and often an outreach of a hand isn’t seen in the jumble of a crowd. Now, I don’t really think you can ‘make’ community, but I use the word in the ‘maker’ sense. Making people feel welcome, including them in your work, these things are actions you have to take. Here is a suggestion for a thing that you can do to help include our outliers into the #rhizo14 fun.

Week 1 moving to 2 twitter assignment
The excellent Martin Hawksey has once again blown my mind. (not a great struggle you might argue, but nevermind). Below is Martin’s tagsexplorer uh… explorer. In it you will see all tweets hashtagged #rhizo14 and what connections/replies they got. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find as many unconnected tweeters (five sounds like a nice number but YMMV) as you can and reply to them.

  1. Make sure you’re logged into your twitter account
  2. Click on lonely dot in Martin’s tag explorer
  3. Reply to them
  4. Tell us about it.

It might easier to do this on the Martin’s actual site rather than doing it here. Up to you.

note: I had to take out Martin’s tags explorer here for performance reasons.

Please let us know how it goes. I’ve never asked folks to try and do this before, so if any unforeseen happenings happen, come back here and let us know about it!

#rhizo14 live session – unhangout

I got a chance to take Unhangout for a spin today with some friends. Two of my old cronies from Edtechtalk (@jenm and @schinker), my good UPEI buddy @daniellynds, @mozzadrella from P2PU and Srishti from the unhangout project all took a run through thinking about what a good session might look like for the folks in rhizo14. We’ve got a plan and, as is only right, it’s going to take a little feedback from you folks.


What an unhangout means for you
Unhangout is a neat little project being run out of the MIT Media Labs. Basically it allows you to combine a series of hangouts together. You NEED a google+ account to make this work… I’m sorry about that, but it’s what we’re going to be trying this time. You’ll come to the session, and, at some point, break out into one of the rooms to talk about something you’re interested in. Or, alternatively, you can hang out in the lobby and chat with folks.

This will be by far the most structured event of the week during the course. It is ‘designed’ that way because after having done a few of these, it seems that they are incomprehensible to the vast majority of people if they are left wide open. I heartily encourage all and everyone to organize their own live events and allow them to be as chaotic as they like… this one will be structured (by my standards at least 😛 )

The schedule

  1. I’m going to do a 10-20 minute jam session of some of the conversations that are going on this week to get us all started off.
  2. We’ll login to the same google presentation document
  3. We’ll break out into breakout rooms
  4. Each breakout room will report back with one slide from the document
  5. I’ll present from whatever you guys have put in the slides
  6. We’ll breakout into different room than we were in the first time
  7. We’ll update the slides
  8. We’ll wrap up
  9. We’ll post the slides for people to critique/remix/steal

What I need from you folks
Each breakout room holds 10 people. The course currently has about 300 people registered in it. Lets figure we have about 35-40 people who actually come to the live event.

In the comments, I need

  • people to suggest topics (figure we need 5 or so)
  • People to volunteer to be the ‘moderator’ for a topic
  • People to support a topic

If that works for people, we’ll go with those topics. If it doesn’t, I’ll make something up tomorrow night.

Your unguided tour of Rhizo14

For some of you (like those who started the course a week early) rhizo14 will simply be an extension of your normal practice on the internet. You’ll find familiar faces who make references to previous learning events online, you already have web places from which you speak, and many of you are already familiar with the material. For other folks this will be a new journey, you’ll be the only person you know in the course and you’ll be, frankly, lost. Most will fall somewhere in between those two places, and you will turn to me for guidance thinking things like

“This is the biggest waste of time ever”
“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do”
“That dave guy has no idea what he’s doing”
and, inevitably…
“What’s the definition of rhizomatic learning?”

First and foremost
Let’s get something straight right out of the get go… it is true that I mostly don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve been experimenting with online community style learning (which I have, for reasons that might become apparent, called rhizomatic learning) for about 10 years now. This course is my latest experiment with it. You are all joining in with me, in various ways for various reasons, along a journey that will have different results for different people. I have already learned new things and the course hasn’t even started. I’m looking for new ways to explain the things I have come to believe about learning, the nagging sense of what might be true that I just can’t put into words. I am a nomad, not a knower. I’ll do what i can to help or answer, but this is not a situation where i know things that others don’t. I’m hosting a party, not trying to tell you what or how to think.

Orientation information – read this first
There are a number of ‘locations’ that you can use to follow along with what’s going on during the course. You might choose to pick one and stick with it or use several. You are also most welcome to create your own space if you have specific needs or are particularly fussy :). The most important part of your choice is figuring out what is going to fit into your life better. The more you figure out what you’re taking this course for, where you will be when you check in to see what people are doing – the better chance of you having a fruitful experience.

The course is being ‘held’ at P2PU (Peer to Peer University). You can go there and ask questions, find dates for live sessions, and participate in discussion with a wide range of people. This site will probably have the most formal experience of any in the course and will also be a location where you are likely to find lots of people you don’t know. Some comments will also get lost on p2pu. We are nearing 300 people in the course and if we even get half of those people engaged, it’s going to be tough. If you see something uncommented/replied/shared engage with it. You don’t need to agree with it, just add value to it.

Here’s a few tips on using the discussion forums.

Facebook is what it is. There are some things it does well, mostly because lots of people are there. We have a facebook group. I’ve set things up so that all my blog posts and tweets automagically post there. If you aren’t sure where to start, and you currently use Facebook, this is a nice way to start. Same rules here, share, engage and add value when you comment.

Rhizo14 Facebook Group Link

This is my weapon of choice. Following the #rhizo14 hashtag is a pretty good way of checking this out. You can follow along with my discussions with folks and that will probably give you some material to work with. Ideally, of course, as things progress you’ll form your own connections (or more connections)

Google +
There’s a google + community out there for rhizomatic learning. You are free to join it and work through there. Google+ is not a place i ever came to love, but some people do. Each to their own.

You can follow this blog and start discussions in the comments here. There are other folks out there that are blogging as well. These are excellent places to meet people. If you have your own blog, it is MUCH easier for you to have other people talk to you.

Other stuff?
If all else fails, search google. If you create or have found other spaces, let me know and I’ll edit the post.

Course objectives
Just kidding. There aren’t any. You can have personal objectives. You can have group objectives. But I’m not creating objectives for anyone. 🙂

What you can expect from a given week
In a given week I will host a discussion day on Tuesday. I will write at least one blog post. I will do my very best to tweet and comment as much as humanly possible. I will try and craft some kind of scaffolding for the next week. I will rake in all the cash from this incredibly profitable event.

What you should do in a given week?
Try to forget everything you know about ‘traditional education’ and imagine that you are going to camp for 6 weeks. The first thing i would do is find out where the food is. But that’s me. You might like to just chat with people. You might want to create a map of the premises to make sure you were never lost. You might try to make one really good friend. You’ll notice that some of the people in camp already know each other, you’ll see an eager person in the corner that no one is talking to.

You might have gone to camp to challenge yourself or to just kinda hang out a little. These things are up to you. There are no straight lines and no clear answers coming from me. I’ve been scratching my head about rhizomatic learning for 7-8 years because i think the story is important. These six weeks are me inviting you to scratch your head along with me 🙂

See Terry Elliot’s excellent work so far for some additional context. This comment and this post.

Don’t know where to start. Write something somewhere and tell us why you joined. Send us the link, somehow. We’ll care.

Welcome aboard.

What problem does rhizomatic learning solve for me?

Had a wonderful conversation with Mozzadrella from P2PU today about #rhizo14

I’m running an open course on rhizomatic learning, you can sign up here. Apparently i wasn’t clear about this in my last two posts 🙂

In trying to understand what I was trying to do with the 6 weeks she asked me a variety of questions, some pedagogical questions, some philosophical, some technical and some administrative. I’ll get to each of these questions as time passes but I’d really like to address her question about why I think rhizomatic learning is important or, more specifically, what problem does it solve?


Rhizomatic learning is a story of how we can learn in a world of abundance – abundance of perspective, of information and of connection. A paper/location based learning model forces us to make decisions, in advance, about what it is important for students to learn. This was a practical reality – if we were going to have content available for a course, it needed to be prepared in advance. In order to prepare the content in advance, we needed to prepare the objectives in advance. And, given that we know what everyone is supposed to learn, we might as well check and see if they all did and compare them against each other.

What happens if we let that go? What happens when we approach a learning experience and we don’t know what we are going to learn? Where each student can learn something a little bit different – together? If we decide that important learning is more like being a parent, or being a cook, and less like knowing all the counties in England in 1450? What if we decided to trust the idea that people can come together to learn given the availability of an abundance of perspective, of information and of connection?


I wonder what I’ll say after #rhizo14 🙂

P.S. Yes. That was a test I once took.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, the content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.