#Change11 Week 9 On Rhizomatic learning and metaphors

This week’s topic is Rhizomatic learning – why we teach.  Here is the post and references by Dave.

I was first exposed to Dave’s ideas in CCK08.  A very interesting concept on knowledge and learning that is built on rhizome growth – a metaphor of knowledge development in community.

I have been thinking about such growth quite similar to the fractals growth, here and here on fractals.

Here are some examples:

Pictures: Google

How is knowledge revealed in nature?

Here is the  Fibonacci Numbers – the Fingerprint of God

So, I think there are patterns of such fractals occurring in nature, where we would need to explore and reveal it, and see how it could help us in explaining and understanding the creation, building and development of knowledge embedded in these “artifacts”, architects, and communities etc.

Relating to knowledge and learning, based on negotiation, Dave explains:

Knowledge as negotiation is not an entirely new concept in educational circles; social contructivist and connectivist pedagogies, for instance, are centered on the process of negotiation as a learning process. Neither of these theories, however, is sufficient to represent the nature of learning in the online world.

In the rhizomatic view, knowledge can only be negotiated, and the contextual, collaborative learning experience shared by constructivist and connectivist pedagogies is a social as well as a personal knowledge-creation process with mutable goals and constantly negotiated premises.

I have been reflecting on one important principle behind Connectivism, where George posited that Learning may reside in non-human appliances.  Here is my post relating to learning may reside in non-human appliances.  May be George Siemens would be the one who might best explain on this principle that he proposed.  Up till now I am still figuring what it means exactly, despite our discussion in various media.  If we are referring to artificial intelligence, like games playing by the computer, then such learning acquired by the machines (based on AI algorithms and programming) is a result of artificially built knowledge – learning.  How would this relate to the knowledge and learning of human?  May be that could be explained using Actor Network Theory (ANT) when it comes to learning in networks where technology becomes the mediation.

Relating to Dave’s discussion:

In accessing Couros’s professional network, students had the opportunity to enter the community themselves and impact the shape of its curriculum as well as their own learning. The role of the instructor in all of this is to provide an introduction to an existing professional community in which students may participate—to offer not just a window, but an entry point into an existing learning community.

I think this is based on the community sharing of “information” and knowledge construction – similar to a Constructivist approach towards community learning, and the building of COPs.  I would perceive it as a way towards enculturation, in preparation of entry into professional community.  The role of the instructor in this case is a “mentor” to the students, and the curriculum is an “emergent” product of communal engagement and interaction – creating the learning that suits the community.  The knowledge that is “negotiated” and “learnt” could be based on a combination of constructivist and connectivist pedagogies, though as Dave has argued, such would be the outcome of rhizomatic education and learning where community would be used to negotiate the curriculum.

Here I would interpret the participation, involvement and engagement of the students in the learning tasks and activities within the community – such as wiki and blog creation form the basis of learning and creation of knowledge.  This act of learning would then be part of the “normative” approach to community building, as a Community of Practice in Learning.  In this respect, rhizomatic learning and education would be the metaphorical explanation of what underpins the knowledge development within the community.

There are certain assumptions here with the rhizomatic education and learning:

1. It is based on the assumption that: “There is an assumption in both theories that the learning process should happen organically but that knowledge, or what is to be learned, is still something independently verifiable with a definitive beginning and end goal determined by curriculum.”

To what extent is the assumption in both Constructivism and Connectivism should happen organically?  It is “true” that most curriculum has a definitive beginning and end goal, but with the current MOOC Change 11 and some of the previous course PLENK2010 and CCKs, the curricula seem to have a rather “organic” curriculum where the participants and facilitators have “co-created” some of the content far more than the original planned curriculum.  Besides, the continuation of discourse right after the course of MOOC in different learning platforms and media hinted that curriculum is no longer a static, prescriptive and pre-planned list of learning outcomes.  Rather, such curriculum has been shaped and remoulded into a different form of curriculum blended with all forms of knowledge creation and learning objects – such as wikis, artifacts (research articles), blog posts etc.

2. It is based on the assumption that participation is central to the community and knowledge development. What happens if the community members are in-active, or are assuming a consumption mode of “learning”, reactionary and treat knowledge as canon?  How would “power” of experts and participants influence the type of “negotiated” knowledge?  Would experts’ knowledge and power influence such knowledge negotiation?

3. Would we need to distinguish the curriculum which are based on factual knowledge and information and those which could be based on “organic and changing knowledge and information”?

Curriculum which are based on subjects with “factual knowledge and information” such as laws, legislations by governments, rules and regulations, basic subjects with fixed algorithms and “known” facts is not easily negotiable, though is possible.  Would there be little leeway in the negotiation of knowledge if the curriculum is based on such subjects?  Again, I am making assumptions here that those “canonical knowledge” would not be changed.  This is typical in the teaching of “history” where known facts about history of the time are to be learnt.  The interpretation of those historical facts might be negotiated, but the fact of “knowledge” that have happened could hardly be “negotiated” as it has happened.  For instance, you could negotiate on the knowledge of why a war has happened, what the implications are with wars, and how wars could have been prevented.  However, there are certain facts of the wars which cannot be negotiated.  Similarly, if we look at the facts about science subjects, then there are certain facts of science which cannot be negotiated, unless one could “prove” or collect evidence to show that the facts are not true.  For instance, the concept of light is based on scientific fact, and so such knowledge is not easily negotiated, even in the community.  However the concept of community is based on communal understanding and interpretation, and is thus dynamic, and could be negotiable.

To this end, I think we might need to distinguish these two separate “forms” of knowledge – the factual knowledge (based on facts) or procedural knowledge (which are established practice), or the prescriptive knowledge (which are well defined on a scientific and current basis), and the new and developing knowledge (which are based on improvement or innovation), and may be emergent in nature, are therefore different in their nature.

Will continue to explore in future post.


7 thoughts on “#Change11 Week 9 On Rhizomatic learning and metaphors

  1. Lots to talk about here… but i’d like to challenge this one

    ” For instance, you could negotiate on the knowledge of why a war has happened, what the implications are with wars, and how wars could have been prevented. However, there are certain facts of the wars which cannot be negotiated. ”

    I’m claiming that there are very few facts (beyond those that simply set the context and are the language of the discussion) that cannot be negotiated and those, really, are not ‘learned’. They are ‘remembered’. When did WWII start? Well… that depends on who you are and how you look at it. Did Germany declare war on Poland or the other way around? well… again, it depends on how you look at it… you could find the dates of the declaration for both countries… but that transparent fact is hardly useful for learning anything.

    There are few things that are ‘just true’ without needing some context for understanding them. I ‘declared war’ means different things when done by different countries. For Poland it meant something imminent, for Canada not so much… the ‘just facts’ part of the conversation don’t do much.

  2. Hi Dave,
    I agreed, that there are very few facts that cannot be negotiated, and that was why I used those examples about wars. How people looked at those “facts” may be up to interpretation, but still there are some historical “facts” which could not be changed, only that we may argue that there are different sources of information, which may not reflect the “truth” there at war.

    I like your view on the context upon which we view those facts: “For Poland it meant something imminent, for Canada not so much… the ‘just facts’ part of the conversation don’t do much.” Just to echo with that, a study of Chinese history, and the related revolutions mean a lot for certain people, like Chinese, but the “facts” may mean something else, when it comes to people coming from a different cultural background, like Aussies or Canadians. It is the cultural lens that may affect how knowledge is viewed, and thus be “judged” and based upon. Again, there are lots of assumptions here, where research evidence is needed to substantiate those claims. The only fact that remains is: there is the war that has happened. Whether the people has suffered much or less is then context and culturally “driven”. Great to make use of the opportunity to challenge me, and the basics, and help me thinking these through. What do you think?

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