From Squirrels to Rhizomes: An intro to #rhizo15

There’s a humorous statement that’s made around here that when you get sidetracked from something, you say “squirrel”. It’s reminiscent of what happens to dogs when they are out for a walk. Every squirrel catches their attention. Movement of a bushy tail creates the compelling need to chase it down. I’m not a fan of squirrels, but they do catch my eye and I somehow cannot resist the urge to watch. I’ve been saying “squirrel” to myself, under my breath, in the last few days. I really think they plant rhizomes!

So this squirrel phenomenon is representative of my early #rhizo15 experience. The bushy tails of ideas, posts, videos, images, surveys, responses, recipes, tweets, and music have all caught my eye. The Rhizome Cowboy was engaging and the Rhizo15-We find our way through was reflective. Thanks to Ann G. I’ve got the Song that never ends stuck in my mind. And in true “squirrel” fashion, The Rhino Song wags a bushy tail. Is this what rhizomatic learning is like? I’m sure I’ll find my way through, if I can stop chasing bushy-tails and dig into something.

I’ve gone back to the Open Learning Recipe many times, put it down, lost it, found it, reread it. It’s growing with so many great ideas and ‘ways of doing’ Rhizo15 –  I’ll try to remember to blend ideas, to fold new concepts into my previous understanding rather than mashing them together. I’m not a bad cook, but there are too many ingredients for me here. I’ll need to clear the counter and get rid of the squirrels. I’ve figured out that if I have all the Rhizo15 tabs open in one window, I can minimize the clutter and get on with other things for a while. I will consciously make every effort not to use ‘but’.

OK. Window closed. Squirrel’s gone!

My learning subjectives? After watching the video prompt, I was stumped. How do we design for learning when we don’t know where we’re going? This isn’t an easy question to answer. How do we unstructured the structures of learning? How do we open learning environments to ensure directions and experiences can happen fluidly? I’ve been thinking about this as I delve into personalizing learning experiences, humanizing online learning and designing learning using universal design principles. The structures need to be there to scaffold and support students without constraining the learning opportunities.

Then I took a bit of time to read through a few of the early blog posts to see what others were thinking. I commented on a few where I ‘turned to wonder’. This helped the direction of my thoughts.

After returning to reread Maha Bali’s article Embracing Subjectivity I am reminded that I cannot remain neutral in my own learning or teaching. Neutrality is impossible in rhizo15. I will need to visibly show my stance. It will be a process where others will share as I uncover “what might be hidden behind claims or arguments” (Maha Bali) that I may make in digital spaces. Then maybe I can blend or fold them together with my own conceptions.

Then Ann Gagne posted her thoughts on Everything is Subjective: A “Timely” #Rhizo15 post for Week 1. She states that “subjectives live in that smooth space (woot D&G) and are always there alongside learning objectives” and that “holistic instructional design sees everything, does not hone in on that one learning outcome node but rather opens the space up to non-linear organic learning”. Subjectivity means that my learning with Rhizo15 will not focus on any one particular item and will smoothly move from topic to topic. I am certainly OK with this – smooth, fluid, movement from idea to idea. How can I provide this same experience and opportunity for my students or will any of them even want it this way? Just because I’m ok with it, doesn’t mean they will be. I can’t be neutral in learning or teaching spaces, but I can be honest and open about it. Maha reminds me that “Embracing subjectivity entails opening ourselves to questioning and evolution”. Rhizo15 may help the evolution of my learning and teaching.

So, I better get myself straight on the subjectivities for this course, before the squirrels catch my attention again! I will not be neutral in Rhizo15.

  • I will state my intentions, ideas and stance in public and allow some uncovering or challenging to occur, no matter how uncomfortable the push or pull may feel. My students deserve the transformed me that may evolve from the experience.
  • I will move (put creeping rhizome analogy here) fluidly and smoothly within ideas and conceptions, putting out shoots, planting some nodes, connecting to others in this dynamic learning space.
  • I will evolve my ideas and practices about teaching by reflecting and applying this experience of unstructured learning.

OK…. ooops… ‘squirrel’!2796304725_dd354ef50d_m

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7 Responses to From Squirrels to Rhizomes: An intro to #rhizo15

  1. Great intentio, not being neutral. I’ve been having “oh look, squirrel” moments all day today.

  2. lisahubbell says:

    Yes, yes, yes. My daughter calls this “ooh, shiny!”

  3. Susan says:

    Love squirrels. Great analogy. Wait, what?
    [Great post!]

  4. Your point about “Squirrel” reminded me of one of my daughter’s favorite movies UP. If you haven’t watch it you will love this:

    When I read your subjective re: unstructured learning, I was reminded of Jim Groom’s Summer of Oblivion shared during HumanMOOC and the pedagogy of uncertainty which allowed the learners to drive the narrative of the learning.

  5. Pingback: #rhizo15 Learning Subjectives is #insidethebox | Viplav Baxi's Meanderings

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