Exploring rhizomatic learning on #rhizo14

A new year, a new MOOC!  Over the next few weeks Dave Cormier is running a cMOOC on rhizomatic learning over on the Peer2Peer University platform.  I’m  hoping to dip in and out of this MOOC as I’m interested in exploring the concept of rhizomatic learning a bit further and particularly in the context of of #FOAMed (Free Open Access Meducation).

I’ve chipped in on conversations on Twitter about FOAMed and the learning theories that might be relevant to this growing movement in medical education. FOAMed is frequently described as a community of practice and it can also be seen as an example of connectivisim. Social networking and media tools like Twitter, blogs, YouTube etc have played a key role in the growth of FOAMed providing open publishing platforms and facilitating connections shaping a new online learning landscape.

In ‘Communities of Practice: Critical perspectives‘, Yrjö Engeström has contributed a chapter ‘From communities of practice to Mycorrhizae‘ in which he considers the social production of learning as a new landscape of learning. Engeström presents a framework for conceptualising this landscape where runaway objects are created, which have the potential to gain a global scale of influence. These are then exchanged, negotiated and peer reviewed in a learning  environment that is highly expansive, multidirectional and has a swarming type of engagement, which he describes as being like ‘mycorrhizae’.  I think his framework does describe how I see FOAMed.  Engeström had considered rhizomatic learning as a framework but felt the horizontal and vertical rhizomatic connections too limiting.

I’ve been mulling over this off and on for a few months and so hoping that whilst the rhizomatic learning MOOC is running I’ll be able to give a bit more time to exploring these ways of viewing learning further. Against the backdrop of this MOOC I’m also continuing to think about our students’ learning literacies including their digital literacy skills. Reading Ronan Kavanagh’s blog post last week ‘How Twitter cured my mid-life crisis‘ highlighted yet again how differently our students view Twitter.  We’ve used Twitter to support our teaching in public health but the majority of students don’t seem to really like using it or see the point of using it to support their learning.  Those that do get it put it to good use and seem to reap the benefits.  We’re looking at other ways to try and engage students with all of this and make them aware of the potential but maybe we’re flogging a dead horse … or maybe they won’t get it till they’re middle aged!

Further reading

Rhizomatic learning – Why we teach? by Dave Cormier

Mycorrhizal networks and learning by David WIley

3 comments

  1. I finally know what I am !
    A nomadic rhizome – not the big fruit at the top of the tree !
    Please keep me “informed” – information for medics
    Kind regards
    Rod

    1. Do you think that is the case? I’m really just exploring this concept in relation to medical education, I think some might take exception to it!! Perhaps it’s the technology facilitating new connections and networks that makes the rhizome analogy seem more relevant.

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