What are you doing with “rhizomatic learning”? (#rhizo14)

1. The first question I ask of anyone proposing or using theory to interpret observations is: What can you do with the outcome?  (aka What is the relation between the representation and its implicated practices of intervention in the world?)  Trying to answer that question helps keep use of theory grounded and guides you in deciding how deeply you should get into the work of any give theorist (e.g., Deleuze and Guattari).

2. There are two levels of what you might be doing with ideas about rhizomatic learning:
a. exchanging ideas and affirmations with others who are keen to explore new internet and digital technologies;
b. facilitating learning by others you interact with [and by oneself] in some sphere of work, life, or education (other than exploring new internet and digital technologies).
(I am not averse to a bit of a., but I am hoping for more of b. than we’re yet getting in #rhizo14.)


What’s the use of it? (Complex maps of science in society), http://wp.me/sPWGi-2116
What if everything is always already unruly complexity?, http://wp.me/pPWGi-xF


p.s. The contrast between a. and b. has a parallel in the different responses of a. the Media Lab and P2Pu’s Phillip Schmidt vs. b. the Critical & Creative Thinking graduate program and myself to the same observation, namely, that during the Learning Creative Learning MOOC in 2013 very few of the groups formed by the mechanical MOOC or formed by individuals around a topic ended up with an (inter)active life.  The Media Lab and Schmidt have gone on to create unhangouts — a cool adaptation of google+ hangouts — while CCT created Collaborative Explorations (CEs) (http://collabex.wikispaces.com).  CEs come with a distinct vision of learning that we want to facilitate; unhangouts leave the processes of learning through interaction to whoever joins a given unhangout.   In a sense, unhangouts are more about TECHNOLOGICALLY-mediated learning than technologically-mediated LEARNING (http://wp.me/p1gwfa-gf).

(A relevant elaboration: blog post suggest[ing] a way that participants’ interests and energies could have been [more] engaged over the five hours of [an Occupy movement] “dis/Conference”: http://wp.me/p1gwfa-rS).


About Peter J. Taylor
Peter Taylor is a Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston where he teaches and directs undergraduate and graduate programs on critical thinking, reflective practice, and science-in-society. His research and writing focuses on the complexity of environmental and health sciences in their social context, incl. Unruly Complexity: Ecology, Interpretation, Engagement (U. Chicago Press, 2005) and Nature-nurture? No (2014, http://bit.ly/NNN2014). On reflective practice, see Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research & Engagement (with J. Szteiter, 2012, http://bit.ly/TYS2012).

7 Responses to What are you doing with “rhizomatic learning”? (#rhizo14)

  1. francesbell says:

    I am interested in 2b that you seem to restrict the learning to others – what about one’s own learning?

  2. Maha says:

    Thanks for that, Peter. I think you’ve asked some of the important questions (though others have different reasons for delving into theory that you may not have mentioned). I think RE your first point, it is a competition between theories for me: which theory (or way of learning) will reap the highest return with the least investment? Of course, sometimes you can’t know the vaue of a theory until you understand it, so it,s a bit of a paradox! But like, while doing my own research, if there was a theorist who was not an educator (e.g. Marx) who was heavily used by educators (e.g. Critical pedagogues like Freire, Giroux), i would start with the more immediately useful, then decide if i needed to go all the way. Otherwise, i would end up going all the way back to Aristotle for everything (or whoever).

  3. You should always go back to Aristotle, Maha 🙂 I agree, though, it’s a quandary deciding whether to invest time and energy before knowing it’ll be worthwhile.

  4. Appreciate the reflection and the comments it brought. I wonder what an experiment would be like in varying roles and degrees of help/community to weave together expectations and reality a bit more for any educational endeavor. I was intrigued by Maha’s comment in seeking the most with least investment or wanting proven usefulness ASAP. Is there a way to show more investment and more risk can yield higher benefits–a trust and worth exercise?

  5. This post is a rich reflection on the “doing,” mostly in relation to independence of those seen as disabled, but also in relation to one’s teenage offspring: http://imagineacircle.com/2014/01/26/baby-birds-and-the-enforcing-of-independence-rhizo14/

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