My MOOC experiences

conversations and learning in the digital world


Tilling the soil

Since we are talking about rhizomes I thought tillage is also important. Tillage is the agricultural preparation of soil by mechanical agitation of various types, such as digging, stirring, and overturning. One of the advantages of tilling the soil is that tillage helps develop strong healthy roots with better air circulation.

I am reading through blog posts that have sprung up after I posted this on the rhizo14 group on Facebook:

I find it ironic that people talk about their qualifications and researches and their ability to read and understand critical theory when that is not the aim of this uncourse at all. As long as everyone “gets” the generic meaning of it, all is well and we progress as a community. How everyone reaches to the end is immaterial. If you get the theory without reading it, you have cheated brilliantly.

Furthermore, I would like to assert my independence and state that I am not an academic and yet wish to be part of this uncourse. Does that make me “Un-qualified” to take it up? If we are to question the very foundation of the education system and try to change it so as to include one and all in a whole big community, then it shouldn’t matter whether I am a phd or a college drop out, should it? This is how a rhizome breaks.

Perhaps that was my way of unsettling the soil to make it healthy again for unrestrained growth.

Did I do it on purpose? No. Did I wish to make jabs at privileged people? No. Did I project such an outbreak? No. Did I want to make people uncomfortable? Probably yes. Perhaps to make them think and take charge. It started a discussion between academics and non academics or as my frainger Ary calls them pragmatists and theorists. It shook things up – the rhizomes multiplied and divided. It made some of us to stop and take notice of our actions and behaviours as academics, non-academics, pragmatists, wanna be academics, recovering academics etc. It was an opening of sorts to make people stop and spend some time to self assess and self re-mediate.

Dave told us in the week 2 hangout that “for rhizomatic learning to work, people need to feel like they are empowered and in control of their objectives.  It’s not possible to tell someone to be independent.” He’s right, you cannot just make people empowered, you cannot hand them down their powers or tell them to be responsible. There can only be the right circumstances that make people feel empowered and responsible. You can only create such circumstances or situations (not exactly scaffolding) but something that makes them uncomfortable perhaps? so as to make them take notice of their actions and behaviour which will in turn start a process of self-introspection and self re-mediation.

Here’s another example from my personal life. I am an only child and both my parents worked. I was mostly left to my own devices and gained a lot of life experiences from being alone and not relying on my parents during that time. It made me independent in a way that I had to take some everyday decisions without consulting my parents (this was before the cell phone invention). Did my parents actively want to make me independent? Is that why they both worked and left me in the care of my grandparents? No. It was only the circumstances. It made me independent at a very young age.

We cannot ignore the hierarchies in the educational system or any other system for that matter. One way to feel independent or to assert your independence is to take charge and break out of the mould and you can only do that when you are uncomfortable or in a situation that demands you to stand out and voice your opinion.

Someone posted this in the g+ rhizo community

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path.”
— Steve Jobs

“Every successful movement throughout human history – whether political, religious or social – has been shaped and driven by a powerful narrative, one that invites participation by many and makes it clear that the outcome hinges on that participation.”
— John Hagel

If I try to connect the dots now I can see how this independence was enforced by my post on me and on others. It made people uncomfortable – some agreed with it, some choose to ignore it.  It fostered a whole new rhizomatic network with people linking it to feminism, victimization, cultural differences etc..

Does that achieve my goal for this week? Enforce independence? Take responsibility, self-assess and self remediate?? Yes….I think so! A small ripple…



#rhizo14 on cheating as learning

Just started Dave Cormier’s Rhizomataic Learning:  The Content is the Community on the P2PU platform.

Week 1 Challenge – Use cheating as a weapon. How can you use the idea of cheating as a tool to take apart the structures that you work in? What does it say about learning? About power? About how you see teaching? Bonus – Do lots of rhizomatic teaching? Tell us about it.

My rhizomes were all connected in my head and then with this cheating – I felt a push that made them all spill over the floor like noodles all over crawling in different directions.


Image source: wikipedia

I am still uncomfortable with the word “cheating” in the context of learning. Who exactly are we trying to cheat – the educational institutions, their laws and structures, hierarchies or just ourselves? After listening to Dave’s explanation, I do get it but I don’t like it.

I read a lot many blogs, comments, tweets and still can’t get my head around the idea of cheating as learning. Maybe cheating is not the right word – do we mean collaboration, negotiation, exchange of ideas, bending rules, finding a leeway, permitted divergence, margin, space, latitude to look at things and find answers in a different and creative way and at the same time conform to the rules?

All unconnected thoughts going haywire.

For some reason the idea of cheating then led me to recall the fable of The Blind man and the Lame. The story goes like this: A blind man was walking down a bad road when he met a lame man. He asked the lame man to help him. The lame man said that he was too weak and couldn’t possibly help the blind man. The lame man was weak but could see and the blind man was strong. Both of them overcome their disability by helping each other out. The blind man carried the lame man on his shoulders and the lame showed the way even though he couldn’t walk. They both made a perfect whole.

Image source: Wikimedia

Image source: Wikimedia

By rendering their services to each other, they cheated on their disability and achieved what could have been impossible individually. They cheat on nature (physical disability) for good and think in creative and imaginative way to achieve their goal. There are many variations to this story but it symbolises the theme of mutual support.

This story in turn made me think of the #fraingers from #edcmooc and how we helped each other on our individual learning path. I wouldn’t say we had a disability but we taught each other tools and apps, supported and helped each other in coming up with our artefacts and played the part of being the sounding board to other’s half baked ideas. We met and connected, much like mercury drops and created this intricate labyrinth of ideas which grew like rhizomes. I hope with this mooc I get to meet more people with whom I can share and exchange my creative (dis)ability and grow my wholesome being.

Image source: Google

“individually each fish would be eaten up – but together they are a force”