Exploring rhizomatic learning



This week I have been reviewing and learning about Dave Cormier’s rhizomatic learning.

My notes on Dave’s video are below – from this I have answered the following questions:

  1. Were you convinced by rhizomatic learning as an approach?

    Cormier’s first assertion that the ‘best teaching prepares people for dealing with uncertainty’ had some resonance in that the world is increasingly uncertain and that learners need to be able to negotiate this. I enjoyed Cormier’s heat metaphor and the question posed around ‘what are we teaching?’ i.e. that fire burns, that you should listen when people tell you something (don’t touch the fire) or that you might want to be aware of and check for hot things. This brought the concept of teaching to prepare for uncertainty to life, however I am troubled by the assertion that this preparation is ‘the best teaching’    I appreciate the use of the rhizome metaphor and can see the relevance to how people learn of an organism that can map in any direction, is not neat and tidy and grows and spreads via experimentation regardless of breakage and I can see how the learner taking responsibility for their own learning, via a MOOC for example, may exemplify this.
  2. Could you imagine implementing rhizomatic learning?

    Currently, probably not. I can see the relevance of rhizomatic learning in some contexts but see the challenge around being able to assess and measure learning for formal purposes e.g. professional qualifications as a major blocker to rhizomatic learning being adopted as a mainstream approach. Cormier’s assertion that effort, engagement and connection should be measured and that we should stop measuring learning as this is impossible to do is certainly food for thought given that organisational learning consultants are consistently asked to demonstrate ROI (return on investment) for their ‘learning solutions’. Even this language implies a focus on ‘fixing a problem by giving a learner something to learn’!
  3. How might rhizomatic learning differ from current approaches?

    With an emphasis on the community being the curriculum and learners taking responsibility for their own and their peers learning, rhizomatic learning has similarities with how we are seeing MOOC pedagogy developing. For example, FutureLearn relies on community discussion and debate and certainly some of the learning is intended to be developed in the forums and therefore within the community. However, the content is structured and is still ‘led’ by an instructor. The curriculum is very structured over a fixed timetable with freedom to move at the learners own pace but there is no student development of the curriculum.
  4. What issues would arise in implementing rhizomatic learning?

    My context: Organisational learning and development
  • Creating a space for a community
  • Lack of structure and freedom of the learner – barrier to meeting statutory training requirements as laid down by the governing bodies of the industries and the UK government
  • In a busy world, where learning is seen as another ‘task’ on the list, it is possible learners will take ownership for their own learning but unlikely they will take ownership for others’ learning
  • From an educator’s perspective requires thought and skill to set up the type of questions and activities that move scenarios from the simple to the complex.
  • Creating space for experimentation and learners in the workplace feeling safe to experiment rather than produce their completed and final work.
  • Culture change: the need to prove ROI currently focuses attention on learning outcomes/objectives and what learners are doing differently as a result of their taking part in a learning activity. There would be a need to refocus on and measure effort, engagement and connection. Culturally this is a significant mind shift

My (rough!) notes on the video

Rhizomatic Learning Dave Cormier activity 20



Cormier, D. (2010) ‘Community as curriculm and open learning’, Dave’s Educational Blog, 17 Jun [online]. Available at http://davecormier.com/ edblog/ 2010/ 06/ 17/ community-as-curriculum-and-open-learning/

Week 11 Activity 20, MA ODE


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