#rhizo14: Rhizomatic Learning-The Community Is The Curriculum

Global Learning Commons
This term is appealing, it fits a vision of where I’ve been and where I’m heading in 2014.  I sat and chatted with Helen Crump on the Commons last year during OLDSMOOC, her post explains the concept so well. I’m beginning 2014 by heading onto the commons again, to investigate Rhizomatic Learning.

Rhizomatic Learning-The Community is the Curriculum
Over at Peer to Peer University Dave Cormier kicked off the course “Rhizomatic Learning-The Community is the Curriculum”. It’s been a fun week and my brain hurts.

The Facebook Group and Twitter hashtag #rhizo14 have been my main platforms of choice for dipping into the conversations and connecting with others from around the globe. That’s all you need for this kind of learning, and I’ve learned heaps.

Words to Describe Rhizomatic Learning
OK, so what does Dave talk about on his blog? I needed a place to start my understanding of Rhizomatic Learning. By grabbing the URL of “Dave’s Educational Blog” and running it through Tagxedo, a web tool for creating word clouds, the main words became evident. It was hot this week in Australia, hence the colours.


I posted this image on Facebook, here’s part of the interesting conversation that followed:


Is the Community the Curriculum?
Earlier this week I responded to a question raised by “Empty” in the P2P discussion thread:

“Does rhizomatic learning mean that the nature of the curriculum will reflect the nature of the community? Or is it more of an existential definition, ‘the community is the curriculum?”

Interesting one, I feel it does:

Applied to my context, an ex secondary school science & maths teacher, every year I looked forward to our lessons that covered the more complex & controversial topics in science. Evolution is a typical example…I had to tread carefully being an atheist chatting about evolution, in a Catholic school. Kids chatting about evolution, in the context of their upbringing & values of the school, was fascinating…the tangents in discussion & what we learnt from each other was gold. The scientific “facts” were in the textbook but the students rich and varied opinions & theories made the learning valuable for all of us.

How does Rhizomatic Learning compare to Connected Learning?
Being familiar with Connected Learning I was interested to know how it differs to Rhizomatic Learning. I asked on Facebook, here’s a few responses:


Cheating as Learning
After sharing ideas about Rhizomatic Learning we shifted focus onto “Cheating as Learning”. Can students find their own path around learning objectives…is that cheating? In my context as a science teacher, it would happen often:

We used to joke in our office of maths/science teachers…which Mum got the best mark for the latest assignment. Sure, there’s an “unwritten code of conduct” assuming the work submitted for assessment is done by the student. But hey, if one of my students was smart enough to go home and work with his/her parents to learn more about something…good on them I say. All you need to do is sit and chat with the student, it’s easy to spot what they have gained from the task. Better than any copy and paste effort.


So Rhizomatic Learning is messy, sure is, thinking about it is messy too…so hard to articulate. My understanding of things was helped by the “unhangout” live session where ideas were tossed around while Dave relaxed on his couch. Good stuff.

With  “Cheating as Learning” on my mind, thoughts wandered to the developing culture of “mixing and remixing” of knowledge in the classroom. Here’s my Facebook post:

There’s a huge gum tree outside my window with a couple of Kookaburras laughing away. While thinking about cheating & Rhizomatic learning, this laughing reminds me of a sad case of iconic rhymes, ownership, copyright, creativity, plagiarism, the law and suicide. I love the Men At Work song Down Under, many of you may have heard it. While this song was being recorded, Australian musician Greg Ham belted out the wonderful flute riff with unique improvisation. Subconsciously (or not) inspired by childhood music, 2 bars Greg’s flute riff come from the 1934 nursery rhyme “Kookaburra”. The Federal Court of Australia judged Men at Work, and their record label EMI, guilty of plagiarism. Greg Ham committed suicide in 2012.

Here’s the comparison…listen carefully to the flute riff towards the end of the “Down Under” snippet.

If you’re keen, here’s “Down Under” by Men At Work.

Students are mixing, remixing, sharing & possibly breaking the rules to meet their objectives. I’m hoping the law moves with the times.

Next Week it’s “Self Assessment and Self Remediation”…I look forward to the conversations.

#oldsmooc Growth in the Answer Garden

Emerging from the answer garden are shoots, some bigger than others. It’s beginning to reveal some clues about people’s perceptions of the meaning of Learning Design.

In my quest for enlightenment, I’ll re “Wordle” at the end of Weeks 6 and 9.

answergarden olds week 3

The size of each word reflects the frequency of answers.

Would you agree with the emphasis placed on these larger words in the context of looking for a definition of Learning Design?


Activity 3…Before And After The Spring Clean

Trumpet-02-juneI found this to be a difficult task…to spring clean my About Me page.

“Blowing my own trumpet”, so to speak, is not my way of doing things….I’d just rather do my best than brag about what, how, why and when I did it.

So, after 10 months of blogging, building an online presence and growing my Personal Learning Network, I’m glad this Challenge suggested that I clean up my act.

I’m glad because:

  • I realise that an About Me page isn’t about bragging. For readers keen enough to take a look, it’s a page that may generate interest and result in connections.
  • I no longer feel that putting carefully selected material in the internet is dangerous, it’s just a new way of doing things.
  • This page is part of my electronic portfolio or online journal. I’ve decided that CLOUD9 is my place to record and reflect on any Professional Development that I undertake.
  • Having left the classroom in 2010, but passionate to find employment in the area of Education during 2011, I believe that a professional online presence is necessary for the perusal of future employers.

Here’s what I did:

  • Converted some of my information into a visual format. My introduction is now in the form of a letter and descriptive words about me are located in a word cloud.
  • I listed my professional interests, current activities and the professional development that I completed while on leave during 2010.
  • Added a link to my profile on Linkedin
  • To avoid text overkill I converted paragraphs into dot points

So with visuals, links and dot points I have conveyed more information with less text.

That’s enough…don’t want to sound too loud on that trumpet.

Please leave a comment if you have any other suggestions. Thanks.

Extension Activity

A mind map showing the pages of this blog.

Created in the program bubbl.us


A Wordy Post

Being able to choose your own shape is a great feature of Tagxedo. It’s an example of technology that is not the focus of a task but a tool that allows students to add a creative and personal touch. I would use it at the beginning of a science topic by asking the students to brainstorm their prior knowledge of relevant words.

So, rather than just writing words in their exercise book I am using technology to make the task more personal and creative for my students. In this example the pedagogy rather than technology comes first. Just click on the Tagxedo if you would like to take a closer look.




Had a bit of a play around with Tagxedo today and found it to be a more versatile tool then Woordle. Being able to include numbers and choose a shape of your own is a bonus. This could be used to engage students when beginning a new topic or revising terms for a test.