(Initial) Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali's blog has now moved to http://blog.mahabali.me


Intellectual Love & #rhizo14

Today has been a virtual emotional day for me, reading lots of the blog posts about the official “end” of rhizo14, giving virtual hugs on twitter and facebook. Sarah could not have put it better when she wrote in a comment on my last blog post: “I now can’t imagine my life without all of you in it’ – i feel exactly the same way about so many people I have engaged with here.

Learning is an emotional journey for me. I am also an emotional teacher, as one of my students recently blogged, titling her post: “do you really care?”

I recently came across the notion of intellectual love and it has helped me to hear the term… It put a term to this deep love I feel when learning… So rarely do we express this properly, this passion we have for learning… I have expressed falling in intellectual love with the journal Hybrid Pedagogy, for example. Not all people are like that, and this was the subject of my second-ever blog post “we are nerds” that produced a great conversation on my personal facebook.

But I think, though I have been in intellectual love with Dave since I came across his ideas and started interacting with him on twitter (i think the first time Dave and Bonnie talked to me on twitter was the highlight of my week or something!) – the way I feel about people on rhizo14 is even more than that. More than intellectual love, though that, too, is there, but I really do care about so many people I have only “known” for 6 weeks! What miracle has Dave brought about that created this feeling? And what is more, I have been feeling that way since week 2, man! Seriously.

Am trying to reflect on why, but I think it might mainly be when I posted my “body of knowledge or embodied knowledge” post and the kind of support people gave for that (and Dave thanking me for writing it, but i only just remembered that now -it was the community support that did it, really), and then Maddie’s post and the way people cared about how she felt and what she was saying (and again, Dave caring personally to find out what happened). Since then, there has been a core group of ppl who care to respond to fb and blogs and tweets, but that group grows and new people somehow, amazingly, get in and seem like they had always been there (you know who you are). It has not been perfect, some ppl have had a tougher time than others, I know, and I don’t want to be dismissive of that. But am just on the “high” of emotion right now…

I have learned so many things about creating community from the ways different people have treated each other and me, and I don’t want these relationships with these people who are now so dear to me… To end. But as I said on fb, rhizomes have no beginning or end, right?

Thankfully many of us (rhizomatically) wanting to remain involved , including a couple of groups interested in doing research about the MOOC. Please share your story with #rhizo14 in our collaborative autoethnography by clicking here and let us know if you’d like to continue to be involved in future writeups based on this.

Two final notes:
If we ever meet f2f e,g, at a conference, how would we know each other? Clarissa and i were discussing this on Twitter and Dani suggested tattoos haha. I thought maybe a sticker on our forehead (tattoos not permitted for me ;))

Finally: if you have been like me and too shy to ask people to be your friend on facebook even outside rhizo14… I am too shy to ask people, i don’t want to impose but when one person did it today, i realized how much i would like to have u guys on my personal fb as well

But may the #rhizo14 fb and twitter hashtag live on so that we may continue to live off of it 😉 ahem

Again, though: Please share your story with #rhizo14 in our collaborative autoethnography by clicking here and let us know if you’d like to continue to be involved in future writeups based on this.


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Rhizomes even bigger than I thought? #rhizo14

I have just had an intimate meeting with a group of people I had never met from a different university (and some had not even met each other beforehand) and YET in our discussion of critical citizenship for two different countries… I kept hearing “i was just thinking about this the other day” and “i just wrote that idea the other day”

Among those ideas:
The importance of developing a localized contextual notion of citizenship that does not necessarily follow Western tradition – because those notions do not suit us or work for us

This may not seem revolutionary, but when you are in a dynamic dialogue with people you have never met and keep bouncing ideas off each other and finding a lot resonates with what you had been thinking on your own…

It is making me re-think my initial ideas about social media influencing the development of our thoughts…though the one thing all present had in common was that they had read my citizenship article… But i think it is more than that… Maybe academics in the region are starting to think in a certain direction?

Will reflect some more…


Netiquette and the trouble with Community #rhizo14

This post is to share my reflections on netiquette as a system of rules and what it might mean to break them or create them communally, and also to reflect on limitations of the ideal of community as curriculum.

I am loving #rhizo14 so far, but I acknowledge feeling a tad overwhelmed. It isn’t the info overload and not being able to keep up with posts (I can manage, and I know not to feel obliged to do/read everything) – but it is the overflow of depth and breadth of ideas and discussions on various people’s blogs. Tat is overwhelming my brain a little 😉 and i am operating at about 25% capacity because i have a toddler 😉

Dave’s inspiring intro post uses metaphors of party and camp to describe this open course.

But camps can be traumatic experiences. Now I don’t mean to be a party-pooper, but I want to point out the obvious: in communities of peers, as in parties, we are not all “equal” even though there may be no clear hierarchical structure. There are those of us who are well-connected and receive a lot of attention. There are those of us who are comfortable with dancing, others comfortable with chatting, etc. We each take the path that suits us most or that we like on that day or in that moment. We have that choice, but we are also vulnerable. We are vulnerable to having our ideas challenged or rejected… Or worse (gasp!) totally overlooked and/or unread! The person standing aside at a party that no one talks to (thank God we know it is not because we are smelly, though i suspect sometime soon smell will transfer online somehow! Imagine what happens to all the cooking shows aaaah). But I digress.

Which brings me to the slightly unrelated issue of netiquette. Who decides on the rules of netiquette? Do those who intuitively follow them become better connected people? (E.g. Should I follow everyone who follows me on Twitter? Should I follow each blog that follows mine? Should I respond to every comment someone makes on my own blog? How critical can I be without offending a stranger? How cool is it that we feel comfortable engaging so deeply with total strangers?). What happens when you have a disagreement with someone on twitter, not meaning to be rude, and they unfollow you? Is it ethical to follow loads of folks then unfollow them if they don’t follow you back? Do you measure your social media success by who follows you? Do you care how many people are reading your blog? There is no formal teacher presence here to provide comfort. All participants are peers. All of them make the curriculum

And yet, we are again not equal. Some of us are better able to follow different platforms and get a broad view of what is going on… Others have issues with their internet connections and cannot be fully online all the time in order to participate as they would like. Some are more assertive at setting their own rules, others are followers. Some are comfortable with their creativity and with expressing themselves. Others are not.

I’d like to bring together the different great ideas floating around as Jenny has done here , I would love to incorporate multimedia as Maureen has here – but more so, I want to take some time to reflect on all the interesting and thought-provoking ideas floating around.

And guess what! I also want to take some time to read Dave’s work-in-progress book on rhizomatic learning because I keep wondering if I am truly contributing to the discussion or repeating ideas already thought of beforehand (not that this would diminish their value, but it is better to stand on the shoulders of giants (or dwarfs, really – standing on anyone’s shoulder is higher than the ground) than to work from the ground up.


Cormier’s Community as Curriculum, and Rhizomatic Education

I have just finished reading Dave Cormier’s 2008 article Rhizomatic Education: Community as Curriculum and thought I would reflect on it here. (I am actually unsure why I had never come across this before, as I have been doing lots of research on MOOCs, and he is the one who coined the term, after all!)

First, it resonated with me big-time regarding how knowledge about rapidly changing fields can no longer wait for the traditional learning/knowledge-acceptance cycle. My recent experience writing a peer-reviewed article about MOOCs was a great example! Between first draft, peer review, and second draft, a lot had changed in the MOOC landscape. Between article getting accepted and its upcoming publication, my own views about MOOCs have already changed as I have taken more MOOCs and read a lot more about others’ views, especially given the recent conference on the matter.

Second, I had been looking for approaches to online education that did not take traditional instructional design approaches, and this is definitely one of them, as it focuses on the community of learners as knowledge creators rather than an expert as central to deciding which content is valuable for the learners. Not surprisingly this sounds a lot like social constructivism and even more like connectivism (and Cormier does mention the similarities). He suggests, however, that these theories still assume

“…that the learning process should happen organically but that knowledge, or what is to be learned, is still something independently verifiable with a definitive beginning and end goal determined by curriculum.”


“In the rhizomatic view, knowledge can only be negotiated, and the contextual, collaborative learning experience shared by constructivist and connectivist pedagogies is a social as well as a personal knowledge-creation process with mutable goals and constantly negotiated premises”

Because knowledge in some fields is so fluid, he says it is like a moving target, and so community becomes central to curriculum,

“community is not the path to understanding or accessing the curriculum; rather, the community is the curriculum.”

This view has radical elements of empowerment, but I also have a tingling feeling that it might be missing something as many such approaches do: the inequalities within community. Just because all are told to “be peers and work collaboratively” does not mean they are equal. People have different levels of comfort with this kind of fluidity, they have different power to exert and confidence to exert it (e.g. Due to variations in tech skill, linguistic ability, time management, etc.), and the degree to which the are able to disconnect from traditional notions of canonical knowledge. Cormier does not by any means claim that this approach is appropriate for all disciplines and I value that contextualization.

I look forward to exploring these ideas further, reflecting on my own experiences with them (e.g.#edcmooc which I just finished, #FutureEd MOOC coming up) and how they connect with pedagogy even in less bleeding edge fields. I know there has been much more going on in the field since 2008, connectivist MOOCs (cMOOCs) being one phenomenon, and also HASTAC. Much more left to learn and reflect on, hopefully to bring back to my own teaching and faculty development work.