Although #TWP15 has ended its formal run, the network lives on (I hope!), and so I’m going to keep blogging about this WordPress based course, How the Web Works. It also occurred to me after today’s class meeting that sometimes it would be a helpful practice to blog about a particular meeting as a reflective exercise, to think out loud, and to capture a bit of what transpired to help clarify my own thinking. I realized toward the end of our time today that we were on an “associative” trail that was largely serendipitous and unpredictable. An associative trail, for those new ... Read more...
My reply to Christina below went to the ‘wrong place again….This would confuse student. heck it is confusing me
When I traveled recently in Germany on holiday, it was at the end of the #rhizo15 experience, when we were challenged en masse to reconsider learning objectives and even course (learning) content itself. While the formal period of this is now behind us, I find I need some form of closure (even for a course that does not, really, have an actual end). I have been trying to formulate what I learned in the #rhizo15 “course” for some time, and I realize I just need to write about it and see how it resonates.
Rhizomatic learning in the #rhizo15 experience covered roughly 6 weeks, and perhaps fittingly, 6 topics as I see them:
- How do we design learning subjectives when we go to unknown places?
- How can we measuring this learning?
- What does this all mean for content?
- How can we teach without a teacher?
- How does all this happen within a community?
- How do we now go and do this?
Way back when, I started to teach in the same way that I learned. I think this may be common.
While I am in the learning business (so to speak), I find that the more I learn and experience, the more I still teach in ways I learned. The difference is that I am continuously learning about learning, experiencing about experiencing, and trying to make sense of the places where people struggle most and thus the places where they have the most to learn. This is not just historical; what I learn now influences what I teach tomorrow.
My main take-away in the open learning, networked / connected experience that was #rhizo15 is that our continuous layers of reality — based on our learning + experiences+ context + beliefs — are often what is real to us. However, my reality may not be your reality, though when we speak and interact with others, we usually do not have time or the wherewithal to have these background conversations, and as a result we commonly experience My Reality as THE Reality. This may not be intentional, but many who do not focus on these issues do not stop to consider the subtle distinction.
This has enormous implications for how I teach, my expectations, my wants, desires, and beliefs (not to mention the examples I use in my work to illustrate what I am trying to get across). Have you ever made a political, religious, business, social, or cultural reference to illustrate a point, only to have it backfire when we learn simple references are not always simple?
This came home to me when I was organizing my images from my trip. I experienced powerful emotions and thoughts when I visited The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe — everything for who was remembered, what was remembered, what power remembering has, and what it may or may not mean for the future. Located in Berlin next to the US Embassy and across from the Brandenburg Gate, the memorial slopes down, and the seemingly numberless paths and blocks of different height hide and present others across different distances, bringing sight and what is hidden into a dance. I could see clearly, until my path suddenly blocked anything other than in front of me. Two feet later, I could suddenly see in more directions, again, though only for a moment. My reality grew and shrank in an instant.
When I walked through this memorial, I had not made the connection between it and #rhizo15, though in many ways learning is really like this. We constantly experience and make sense of our experiences, often while trying to communicate them with others. The key, and this is my take-away, is that only through interacting with others along the way, with all their own perspectives, can we better see how our realities are different. It is through this difference, and how we consider it, and what we then do with it, that we can help reach and guide or challenge those who we work with when tasked with creating and facilitating learning. We never know when our ideas will come into and out of sight, and also do not know when even better ideas may also come into view.
Walking through the memorial, thinking about the history it recalled, my experiences at the time, and what it all may mean for us tomorrow–this is what #rhizo15 was all about. Learning is not as organized as we like to pretend, as we never know how all those layers of reality really come together, for a short time, while we try to do something all with it.
Assignment URL: http://courses.olblogs.tru.ca/facdev/topic/post-1-getting-started/
The assignment is the initial assignment in a short course on the idea of social presence in online learning which is the process of encouraging Students to express their personalities and identities into a course space. They are asked to publish a post that includes a recording of their voice, an image of themselves, and/or an amiage of something that tells other participants something about themselves.
I started to understand things in a nice, and safe, dualistic way. Things were not like this, they are rather like that. Problematic areas of Germany’s past are expressed in one way or another, and just when I started falling into one area of the dualistic divide, another notion hit me that helped shatter it and illustrate how the rhizome moves and undulates. Let me explain.
As I continue to process our #rhizo15 experience, and particularly when considering various forms of #rhizomatic learning across variations in contexts, worldviews, and histories, I thought I began to appreciate the German habit of following the rules. After all, have rules that are fair and consistent, and what could be better?
That is, until we perceive them from a different perspective.
A tour guide we met emigrated to Germany many years ago, and told us a story that happened recently. He returned home one Saturday afternoon to find a note on the floor, inside his apartment, alerting him to the game t that the police entered his apartment, when nobody was at home, to do a 5 minute security scan. Heading down to the police station to inquire and ultimately complain about this, he was told there was a complaint about there being a gun in his apartment. You see, in Germany it is a No-No to have guns, so the neighbor’s complaint followed the letter of the law. The only problem, thus far, is this person’s son had a gun, one that was quite evidently a plastic toy.
This is where it got interesting for me, as the guide commented that he felt the police overstepped their boundaries when they entered and searched the apartment for the offending weapon, only to leave with nothing. He contended this action typified a German infatuation with laws, reporting on one’s neighbor for infractions, and a zealous use of policing. Sounds, perhaps, a bit like much of modern German history?
It certainly did for this person, though I found myself pausing to think of this story from a different perspective (or two). German gun control is somewhat different from that in the U.S., where guns are even sold at Wal-Mart, but my musing left me with more questions than answers.
- Is the issue mainly one of nosy neighbors or concerned citizen?
- Could somebody really mistake a plastic toy gun with a real one?
- To what limits can the authorities move to enforce laws?
- How somebody be offended when another person contacts the police to help make the neighborhood safer?
- To what extent does this person’s experience, as a somewhat recent resident (almost 20 years) affect his experiences now (as he came from an oppressive regime)?
- How do my own experiences of guns, police, laws, and travel affect my own reading of this situation (not to mention how tired I was at the time, overwhelmed after a tour of a Concentration Camp, recent considerations of alternative ways of learning and knowing, etc.)?
For me, the take-away was not my reaction, of agreement or disagreement or anything else. Instead, I found myself thinking beyond the dualism of simple yes or no answers. Perhaps that is the trap of dualism: questions are often only phrased to expect a yes or no, this or that answer. In fact, life is often quite a bit more complicated than a duality suggests. A Yes or No may be easier to box in our understandings, but do they really express the complexities of our experiences or beliefs?
As a lifelong learner and educator, what does all this mean when I teach or learn . . .