26 June 2008 Leave a comment
Earlier on this week, the e-Learning team at the University of Bath attended a staff development session from Steve Wheeler [profile | blog], a Senior Lecturer in Education and Information Technology at the University of Plymouth. The session itself has been reflected in part elsewhere, so I’m going to focus my own efforts on something Steve highlighted during the morning, Rhizomatic Learning.
A quick Google Search indicated that the term was was coined a little while ago, and has recently been highlighted by Dave Cormier on his blog, and in particular, in a paper entitled Rhizomatic Education: Community as Curriculum.
In botany, a rhizome is a horizontal stem of a plant that is usually found underground, often sending out roots and shoots from its nodes… Some plants have rhizomes that grow above ground or that sit at the soil surface, including some Iris species, and ferns, whose spreading stems are rhizomes. Rhizomes may also be referred to as creeping rootstalks, or rootstocks.
During the paper, Cormier refers to the concept of a ‘rhizomatic-knowledge creation process’ that is overtaking traditional models. In part, this idea lends itself well to collaboration within wikis are the creation of a shared resource is often without structure and boundaries until an editing or review process. Contributions to a wiki, which can be both synchronous and asynchronous, often happen in real time, often supported by social discussion [either online or face-to-face]. With a wiki such as Wikipedia, hundreds and hundreds of edits can take place within a very short space of time, particularly when a world event or news story is unfolding. Keeping a structure to such pages can be problematic, particularly initially.
The ‘rhizomatic model of learning’ lends itself to a curriculum that is no longer predefined by experts but instead evolves. It is the community [of wiki users?] that determines a flexible ‘model of education’ which spontaneously shapes, constructs and reconstructs depending on external environmental factors. [Can my own classification take this into account?]
Whilst the above is just a small snapshot of some of the wider issues in the paper, it’s got me thinking. I’ve reached a bit of an impasse when it comes to my own work, not sure where it fits it. After Gilly Salmon‘s five-stage model, Steve has now put forward his complimentary Wiki activites – 5 stages model. Which leads me to asking two questions:
- Can my classification be influenced with either/both of Gilly and Steve’s models?
- Where does my classification fit into the mix? Does it?