Another edition of the fabulous “mostly run by” Dave Cormier, Rhizomatic Learning conversation Rhizo15 begins! The question of the week, with the usual deep subversive intent is:
Build learning subjectives: How do we design our own or others learning when we don’t know where we are going? How does that free us up? What can we get done with subjectives that can’t be done with objectives?
Are we thinking inside the box? Does changing around “objectives” to “subjectives” free us from tradition – the tradition that says that learning must be designed?
Simon Worren (Worried Teacher) points out a way of looking at it – emergent outcomes.
Intended learning outcomes (ILOs) are essential in module planning to indicate the direction of teaching, however, it must be recognised that ILOs represent the lecturer’s intentions for study, not the student’s.
Carl Gombrich makes the point that design based learning (in the instructional design sense) is often at odds with traditional university based education that is more “emergent” in nature – the former more equipped to deal with “skills” and the latter with “concepts”. While most of the university education we have seen (atleast in India) is hardly emergent, it is also true that much of design based learning is hardly “aesthetic” either, at least at scale. He makes the case for a merger – “design for concepts” rather than “design for skills”. By that he suggests that either we move to a higher level of abstraction in design (say, through more loosely defined learning outcomes) or that we recognize that certain areas of study are more suited to one versus the other approach.
Sarah Honeychurch challenges the notion that rhizomatic learning is at once personal and collaborative in nature. Perhaps that learning may be greatly enhanced if it was collaborative, and perhaps we are all missing out learning from her attempts. I think the point to be made is that you may not necessarily want your learning to be public or brought about by shared experiences, but the more we learn and share collaboratively, the more we help learning as a whole.
Simon makes the point that people and ideas (and beliefs) cannot really be separated and that the learner has her own agency in deciding how, when, why, whether and where to interact with others. Collaboration cannot really be mandated to be an essential condition for learning. Also he makes the point that embracing messiness and uncertainty in learning does not necessarily mean that education systems as such should embrace messiness and uncertainty or that knowledge is only fuzzy and uncertain.
My sense is that we are not talking about the same thing here. I think the focus is not on defining a single way in which we learn. The focus is on one possible way to learn – a way that is intensely collaborative, yet personal – which some people may find to be extremely fulfilling, so much so that they would exercise their agency and choose it to be the way they would like to learn in the world. Many people would not find this way “super-fun” and they may simply not be comfortable negotiating the messiness, but that does not mean that way of learning is unreal or useless.
Rebecca asks the million dollar question – what feeds/constrains online collaborations? This is something that we need much more work on. There is much to learn from the cMOOCs since 2008 and many other experiments across the world. Perhaps we are hitting the problem with the same old approach – trying to “design it” – trying to change the way we learn and teach by employing new ideas.
My own belief is that when we engage with new forms of online, social collaboration, the only real outcome we should be concerned with how well learners and teachers are able to negotiate this medium with each instance of such emergent learning. It is a longer term process of realigning to or establishing a new way of learning, more than a way to establish a better design paradigm that generates better traditional outputs such as grades. Maha Bali makes the case for making the subjective obvious (critical pedagogy) and makes the case that the goal is “…not to filter better performance from worse; it’s to help students learn.”
Thinking of objectives and subjectives seems very much #insidethebox (in all its variants – as the starting point for learning subjectives on a continuum, as elements that can be designed, or as inversions). We need to perhaps focus ourselves more on asking what if there was no design, no objectives and subjectives that we could identify – what then would learning really look like?
Great post! And I LOVE the image at the top of your website!
Thanks, Rebecca! I saw it as a transition from computer to web to network based “training” taking off on the traditional corporate e-learning models. Not totally appropriate to model the current “education” slant (vs. skills debate) because of the “training” element, so it perhaps needs a revamp. Would be great to know how you view the evolution.
I’m curious to know what you meant here: “Collaboration cannot really be mandated to be an essential condition for learning.” I’ve worked on some assigned group projects that never turned into real collaboration. The ones I have learned from had as much engagement with process as with product. Sometimes focusing on process was mandated.
There was discussion on the rhizosphere about whether learning was in fact deeply personal and individual or whether it is deeply networked and collaborative “by nature” (as Dave proposed). I suggested that there will be plurality in learning approaches and thus just one of those views may not be true all the time – just that if it is indeed collaborative, the opportunities for learning (and for others to learn from you) expand massively in this digital world.
Hi Viplav – thanks for the mention. Now, here’s a funny thing. When I wrote that I had never played in public or collaboratively. Now I have done both. And you’re right, I was missing out!