A fractal view of rhizomatic education…

Quick Disclaimer:

I seem to be struggling with is putting the nib to the page or at least selecting the submit/publish button.  It must be because I find it different to join the conversation or worried about being wrong.  I hoping these blog posts will get better.

ImageAnyway, now for the blog post:

I’ve been reading and watching and thinking about this new term rhizomatic education.  This doesn’t seem to be a concept easy to get your head around.  For one, it is such a different model of traditional forms of education you can’t help but chew on the idea until it makes more sense.  I seriously must have read the section below of Rhizomatic Education: Community as Curriclum a half dozen times.

“This is the new reality. Knowledge seekers in cutting-edge fields are increasingly finding that ongoing appraisal of new developments is most effectively achieved through the participatory and negotiated experience of rhizomatic community engagement. Through involvement in multiple communities where new information is being assimilated and tested, educators can begin to apprehend the moving target that is knowledge in the modern learning environment.”

It was amazing to me to think about knowledge as a path and a path of our own choosing.  And, if everyone is choosing his or her own path then how could there be any sort of continuity to knowledge.  Is there supposed to be standards and wholeness to what we know as a group of learners.  I couldn’t help but think this mode of learning must be a complete mess and completely out of control.  Then I remember a scientific concept from my freshmen year of college… chaos theory.  The chaos theory I remember was defined by patterns emerging from what seemed to be unpredictable events and in many cases absolutely beautiful when visualized.  Those visualizations are called fractals.  Now, I don’t know if this is what Dave Cormier was trying to explain in the article, but when I saw this video again it started to make more sense.  In this less than two-minute clip we follow the path of one person’s knowledge.  In the theory of rhizomatic education if another person were to enter this fractal we’d see a completely different path, however the patterns of knowledge would be the same.

What’s in the N…

ImageI’ve been thinking about Benjamin Wilkoff’s vlob post called From Network to Neighborhood: A New Definition for PLNs.  I really like how he challenges the viewer to think differently about what the (N) stands for in PLN and want to extend this discussion a little further.   I think creating an acronym is relatively easy, but clearly defining one is much harder.  For me the whole idea of having a Personal Learning Network is new, so I needed to create a game to better understand the concept.   The game was simple.  I wanted to find new words beginning with the letter N, but still accurately defined a Personal Learning Network.  Here is what I came up with.  How’d you play?




“An interconnected system of things and people.”  A good place to start considering it’s the original definition.


“A district or community forming within a city or town.”  Although it does not occupy a physical city or town it’s definitely creates a virtual sense of community.



“A structure in which animals give birth to their young.”  We humans are animals and in this context it’s our ideas that have of a safe place to grow.



“The writing point of a pen.”  Thoughts are just thoughts unless they are put down on paper.  It’s the act that connects us.



“A large hard-shelled seed.”  This ones kinda stretch, however a tree does grow up from a single seed.



“A slight push into action.”  Our thoughts and idea beget more thoughts and ideas.  I’d say this MOOC has been the slight push I needed to get going. 


“The means of connection between things.”  I like this one a lot.  If there is only one connection from this experience it’s the connections between the people we meet.


“The positively charged dense center of an atom.”  It’s been amazing how welcome and open people have been in this community.  It’d say that’s positive. 


“An organized body of people under a single government.”  There is a clear group of leaders putting this MOOC together and standards have been set for its citizens.


“Tortilla chips topped with yummy goodness.”  Has absolutely nothing to do with a learning network, but happens to be my favorite food. 

At Lurks End…

ImageIt has only been a week of #etmooc and I can already tell a difference.  A difference in how I will connect with people online in the future.  I’d like to think of myself as technically savvy person and getting setup for something like was going to be a snap… not true.  I made a decision early on to start from scratch by creating a new email address, new twitter handle, joining a new G+ community and creating this blog in the name of keeping myself organized.  However, something strange happened each time I created a new username.  There was a lot of pressure in creating a new online identity.  I first wanted to use my real name, but of course that was already taken.  Then I spent so much time thinking of a clever nickname, which was also taken.  Clearly I’m equally as not clever as tech savvy.  The biggest challenge was finding an available username across all these platforms.  The pressure was increasing as a steady stream of notifications overwhelming my phone with people making their presents known to the community.  Then finally it happened when all the pieces fell into place to form my new digital self and @tpkbrenner was formed.  But great, now I have a username with nothing attached to it… hardly an online identity.  This is where #etmooc comes in and I find myself at lurks end.  Even though there are over a thousand people involved in this community it provides a structure to focus attention on sharing ideas.  There is something comforting about having a common thread and will give this lurker the ability to jump.