I made a ton of comics for the most recent round of Rhizomatic Learning with Dave Cormier, as well as other assorted media, such as memes and graphs and artwork. I realized, as Rhizo15 now officially winds down (but really, it never ends, if we can help it … thus, the Let’s Connect image above), that I have 56 items in my Flickr Album for Rhizo15.
How’d that happen? (Wait — now 57, as I added a screenshot of the group into the album itself)
Check out the full album (if you want) In all seriousness, this array of ideas does represent a lot of my thinking and connecting, and how to value with humor the important things being done inside the Rhizo15 collective (community? network? assortment of oddities?)
I’ve been trying to think about how best to reflect in writing about what I have learned with Rhizo15 and in typical rhizomatic fashion, I find it difficult to pinpoint specific things in a way that will make sense to a larger audience (that’d be you, my reader friend).
I did make this comic the other day, as part of Dave Cormier’s call for artifacts to explain Rhizomatic Learning.
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I was just a participant in this MOOC, but as a facilitator of the CLMOOC the past two summers and as a Make Cycle leader this coming CLMOOC, I am excited to be part of the reverberations of that project in this project. When you run a collaboration like CLMOOC, you hope others will build off the experience, and they did, and it was fun and wonderful.
The Writing Thief refers to the common book we all read by Ruth Culham about mentor texts.
I made a version of this overview of the Making Learning Connected Massive Open Online Collaboration in the first year of the CLMOOC and I keep updating it each year, in hopes it will give folks an idea of the fun in store for the CLMOOC participants. It’s free. It’s a blast. And it’s facilitated by the National Writing Project and the Innovator Educator Network.
My latest post over at Middleweb is about a poetry project in which my students not only write digital poems, but learned about the use of image and citation, and the underlying structure of the Internet itself: the hyperlink.
Speaking of technology and writing, spend a few minutes watching this video. Brad Wilson gave a short Ignite talk at MRA (Michigan Reading Association) on how to shift away from talking about technology itself and instead, to talk about writing. He lays the blame for students not fully engaging in writing in a digital age to teachers, and then shows a potential path forward.
A few folks have been sharing some pretty interesting data collections of the Rhizomatic Learning community over the past six weeks, showing how people are connecting and forming social media clusters over time and over topics.
Ever since the first year of the CLMOOC, I’ve been intrigued by those who remain on the outskirts, watching. In CLMOOC, we have made welcoming those folks a high priority at every turn because what our follow-up work found was that those so-called “lurkers” (such a strange word) later become active members. It just takes some time to get their footing.
So, when Aras released another data map of Rhizo15, and Simon pulled it into Thinglink to add some funny annotations, I could not resist the urge to make it into a comic, with dialogue from those on the edge of the social network spaces. They are in but not quite in, and I wondered what they were talking about, these sort-of “outliers.”
Terry, with Nick’s permission, took Page 45 from the book and popped it into ThingLink for a crowdsourced annotation. I found it fascinating to add layers to the work, mulling over how the messages of the page might get represented by other work, pulling the reader from the page itself. In effect, we are doing a dance with Nick, the writer, saying to yet a third reader: “Here is what I see in this. What do you see?”
Meanwhile, I took an image of Page 45, too, and began to mess around with it in various photo editors. One of them allows me to really remix an image, through various cut-up lens. This one gives the impression of a collage remix, with the box emphasizing a message all of its own.
Then, I thought: What if I cut out the frames of the page and re-arranged them into something new? Would that even work? Would it make sense? It was worth a try. Here’s what I came up with when I was done.
This not a review, per se, but a sharing of my various interpretations of the theme (as I understand it) behind Nick Sousanis’ interesting graphic novel/dissertation Unflattening. (This book was suggested by my friend Ron in the Rhizomatic Learning space, and then Susan mentioned she had read it and so did Wendy, and then Terry got the book and began doing his own interpretations and then Greg just got the book but knew of the work and … meanwhile, Sousanis himself has been engaged in the conversations on Twitter about our observations of his work … all pretty fascinating in and of itself)
Honestly, I will need to read Unflattening again, and maybe a few more times, to gather up all of the nuances of thinking, but Sousanis puts forth ideas about how to break free of a narrow vision of the world and art and meaning by reminding us that we need to better see how image and art and other perceptions come into play when navigating the world. His use of the comic/graphic story format is incredibly engaging and interesting, and perfectly suited for this kind of philosophical journey.
While reading, I kept wondering how to represent my own thinking as the reader (following Terry’s lead) in non-traditional ways. How could I “unflatten” my own experiences with the book?
Unflattening is a simultaneous engagement of multiple vantage points from which to engender new ways of seeing.” — Sousanis, page 32
I began, as I usually do but which seemed very appropriate here, with a comic and a remix. I took a page from Unflattening and added my own layer of comic characters, making commentary on the content of the page. My idea was not to lessen Sousanis’ message, but to strengthen it by showing how a reader can interact with text.
Still, the remix comic exists in flat space.
I started thinking, Sousanis should have an Augmented Reality layer to the book, which would create an invisible layer of information and maybe more insights on top of the book as it exists. If we all had Google Glasses when we might read books in a different way …
This led me back to the Aurasmas app, which I have toyed around with before, to see if I could add a layer of commentary via video on top of the book itself. I was quickly reminded how complicated it is to share “auras” (as the app calls them) but I finally figured it out (the app is native to your device; if you want to share auras you create, you need to set up a folder at the website, load your project there, and then share out the link. Those who have the app can use the link, which opens up the app on their device and sets off the “aura” when they point their camera at the object, which in this case is Unflattening.)
Here, then (I hope) is the link you can use to get to my “aura” of Unflattening. Don’t have the book? No problem. Use the image of the book’s cover here as your object for launching the aura. On your mobile device, click on the link below, which should launch the app, and then point your camera on the image in this post (OK, so that might require some device juggling. Be safe out there, people.) Ideally, a video of me should emerge in the augmented layer of the book’s cover. I hope it works for you. It did for me, when I tested it. If not, the above screenshot is pretty nifty, with the illustration web of footprints running through my face (and what’s up with my eyes? I must be in the midst of some keen perceptions there).
It also occurred to me that I could use a nifty tool in the Firefox browser that lets you get a 3D look at websites, and that I could use that tool to look at Sousanis’ own website where he writes about the writing of Unflattening. I love how he uses the last part of his book to talk about what influenced individual pages. I am a sucker for “behind the scenes” of writers. In using the 3D view tool in Firefox, I would be making the leap from the book to the author writing about the book that I was reading, and I would be using yet another lens to see what he was writing about. Maybe. I’m not sure it succeeded on that level, but it is still an intriguing look at how to use “multiple engagement points” to look at the web. I took a tour.
Meanwhile, Terry and Greg and I and a few others are working on a media annotation of a page in Unflattening, with Sousanis’ permission (although, to be frank, we would have done it anyway, as that is the reader’s prerogative, but we let Sousanis pick the page from his book he would like us to annotate because the relationship between reader and writer is always an interesting one to explore. I wonder how Nick feels about all this.)
In the final (maybe) week (spin cycle) of Rhizomatic Learning (roots take hold), Dave (the instigator) asks us to consider (please) adding elements to a crowd-sourced Practical Guide to Rhizomatic Learning that will become sort of a legacy project for the community/network/crowd/swarm.
I’m into that.
So I dove into Bitstrips for Schools (which my students use to make media) to create a comic book version of some advice, using characters of some friends who happen be in the Rhizo15 community already, including a Dave character from some past project that focused on Dave and his Daveness. I don’t quite remember now why I had made a Dave. (Anyone? It might have been a DS106 assignment)
I used a site called FlipHTML5 to create a flipbook version of the comic, which makes it easier to read. You can also see the full comic as a single page (it’s long) over at Flickr, too.
This is mostly likely a pop cultural reference that only those in North America really get (sorry, everyone else) but with the retirement of late night television show host David Letterman, there has been a lot of news about his Top Ten lists.
When a newsletter from another Dave (Cormier) entered my email box, asking us to think and maybe contribute to the development of a practical guide for engaging in Rhizomatic Learning, my sarcasm box got powered up.
And so, with apologies to both Daves (one for ripping off the sarcastic Top Ten idea and the other for aiming the sarcasm at Rhizo15, which I love), I give you my Top Ten Reasons You Should NOT Join Rhizo15:
By the way, I used the Hanx writing app, which gives you that old-fashioned typewriter feel to writing. I like the look of it for a top ten list.
I took this quiz after read this post by Ellie in the Rhizomatic Learning network and I know it’s determination of me as that ugly child-stealing, gold-weaving villain is not worth a hill of beans (or maybe a mountain of straw?). But the post by Ellie is still interesting as a conceptual device, as she wonders aloud about how we can map ourselves to fairy tales. Fairy tales are such archetypal stories, right?
She pulls out an interesting bit that she once wrote that guides her own writing:
Map your life onto fairytales if there’s no other way to navigate
It has me wondering if Disney hasn’t spoiled this notion for so many of us, with its sugar-coated, Captain-Crunched recasting of Grimm Brothers’ stories of old, which were very scary and not always happily-ended, and often tended to resolve themselves on the fortitude and wits of the heroes and protagonists, not on the kindness of strangers.
I don’t know what fairy tale I would map my own life to in a way that makes sense (that would be a messy adventure), but the fairy tale character generator that put me as a villain like Rump is intriguing in itself. Spinning gold from straw? Blog posts from ideas? Stories from thin air? Poems from a single word?
I do that.
I wouldn’t go about stealing your baby, but I might remix it a bit, changing the nature of your creative offspring to make it something new and interesting, and then, unlike Rump, I give it back to you, too. You don’t even need to speak my name to dispel the magic, and I won’t be dancing around a fire night at midnight, gloating over my plans.