#Rhizo15: Annotating to Understand

Annotating Susan

One of the lines of inquiry this week for Rhizomatic Learning is about the subjective element of learning spaces. While Dave Cormier suggests we think about this in terms of designing a course, I can’t help but think about it as a learner in online communities, too. Unfortunately, I am grappling with the objective vs subjective ideas, so I am seeking out others in the Rhizo15 who are explaining it better than I can, in hopes they can explain it to me.

Of course, in doing so, I am letting their subjective experiences influence my subjective experiences. Not very objective of me, is it? But this is how I learn, from gathering ideas from others and trying to figure out my own line of truth. Or as close to an understanding as I can help to get.

Take Susan, for example. Her post this morning really was what I was looking for, in terms of teasing out the various terminology and allowing me to think about my own understanding. I ended up annotating her blog post in Diigo as a way to interact with her words and ideas.

My takeaways on this topic:

  • I never go into a course as a student with an objective outlook. I bring all of my experiences with me, and those experiences form my expectations. This can be good (I am open to whatever comes my way as long as I am engaged) and this can be bad (what do you mean, there is no plan for where we are going?) but I know that if a course/event does not work for me, I can pull out with no regrets (sorry, but the fedwiki project a few weeks ago did not work for me).
  • Note: if ever there was a course that is not a course, and the role of student that does not feel like a student, that would be Rhizomatic Learning. There is always the sense of, we’re all in this together. If you are used to a course having a clear syllabus, and course objectives laid out, this line of cloudy inquiry can be discomforting.
  • As a teacher, I realize how much the “objective” lesson planning expectation is baked into the language of our profession. I suspect this is from the data-driven culture, where learning must be reduced to numbers so that it can be converted into charts that can be shared in Powerpoints that an influence policy that trickles down like a ton of bricks to us classroom teachers. I am gathering my “evidence” of student learning for my principal and noting how much is boiled down into those outcomes. We lose the individual when we do this. I know that. Still, I fall in line. My artifact portfolio has graphs, and numbers, and data … and my students as learners and writers … they get lost in the mix. That’s where the objective inquiry fails miserably to the subjective, right?
  • I was glad that Susan brought the concept of “subversive” into the mix, and while her tone seems more negative than I would have put it, I see my own learning style as a subversive learner, as someone pushing at the edges and using humor and remixing and other non-traditional methods to find the heart of what I need to know, and maybe bring along a few collaborators as I go. I don’t consider this an act of disrespect … I see it as an act of independence.
  • I’m still struggling with the line of our inherent bias that we bring to the table and the concept of being subjective as a learner. Some friends on Twitter have provided me with some helpful insights. Certainly our biases shape our experiences, as both teacher and student. Sarah suggested that subjective goals are what we want out of an experience — we have agency over articulating our expectations — while bias is the shape of us (not her words here, mine).

So, yeah, more confusion than clarity, but I am OK with that. The more I read from others, like Susan, the more my own thinking expands. I like that.

Peace (in the think),

  1. Your statement “how much the “objective” lesson planning expectation is baked into the language of our profession” caught my attention because of the open rhizo15 recipe connection. I think this is particularly true about all educators since it is taught and drilled that every lesson has to have objectives, goals, learning outcomes. These have to be actionable, evident and measurable. If you don’t know where you are going, are objectives even possible? So if we turn to subjectives, where does that leave the teacher? The role changes dramatically. As I’m writing this, I think it hinges on control or agency. What do you think? That’s maybe why you connected to the subversion of learning and challenge the edges by pushing for independence. Do you only collect the evidence of learning to provide it to your principal or is the primary purpose to inform your students about how they are doing? Are the students subjects of this process or objects? Are they involved in any way in this process?
    Really thought provoking post! I’ll have to ‘diigo’ you! (planted for further growth!)

    • In a lot of ways, I think subjectives are an acknowledgement of lifelong and informal learning, that the ideas that stick with any one of us form idiosyncratic constellations of meaning that may not be bounded within the term of any one course or learning experience. Within formal learning, it may make sense to invite subjectives from the class, or to state those that reflect your own intentions, alongside any objectives that are required for the syllabus or lesson plans.

      Here’s a great example from Leslie Madsen-Brooks, of having students give input on revising a syllabus: http://www.cluttermuseum.com/on-instructional-design/

  2. since I commented on Diigo and Susan’s blog post, commenting again here could be considered redundant, circular, subversive, all of the above — or just a minor cog in some Rube Goldberg device.

    The real hazard in biases is when we (or whoever) normalizes, denies, does not recognize them or identifies them as the acceptable norm (the only right answer on any standard test)

  3. “if ever there was a course that is not a course, and the role of student that does not feel like a student, that would be Rhizomatic Learning” – so true!!!

    I also don’t see subversion as necessarily negative.

    Wish I could see your annotations. Still trying.

    You inspire me and make me think. Thank you.

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