Confusion Before Clarity: Rhizomatic Learning

Into Rhizomatic Waters -- uncharted lands

Last year, I was lucky enough to make the leap into Dave Cormier’s Rhizomatic Learning project. I would not call it a MOOC. It was more a gathering of folks exploring this concept of the swirling, interconnected nature of learning experiences. Dave didn’t really provide much in the way of a curriculum. Instead, he challenged our thinking. He acted as a provocateur. His idea was “the community is the curriculum.”

Needless to say, it was intriguing and refreshingly unlike any other gathering or course I have been involved in, and many of the folks in that Rhizo14 have remained solid and strong and constant in my network of educators and thinkers for the past year.

And now Rhizomatic Learning is gearing up for 2015. I’m back in the mix, still wondering what the term “rhizomatic learning” really means and indicates, and how to make sense of something that is fairly slippery on the surface. I’d have a hard time if you and I were having coffee, and you asked, “So, this Rhizo thing, what’s that all about?”

My best bet would be, for me, it’s the confusion before the clarity. It’s an acknowledgement that not every learning experience has a linear path of understanding, and the realization that it may take you longer than you thought to get to the point of clarity. The idea of the rhizome is rooted in the belief that we need to be active in our engagement in the world, and be open to the experiences and expertise and influence of others. That we are not alone in our learning, even though we all must venture on the journey of discovery on our own.

Or at least, that’s my interpretation of it. Yours may be different.

Rhizomatic Learning, for me, in fact, still has many contradictions and many gray areas. I like that because — in some strange meta-way — it means my learning about Rhizomatic Learning is Rhizomatic Learning.

As a teacher, this whole adventure is helping me understand those students who struggle with deep concepts, who need to come in to an idea from odd angles, who may not be where I want them be when they leave me …. and yet, I still have the faith they will get there, eventually.


So, even Dave Cormier checks the oil on the rhizome, I am diving in, and playing around with the concepts. If I have learned one thing from the CLMOOC facilitation team, it is that the energy at the start — and the sense of creativity of a community or network — that defines an experience. Thus, I’ve been making memes, collaborating in music, and welcoming folks in the #rhizo15 Twitter hashtag.


And so it begins ..


Peace (in the twists and the turns),

Slice of Life: Making Adventure Happen

(Note: This is a Slice of Life, facilitated by Two Writing Teachers. Slice of Life is a weekly writing activity. You write, too.)

Rhizomatic Discoveries

It’s not that I didn’t have plenty of shoveling to do yesterday. I did. I did. But a snow day yesterday also gave me time to play around with an app that I had put on my iPad the other day, thanks to Paul Hamilton. Adventure Creator is a “make your own adventure” interactive fiction maker and I am still working to figure it out (Paul helped with a short video tutorial).

I’ve worked with Twine (which is free) and played around with some other “make your own adventure” — or interactive fiction — creators, such as Inklewriter. This Adventure Creator app seems intriguing, although it costs almost 4 bucks so I am not sure it is reasonable for an entire classroom.

Still, I dove in, played around and began making an interactive story about Rhizomatic Learning, as I gear up for the upcoming Rhizo15 online gathering that is slated to begin in March (I think). My idea is to create an interactive story, exploring a bit of rhizomatic thinking. Mostly, I hope it helps me better understand the concept. Even a year after Rhizo14, and the continued connections all year, I am still a bit fuzzy on this kind of interlacing and inter-tangent thinking of learning practices, although I know enough about it to know there is something there.

Adventure Creator allows you to build out a story, and I think you can add objects, but I have a lot to learn and am grateful for Paul’s video guidance, and now I need to dig into the app and find tutorials. Constructing a text-style ‘make your own adventure’ story requires planning and thinking but I think it could be cool.

Peace (on the map),

Connected Poem: The End of the Internet

Anybody else read the fascinating article in The New Yorker about the work by the Internet Archives to make a database of the entire Internet? I know about the Internet Archives and its Wayback Machine, but the piece by Jill Lepore  — called The Cobweb — was intriguing in many ways. (See my own blog in the archives).

The article had me thinking and that thinking led me to a poem, in which I used Hypothesis annotation tool as a sort of connector between my poem and Lepore’s article — with comments in the annotations as the sort of glue that holds it together.

A Glimpse of The End of the Internet
A Connected Poem
Kevin Hodgson

This morning, just after dawn,
with the blue lights flashing like shooting stars,
we bid farewell to the archived Internet —
all twenty six thousands pounds of it packed tight
inside a shipping container —
and we began again.

Some of us worry about the loss of memory
while others of us wonder about the possibility
of reinvention of the world,
now that we know how to build what we built
before we knew what we were building,
and how all those little scraps of words and images
and sounds and videos had become a scattered
collection of us.

Someone popped the cork off the champagne,
passed the bottle around, as the ship sailed off,
and someone else raised up a glass in a toast
to the potential of finally living in
the moment.

What none of us saw or imagined was the debris
of the Internet left behind in all the far
corners of the world,
in places where no amount of scrubbing
ever made the place clean.
Here, there were echoes of the past, imbuing us with
false knowledge of false starts, so that what we are building
becomes is built on the bones
of what we already built, for some things are beyond
our understanding.

One hundred days later, we all forgot anyway.

Works cited (if only temporarily and with little value as to the permanence of this piece):

Lepore, Jill. “The Cobweb.” The Cobweb. The New Yorker, 26 Jan. 2015. Web. 24 Jan. 2015. Funny how I was able to access this before the publication date, as if I stepped back in time to gather the article about archiving the past ….


Peace (in the poem),

Hey Terry, It’s Your Birthday

Nothing like some collaborative energy to celebrate a friend, and that’s what Maha, Simon and Susan and I have been up behind the scenes for our friend, Terry, whose birthday is today. We recorded a song, and then some thoughts — all via on online collaborative audio tool called Soundtrap (I’ll share out more about it later).

For now … Hey Terry, It’s Your Birthday!

And here is a bonus that I made for him, too. A comic series about our journey into the rabbit holes of technology.

Peace (in friendship),