Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Activity 20 Exploring rhizomatic learning #h817open

I watched Dave Cormier's video on rhizomatic learning with enthusiasm and found myself sympathetic to the ideas put forward. The actual metaphor of the rhizome does convey some of the ad hoc nature of the information nodes gathered from a personal learning network and how an individual approaches learning a collection of topics. I somewhat doubt the community at large is familiar with rhizomes. As a computer scientist I would rather think rather in terms of information nodes in meshes or nets, particularly sparsely populated ones. So I would be tempted to use the concept of a personal learning mesh.

That said I wholeheartedly agree with the notion that the best teaching prepares people for dealing with uncertainty. In teaching computer science over 40 years I have always spent a great deal of time on the leading edge technological changes and urged students to look ahead. However influences by colleagues I have always been persuaded to teach the set of basic computer science concepts which we all know have evolved in significant ways over the decades.

Only in the last 5 years or so of my teaching did I introduce any part of the idea that the community (students) can help modify the curriculum. Usually half way through a subject I would map out some choices of study and invite other contributions from interested students. [Note this meant breaking the 'contract' set by the subject outline set 6 months or so in advance and containing the topics taught in each week of the subject.]

A recent email from a  Masters student I taught just 15 years ago contained an admission he was no longer an expert in ICT and was seeking work in office management instead. I believe if he had a stronger personal learning mesh along with the habit of continual update he would be better served. He has obviously not taken enough responsibility for maintaining his own learning (in ICT).

While I again agree strongly that learning cannot be measured accurately this goes counter to the attempts to ensure so-called measurable 'graduate attributes' that my previous institution now insists be done.

So I find myself in general agreement with the precepts of rhizomatic learning  but feel traditional higher education finds itself at odds them.