Thursday, 13 March 2014

Navigating the Chaos

Photo Credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via Compfight cc

I am incorrigible. The five weeks of EVO finished a long time ago and here I am writing about Week 3. If you go through my last year's posts (for example, here), you will notice that this is not unusual. For me, real learning starts after the sessions are over. I go through the tasks I skipped, finish the readings and try to stay in touch with the community. And, from time to time, I even post something to my blog.

This year I chose to organise my weekly reflections around #rhizo14 challenges. #Rhiso14 is not even an EVO session, but I did sign up initially because it was my #MultiMOOC "homework" to sign up for a really massive online course and then observe what was happening. I only ever heard about #rhizo14 through #MultiMOOC.

#Rhizo14 was organised around weekly challenges. The challenge in Week 3 was to embrace uncertainty.

Photo Credit: Russ Allison Loar via Compfight cc

In Dave's own words:

We've spent two weeks talking about power - first from the student's perspective and then from the facilitators perspective. Come down the rabbit hole with me my friends. At the heart of the rhizome is a very messy network, one where not all the dots connect to all the lines. No centre. Multiple paths. Where we have beliefs and facts that contradict each other. Where our decisions are founded on an ever shifting knowledge base. Our challenge this week... how do we make our learning experience reflect (and celebrate) this uncertainty?

Dave goes on to ask:

How do we make embrace uncertainty in learning? How do we keep people encouraged about learning if there is no finite achievable goal? How do we teach when there are no answers, but only more questions?

During this same week in #Multimooc, Vance Stevens talked about chaos in learning and its resolution through networking. Here's the link to the audio. And here are Vance's slides:

Chaos in learning: Engaging learners in resolving chaos through networking from Vance Stevens

As you will see, the slides contain additional resources on chaos in learning. In the words of George Siemens: "...but if an instructor makes sense and gives you all the readings and sets the full path in place for you then you are eviscerating the learner's experience."

Yes, but how do you navigate chaos? Maureen Crawford suggests that we Press Pause, Let Go, Let Flow. In her own words:

       "When I try to navigate and respond to the Internet by only using the meta-lanuages of          speech, writing, math and scientific method, I find that often my expectations do not            align with what I am experiencing. If I take a fairly linear approach, thinking that I                  can comprehensively absorb or connect dots with what I already know I quickly find              that there are too many choices, possible directions, and things to be taken into                      consideration. Being methodical and trying to deal thoroughly with one aspect before            moving onto the next does not work particularly well – it is a reflection of my trying to          use old methods with new technology. There is a mismatch – neither one works well            and I become overwhelmed. The Internet is liquid not solid. To navigate I need to                 swim, to take flow into consideration – or as Marshal McLuhan would say, 
        “to use my wit“. Internet Lingo demands navigation by improvisation. When I begin to         feel that too much is happening I need to let go. Giving myself permission play, to let             go,  or to press pause is appropriate and results in the creation of a personal, healthy             Internet ecology!!"

In his webinar, Vance talks about serendipitous learning. If you need to know something, it will find its way to you. If you miss it the first time, it will come back. Trying to absorb it all at once is impossible. It is also unnecessary. Letting go is the first step.

The second step is networking. During Week 3 there was one more webinar in MultiMOOC. Ali Bostanciogly talked about Technology Professional Development: Networking and Online Communities. Here's the link to the MP3. Ali talked about the difference between networks and communities and how they can help us in our professional development.

This was the week when History and Future of (Mostly) Higher Education started on Coursera. I have really enjoyed this course and I am going to share a couple of things that fit nicely with the topic of this post. First of all, let me remind you of this video:

Did you see it? I did. But then, I wasn't very good at counting those balls. Maybe because the activity was boring (and I am terrible at boring repetitive tasks). Maybe I am good at multitasking. Or maybe I have an attention deficiency, which is why you wouldn't want me to count your money for you or be a basketball referee when your favourite team is playing.

In the first chapter of her book Now You See it (titled "I'll Count, You Take Care of the Gorilla"), professor Davidson talks about why collaboration has become a necessity in the modern world full of distracting stimuli. She uses the term "collaboration by difference" - we need people who can count and we need people who can spot the gorilla. We also need teachers who can bring together different personalities and teach them how to cooperate. Or maybe the kids will find ways to learn how to cooperate on their own. Isn't that what rhizomatic learning is all about?

Tags: #rhizo14, #MultiMOOC, #evomlt, #evosessions, #futereEd


Vanessa Vaile said...

Vance's Multilieracies was my gateway drug to MOOCs...he's still pushing. Seriously, thought the course is a great prep -- tools, essential skills (especially tagging). He was one of the first to emphasis it importance and how it crosses over between social media platforms, connects (there's that word) again.

At the end of my second Multiliteracy, 2010, Vance announced to us that an interesting course had started that we should think about trying -- two weeks in but to worry. That was PLENK2010. I was so turned around and just plain lost that I had to take the next one just to figure them out. There are parts of that one I am still digesting...

What kept me from going under was one of the organizers putting on the course blogging a weekly recap. That was Dave.

Maybe I should go back and blog lost weeks for EVOmlt too. I did tag a few to do double duty... but then again, embracing chaos means letting go, which includes not worrying or feeling guilty about it.

Vance Stevens said...

It's really great to read these posts. In one of George Siemens's recent lectures he said if he were to conceive a class he would have his students enroll in a Coursera course, with better materials than he could provide, and then conduct that class as a discourse around that content. In MultiMOOC I pointed people toward an actual viable cMOOC and asked them to come back to report what they were learning, and I'm pleased to see that Natasa and Vanessa have reported back. I'm sure there were others who might have straddled both, and at least one Rhizo14 participant started turning up in MultiMOOC Hangouts because it was where he was able to feel comfortable.

We've all learned a lot from one another over the years. As Stephen Downes says, the best teachers model and demonstrate and also practice and reflect (taking on lifelong student roles). Dave Cormier is one of the best modelers of how all four roles can be combined into one. And of course we learn from participants in the course through how they interpret what we had conceived as one way of doing things into something taking a different but productive direction.

I was also glad to see that one of my co-moderators Jim Buckingham was able to create and award badges. I know that Natasa and Vanessa were both recipients, and it's great how seeds planted eventually sprout, and things get done and are appreciated and acknowledged. Thanks for all that.

Scott J said...

Hi Natasa, loved the drones for schools slide. Not sure how it works but it reminds me of street corner teaching where someone starts talking about what they do and others gather by curiosity and the chance to engage. It may not be functionally understandable but because it isn't entirely purposeful or structured I think most people can grab sense from it. As operating beings we must have some sort basic "kit" of strategies and tools for understanding or we would have been eaten by lions a long time ago. This understanding from the middle must also be a feature of rhizomatic learning too?

Maybe "opportunistic learning" would be a useful way to describe our ability to make sense of things presented in incomplete ways? We must be able to see past distraction and the noise of complexity and I wonder how that works?

I'd say that kids are going to have to learn how to learn themselves. There's no payoff for schools to create complex individuals. They are difficult to manage and generally aren't recognized until it's safe to declare, without knowing anything about them, how important their ideas were.

Natasa said...

Vanessa, I believe that we first met in Multiliteracies three years ago. Now we share several online groups, including the Coursera Cafe, which I believe is a great example of rhizomatic learning (even though most of the time we are just fooling around).

My first experience with a cMOOC was CCK08 and I ran away screaming after two weeks. I wasn't ready, but that was before my first Multiliteracies course.

I hope Vance will keep offering MultiMOOC in the years to come. When I lose track of what I am doing elsewhere and why, I come back to MulitMOOC. So, I am very proud of my new badge.

You say: "...embracing chaos means letting go, which includes not worrying or feeling guilty about it." Great advice.

Natasa said...

Vance, I am very proud of my badge and I have shared it across my social networks. I agree, we keep learning from each other. I shared this post in the #rhizo14 Facebook group and it has started a discussion around whether we should provide scaffolding for our students or not. Ronald Rudolf shared this resource in the discussion: teaching tools . Food for thought.

Natasa said...

Hi Scott, I love "opportunistic learning" and the street corner teaching metaphor. I agree with what you have said both here and in the Facebook comment - not everyone will want to engage in it. "Risk takers and freaks," you say and I couldn't agree more. There is something impractical about someone who goes from one MOOC to another. This type of learning is at odds with our educational system, which focuses on measurable results.


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