A friend of mine posted on Facebook yesterday,
It'll be interesting over the next several days to see if my students can make connections between what is happening in Baltimore and our discussions this semester in my Urban Politics class about the formation of ghettos in America's central cities.
My initial reaction was to encourage them to share their thoughts online. How well can they explain what they’ve been learning in Urban Politics and how it relates to what is currently going on? What can others learn from their experiences? Can we have a meaningful discussion?
This led me back to thinking about the #rhizo15. How do we make sense of different perspectives on race in America in an online learning environment? Can online learning circumvent the ghetto walls? Do filter bubbles just create new information ghettos?
It’s late. I’m tired. There is so much more to say about this, about helping people find their voices, about learning to be a motivational listener, about measurement, mastery, and mystery.
It has been a very long day, spending time in a setting with people who seem to approach life very differently than I do. When I got home, I looked online to connect with people a little bit more like me. Some of this was preparation for Podcamp Western Mass 7, which happens tomorrow. Will parts of my tribe be there? What will we talk about?
I haven’t seen much discussion online this year from people going to Podcamp or topics they are interested in, so we’ll see who is there and what they are interested in.
After this, I hopped over to some of the #rhizo15 discussions. We’ll see if there are folks at Podcamp who are interested in #rhizo15. I suspect there may be a few, which would be cool.
Lisa Chamberlin tweeted,
So how do we reconcile #freerangelearning (my term for "learning is not a countable noun") with reportable results (and funding)? #rhizo15
It turns out that a #freerangelearning has been a pretty active hashtag over the past few years. Perhaps it captures some of the ideas I’ve talked about when I refer to myself as a wandering autodidact. Whatever meaning people are attributing to #freerangelearning I’ll try to do some of it at Podcamp, some of it as part of #Rhizo15, some of it by blogging, some of it by following the hashtag, and, if I get a little free time, I might even do a little light reading of Deleuze and Guattari before bed time.
P.S. Fun tweet from my wanderings "I told them we could measure learning." pic.twitter.com/kf4yWebDe3
Recently, someone posted in the #rhizo15 group on Facebook, that they were 60 years old and guessed that they were one of the older people around. Soon, several people posted about being in their fifties and believing that many of the people in the group were. I wonder what the demographics really are. I also wonder to what extent it really matters. As we construct our online identities, how much do, or should constructs like age, gender, or even species really matter?
I am, however, interested in a different demographic. I get a sense that most of the participants are academics who read Deleuze and Guattari for fun. I imagine the Venn diagraph of academics and people who read D+G for fun. I suspect that the subset of academics that read D+G for fun is pretty small, relatively speaking, and the subset of non-academics that read D+G for fun is even smaller. (Is there anyone else reading this who identify themselves this way?)
As I write this, I suspect that the closest I get to being an academic is being a teaching assistant in the school of hard knocks.
There is also a discussion about the relationship between connectivism and rhizomatic learning. This sounds like a discussion for the academics. For me, I’m curious about the learning that exists outside of academia, that might be rhizomatic, or might be done better rhizomaticly.
How do we learn about political candidates in the twenty first century? How do we learn about what is going on in our government? How does journalism fit into all of this? I’ve kicked around the idea of setting up a learning platform, like Moodle to learn about and discuss legislation being considered in our state legislature.
Today, #rhizo15 starts. It is tempting to put it into some nice sort of box, with learning objectives about learning how to better create online courses, but that seems incomplete or misleading. Learning Subjectives – designing for when you don’t know where you’re going provides a better starting point.
The idea of jumping off into the unknown has long been appealing to me. It is part of the reason I like unconferences, like the upcoming Podcamp Western Mass. Get together with a bunch of bright people around an interesting topic and see what happens.
So, what do I hope to get out of #rhizo15? I’m not sure, but I find a good starting point to be a paper presented at the 1999 International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations (ISPSO), Our Best Work Happens When We Don't Know What We're Doing.
In keeping with our own thinking and with the specific context of our own work, our version of Bion's assumption about the effects of exposure to truth is that learning comes from working at the edge between knowing and not-knowing. The core activity linking our organizational research, consultancy, management and teaching - namely, 'learning', or 'growth of mind' - involves exposure to truth-in-the-moment. This depends on the capacity to stay at the edge between knowing and not-knowing.
This also provide a good opportunity to introduce myself to people finding this post through #rhizo15, or for that matter, to people who have become readers of my blog over the years, without having a good sense of where I am coming from.
For the context of #rhizo15, I will highlight some areas I hope to explore, and skip over other areas which are less important. I’ve been on the Internet since 1982. If you know where to look, you can find stuff I wrote online in 1982 which is still online today. I worked for a while on Wall Street, which is where I came in contact with organizational consultants, including ISPSO and the work of Wilfred Bion in Group Relations. I’m particularly interested in how various thoughts about objects, fit together in various psychoanalytic traditions include Freud, Klein, Winnicott, Bion, and Lacan. I’ve participated in various online experiential learning based groups centered around the work of Bion in the past. This may be a blog post or two of its own.
During my years on Wall Street, I also did a little bit on artificial neural networks. I’m particularly interested in the relationship between artificial neural networks, social networks, how this relates to group dynamics, rhizomes, and for that matter the singularity This may be another blog post of its own.
In 2003, I helped write some of the social media software for Gov. Dean’s presidential campaign. I later worked in technology and social media for other campaigns, and have run for office myself. How does or could rhizomic learning and MOOCs relate to politics and governance? Another fun topic to explore in a later blog post.
I was the first person in Connecticut, according to reports I’ve seen online, to be on Twitter, and have I was one of the first people with Google Glass in Connecticut. I’ve been an early adopter and been involved with research on many innovations in computer mediated communications. I’m not sure what else I have to say on these topics, but there may be another blog post in all of this as well.
These days, I work as a social media manager for a nonprofit health care agency focused on providing primary care with a special focus on underserved populations. I have set up a Moodle for the agency and have recently taken a MOOC on teaching with Moodle, I may have written about this some in the past, and I’m not sure if there is another blog post in this topic.
And finally, at least for this evening, I’m currently taking a MOOC from Harvard on the poetry of Emily Dickinson. I had taken their MOOC on Walt Whitman a while ago. I’ve taken to sharing more of my poetic attempts online. Originally, I moved to New York City after college to be a poet, but that never panned out. I’m also focused on my religious viewpoints, which are perhaps best described as a socially liberal mix of Anglicanism with a splash of reformed theology.
Where will all of this go? It will be interesting to see.
This morning on Facebook, Zephyr Teachout put up a post that starts “Primaries are the bedrock of democracy.” I got to know Zephyr during the 2004 presidential later, she challenged Andrew Cuomo in a primary for the Democratic nomination for governor of New York. Her post included a link to an article about Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley.
While there is great focus on Hillary Clinton as the presumptive Democratic nominee for president in 2016, it is worth remembering that for the United States, “primaries are the bedrock of democracy”. So, I’m keeping an eye on the other candidates, particularly Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chaffee.
I went to hear Martin O’Malley last month and give him a mixed review. I haven’t looked enough at Chaffee to have an opinion there.
Many of the comments on Zephyr’s Facebook post focused on issues like fracking and common core. These are not likely to be dominant for the broader population. Nor are they, for me at least, make or break issues. However, having a good debate about these issues on the campaign trail would be good for all of us.
I mentioned there, as well as I mentioned to the members of the press I ran into up in New Hampshire, that at this point in 2004, Dick Gephardt was the front runner and few people had heard of Howard Dean. We’ll see what happens this time around, but I think it is important to remember that we’re at the beginning of the primary process, not the end.