Rhizomatic learning, group think and connections in #rhizo15


To learn rhizomatic one needs connections.
The more connections the better, because knowledge and learning is in the connections. *)
That is why I strongly agree with people who do connect discussions on facebook with those on twitter. This is a very connective and rhizomatic idea. Open up the group and add new connections.

Daniel Clark shares some knowledge about open and closes group processes:  The American psychologist Irving Janis (Janis, I. (1972). Victims of Groupthink: a Psychological Study of Foreign-Policy Decisions and Fiascoes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.) developed the concept of “groupthink” to describe irrational and even dangerous decision-making that can take place within closed groups. https://learningshrew.wordpress.com/2015/05/17/rhizo15-balancing-cohesion-and-openness-in-communities/ . Makes me think of the secret history of Donna Tartt.

This group think is a danger to rhizomatic learning. A mass of New connections are necessary to open up new views and knowledge. Rhizomatic learning seems to be a rather creative learning process and not a conservative learning process.

Mariana Funes wrote a very interesting blog on this group think

*) This note is added November 2016, after reading https://mdvfunes.com/2016/11/02/predicting-badly-or-why-we-need-an-external-observer/ . as a comment on that blogpost. More connections are a means to avoid groupthink. I need to stress that my point of view should be clear here. I am writing as a student and a member of different groups and networks and not as a member of one group.
So if in #rhizo15 a student is tempted to join the crowd and the groupthink, other connections (colleagues, friends, books, and of course teachers.) could help to avoid group think.
I do agree on the dangers of an in-group. You say that massive connection is a potential way to avoid the danger. This obscures the issue that if an in-group exists, then newcomers may not be forthcoming or may come into the group and leave without influencing it.


7 thoughts on “Rhizomatic learning, group think and connections in #rhizo15

  1. Thanks for this, Jaap. Groupthink is more than a danger in this type of group.

    I was put to mind of Heli Nurmi’s excellent engagement with her experiences with this kind of group (an example: http://www.helinurmi.fi/blog/rhizo14-in-sunlight-and-in-shade-part-3/ It is worth reading the comments) and of course the interesting article that Jenny and Frances wrote which gathered data of the impact on people of ‘the tension between openness and cohesion’ that Daniel talks about. (link to it here: http://openpraxis.org/index.php/OpenPraxis/article/view/173/140

    Heli concludes her post with: ” BUT if we are a crowd or network or tribe or whatever is the new concept which describes cMOOCs, we should have new concepts for the process. Or, do we deny the group process and “just network”? Do we need a new ethics for free networking?

    You say that massive connection is a potential way to avoid the danger. This obscures the issue that if an in-group exists, then newcomers may not be forthcoming or may come into the group and leave without influencing it. If divergence of views are defended (trying to convince divergent thinkers of the rightness of the in-group’s views) or just not actively encouraged and only ‘acceptable’ difference included, then groupthink is a real danger. Who defines acceptable? The in-group. How do newcomers join? By learning and blending in the existing culture. This happens in all groups unconsciously, none of us are exempt. An external voice, often in the shape of a facilitator, is needed to help the group see unconscious patterns of interaction. Humans are not aware of their process, and we make what psychologists call the ‘fundamental cognitive error’ daily when we tell ourselves that we can be. This video may give some substance to munch on: https://youtu.be/aYN2ttAo7b4 Cognitive Psychologists summing up research. Here is how they introduce the video:

    “Who better than ourselves to know why we do what we do, what’s important to us, and how we feel? But it seems that we’re largely oblivious to the determinants of our own behaviour, we misjudge how long tasks will take, we think of ourselves as exceptional and unique, and we don’t know what makes us happy.”

    I believe we ignore this research at our peril – it explains why humans keep repeating age old patterns. It has taught me to pause, relax and open at precisely the times when I feel like defending. And this is a lifetime practice.

    Thank you for a post that help me reflect on issues that matter when working online.

  2. […] Benne and Sheats (1948) identified three broad types of roles people play in small groups: task roles, building and maintenance roles, and self-centered roles. I play with these roles to think about rules and roles in rhizomatic learning. Group culture (even rhizomatic group culture?) needs facilitating and guiding, but who will do that if the teacher (as a dominant group role) is not in the course? Maybe we could co-faciltate each other with sufficient openness to difference? (question of Frances Bell in a tweet) Is this co-facilitating really possible or is it the ‘fundamental cognitive error’ […]

  3. Glad you both found this useful. It is so easy to mix only with those who are like us and make us feel comfortable. I was one of many people on Twitter who was taken aback by the result of the UK election earlier this month, partly because the Twitter discussion was (in general) fairly left-of-centre. The truth is that people on Twitter are disproportionately on the political left rather than right, so we had a distorted view. Twitter created a sort of “echo chamber” which mislead us.

    This is why people like Tom Peters advise us to mix up our routine once in a while – read, watch or listen to something completely outside our previous experience. These “jolts” will help remind us that it’s a big world out there…

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