Time to cluster

flickr photo by Kiwi Tom http://flickr.com/photos/tom_hall_nz/14917023204 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

flickr photo by Kiwi Tom http://flickr.com/photos/tom_hall_nz/14917023204 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

I’ve seen a few comments over the last couple of weeks about people not being able to keep up with rhizo15, or read everything, and I think that this might be causing some folk to worry that they are not doing enough, or that they are missing out on something important. I know it’s easy to say that it’s fine not to do everything – and probably impossible to do it all. We don’t usually expect our “regular” students to read absolutely every suggested reading do we, so why do we expect that we should digest every offering in #rhizo15?

A lecturer once explained to us that a reading list was like a menu – we should try to make  a balanced selection, but not attempt to cram everything in. More recently, Stephen Downes makes a similar point. He suggests that unlike a traditional course, which compares to a book in having  a linear content, so that later parts depend on those earlier, things like rhizo15 are more like magazines and newspapers – you dip in and engage with the bits that catch your attention and ignore the rest. (Or they are more like a map, to make a D&G analogy.)

Dave also has suggestions about how to approach a thing like rhizo15, and which I keep written on my whiteboard as a reminder:


  • Orient: find out what the course is about
  • Declare: say who you are
  • Network: talk to some others
  • Cluster: concentrate on those with similar interests:
  • Focus: what do you want to take from this experience?

Is is time to cluster?

This entry was posted in #rhizo15, D&G, Learning, MOOC, Rhizomes and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Time to cluster

  1. dogtrax says:

    What would clustering look like? Inclusionary? Exclusionary? Was our RhizoRadio experience, or perhaps our continued work on Soundtrap, an example of the cluster? Just wondering, pushing, pausing, pondering …

    • NomadWarMachine says:

      Well, I do worry about excluding, for whatever reason, but I hope that rhizoradio was (and is) an example of a successful cluster. Somebody made a comment somewhere about not wanting to join in, but having felt they’d been invited and not excluded. I was glad to hear that.

  2. Simon Ensor says:

    Are we talking about content or people?

  3. Ronald L says:

    Isn’t the danger of clustering that we’re creating our own echo chambers ?

    • NomadWarMachine says:

      It’s a danger. I hope that by tweeting, posting on FB and G+ we don’t totally fork off from everybody, though, so there is still cross talk.

  4. Angela says:

    I like Dave’s 5 strategic tips, they seem like they might be equally applicable to kids in a playground or turning up an event in person where you don’t know anyone.

  5. Because of the usual constraints on my time (three little kids, a job where I’m away from my desk a lot, etc) + my own determination to not be online every.single.second, I’ve forced myself to let go of the notion that I will be able to keep up with everything thread/branch/cluster, etc and just go with what I can do in the moment. I was able to write a blog post last Wednesday because I happened to have the moment but who know what’ll happen this week? At the moment, I’m perusing the hashtag on twitter and clicking on links that grab my eye, and responding in the in-between. Learning and thinking, all the same and all the time, even if I’m not actively participating in or contributing to the convo.

    • NomadWarMachine says:

      Hi Nani

      It sounds to me as if you’re getting what you want from this. I’ll drop by your blog. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  6. Maha Bali says:

    There are many dimensions to clustering. It’s human nature to cluster and impossible to avoid altogether. We may venture out a bit and discuss w diverse ppl but we don’t normally stay w ppl who are so different that we are stressed out all the time, right?
    So in rhizo15 i am different in terms of my home culture and background but we share some aspects of our philosophy towards education
    The differences provide richness that push our thinking further and the similarities keep us together 🙂
    Clustering need not be a matter of exclusion, not permanent but permeable and dynamic. Eg no one has to participate in every song or radio production. In fact last year i think i participated in NONE. I am not keeping up w facebook well this time around but still enjoying what i manage to dip into (this post got retweeted at least twice as i wrote this comment haha)

    • NomadWarMachine says:

      Yes, in fact we’re already clustering, you’re right. I woke up this morning with Dave’s 5 points in my head thinking that would make a good song, think I’m trying to put everything to music now!

  7. Susan says:

    I don’t struggle with too much to read as much as I struggle with not enough time to comment and show people how their blogs and thoughts have impacted me.

    • NomadWarMachine says:

      I struggle with that as well – it takes so long to work out how to give a meaningful comment.

      • Maha Bali says:

        Ah, that’s why i read less. I rarely read without taking action: action is either tweeting it ojt or leaving a comment or at te v least a “like”. Despite what we tell our students about putting meaningful comments that are not just “i agree”, i think in blogging with peers it is useful to actually just say ‘thank you for this, i agree” or “thanks for making me think”. Though oftentimes my comments are much longer

        • NomadWarMachine says:

          I’ve been thinking about this. I was trying to leave comments on the blog itself, to “add value” to it, but I’m realising that commenting on a Facebook thread opens up a different conversation, so now I am doing that.

  8. lisahubbell says:

    I now recognize a number of people as individuals, and look forward to hearing with them. Along with that, I realize I’m using some of my normal filtering mechanisms, like clicking on a link and closing quickly if it doesn’t hold my attention. Whenever someone has posted one of the charts that shows our clumps (which I think are based mainly on mentions of each other on Twitter?), I know they’re missing the point of which blog posts I’ve gone back to re-read for their beauty and poignancy and important lessons.

    I cluster my time, by delving heavily into #Rhizo15 as I can, and taking breaks from it as I need to. I think I will find clusters more after our six weeks than during, with whichever people maintain connections.

    • NomadWarMachine says:

      Hi Lisa

      Yes, I totally agree about those visualisations – all they show is how often someone tweets, is replied to or mentioned when using the hashtag. They are pretty, but they don’t tell the deep story. Which is fine, as long as that is understood.

      I think you’re right – the deeper connections begin with rhizo15, but they won’t end with it. At least, I hope they won’t.

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