Individualized Learning through Rhizomatic Design

While group-based learning through a sequence can be a useful approach for elected classes as it is easier to assume student "buy in" or motivation, group-based learning can be a difficult approach for mandated classes that include students who do not wish to attend the class or are initially uninterested in CS. In addition, group-based learning is often based on the pacing of the average student, which is a pace that is often too fast or slow for students who fall outside of the class average. This poster, and the resulting discussions, posits a rhizomatic approach to curricular and experience design that encourages individualized learning within group settings. Rather than moving through CS concepts and practices in a prescribed sequence, a rhizomatic approach encourages self-directed learning along multiple paths or an entirely undefined path. This poster challenges educators to question in what ways the curricula and pedagogies they are familiar with might be modified to encourage equitable learning for a multitude of axiologies (values) or ontologies (ways of being) by creating a space for interests to guide learning.

Poster link

Relevant Lectures and Discussions

Relevant presentations

  • Assessing Coding Projects

    • This session discusses how to seamlessly integrate formative, summative, and ipsative assessment practices within K-12 coding projects and lessons. We will explore each of the three approaches and I will provide both formal and informal examples of how each type of assessment might occur within a project or lesson.

  • Facilitating Multiple Programming Languages in One Space

    • This lightning talk describes considerations for facilitating multiple programming languages in one space. I provide video examples of what it looks like when young coders select from four different programming languages to create projects of interest. Following an overview of what coders created in the classes I designed and facilitated, I discuss considerations for simultaneously facilitating multiple languages; this discussion includes quick suggestions for selecting and creating resources, questioning techniques, peer-to-peer mentoring, room setup, and more.

  • Interest-driven Coding and Learning (ADE)

    • The video in this link is a mock version of a three minute showcase on interest-driven coding and learning I presented at the 2017 Apple Distinguished Educators (ADE) US Academy. 

  • Interest-driven Coding Projects (Scratch@MIT)

    • This ignite talk describes considerations for designing interest-driven coding projects with Scratch. I provide examples of what an interest-driven coding class looks like and how projects are designed for a variety of experience levels and interests within a shared space. I discuss some of the research informing this approach, share examples of interest-driven projects, and provide suggestions for creating interest-driven coding projects and resources.

  • Interest-driven Coding Projects (SIGCSE)

    • This lightning talk describes considerations for designing interest-driven coding projects. I provide examples of what an interest-driven coding class looks like and how projects are designed for a variety of experience levels and interests within a shared space. I discuss some of the research informing this approach, share examples of interest-driven projects, and provide suggestions for creating interest-driven coding projects and resources.

  • Moving Beyond Puzzles: Project-based Coding

    • Sequential learning often assumes an interest in a subject area and often does not take into account the interests of those who are required to be there. This session describes an approach designed for non-sequential learning of computer programming through interest-driven coding projects.

  • Project-based Learning with Scratch

    • This presentation begins with an introduction to various approaches of project-based learning with Scratch; for example, backward, inquiry-based, and emergent project designs. The second portion of this session is an interactive exploration of free Scratch project examples and resources I have developed, so bring your laptop to explore and create projects with Scratch. The session will conclude with an open Q&A on project-based learning with Scratch.

Relevant publications

  • Publications by other educators and scholars

    • Rhizomatic Education: Community as Curriculum - Dave Cormier

      • Introductory paragraph: "The increasingly transitory nature of what is lauded as current or accurate in new and developing fields, as well as the pace of change in Western culture more broadly, has made it difficult for society in general and education in particular to define what counts as knowledge. The existing educational model with its expert-centered pedagogical planning and publishing cycle is too static and prescribed to accommodate the kind of fluid, transitory conception of knowledge that is necessary to understand the simplest of Web-based concepts. The ephemeral nature of the Web and the rate at which cutting-edge knowledge about it and on it becomes obsolete disrupts the painstaking process by which knowledge has traditionally been codified. Traditional curricular domains are based on long-accepted knowledge, and the "experts" in those domains are easily identified by comparing their assertions with the canon of accepted thought (Banks 1993); newer concepts, whether in technology, physics, or modern culture, are not easily compared against any canon. This lack of a center of measurement for what is "true" or "right" makes the identification of key pieces of knowledge in any of these fields a precarious task. In less-traditional curricular domains then, knowledge creators are not accurately epitomized as traditional, formal, verified experts; rather, knowledge in these areas is created by a broad collection of knowers sharing in the construction and ongoing evolution of a given field. Knowledge becomes a negotiation (Farrell 2001)."

    • Rhizomatic Learning - Wikipedia

      • Introductory paragraph: "Rhizomatic learning is a variety of pedagogical practices informed by the work of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Explored initially as an application of post-structural thought to education, it has more recently been identified as methodology for net-enabled education. In contrast to goal-directed and hierarchical theories of learning, it posits that learning is most effective when it allows participants to react to evolving circumstances, preserving lines of flight that allow a fluid and continually evolving redefinition of the task at hand. In such a structure, "the community is the curriculum", subverting traditional notions of instructional design where objectives pre-exist student involvement."

    • Rhizomatic Learning: Why we teach? - Dave Cormier

      • Introductory paragraph: "Rhizomatic learning is a way of thinking about learning based on ideas described by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari in a thousand plateaus. A rhizome, sometimes called a creeping rootstalk, is a stem of a plant that sends out roots and shoots as it spreads. It is an image used by D&G to describe the way that ideas are multiple, interconnected and self-relicating. A rhizome has no beginning or end… like the learning process. I wrote my first article on the topic ‘rhizomatic education: community as curriculum’ in an article I wrote in 2008."

    • Rhizomatic Writing and Pedagogy: Deleuze & Guattari and Heidegger - Chloe Humphreys

      • Abstract: "This essay offers a scope, or a kaleidoscope, for questioning and challenging accepted structures and practices within education. By enacting a philosophy of education inspired by Deleuze and Guattari's (1987) figuration of a rhizome, I map a pragmatic territory in which rhizomatic learning is a field for students to experience meaning in education. I will explore how becoming more rhizomatic in pedagogy might liberate educators and students from arborescent and replicable ways of thinking. Rhizomatics, as used in this paper, is an attempt to burrow holes in the educational subterranean, move through current pedagogical concepts and invisible mental landscapes, and horizontally connect thinkers. In particular, this paper posits the convergence of Heidegger's (1971) ideas on truth and being, and Deleuze and Guattari's (1987) philosophies on thinking, learning, and the rhizome."

    • Using Genius Time/Passion Projects to Encourage Exploration of Computer Science - Kristeen Shabram

      • Introductory paragraph: "Genius Hour is a movement that allows students to explore their own passions and encourages creativity in the classroom. It provides students a choice in what they learn during a set period of time during school. The Genius Hour movement has been around for years and has been used by some of the world’s leading innovative companies. One of those companies, Google, allowed their engineers to spend 20% of their time to work on any project that they’re passionate about. The philosophy behind this movement is that when people are given the opportunity to work on something of personal interest, productivity goes up. Well, they were right. Since Google’s implementation of Genius Hour, fifty percent of their projects, including Gmail and Google News, have been created during this exploration time. Who would have thought that allowing employees the freedom to explore their own interests during work time would contribute to the company’s success?"

  • Publications I've written

    • Affinity Spaces and Music Education

      • Affinity spaces are the physical, virtual, or combination of locations where people come together around a shared affinity (interest) (Duncan & Hayes, 2012). Online affinity spaces can act as a participatory hub for music making and learning through social networking and sharing. Although music affinity spaces exist in myriad informal spaces, little scholarship explores potential application of affinity space characteristics within formalized learning spaces. This chapter introduces characteristics of an affinity space and explores potential pedagogical, curricular, and social applications of each characteristic within formalized learning environments. I then question not only the role of this framework within pedagogical spaces or places, but also the role of the framework in relation to another framework commonly used in online music learning communities: communities of practice. This chapter concludes with an example of how these questions informed classes I designed and facilitated and a discussion on future research.  

      • This chapter is in press for 2019; however, I am happy to send the final draft copy. Press the contact me button at the top of the page if you are interested in reading the final draft copy.

    • From Coding Puzzles to Interest-Driven Projects

      • Coding environments and curricula with puzzles and challenges often utilize engaging platforms which guide young coders to learn fundamental coding concepts and practices. These environments and curricula often progress from simple through complex algorithmic sequences with clearly defined solutions. This approach not only provides useful resources for young coders new to coding, but for adults new to teaching, facilitating, or evaluating coding classes. . . .

A document that might be helpful for administrators

The purpose of the document below is to provide a "crosswalk" between classroom learning and facilitating in a rhizomatic environment with the TAP evaluation rubric (i.e., the teacher evaluation rubric). The "crosswalk" provides an explanation or translation of what to expect within a coding classroom as it relates to TAP discourse. If you’re considering implementing a rhizomatic approach, a similar document might help administrators understand what to expect when walking into such a space.

If you are on a mobile device, click here to open up the Google Doc below.

CS Resources I Created and used for rhizomatic learning

A free elementary coding curriculum I've developed that encourages rhizomatic learning

  • Rather than going through the Scratch projects within a set sequence, young coders can use the guides within the “Coder Resources” documents to rhizomatically learn how to code through projects of interest.

JavaScript Resources

Media Arts & Technology Makerspace

Scratch Resources

Sonic Pi Resources

Swift Resources