Online Collaborative Learning

John Cuthell, Helen Caldwell, Hanefa Osman, Christina Preston, Sarah Younie (MirandaNet Fellowship) | View as single page | Feedback/Impact


The rhizome learning metaphor was first coined by the poststructural philosophers Deleuze and Guattari. Cormier's notion of rhizomatic learning allows educators to explore the process of learning with the rhizomatic lens. Rhizomatic learning posits that learning is a continuous, dynamic process, making connections, using multiple paths, without beginnings. Participants have recognised the power of this phenomenon and said that the notion could draw on the impact of Citizens Assemblies as a counter to  government ‘Nudge’ units. They can be described politically as the pursuit of deliberative democracy which aspires to enable informed decision making. Others have simplified this notion as circle time for grownups. Still others have questioned why circle time was rarely thought of as a tool for adults and have welcomed the potential for technology to enhance cooperative problem solving.

Recognising the power of collaborative learning between participants who have knowledge and expertise in a chosen field. The premise is that learning can occur anywhere, anytime, and anyhow in the universally interconnected world. Technology afforded educators to provide flexible learning experiences whenever learners are ready. Knowledge transfer is no longer a fixed process but somewhat divergent and non-linear (Swe Khine, 2022). 

Before this Rhizomatic Learning metaphor emerged in the international context, research members of all the professional organisations, TPEA, MIrandaNet Fellowship, Naace and MESHGuides have given this learning phenomenon different names: Braided Learning, Communal Constructivism and Liminal Learning are some of the terms we discuss here. However, the term Rhizomatic Learning can be applied to all of these as an overarching metaphor that is now recognised internationally.