Rhizomatic Learning


MirandaMods (DrewBuddy) As the years progressed, MirandaNet Fellows knitted together several different technologies so that members in a physical room could debate with members who were unable to travel. The generic term, ‘unconference’ is one in which the input of all the participants has equal weight. This contrasts with a conventional conference with nominated speakers who take questions at the end of their talk.

Braided Learning

Braided Learning (Preston) MirandaNet Fellows have adopted a metaphor to describe the theory underlying this collaborative knowledge creation that they call Braided Learning the notion of plaiting ideas together. Some of their research focuses on the ways in which community leaders can identify the stages in the life cycle of an online discussion and also to encourage all the participants to contribute online by giving them different roles in the development of ideas.


Communal Constructivism

Communal Constructivism (Leask and Younie)

Liminal thinking

Liminal thinking (Cuthell) is a term for informal dynamic knowledge creation in collaborative digital contexts which occurs as participants move from textual communication to blogging, web creation, online video conferencing and other such collaborative environments. Interactive and collaborative technology can be seen as creating a liminal space – a passage through which a person moves from one state of being to another.


Bruner, J. S. (1966). Towards a Theory of Instruction. MIT Press.

Bruner, J. S. (1974). Beyond the Information Given. George Allen and Unwin Ltd.

Clear, T., & Bidois, G. (2005). Fluency in Information Technology – FITNZ: An ICT Curriculum Meta-Framework for New Zealand High Schools. Bulletin of Applied Computing and IT, 3(3). 

Cuthell, J. (2008). The Role of a Web-based Community in Teacher Professional Development. International Journal of Web Based Communities, 2(8), 115–139. 

Implications & Comments

Working together these researchers conclude that this is an exciting new way of defining a knowledge terrain, in which a constantly changing series of networks throws up emerging shoots in new places. Nevertheless it would be politic to tread carefully, warily. Without cartographic guidelines it is easy to connect the wrong nodes, cultivate the wrong shoots. In the same way as an invasive species can burst through a fence and over-run our intellectual space, so the false concepts and fake news that have overrun parts of our world and our understanding of it must be guarded against.

Key findings and ideas

A key conclusion looking across all the findings is that professional collaboration and knowledge sharing is powerfully supported when the teachers, as learners, belong to a Community of Practice (CoP) where different forms of knowledge and expertise are developed, shared and refined in response to the tasks that the community face.

Forms of Evidence

The findings that are presented have been offered by members of five professional organisations who have each found different key terms for different approaches to the same kind of collaborative learning: Communal Constructivism; Braided Learning; Liminal learning(add). An umbrella term has now emerged that includes all these approaches: Rhizomatic Learning. This is a metaphor that refers to the complicated, intertwined roots of a rhizome that feed the plant above ground (add picture here).

Emerging technologies used in the research with participants

Everyone in the ‘room’ shares their ideas on a range of software and apps that  allow the  expression of ideas as the debate moves forward. Devices ranging from conventional desktop and laptop computers, through netbooks and tablets to smartphones, coupled with web-based applications – collaborative concept mapping; wikis; video streaming; web conferencing – have supported collaboration and community across a diverse range of settings, geographical locations and time zones.


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.


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