Rhizomatic Learning Week 1 – First Thoughts on Cheating as Learning

Although I shouldn’t, I’ve gotten sucked into Dave Cormier’s MOOC on Rhizomatic Learning.  . As i watched the intro video , two statements jumped out:

1. “A story about something that’s not true is just as valuable as one that is.”

I cringed at first, then I thought for a moment about the difference between truth (in a more philosophical sense) and accuracy (in a more journalistic sense).  I suppose this is what myth is about.  Myth is full of stories that may not be accurate (x happened), but are true (in the way that fables are true).

Perhaps that’s a way in which the sciences are different from other endeavors (says the music and language major).  In science, truths must be grounded in observable fact.  In art and literature…..not so much.

2.  “Use cheating as a weapon.”

Here we have a semantic landmine.  Many educators I know would agree that cheating is a weapon, one used by lazy students who care more about the grade they get than what they learn.  This points me to the idea that cheating isn’t really about learning, it’s about assessment. Is getting from the answer from reading the assigned text cheating?

Cheating has  meaning in education because traditional educational models combine the facilitation of learning with the assessment of something (in deference to Dave I won’t say the assessment of learning) and the reporting to external stakeholders that learners have acquired certain competencies.  Toe be able to make that declaration in good faith (via the awarding of a badge, certification or degree), we must assert that Student A has demonstrated competency B.  Very often when we ask students to find answers, we are actually hoping that they document competence in the research process, particularly things such as synthesis and analysis.

So, the key to using “cheating” as a weapon is clarifying the difference between learning and assessment and that they perhaps operate with different rule sets.

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