Cheating as Learning P2PU course on Rhizomatic Learning

I’ve recently started doing a course on Rhizomatic learning on the Peer to Peer University – it is a great course which is available here

I’ve been having a few technical problems pasting onto the site – so have elected to post the comments here. The post below is related to the prickly issue of Cheating as learning – and the text below is the comment (I attempted) to post


I”ve recently finished listening to a great LSE podcast keynote speech  delivered by the advertisement guru Dave Trott. Available here

Now Dave engages in something he calls “predatory thinking” (well he is in advertising I suppose) and it got me thinking about “cheating as learning” as I saw a number of parallels between what Dave was saying, and the content we are discussing here. Dave describes “predatory thinking” as a process (indeed a rejection of the traditional didactic (as he puts it) parroting of facts back to educators) where one must “question everything, break it apart and don”t accept it until it makes [personal] sense”. This is from Dave”s Website

“Predatory thinking. Street smarts. Whatever you want to call it, it’s about writing the rules on your terms, rather than following someone else’s; it’s about changing behaviour through reframing a story or changing the context; it’s about seeking unfair advantage to outmanoeuvre the competition.”

Now Dave is in the cut throat world of advertising – but I thought it was worth discussing as he is conveying some of my thoughts on “cheating as learning”.

My thoughts are that society at large has been effectively “lobbed” this great new technology, because of spectacular leaps forward in microprocessor power, telecommunications, personal connectivity, etcetera, that has descended straight out of the clouds, or more likely Amazon, Currys, Dick Smith”s etc; either way, as “consumers” (hate that term) this technology has been dropped straight into our laps.

Culturally we, as a species are now in the process of “making sense” of it all. I am minded of the apes in Stanley Kubrick”s movie version of Arthur C Clarks “2001: a space oddysey” when the apes tried to figure out what the obelisk was. Ironically I tried to find a parody clip of this scene in 2001 from Zoolander where they “deconstruct” an Apple Mac in a similar manner – but because of “copyright” reasons the NPAA have deemed this clip should not exist for free in the public domain” Go figure”

So – as we go about breaking down, and sometimes just breaking this technology – remixing it, linking it up, adding bits here and there, repurposing it deconstructing it, we do so out of necessity in order to incorporate unrealised efficiencies, new practicalities and ultimately brand new “affordances” from the technology. To maximise our use of these new technologies, we must bend or break existing rules in order to maximise opportunities for use of  the new technology, to create new landscapes and environments from the old. That causes friction.

I am minded of (I think) the RIAAs thwarted attempt in 1999 to outright “ban” Mp3 players, as the technology was against the “rules” of copyright. How ridiculous does this sound now” Yet the technology – legitimately designed by the Fraunhoffer Institute in Germany – was used, remixed, and incorporated into new unheard of forms of content distribution which in turn gave rise to wholly new forms of technology and ultimately a new technological landscape, aptly demonstrated by the humble mp3. Portable MP3 players gave birth to the iPod, which became a household name, which gained ubiquitous adoption, which gave rise to its counterpart iTunes and the iTunes music store, and a burgeoning online marketplace for audio and now apps” You can see the trajectory.

Without dragging on, the key point here is that each incremental step in the evolution of these technologies to what we have now was met with barriers, and sometimes downright hostility. If it wasn”t for the (so called) “rule breakers” we would still be driving in cars at 3mph with a guy with a red flag walking in front of us. Hold on, we”d still be in steam trains, or would Thomas Newcomen and George Stephenson still be in their respective family kitchens thinking to themselves”. ” I better not touch that kettle, it’s against the rules – and I might burn myself”, thus writing off 300 years of industrial progress in the process.

I”m being flippant, but in closing – I feel that “cheating as learning” is Dave Trotts “predatory thinking”, good old fashioned competitive thinking strategies utilised in order to gain advantage in a competitive environment. Dave Trott put it well and I think it fits well with “cheating as learning” – he says “creativity is the last, legal unfair advantage we have.” I think that “cheating as learning” as long as it is not particularly egregious and not wholesale ripping off of someone else”s efforts is part of an avant-garde, a leftfield creative advance that acts to safeguard against outdated dogmas and rules and one that is successfully checking and challenging the status quo. It is thoroughly entrepreneurial at heart, and long may it continue.

Defining where/when it becomes something other than healthy – now that is another story… Anyone? :o)

  1. I like your view on cheating as a way to open up new grounds and conquering new territories. In this way cheating is a way to implement creative innovations?

  2. Thanks for your thoughtful post. This is essentially what Stephen Johnson states in his book “Where Good Ideas Come From.” At every level none of us is an island when it comes to ideas we’re always gathering, synthesizing, and incorporating what we’re seeing and learning. I guess that’s the appeal for a course like #rhizo14 for me. To see what I might learn from a wider, more diverse group of people than I normally interact with.
    I appreciate that you kicked off the discussion. Thanks

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: