Week 5: What are your thoughts about “learning in the collective”?

When I first read the title, “learning in the collective,” I thought of Star Trek.  I am not a Borg.  Yet there are similarities, since we are dealing with upgrading to current technology, but without forcing it upon others.  I got online and started to look up collective learning.  I found a short YouTube video that explains it quickly, but efficiently.  Instead of a Borg ship, collective learning is when the teacher embraces technology and allows their students to take a larger part in their own learning through technology.  Thomas and Brown state that “Teachers no longer need to scramble to provide the latest up-to-date information to students because the students themselves are taking an active role in helping to create and mold it, particularly in areas of social information” (2011, pg. 52).

Now a days students are learning more through peer-to-peer learning.  They socialize online using various forms of social media.  This opens the door for an unlimited amount of people to brainstorm with.  They can contribute to your ideas and generate new thoughts while being in the comfort of their own homes. I loved Khan Academy’s example:

  • A species with lots of information about its environment can exploit its surroundings more effectively. To feed herself and her cubs, a lioness needs to know where to hunt prey. If she doesn’t have this information, she and her cubs will die! But if she can learn about the movements of, say, antelopes, she will have a steady diet and will prosper, probably having more offspring. (2015)

This brings me back to the thought that you can feed a person by giving them fish, but if you teach them to fish they can learn to feed themselves.  That communication piece is vital for us to continue growing as we have been through the years.  We are very smart individuals, but if you put us together we can come up with ideas collectively that are more likely to work.  If we didn’t work collectively a lot of things we have today would not exist.

Large companies like IBM learn through “crowdsourcing.”  “IBM first introduced InnovationJams in 2006 by inviting employees from more than 160 countries – along with clients, business partners, and even family members – to join in a massive, open brainstorming session”.  This resulted in over 100,000 people participating online over a collective 6 days. (Little by Littlejohn, n.d.)  That is a huge amount of information which allowed IBM the opportunity to use their customer input in creating their newest technology.  If corporations are finding success in collective learning just think of how beneficial it can be for our students.

Works Cited

Big History Project. (2013, Sept. 23). Threshold 6: Humans and Collective Learning. Video retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppIzSaP2jWI

Khan Academy. (2015). Collective Learning. Retrieved from https://www.khanacademy.org/partner-content/big-history-project/early-humans/collective-learning/a/collective-learning-part-1

Little by Littlejohn. (n.d.). Collective Learning Examples. Retrieved from http://littlebylittlejohn.com/change11-position-paper/collective-learning-examples/

Thomas, D, & Brown, J. S., (2011). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. Charleston, SC: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.


4 thoughts on “Week 5: What are your thoughts about “learning in the collective”?

  1. You mentioned a great line from the text “Thomas and Brown state that “Teachers no longer need to scramble to provide the latest up-to-date information to students because the students themselves are taking an active role in helping to create and mold it, particularly in areas of social information” (2011, pg. 52).” I totally understand what the authors were saying but as I was reading your blog I thought about my class. I realized that young students such at my 2nd graders don’t really fit this example. They still rely on me to provide the latest up to date information. I wonder at what age does this start applying.


    • The young ones always do. This is when Time for Kids, or National Geographics can also be helpful. Research, even at this young age, is great exposure for them. There are some great sites out there like: http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/sciencefacts/animals.html which is Science Kids. It is on animal facts. You just might have to do a little searching but there are so many resources out there. Once you find one then you can have them explore it and learn together.


  2. I didn’t care much for the video. It seemed that they were more into pushing evolution than explaining Collective Learning.

    I like the part you brought up about the students research the latest information out there. I love to see what people find in their researches.


    • Sorry Sally. I liked that the video was short. It didn’t have much on collective learning, but I loved how it tied it in there at the end. The other videos were so long and boring. I love evolution, so I threw it in. 🙂


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