#Change11 Collective Learning – Reflection

Allison Littlejohn posted in the Change MOOC

“The aim of this week is to introduce collective learning. By ‘collective learning’ we mean how people learn through sourcing, using and making sense of the collective knowledge – the knowledge stored in people, resources, computers, networks etc. In this sense collective learning is different from ‘collaborative learning’ in that people can learn collaboratively in different configurations (such as groups, networks, etc) or can learn through direct interaction with ‘the collective’.”

Here are the resources listed by Allison:

The position paper (http://littlebylittlejohn.com/change11-position-paper/).

A blog post with a few examples at: http://littlebylittlejohn.com/collective-learning-examples

Other resources to help with this task at http://littlebylittlejohn.com/task

The presentation on Collective Learning:

There are four questions posted:

1. How do people make sense of collective knowledge?  Here ‘Learning is a process of creating networks, connecting people, resources and organisations….’ Siemens.

2. How do people use collective knowledge for learning?

Here Connective knowledge is based on Connect -> Consume -> Create -> Contribute -> then Connect — Contribute cycle.

3. What are the binding forces that draw people/resources together? Is the binding a collaborative effort? These forces or drivers are based on the learning objects and activities involved in the Connect-Consume-Create-Contribute cycle.

4. What literacies and mindsets do people need?

My reflection:

1. Jeffrey raised his concern about collective learning in his post on Collective Learning – Does collective learning = organisational exploitation?

Ultimately, the collective benefits those who control it, while the individual components to the collective get swept up into the final product with the individual having little to tangibly show for the efforts. Without a vested interest on the individual level, the collective could probably not be effective.

I think it depends on how one values collective learning, in communities of practice.  What sort of values are learners expecting to gain from collective learning?  What counts for a community, an organization and institution would be the contribution each of the individuals made towards helping and supporting the growth and development of his/her parent institution.   That’s also why socialization could both be a challenge and a solution to an individual to survive and thrive in an institution.

2. With crowdsourcing practices we see new business relations emerge, between the market and hierarchy.  Collective learning, when applied in a business setting would be very different from an educational setting.  We need to understand the imperatives in business enterprises, where goals and vision set out are based on a “socialisation process”, with teams formed, and shaping and homogenizing is emphasized over individual’s aspirations, as mentioned in my previous post on Education.  In an educational setting, the emphasis could be more about the development of the learners, to achieve their potential as an individual, autonomous learner, though it may also be required for the learners to achieve the competence and performance standards as set out by the institutions or business enterprises.  The question is: Are these purposes of education (under the banner of Collective Learning) compatible in an educational institution and a business enterprise setting?

3. So where do these lead us to? Why Universities should experiment with Massive Open Courses or (MOOC)?  There in the comments you will find both positive and negative views and experiences with MOOC.  Surprising comments, may be.  George Siemens reflected them well in his post. Here are some comments:

Not surprising that online learning is being pushed by corporate entities who smell the bottom line figures.  Faculty should resist this movement at every turn.  It will undermine and dilute higher education as we know it, mass producing degrees that mean nothing.  This is why the liberal arts are necessary.  Critical thinking skills, writing, and close reading cannot be taught in cyberspace.  The movement toward degrees in “Business” and other faux disciplines was the beginning.  Hold the line, or become the next wave of Oakies, picking peaches for pennies.

Is online learning being pushed by corporate entities?  May be this was the perception by the commentator.  I reckon online learning would never be “controlled” by any entities any more, not even the corporate entities, as any institutions (both profit and non-profit, public and private) could set up online learning often at a very low cost, due to the availability of OER (Open Educational Resources) and the abundant educational and learning resources available all over the Web and Internet.  Besides, the availability of user-created resources, or the prosumption concept has led to a driving of consumers also being the producers in the creation of new knowledge – through their creation of new resources, by mixing, re-purposing or re-creating a number of resources.

“Critical thinking skills, writing, and close reading cannot be taught in cyberspace.” I doubt about this comment.  What are the assumptions behind this comment, claiming that critical thinking skills cannot be taught in cyberspace? There are evidences that people could teach and learn about critical thinking skills in the cyberspace through networks like MOOC, via facilitators and peer interaction.   There are of course instances, where critical thinking could hardly be taught, if people are not allowed to raise their points of views in the discourse, or to share the resources and openly critique and challenge each others’ views and assumptions behind those views.

We did find a few interesting comments about MOOC, through our researches in CCK08 and PLENK2010 courses, that reflected some of the “strong” views of participants.  Some like and love MOOC, whilst others would prefer a structured, guided course.  Why?  Paradoxes of MOOC are still difficult to resolve.  May be the paradoxes are also inherent with the use of technology, as highlighted in this Ten Paradoxes of Technology.

4.  From Collective Knowledge to Collective Action. “But one of the most amazing aspects of this incredible social network is that we know as a collective what those ‘experts’ don’t know. We pool our collective experience and create a new understanding. As a group we can question their knowledge. A good example is the issue of empathy.”

Here Bonnie said:

Social media enables the possibility of collective knowledge, of distributed action, of working together on a scale never before possible. Maybe we can figure out how to innovate together, and create functional systems that allow for money and meaningful work and some kind of liveable, post-institutional world. Who knows? Maybe.

I like Bonnie’s positive outlook into the future.  There are of course options for us to consider, when charting out the innovation and learning pathway, by leveraging on technology affordance and social media.

5. I think we are facing a time of paradoxes in technology, with a huge challenge on the purposes of education and collective learning.  One of the greatest benefits of sharing and engaging in online networks is to allow us to understand the perspectives of different people – novices and experts, of different culture, and to relate their views and experiences with ours. This would add a dimension of breadth and depth to our knowledge and anchor a more diversified and global viewpoint to our mindset.  This would in turn strengthen our sensemaking skills and critical thinking capacity, with the creation and growth of connective and collective knowledge in our lifelong and lifewide learning journey.


10 thoughts on “#Change11 Collective Learning – Reflection

  1. i am only beginning to dig through my own and others’ ideas about how collective knowledge works and what it’s good at, but i do see positives, for sure. also, great uncertainty. part of that has to do with the paradoxes you mention in #5: we seem both more connected and fractured, to me, at a global society level, than we know how to deal with.

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