Thursday, October 6, 2011

Collective Learning - nothing new...

On my commute home last night I had the opportunity to catch up with the initial readings for this week on Change MOOC. The topic this week is collective learning with Allison Littlejohn. I have to say that the concept was rather interesting, and technology has certainly enabled the possibility for Massive collective learning - but the idea of collective learning isn't new.

Some early personal examples of collective learning is my long term participation in forums like macosx.com and howardforums.com. I did spend a number of years discussing and learning when I was active on those sites, and I probably taught (or provided info for) many other members then, and maybe even now since the archives of those discussions are available. I also spent time (admittedly less than these two forums) on topics like PDAs, PocketPCs, and in communities like the NewtonTalk community. Again, through participation and through lurking I learned a lot.

Even in the pre-internet era (yes, I was there before the internet) collective learning occurred in our playgrounds when kids in our playgroup were helping each other learn new skills - they may have not been all that useful, but they were skills nonetheless. In school, too, we experienced collective learning when professors put us in workgroups and asked us to complete a task.

I guess what I have arrived at is this question: is this a different name for an activity that occurs in many different settings, including certain type of pedagogies and in communities or practice?  What does "collective learning" bring to the table that isn't already there?
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