Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Collective Intelligence

Speaking at MIT, Thomas Malone recently defined collective intelligence as a group of literate people acting together. A rather unsatisfying definition, but he assures the audience they know it when they see it.
Sandy Pentland asserts groups make us smarter. Looking at patterns of communication helps us decipher if these patterns are intelligent or swayed by bias. Thomas Malone calls this an organizational microscope.
Karim Lakhani says people can self-organise and solve tough problems. This community dynamic so intrigued him that he changed his focus to it.
Self - participation of the community members puzzled him since it was done using opensource software for no pay. Why it is puzzling that anyone is intrinsically motivated rather than extrinsically is to me puzzling. The notions of how companies have traditionally worked is thus changing.
Applying these thoughts to education can propel learners into the conversations where learning through reflection and consensus happen. Education is not filling learners up with knowledge or a proficient demonstration on a multiple choice test. A valuable education insists the learner critically thinks with the materials at hand, communicating effectively with the group, connecting through commonalities, through and across groups, and collaborating with groups to form a deeper knowledge than would be possible without the group. These men would have referred to the deeper knowledge as collective intelligence.
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