Initial Reaction to Little by Littlejohn – Collective Learning #change11

I really like how Allison Littlejohn began her Week 4 #change11 MOOC week on Collective Learning. I especially like how we are having 2 live calls this week to discuss all of this, and she gave us a task to help get us started in her Task 1 introductory blog post. In some ways her extremely clean organization is a welcome change from the diverse (isolated?) ways of learning and communicating in a MOOC, though in other ways it is task-oriented in a way that may potentially be at odds with the personalized objectives and freedom to set (or not) learning goals. Then again, as all the tasks and things to focus upon in this open course, I believe the tasks help to focus those of us who need help focusing on something, especially if we want to engage with Allison as this week’s speaker.

In reading Allison’s Position Paper, I was struck by her her “grand challenge,” namely for people to have to learn differently. I did not see the evidence in the initial paragraph, in that technology requires a demand for new knowledge. I am not sure if technology in itself demands new knowledge, or even that any societal development or global issues, such as energy consumption or healthcare needs, requires ongoing knowledge creation on a large scale. This does not necessarily involve an increase in technology or expansive knowledge on behalf of a growing population per se. Whether solar cells or wind technologies expand, I as a consumer do not need to know the particulars–I just need to buy the product and leave the rest to the scientists. Do I really have to learn differently, or is it more that I find learning by navigating the collective helps me expand in ways beyond my own cognitive, affective, psychomotor, reflective, collaborative learning processes?

However, I do think that with the increases in social media and the opportunities for new forms of research that may be possible as a result (cf. my doctoral research, considerations of networked learning, or even considerations for digital scholarship), reframing how we see learning that involves a collective (involving the intersection of the learner and the larger group) does have merit. Participating in this MOOC itself allows for a flexibility in how and what we learn in ways that potentially connects us, and while it is not possible to follow all elements of this learning (cf. How to Participate in this MOOC), I do think that better understanding how people navigate and make sense of this process is a rich area for study.

I do wonder, as we are invited to do in Task 1, to what extent this collective learning (to sole real-world problems) can be organized. How can creativity and idea development leveraged from the collective be organized in a way to solve problems? Wouldn’t the problem-solving techniques establish objectives that would begin to funnel learning into how we currently solve problems, namely through brainstorming, writing, discussing, and the like?

Perhaps my meandering question here is really about the Task itself — is there such as thing as collective learning, or is it really individual learning via the collective?