I think learning in the collective is something to work towards as a teacher. It can be hard with elementary school students, especially the first grade students that I teach. I have been working with them on becoming more mindful. I am really trying to teach them resiliency. I had a mom message me today and tell me that her daughter came home and talked to her about being resilient and persevering. She was really impressed that her daughter could explain it to both her and her husband. I try not to underestimate my students; they always surprise me when I do. They can do more than I give them credit for and I try not to be the one holding them back. So could they be mindful enough to learn in the collective using technology? I am not sure. They are still learning how to sign into the computer and even though some of them can read, it is mainly simple stories. They are also working on writing, but they are also pretty simple words that they can sound out. Another problem I foresee with trying to teach my students to learn in the collective is that “there is no targeted goal or learning objective” (Thomas & Brown, 2011). In my school, I am strongly encouraged to have a learning objective for every lesson. I don’t think I could pitch doing something that did not have a viable learning objective for my students. I think I could get around it if I focused my learning objective on students using higher order thinking to create and problem solve during our makerspace centers.
I did find a different explanation of collective learning that I think explains how I try to run the makerspace centers in my classroom. Laberge (2008) wrote, “Collective Learning occurs though group conversations around questions that matter. Such conversations can take place either through one-time, multiple or ongoing activities involving in-person meetings or workshops, online- or tele- conferencing, or multiple engagement processes involving a combination of all of these. The goal of Collective Learning in an organizational or community group is to increase the collective knowledge, understanding, and capacity of members around the issue, such that independent individual action and decisions, as well as any collective action, can be aligned with the system’s interests.” My students work together in their makerspace centers and I often hear students exchange ideas on how to build something. Sometimes, students from a different center overhear what the people in the center are saying and they discuss ideas. Today, I saw students work across centers to try to build an arch shaped bridge using dominos. It started when the students at the Tinker Toys center built a five-wheel car and the students at the dominos center thought it should have a garage. They then decided that they wanted it to go under a bridge. There were six students working together building the bridge. It kept falling at the same spot, so they talked about and tried different ideas. Thinking back about how they were discussing changes to make, I think their “learning occurs when people try to make sense of and use the knowledge they find. As a by-produce they create new knowledge that feeds back into the collective knowledge” (Littlejohn, n.d.). They learned that the way they were stacking and placing the dominos wasn’t working and they tried out each other’s ideas.
Laberge, M. (2008, June 17). Collective Learning & Co-Creative Engagement. Retrieved October 1, 2015, from Masterful Facilitation Institute: http://masterfulfacilitation.com/social/collective-learning-co-creative-engagement/
Littlejohn, A. (n.d.). Ccollective Learning Examples. Retrieved October 1, 2015, from Little by Littlejohn: http://littlebylittlejohn.com/change11-position-paper/collective-learning-examples/
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. (2011). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. Lexington: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.