Week 5: What are your thoughts about “learning in the collective”?



I couldn’t help myself for creating a Star Trek reference!  For those that don’t understand the insignia, it is the Borg symbol.  This is the only other time I have heard the term “collective”.

“The Borg Collective is the term used to define the forced combined consciousness of trillions of individuals, using technology. The Borg are distinguished by their collective consciousness (often heard by a chorus of voices), their fusion of biological matter and technology, and their driving principle to assimilate all knowledge or eradicate threats, without regard to ethics.” (Star Trek Online Wiki, 2016)

According to Thomas, a collective “is a collection of people, skills, and talent that produces a result greater than the sum of its parts.”  (Kindle location 615-630) Ironically, we enhance this collective by using technology, so essentially the Borg Collective is not too different than what Thomas describes, except that our collectives are ruled by ethics.

Strength comes from participation from each member of the collective, and that reminds me of two pedagogies, student-centered learning, and project-based learning.  It was great to read a math teacher’s strategies to incorporate student-centered learning in a high school math class.  Paul Bogdan lists five strategies, but the one that caught my attention was the first one.  “Write detailed lesson plans and give them to the students to execute.” (Bogdan, 2011)  I was astonished at this strategy, until I read the explanation.  Teachers know their content and many, including me, don’t like to write lesson plans because they know the lesson already, so why not write a lesson plan for students to follow?  They can explore, research, collaborate, and really take charge of their own learning.  The teacher is now the facilitator instead of the sole provider of knowledge.  There is still opportunities for individual, group, or whole class teaching by the teacher, but the majority of learning comes from the students themselves.  They can use this collective idea that Thomas talks about.

Project-based learning also reminds me of a collective.  The elements of project-based learning are: students work in groups; students have increased control over their learning; teachers serve as facilitators or coaches; and students tackle real-world problems.  (Vega, 2015)  I think this collective term is really a combination of several known pedagogies that can be grouped that have similar strategies, goals, and outcomes.  One aspect that might appear different is the introduction of technology that can allow students from different locations around the globe work together in this collective.  There are no physical boundaries, and limitations of a small collective would disappear because of the increased participation of students around the world.

My reference to the Borg earlier is somewhat light-hearted, but I believe there is some truth and relation to what the goal of the Borg is, and the goal of Thomas’ collective.  We want to assimilate all knowledge from the group, from all corners of the Earth.  The Borg is just a fantasy version of it, in a galactic perspective. 🙂


Bogdan, Paul. (2011). Student-Centered Learning Strategies for Math and Other Subjects. Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/student-centered-learning-activities-paul-bogdan

Thomas, Douglas. A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change (Kindle). CreateSpace. Kindle Edition.

Unknown Author. (2016). The Borg Collective. Star Trek Online Wiki. Retrieved from http://sto.gamepedia.com/Borg_Collective

Vega, Vanessa. (2015). Project-Based Learning Research Review. Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/pbl-research-learning-outcomes


4 thoughts on “Week 5: What are your thoughts about “learning in the collective”?

  1. Gerald,
    I loved the Trekkie reference and image. It was great that you were able to communicate how the Borg’s used collective learning. I think of the collective learning like an apprenticeship (like an auto repair shop or welding). The environment is informal, not in a classroom, and is usually a real world example. It is good to see what works and what doesn’t. It is hard for me to read only a textbook and be able to retain the information. Great post.



  2. Hi Gerald,
    I wrote about inquiry based learning which made me wonder from your post, what is the difference between project based and inquiry based learning?
    At first I thought it was the same but after reading a few different resources, I found these differences:
    Inquiry Based Learning is about discovering an answer. As a teacher, your role is to pose the initial question to your students, then facilitate them in discovering answers. The process involves them asking further questions. Inquiry Based Learning is often used in scientific subjects, where there’s likely to be a definitive answer for students to reach, often through a process of elimination, testing and trial and error.
    Project based learning is where students gain and develop their knowledge and skills through working extensively to investigate and respond in detail to an issue that’s engaging and complex, rather than clear-cut. For that reason, Project Based Learning is often used with literature, social and historical topics.

    Either way they are both emphasizing the teaching and learning process, not just the content and the knowledge. Using either or both of these methods will help students to become independent thinkers, who can gather information on their own, question and interpret it, and then form their own evidence-based conclusions. In the modern knowledge-based world in which we now live, life skills such as these have arguably never been more valuable.
    I found all of this information so useful especially as you said, keeping our teaching student centered and learning in a collective.
    Project, Problem, and Inquiry-based Learning. http://eduscapes.com/tap/topic43.htm
    Winijigo. http://winjigo.com/inquiry-based-learning-versus-project-based-learning-whats-the-difference/


  3. Gerald,

    What a fun idea to give the students a lesson plan and have them teach. I’m sure they would have such a deeper learning on that topic than they ever would. I read this article called “When Kids Teach Others, Everyone Wins.” It is about 4th and 5th grade students teaching other students and adults about their programming project that they did. One quote says, “Teaching is one of the most effective ways to understand and reinforce a concept because it forces us to think about and explain the material in different ways.” Like you said, it is putting the students in the drivers seat which has such a deeper learning experience!



  4. I find the idea of giving students a detailed lesson plan and then turning them loose with it, very interesting. Depending on the group of kids or subject matter, it could be very successful or tank miserably. I have a pretty good group of kids this year (willing to work) and may try this later in the year. Anything that helps to engage kids more (technology, subject matter, different approaches …) is a huge step in the right direction. Making lessons memorable is a big part of the game.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s