Collective Learning in the Digital Age!

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

I’m finally getting back on my feet after all the sickness that has visited my household, and getting caught up with the homework load as well.  Yesterday was one of those “eye opening” experiences.  I was at my computer 90% of the day, doing homework, organizing meetings and events for my roller derby league, co-hosting a twitter session, and getting a job offer.  I felt like I was a server for the Matrix!  My head was very frazzled after such a long digital session.  And even though I was getting tons of things done, I had to ask myself, “Has technology really made our lives easier?”

I think we’ve come to realize that it’s made life more efficient, but increased the expectations.  We schedule less time to commute or meet together because we can call, Skype, Facetime, or even text our meetings.  And we cram as much into a very limited day as we can.  No wonder I’m so exhausted!  But I’m also recognizing that the art of simple stopping and being silent is a discipline that will go far the center focus of one’s being.  I need to learn to walk away from my technological devices for a given a time and know that the world will continue on without me.

Technology has changed the face of how we learn, however.  I’d like to point out this new move to reach out to the American public.  Political views aside, the Obama administration has done a phenomenal job of utilizing social media.  During President Obama’s initial campaign, millions of dollars were raised quickly because of the numbers that social media was able to reach. The president also arranged an online streaming session with schools across the nation.  And recently, President Obama met with a panel of YouTubers in order to get their views on how to best reach their views on the signing up for Healthcare (granted, I personally would call this video mostly propaganda, but that fact that they consulted YouTubers was pretty cool.  This is a picture of all who was there, but this video focused on the two homosexual YouTubers and the one African America who is famous for impersonating the President. Not judging!  Just pointing out!).


Collective learning is already taking place.  This week, during the Twitter session that Colin and I hosted, the brought up the discussion about what medium works best for collaboration, especially in an asynchronous environment.  There were a number of different answers—Google docs and hangouts, Twitter, wikis.  I personally use Facebook, especially being on derby committees and responsible to arranging events.  I like that I can easily go back to conversations and review exactly what was talked about.  But that’s me.  And apparently because teenagers don’t like Facebook, it’s considered old and passé’… alright.  But I like that this particular media is that peer to peer interaction that Thomas & Brown (2011) were talking about.  We all stand on equal ground due to our interests.  It is a little difficult, however to separate my private life from my business life in Facebook.  I often describe Twitter as yelling out your windows, and whoever cares listens.  Facebook is kind of like inviting others to peek in the windows of your home without actually entering.

I appreciate the aspect of collective learning: the idea that “a collection of people, skills, and talent that produces a result greater than the sums of its parts” (Thomas & Brown, 2011).  That just feels so efficient and so right!  How much have we missed out when we assume that only a few people have the answers of any skills whatsoever to contribute to the advancement of mankind?

So there are two ends of the spectrum!  Watch out for the digital overload!  It IS possible to schedule every single minute of your day—but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the body and mind can maintain that.  But it’s also important not to disregard the potential that the tools of technology have given us.  There may be a small, yet brilliant voice that hasn’t had a chance to be heard yet.  They may even be in one of our classrooms.  How’s that for a thought?


The White House. (2014). YouTube stars talk health care at the white house.  Accessed at

The Key of Awesome. (2014). Check it out!. Accessed at

Thomas, D. & Brown, J.S. (2011). A new culture of learning cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change.  [Kindle edition].



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3 responses to “Collective Learning in the Digital Age!

  1. Sara

    I really enjoyed your blog. I think we tend to forget how much we tend to rely on technology or how much it effects our life. As I’m reading the books for this class on my Kindle I thought to myself, it’s not the same as taking a highlighter to the book, but that Kindle does make it a lot easier. I think we need to help our students remember that we all have something to add to the learning and not one person or a few know all the answers. I know with my students they expect or two people to always answer or they will say his stuff will always win, he always does the best, or I want to be his partner because he is smart. I’m not sure if you have this with your students but I am trying to teach my students that we all work together and that they all have something to contribute to the learning.

  2. You bring up a good point. I think as a counterbalance to the digital lifestyle we should also make sure we teach students (and our children) how to unplug, and relax. It’s hard enough for me to do that, and have found that I just have to schedule it in the day like anything else, sometimes in the mundane chores, sometimes in exercise.

    Congrats on the job offer! More info?

    • Yes, I’m getting pretty excited! I’ll be working at the local Native corporation education center tutoring high school students. I’m an emergency hire, since the last education director resigned in a planned protest (nothing new here in K-town). But, there are kids who still need help, and want to graduate. They were looking for someone to teach English skills and use tech tools– and I just so happen to have a Masters as a Reading Specialist and am enrolled in an Ed. Tech program. How about that?! 😀 Yay me!

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