Tuesday, June 21, 2011

921-Session 7-Collective Intelligence

You may have noticed that I have added a cool feature to the blog. You can now double click on any word on the blog and you will be prompted with more details. The possibilities for a tool like this are astronomical when using edublogs in the classroom. Any word used by the 'blog author' or 'comment poster' can be defined w/o a student leaving the page. Give it a try.

Now, regarding future assignments---Please don't wait until the last minute to contact me if you have any questions, and as with all of these projects, "Practicality Shall Take Precedent over All." That means that if you have an idea to modify a Deliverable or the Final Project so that it will be more useful to you in your setting then please feel free to pass your ideas by me. (I approve most of them.)


Now on to "Collective Intelligence".  There is a renewed movement underway from schools, businesses, and universities. They are giving 'Collective Intelligence' a closer look. From MIT's new 'Center for Collective Intelligence,' to businesses using wikis within their internal networks, to schools using Collective Intelligence resources and tools in the K-12 setting---we will look at all of these examples, as well as discuss their long term implications during this session.

Let's whet our appetite:


Keep in mind while you are viewing this session that your Deliverable 3 will be due, and posted, under the comment section of Session 12, as well as posted to the wiki. Additionally, keep in mind that the deadline for your Final Project is fast approaching.

As always, feel free to contact me if you ever have additional questions or comments.


Past semester comments:
Summer '10
Summer '08 participants' comments as well as participants' comments from previous semesters here.

P.P.S. Backup copies of each week's session can be found on Authorstream.com


Mary said...

Session 7
My “ah ha” moment… Brian Lamb addressed this in Wide Open Spaces; "Why are wikis so ugly?" This statement hit me like a ton of bricks! This is why I don’t like wikis. I hate all the text and links and scrolling and having to read through chunk after chunk before I find what is pertinent to me. I hate lots of menus and so many lists that connect to other lists in an ongoing drill down to what I (might) need/want. I hate spending so much time to get at something that I want to reach by ONE click. As a librarian, I am a specialist in drilling down and finding info, but I’ve come to embrace my students/teachers reluctance to drill down when we all know that there are systems out there that offer one or two click access. Google has spoiled us. And it’s not just Google. Marketing and Advertising are billion dollar industries that have researched and implemented techniques to attract, appeal, engage, sell… There are focus groups that determine the best color for a message or product, the best verb or synonym to sell a message, the best everything for anything…

If we want our blog or wiki to have the most impact (and why wouldn’t we?) we have to be marketers as well as teachers. I know that a good book will sit on my shelf unselected, unread if the jacket is ugly and no one is there to sing its praises. When I weed my shelves and when I select books for purchase, the appearance of the item plays a role in my decision. If I’m going to create content for my staff and students it has to be appealing to them. My father always said; “If you are going to do something, do it right”. So if we are going to build something, like a blog or wiki, we need to consider not just the content/access needs of our audience but the appearance as well. Uuggghhh! I’m not an advertiser, marketer or graphic designer. I’m having a hard enough time with the basic format and content of building a blog. This is going to be harder and take longer than I thought! I need help. Anyone want to collaborate with me on my version of “23 Things” Web 2.0 blog that I want to create for my staff (and our final project)? I’m good with the content; I’d just like to set it up so that it’s as appealing as Matt Haughey’s wiki . Any takers? (Otherwise, just consider this my midsemester rant;-)

Mary said...

Question ~ I wrote the above blog in word and then copy/pasted into the blog. Why didn't my hyperlinks and urls show up? I hyperlinked "23 Things" and included the url http://plcmcl2-things.blogspot.com/
as well as Matt Haughey’s wiki url http://www.haughey.com/. I put carrots around the urls in my first blog (not here) and neither the hyperlinks or the urls showed up. Any ideas?

Mary said...

OK, I get the carrot around the url piece. Its a no no. How do you hyperlink to text?

Dave Fontaine said...

I wish I could disagree about 'wiki asthetics' but you're correct. They aren't visually easy, but a lot has changed in just the past few years, so maybe they'll look differently soon. As far as the hyperlinks--unfortunately you have to use html tags to create a hyperlink in a comment. Thankfully I don't have to do that with my blog postings, it's just the comments.

Lori said...

S7 – In response to “Wide Open Spaces: Wiki’s, Ready or Not” by Brian Lamb

I really liked the quote by Charles Mingus, “Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” Because I teach the Pre- Advanced Placement class at my junior high, I find I am always trying to get them to do this. They seem to think the more and elaborate the better (which, sometimes it is), but often the sill in doing what the quote says is hard to achieve because it requires them to think out of the box.

Another thought as I read through this article was the simplicity of wikis, the lack of authorship and the (sometimes) lack of citations. This goes against what we have taught our students for years…always complete their assignments to the proper outlined specifications, put their name on their work, and always create a bibliography and cite your work. I think it’s a very interesting shift and mentality to get into as educators and to then pass along to our students.

The idea of “SoftSecurity” that was described in terms of the community looking out for your words can largely be translated into what my school has really focused on this year with vandalism and theft. We are urging students to take ownership of the school as if it is their ‘home’ and that if they saw someone defacing their home, they would say or do something, so do the same at their school. We have been seeing more and more success with this as the year goes on. It took a few brave souls to begin with and now more and more students are willing to come forward when needed. I would assume this has been true for wikis.

Lori said...

The term and definition of “Collective Intelligence” makes me think of a poster that is in a friend’s classroom of many little fish in the shape of a shark. Yes, their sum is definitely greater than their parts!! It is an interesting theory (that is completely tried and true) but we as a society have made education be such an individualized, dog eat dog institution that we sometimes lose sight of this great philosophy.

In the PPT, it’s mentioned that Knowledge + Information = Power and Influence and this is one of the keys to helping our students be successful in the future. Something can’t be truer! This is the reason that (most) teachers teach!

Curriki is totally neat and it’s been added to my favs! Thanks for the awesome lead on such a great site! (I have already shared it with the rest of the LA department at school!)

I agree Mary, I’m THAT teacher who loves pretty looking assignments! Wiki’s are plain and simple; something I’m not used too!

Eileen said...


I liked this saying from Wide Open Spaces; "Wikis in the hands of healthy communities work; Wikis in the hands of indifferent communities fail." It made me think of family life and how are classrooms represent that as well. We can work toward having healthy classrooms or end up with dysfunctional ones.

In the reading, Educational Technology & Life; they talk about Constructivist Pedagogy which is essentially learning by doing as long as there is an authentic context and purpose while the teacher has to relinquish some control and let the learning happen. I have actually witnessed more of this; this past year, using more self-directed lessons and have found much more excitement in the classroom. I want so much to continue this pattern by having the students develop their own wiki; something totally separate; that wouldn't impact my teaching/classroom wiki so that if some dysfuction did happen, I would simply use it as a teachable moment and revert back to the previous days version.

more to follow...

Eileen said...


Another interesting point that I found in this weeks readings were that sites like NASA and MIT are not only using collective wikis but they are what they called open code wikis.

I found this especially interesting in the case of NASA as in thinking about it I was wondering how something like that actually works. Generally speaking, someone or many people are monitoring the wikis to ensure that they are valid changes or otherwise are reverting back to previous versions. But if someone like NASA is asking from input on very scientific formulas from very intelligent public and people are making suggestions, how are all of these suggestions being monitored and tested to ensure the suggested new code is valid or not. How would someone know very quickly if this was valid information or not, so I was curious as to how something like that might work in reality.

I know this has nothing to do with my classroom, but it is a great concept to get collective knowledge from the population at lodge, but that is my "I wonder" question.

I also found this tidbit of information interesting that I thought I would pass along. If you are using Wikispaces to develop your wiki, use Firefox as your browser as it is much easier to use than other browsers. I use Wikispaces for my classroom wiki and concur.

I love the wiki prayer and added it to my wiki too.

Barbara Connolly said...

I can see some value in “collective wisdom” and maybe a wiki is the way to go with a class of students. But as Mary and Wide Open Spaces mentioned there are several problems with wikis. I guess aesthetic appeal is not the most important feature, quality, or pedagogical reason for using a wiki. Joe Moxley, writing professor at South Florida University, says that using a wiki for writing instruction forces the attention to go to the writing and not the software. Sometimes when students do a project in PowerPoint, Photostory, or Glogster, there is more flash than substance.

Unfortunately, when I checked out Wikifish, the wiki for Auburn architecture students, it had a note that said the wiki had “died a slow and tortured death as the wiki technology was subsumed by blogs, tweets, facebook, and other ‘less social’ media.” I wonder if we’re learning about a technology that has seen it’s day? As I read Lamb’s article about the difficulty using wikis because of the lack of organization I thought of Joyce Valenza the Librarian Queen of everything technological and what a difficult time I had using her wiki. I checked out the page and, yep, even she is not maintaining her wiki any more. Hmmm.

Eileen, that is a good piece of advice about using Wikispaces on Firefox rather than other browsers. I wonder why that is?

Jacque said...

@Mary - I had the same "ah ha"! I understand the value of wikis, but I often find them cumbersome to navigate and don't like to spend alot of time reading information on them. This is why I think they are a great respository of information that is quickly and easily accessible, but not so great for in-depth information on any topic. After a click or two, I'm done. Author Nicholas Carr has a great article on how the internet is a actually rewiring our brains to become browsers, rather than "close readers" of information.

Jacque said...

To hyperlink, use the following html:

<a href="your site url here>
text link that you want users to see

Make sure to put quotes around the url (front and end - I left the quotes after "your site url here" off because otherwise, blogger would have thought it was a link).

Jacque said...

Mary, send me an email and I'll be happy to help with your 23 things site. I'm actually in an area without internet (gasp!). I had to drive 45 minutes to find a library with internet to post this. So it may take me a little while to get back to you since I won't be back to "civilization" for another week or so.

Mary said...

Barbara pointed out more difficulties with wikis, and gave a couple of examples of wikis that don't work or are now defunct. She wondered if the technology would soon become history. Her points and question are valid but may not be universal. While I agree that many wikis are too cumbersome to be useful, there are still great wiki sites that do work and keep getting better. Dave shared a couple examples of those and I can't help but think of Wikipedia as a successful endeavor that will continue to be around for a while.

I tend to think the fault may not lie in the Wiki platform so much as it does in the intended purpose or use of each specific wiki. The content of this course has made it obvious to me that developing and maintaining a wiki is not a quick, easy process. Especially for someone that is not techy. My husband says that using the right tool is 90% of the job. A hammer is probably not the best tool to fix a car. By the same token, just because a person has a hammer, that doesn’t mean they are able to build a house. Perhaps people are picking up the wiki tool when what they really need is a blog tool or Prezi tool or web page tool instead. I wonder how many of the unsuccessful wikis were individual attempts of people trying out a new tool without the knowledge, long term vision or networking implementation to make it sustainable.

Mary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary said...

Thank you for the article, the tips and the offer to help! I would love to take you up on your offer. I don't know your email address. Please email me megotham@gmail.com. I'd like to exchange phone #'s and meet if possible.

Karen said...

S7: Lori I agree with you about students needing to think of their school as their home and taking pride in their school. This is the first year for the school I am at and it has been one of our focuses to have the students create community so they have a sense of attachment and belonging to their school.

I think the same could be done with a class wiki, once students feel they have created a sense of community with their wiki I think they would be more likely to look out for each other and each other's words.

Mary I also agree with you about how boring wiki's look but I think they are starting to offer more options as far as font and color goes. A nice font and a vibrant color can go a long way!

I am a huge fan of Collective Intelligence! I think that when students get together the best thinking and creating occurs. Group work should be able to challenge those who struggle and create leaders out of those to whom the material comes easily. I have also noticed that those students who find the material easy can really struggle when they have to represent it or simply explain it to others. Collective Intelligence has something to offer to all of those involved!

The sum is definitely greater than all its parts!!

Although collective intelligence has benefits for all I wonder how we can get each student to their point of maximum benefit?

Sonja said...

I wonder how much is generation a factor in the appeal of wikis.  I'm definitely a baby boomer, but i wonder does the comeliness bother teens. Wikis are certainly "dressed down." However, so much of their digital use is so native to them but it's sometimes a stretch for me.  Haven't warmed to reading a book on a phone yet.  My daughter thinks it's okay. It reminds me of something I read early in our text by Will Richardson.  "Children think different from us. They develop hypertext minds. They leap around." I guess Barbara is on to something when she says its the collaborative piece that holds the appeal.  I know it used to drive me crazy when my kids brought friends by the house when it looked terrible.  They didn't seem to notice or care.  Just wondering about that difference.

The most surprising point of this session for me was the use of CIA's use of a wiki.  It seems to be a clear signal that they openly, publicly welcome a two-way format as opposed to the blog. For those faculty members who are reluctant to use wikis because they are apprehensive about open participation this is certainly a very different viewpoint/choice from a significant organization.  

Started a wiki this week to replace a lot of the reference works I'm weeding.  Lhslibrarylair@wikispaces.com.  It's a start.

Ms. Steele said...

S7: I really like the Stanford wiki - edited by all members of that community. It made me think of what I consider my first understanding of collective knowledge. University of California at Santa Cruz underwent an expansion in the late 80's - building several new dormitories, dining halls and buildings. The project manager aptly chose to wait to construct/pave/light walkways until the users of this forested campus wore the paths in the most efficient ways. Back in the day so to speak I remember marveling at this type of intelligence en masse.

Jennifer Hawkins said...

I was really surprised by how many organizations used wikis. Through the readings and presentations of this class I had the thought that a student centered wiki would be useful. But as a I was viewing the presentations this week and saw how many companies and organization used wikis, it got me thinking. Wouldn't it be nice to collaborate with my colleagues using a wiki. We are constantly sharing ideas and resources through email and meetings. Wouldn't it be a nice to have all of our resources pooled in one location. I am wondering if that might not make collaboration in our content team more efficient.