What is Collective Intelligence?

Collective intelligence is a term for the knowledge embedded within societies or large groups of individuals. It can be explicit, in the form of knowledge gathered and recorded by many people (for example, the Wikipedia (http://wikipedia.org) is the result of collective intelligence); but perhaps more interesting, and more powerful, is the tacit intelligence that results from the data generated by the activities of many people over time. Discovering and harnessing the intelligence in such data — revealed through analyses of patterns, correlations, and flows — is enabling ever more accurate predictions about people’s preferences and behaviors, and helping researchers and everyday users understand and map relationships, and gauge the relative significance of ideas and events.

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).

Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - alan alan Jan 27, 2010

(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Collective intelligence underpins many of the other technologies that we are examining here. What use is "location-based computing" without context? Is this not collective intelligence? Our students are the product of collective intelligence whether we like it or not. They develop preferences and opinions based on a wide range of shifting sources from cable TV to Google to FaceBook. The real challenge is to harness that skillset into a pathway of intellectual rigor that will allow the kinds of research embodied in the description above to become reality. An interesting article on this is at: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/07/get-smarter/7548/ - tom.haymes tom.haymes Sep 29, 2010- vkumar vkumar Oct 16, 2010
  • Indeed. In fact harnessing and harvesting the "collective intelligence" of learners will be an important aspect of developing good Recommendation systems and Reputation systems in order for self-learners to be able to locate relevant resources (and communities) efficiently, given the abundance phenomenon. And there are some interesting challenges here -- managing collectivity, trust etc. ( The Spring 2010 Sloan Review http://sloanreview.mit.edu, Vol 51 addresses some of these albeit with a corporate orientation)Vijay- vkumar vkumar Oct 16, 2010
  • Hunch is aggregating responses to questions from a huge audience of people to draw new meanings and trends http://hunch.com/ - alan alan Oct 18, 2010

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • The description above also needs to reflect the impact of this emerging technology on teaching as well as research as outlined in my response to Question #1. Collective intelligence is rapidly becoming a reality. How we manage its application and use is the real challenge here. - tom.haymes tom.haymes Sep 29, 2010
  • See above- vkumar vkumar Oct 16, 2010
  • Can collective intelligence be applied to assessment? Ratings systems have been mentioned - which go part of the way, but I have also heard of assessment being carried out by a group of people who just take two pieces of work and compare them. So long as you get lots of people comparing pieces of work in this way, you eventually get a ladder running from the best piece of work downwards. See Futurelab's http://www.powerleague.org.uk/ which is a tool for doing that ratings by comparison.
  • In The Culture of Education (1996), Jerome Bruner writes of "mutual learning cultures" in which school "is conceived of both as an exercise in consciousness raising about the possibilities of communal mental activity, and as a means for acquiring knowledge and skill" (xiv-xv). "Collective intelligence" typically focuses on the latter, but in my view the crucial factor is that consciousness raising activity. I'd go so far as to suggest that collective intelligence cannot be understood or fully realized until one understands this "meta" level. What kinds of ambitions should we have, and what conceptual frameworks could scaffold such ambitions, if we were to become seriously invested in the power of minds working in concert (instead of the typical model, even now, of students as empty vessels to be filled)? In this sense I think the initial definition is limited. "Collective intelligence" is about far more than embedded knowledge. It's about united yearnings, with the intellectual ambitions that emerge from persistent, ubiquitous conversation and metasymbolic exchange. - gardnercampbell gardnercampbell Oct 18, 2010

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • Collective intelligence is becoming more accessible and across a broader audience than ever before. On-demand mobile devices coupled with location-based technology are increasingly harnessing collective intelligence to describe the world around us. This will create a huge shift in the way that our students learn about the world around them as well as how researchers are able to synthesize information across a wide range of platforms. Educational institutions need to understand the benefits and pitfalls of this emerging reality. - tom.haymes tom.haymes Sep 29, 2010
  • Clay Shirky talks about "Cognitive surplus". I would add Social, Empathetic surplus. We have been social-limitated until now, when we can enjoy better ways (more productive, more confortable) to be together than ever before. We have to educate participation because it´s a new and important competence. - dolors.reig dolors.reig Oct 5, 2010
  • Collectivity enabled Recommendation Systems wil be very useful to provided guided pathways for self learners These would be very important for enabling multiple, guided pathways for learners. Vijay- vkumar vkumar Oct 16, 2010
  • I believe an important value that CI offers is to bring diverse (writ large) perspectives into the learning process. ( See Mapping Controversies example as well as NB for Collaborative annotation. Vijay- vkumar vkumar Oct 16, 2010
  • A simple but powerful impact is in the value of providing a scaffolding and enabling sharing of practice/solutions/strategies amonst educators ( See Math CI project reference below).Vijay- vkumar vkumar Oct 16, 2010
  • Collective intelligence could be applied more widely to assess work - if it were applied in this way then it's impact could be significant in terms of the nature of learning and teaching - Gavin Gavin Oct 17, 2010
  • In the "cognitive surplus" world we may continue to see growing recognition that it really is true, the more that you put into something, the more you (and others) can get out of it. It may also see a continued shift from a broadcast approach to a co-designed and produced approach to learning and teaching. - Gavin Gavin Oct 17, 2010

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon Project sharing form.