Saturday, February 7, 2009

How do we Harness Collective Intelligence?

A video clip of Professor Michael Wesch of Kansas State University inspired me to research the term Collective Intelligence.

When Michael Wesch looks out at his large classes of 400 students, he asks himself, "How can I get all of their intelligence to work together so that we can do something really amazing? If you think about what one person can do, that's interesting, but when you think about what 400 people can do when they all work together, that's really interesting."

Wesch's Question: How do we help student learning by harnessing the collective intelligence of students instead of just lecturing to them?

Watch this short video clip of Mike Wesch talking about what he calls his anti-teaching method.

Collective Intelligence Defined (by Wikipedia)

Collective Intelligence (C.I.) is a group intelligence that emerges from the collaboration and competition of many individuals. It is important to distinguish Collective Intelligence (C.I.) from shared intelligence. Collective Intelligence is the knowledge available to all members of a community, while shared intelligence is knowledge known by all members of a community. C.I. is not merely a quantitative contribution, but qualitative as well.

MIT's Centre for Collective Intelligence

The Webpage for MIT's Centre for Collective Intelligence says the following:

While people have talked about collective intelligence for decades, new communication technologies—especially the Internet—now allow huge numbers of people all over the planet to work together in new ways. The recent successes of systems like Google and Wikipedia suggest that the time is now ripe for many more such systems, and the goal of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence is to understand how to take advantage of these possibilities.

MIT's Question
: How can people and computers be connected so that—collectively—they act more intelligently than any individuals, groups, or computers have ever done before?'

My Question: How do we harness the collective intelligence of our teachers?

Visit Wesch's blog, Digital Ethnography

Watch The Machine is us/ing us

Watch a Presentation by Wesch, A Portal to Media Literacy

Watch An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube by Michael Wesch


  1. I'm a 1st year doctoral student attempting to flush out ideas in an effort to narrow down possible dissertation topics. I first ran across the concept of collective intelligence while reading a white paper published by the MacArthur Foundation.
    I'm a literacy coordinator and tech integration coach at a charter school in Chicago and I too am interested in how the concept of collective intelligence looks among teachers. I'll be following your blog with great interest!

  2. Thanks Techteacher.

    Now that the school year has begun I will be posting again. We are also in the midst of developing a site for sharing teacher work. It is a work-in-progress, but you can find it at It views best with firefox.


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