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Title: Deepening e-learning through social collaborative intelligence
Authors: Montebello, Matthew
Cope, Bill
Kalantzis, Mary
Keywords: Swarm intelligence
Distance education
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Citation: Montebello, M., Cope, W., Kalantzis, M., Searsmith, D.,... Haniya, S. (2018). Deepening e-learning through social collaborative intelligence. 48th IEEE Annual Frontiers in Education (FIE) Conference, San Jose, California, USA. (in print).
Abstract: Traditional education promotes the self as it seeks to encourage learners to acquire knowledge and cultivate individual cognition through memorization and the application of procedures to achieve expected answers. Collaboration in class has been sporadically practiced when major tasks require necessary group-work and coordinated team efforts with clear objectives to instill a sense of collaboration within learners in preparation for demands of the workplace. However, such activities are not prioritized because they are difficult and time-consuming to assess in a rigorous way. For this reason, the default in education remains individual cognition and in relatively narrow forms. The human mind is intrinsically social [1], and cognitively we are continuously seeking to employ our social memory to accomplish complex tasks. Until recently, these social and collaborative endeavors were not possible to perform within e-learning environments with their traditional content delivery architectures. However, with the advent of Web 2.0 technologies and social networks, new e-learning affordances have enabled a plethora of pedagogic possibilities to engage learners, and to assess the quality of their collaborative engagement. Novel web technologies permit new learning approaches and new media possibilities that promote real changes to e-learning which impacts learners’ configurations of space, their relationships, the textual forms of knowledge to which they are exposed, the kinds of knowledge artifacts that they create, and the way the outcomes of their learning are measured. We argue that this next e-learning ecology, consisting of the complex interaction between human, textual, discursive and spatial dynamics, has pedagogical and epistemic repercussions grounded within reflexive and inclusive education [2]. Such ideologies foster dynamically horizontal knowledge communities that generate collaborations where the value is not in standardized performance according to assessable objectives, but the productive diversity generated in a peer-to-peer dialogue where differences are of greater value to thinking and learning than identical factual or procedural correctness [3]. In this paper we present a case study of how we engage graduate students through these new media within our online environment, whereby, instead of memory work they focus their evidentiary work as knowledge artefacts created through digital media. Our e-learning portal supports, promotes and motivates social collaboration to boost the e-learning process through a combined learners’ intelligence where the knowledge of a working group is greater than the sum of its individual members[4]. The environment employs statistical tools to analyze records of social knowledge work, recognizing and crediting for instance the peer feedback that made a knowledge construct stronger, or tracking the differential contributions of participants in a jointly created work. We encourage and value the learners’ knowledge representations assembled in the form of rich, multimodal sources employing any of the available media. Such representations are products of distributed cognition, where traces of the knowledge production process are as important as the products themselves, as well as the sources used, peer feedback during the making, and the social -collaborative intelligence employed.
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