Collective Intelligence is not a new concept by any means. People have been getting together to form a more knowledgeable group for thousands of years. This idea is a lot like communities of practice in certain ways. People come together and combine their knowledge for the benefit of everyone. Collective Intelligence subscribes to the theory that “two heads are better than one”. The really great thing is with the web we have today, it’s more like “millions of heads are better than one”. We can practice collective intelligence on a world wide scale like never before. In other words we can be a collective species instead of just a collective group.
I can benefit from collective intelligence in more ways than I can illustrate. It’s amazing to me that millions of people around the world actually want to share the knowledge they have with others so that the world as a whole will benefit. The biggest example I can think of representing this concept today is wikipedia. A lot of people seem to think that wikipedia is unreliable because anyone can change or add to information on any subject. It turns out that it is actually more accurate because of this very practice. When groups of people pool their information together, it can be much more accurate than one person. That’s why I plan to use collective intelligence to my advantage throughout my career as web designer.
The addition of RSS feeds to the internet was a huge step in keeping users connected with one another. With RSS (Rich Site Summary), users can subscribe to a feed from a certain website. This allows that user to be constantly updated when the feed they are subscribed to has new information. You no longer have to go to every website you are interested in, you can subscribe to all these websites and their new information will be delivered straight to you!
As a web designer this tool is immensely useful. Instead of having to drive traffic to your or your client’s site everyday, you can focus on getting those users to subscribe to your RSS feed and they will get hear from you every time you update. This is an amazing way to keep your fans or customers excited about your information, as well as up to date on your events or promotions. I never plan on having a web site without and RSS feed. Knowing that every time I update my site, people all over the world get instant access to that information is invaluable. It also can help me as a learning tool. I can subscribe to other web designers feeds, and be instantly updated when they release a new concept in the field. RSS feeds are great tools, and no website should go without one.
Communities of practice are an immensely important concept for society. People of all different trades get together and discuss their experiences with other people of their field. This allows for the continuous growth of knowledge between the people who hold the same interests. For instance, we want doctors to constantly be learning new ways to provide better and more affordable medical care, and communities of practice are a key way they do this. They can meet up and discuss breakthroughs they have had, their experiences on the job, and success stories.
I think this is very important to my field, web design, because it is one of the fastest changing fields out there. Web designers must be in constant contact with each other to stay up to date on current trends in the workplace. The great thing about communities of practice is that it’s optional, meaning I actually have to want to be there and be involved to participate. If I don’t care about my work, then I would probably sit on the couch and watch television while my colleagues meet up socially to discuss their passion for web design. I therefore would miss out on all of their experiences and knowledge. The person that chooses to stay at home is destined to remain at his current level while his peers who are involved surpass him. I plan to be a part of a community of practice, hopefully several, because I want to continually grow. The best way I can see of doing that is by learning from the knowledge of my peers and sharing my own experiences.
The term personal learning environment is a relatively new term in education. It centers around the concept that students are better suited to be taught how to teach themselves. Seems backwards doesn’t it? Actually this is a very effective means of learning that more and more educational institutions are putting into practice. Students are taught how and where to get valuable tools that they can use to get endless amounts of information for themselves. Teachers are there to guide them, to show them where these tools are, how to use them, and to make sure they are using their personal learning environments to full effect. With Web 2.0 in full swing, students have more access to these tools than ever before.
It is very advantageous for me as a web design student to locate and collect various forms of information. Websites such as Netvibes.com and Delicious allow me to scour the internet for learning tools and bookmark them all at one place, so I have easy access to them in the future. I can use Facebook and talk to not only my professors, but professors from all over the world who have vast knowledge and are willing to share. That’s what really makes personal learning environments so powerful, social networking. I am constantly connected with literally millions of people around the world with knowledge that I can tap in to. Think about that, that’s like having a library with millions of encyclopedias all written on the subject you want knowledge of, and they are constantly updating. The really great thing is that this entire library fits inside your computer, and is at your disposal with a click of the mouse.
As a web designer, personal learning environments affect me in more than the usual way. I realize that this is where education is heading, and that most of it will take place on the internet. That means I have to use my PLE to make absolutely sure that other student’s PLEs from around the world operate smoothly and efficiently. The learning environment of the internet is constantly changing, RSS feeds, blogs, Facebook updates, Twitter updates, they all happen in seconds, and students have to be able to have those feeds delivered to them. That’s where we come in as web designers, bringing the consumers what they want, when they want it, and filtering out the rest. I for one am excited to be apart of this, both as a student and designer.
If you are interested in learning more about Personal Learning Environments, I found these articles particularly helpful. History of Personal Learning Environments – A brief history from wikipedia. 7 Things You Should Know About PLEs – 7 tips from educause.com. PLEs, A New Learning Concept – An article from prolearn-academy.org