Connected Learning isn’t the only phrase that we use a lot here at Rhizome Live. Collective Intelligence is something we are keen to use and promote within workplace training. It’s so important that we put it in our logo.

So what is Collective Intelligence?

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In short, collective intelligence is a group awareness and knowledge which is developed by sharing skills and experience. It is a group’s ability to perform a wide range of tasks. This doesn’t mean all knowledge is known by all members of the group. Rather, it is is the sum of all the information held by individual group members.1

How does that work in practice?

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Collective intelligence is developed in groups which share and discuss their knowledge. Recognising that everyone has something to contribute is essential; a 2010 study demonstrated that the more people able to speak, the higher the group’s collective intelligence. More people contribute more perspectives, leading to thought-through decisions and better practice. The collective intelligence of a group is greater than the sum of its parts.

On the other hand, groups with just a few established authorities suffer from Groupthink. Rather than exploring possibilities, the existing orthodoxy holds unquestioned sway. This results in what one 2008 piece termed Collective Stupidity.

How can I develop the Collective Intelligence of my organisation?

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Technology has a vital role. So important, in fact, that MIT established a Centre for Collective Intelligence to research it in 2006. Online connectivity allows bigger and bigger communities to gather and share their intelligence. And the even better news is that Collective Intelligence is not diminished by a lack of face-to-face interaction. Your communities can develop their collective intelligence in digital space.

This is why at Rhizome Live we encourage connected, collective learning, live and at scale. Our participants learn with and from each other, improving not only their own abilities but those of each other as well. In the words of Pierre Lévy: ‘universally distributed intelligence, constantly enhanced, coordinated in real time, and resulting in the effective mobilisation of skills’.2

1Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture, New York: New York University Press.
2 Lévy, P. (1994) Collective Intelligence: Mankind’s Emerging World in Cyber Space, New York: Plenum Trade.

Lizzie Evans - Learning Consultant, Rhizome Live

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