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Emerging Trend: Collaborative Curve | Ecology of Education

Emerging Trend: Collaborative Curve

Recently, on the Harvard Business Publishing website, The Big Shift team (John Hagel III, John Seely Brown, and Lang Davison) posted an article titled, Introducing the Collaborative Curve.

They tell the story of how a fax machine, by itself, is pretty worthless.  However it becomes increasingly more valuable as more fax machines are added to the network (Network Effect).  They go on to suggest that if the fax machines “improved their performance” when new units were added to the network it would not only have “an amplifying effect on the first level of exponential performance,” but it would also bring about a second amplifying effect as the machines’ performance improves.

To illustrate their point they provide an example from the World of Warcraft:

What happens, for instance, as you add more participants to a carefully-designed environment? The online role-playing game World of Warcraft (WoW) provides an intriguing example. More than 11.5 million people around the world now play World of Warcraft. Performance in the game is measured by experience points, which are awarded to players as they successfully address progressively more difficult challenges. It takes roughly 150 hours of accumulated game play to earn the first 2 million experience points but players on average are able to earn another 8 million experience points in the next 150 hours of accumulated game play. Even though, within the game, experience points become more difficult to acquire as you advance, World of Warcraft players are improving their performance four times faster as they continue to play the game.

They postulate that this is the result of the numerous interactions between practitioners of the game and each others’ knowledge base. Through blogs, wikis, forums, and databases, they learn from and with one another at an exponentially amplified rate.

Calling this emerging trend “Collaborative Curve,” they define it as, “the more participants–and interactions between those participants–you add to a carefully designed and nurtured environment, the more the rate of performance improvement goes up.”

While this is an introduction to the trend, the behavior itself is not news to anyone who’s ever lived off the land.

Take the nomadic hunters of the ice age for example.  Surely they collaborated in order to capitalize on and innovate new technologies, such as the atlatl.  I imagine them, cloaked in fur, sitting around their fire, perhaps even gnawing on a deer bone, discussing methods for more effectively bringing down a mastodon using the new tool.  Comparing experiences and then applying each others’ lessons surely advanced mastery and utility beyond what one could achieve alone, and at a much faster rate.

However, the emerging nature of this trend relates to the utilization of a new technology — interactive media.  By ‘meeting’ at digital gathering points, the expertise of like minded enthusiasts, even across vast distances, accelerates the growth of ideas, knowledge, and ultimately innovation far beyond what was feasible with traditional trade publications, snail mail, or conference calls.

In the past, proximity  has played a key role in meaningful collaboration.  With the advent of Web 2.0 that obstacle has been effectively flattened, or at least lessened.

What does this mean for education?  Depends on what we make of it.

If the anecdotal evidence proves true, the ramifications might lead us to two conclusions:

  1. Through our use of networking as professionals in the field of education (such as through the emerging on-line communities on twitter, wikis, skype, podcasts, blogs, etc) as well as efforts in our schools (through intentional practices such as PLC), we stand to exponentially improve the art and science of our pedagogical pratices.
  2. By learning to utilize collaborative communities to their fullest potential, we can better implement tools that enable students to take advantage of these opportunities for their own growth.  The benefits of this are two-fold.  One, they have access to a broad range of content, yet depth in whatever topic they focus on.  Two, If we can provide more opportunities for students to learn strategies for utilizing collaborative communities, we equip them with skills that will help them not only learn and understand more, but to apply that content in new and innovative ways.

I look forward to the emergence of new research on collaborative curves, because this is a trend could be a game changer.  If  researchers find that collaborative networks do accelerate learning for both individuals and groups, we might all benefit — students, teachers, administrators.

What else might we garner from this trend as it relates to teaching, learning, and constructing classroom environments that lead to a relevant education?

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25 Responses to “Emerging Trend: Collaborative Curve”

  1. April 10, 2009 at 9:36 pm #

    Emerging Trend: Collaborative Curve. http://bit.ly/WJ7EH

  2. April 10, 2009 at 11:28 pm #

    RT @edupreneur: The collaborative curve and education: http://bit.ly/Sw2dC thanks for this!

  3. April 10, 2009 at 11:41 pm #

    Never thought of it like that, great read! RT @edupreneur: The collaborative curve and education: http://bit.ly/Sw2dC

  4. April 11, 2009 at 1:03 am #

    RT @Educator: Never thought of it like that, great read! RT @edupreneur: The collaborative curve and education: http://bit.ly/Sw2dC

  5. April 11, 2009 at 4:11 am #

    RT @Educator: Never thought of it like that, great read! RT @edupreneur: The collaborative curve and education: http://bit.ly/Sw2dC

  6. April 13, 2009 at 1:40 am #

    OK…but not so fast. I use blogs, wikis, and YouTube in my classes as tools to enhance my learning environment and I must say they work well. I do believe the students learn because the environment is bigger and more interactive. They are comfortable on the internet and they are even more comfortable when the internet responds back to them…actually, that is a scary thought for this old educator. So I agree with the premise and I look forward to more research. However, I teach three subjects Chemistry (AP), Physics (AP), and music (Interpretive jazz and harmony). All of these areas are still ‘grind ‘em out’ rigorous curricula that require extensive practice and repetition. In chemistry and physics you have to practice complex problem solving and perform inquiry labs and practical skills in the lab. In music, nothing replaces the diligence required in daily practice and ear training. It doesn’t matter what kind of internet media are available to enhanced these learning environments the students still have to do the work themselves.

    In Malcolm Gladwell’s recent book “Outliers” which I have not read completely, he claims that any skill will require ten thousands hours of practice to achieve a high level of proficiency on that skill. My wife asked how many hours did I practice music in my life time as she was reading this book…I did some calculations and came up with a figure…tem thousand hours…go figure…

    Let’s be careful to not let technology replace good innovative teaching and hard work. Remember…learning is the responsibility of the student…

    Peace
    Ed

  7. April 12, 2009 at 7:40 pm #

    OK…but not so fast. I use blogs, wikis, and YouTube in my classes as tools to enhance my learning environment and I must say they work well. I do believe the students learn because the environment is bigger and more interactive. They are comfortable on the internet and they are even more comfortable when the internet responds back to them…actually, that is a scary thought for this old educator. So I agree with the premise and I look forward to more research. However, I teach three subjects Chemistry (AP), Physics (AP), and music (Interpretive jazz and harmony). All of these areas are still ‘grind ‘em out’ rigorous curricula that require extensive practice and repetition. In chemistry and physics you have to practice complex problem solving and perform inquiry labs and practical skills in the lab. In music, nothing replaces the diligence required in daily practice and ear training. It doesn’t matter what kind of internet media are available to enhanced these learning environments the students still have to do the work themselves.

    In Malcolm Gladwell’s recent book “Outliers” which I have not read completely, he claims that any skill will require ten thousands hours of practice to achieve a high level of proficiency on that skill. My wife asked how many hours did I practice music in my life time as she was reading this book…I did some calculations and came up with a figure…tem thousand hours…go figure…

    Let’s be careful to not let technology replace good innovative teaching and hard work. Remember…learning is the responsibility of the student…

    Peace
    Ed

  8. April 13, 2009 at 11:06 am #

    Reading @JasonFlom-Collaborative Curve and potential for both educators and students: http://bit.ly/Sw2dC

  9. April 15, 2009 at 7:17 am #

    the value of online collaboration for students http://tinyurl.com/dzzww4

  10. April 18, 2009 at 5:09 pm #

    @GoCollaboration Thanks for the follow. Cool stuff you’re in to. Here’s a piece on “Collaborative Curves” http://bit.ly/WJ7EH

  11. April 18, 2009 at 5:09 pm #

    @GoCollaboration Thanks for the follow. Cool stuff you’re in to. Here’s a piece on “Collaborative Curves” http://bit.ly/WJ7EH

  12. Mary Beth
    April 20, 2009 at 1:16 pm #

    The emerging technologies are here to stay. They are extremely powerful for connecting people together and sharing information. Universities need to train new teachers to use these technologies and school need to adopt the tools. Students are already using collaborative tools for fun.

  13. Mary Beth
    April 20, 2009 at 5:16 pm #

    The emerging technologies are here to stay. They are extremely powerful for connecting people together and sharing information. Universities need to train new teachers to use these technologies and school need to adopt the tools. Students are already using collaborative tools for fun.

  14. July 3, 2009 at 1:55 pm #

    … “Emerging Trend: Collaborative Curve | Ecology of Education” ( http://bit.ly/m6gcJ )

  15. itsuppor
    December 21, 2009 at 5:24 am #

    i found this informative and interesting blog so i think so its very useful and knowledge able.I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. In fact your creative writing abilities has inspired me.Really the blogging is spreading its wings rapidly…
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  17. thecollegenetwork
    January 8, 2010 at 4:08 am #

    BA.LLB- Bachelor of Laws is an integrated program in Law. BA.LLB is a five-year duration program. After completion of 10+2, students can give an entrance exam for the course of BA.LLB. These types of courses are available in most of universities in India.

    A degree in law provides plenty of career opportunities to a lawyer. In this field of law, social and financial crises amid the public are always marked. A degree of law provides weapons to fight against all types of social inequalities and crimes. Under the imposed rules by law, the society is governed. Law is one of the vital and most basic communal institutions. There are always crises and injustice in the society if the people did just as they wished.

    No society could ever exist until its members distinguish that they have certain obligations towards one another. The law sets up the systems that describe human rights and obligations. The law punishes the people who break these rules. Law in various crimes and cases advises government. Mostly different government departments and police agencies see that laws are regulated amongst the people. The courts of that region help to these agencies to carry on the laws.

  18. thecollegenetwork
    January 8, 2010 at 12:08 pm #

    BA.LLB- Bachelor of Laws is an integrated program in Law. BA.LLB is a five-year duration program. After completion of 10+2, students can give an entrance exam for the course of BA.LLB. These types of courses are available in most of universities in India.

    A degree in law provides plenty of career opportunities to a lawyer. In this field of law, social and financial crises amid the public are always marked. A degree of law provides weapons to fight against all types of social inequalities and crimes. Under the imposed rules by law, the society is governed. Law is one of the vital and most basic communal institutions. There are always crises and injustice in the society if the people did just as they wished.

    No society could ever exist until its members distinguish that they have certain obligations towards one another. The law sets up the systems that describe human rights and obligations. The law punishes the people who break these rules. Law in various crimes and cases advises government. Mostly different government departments and police agencies see that laws are regulated amongst the people. The courts of that region help to these agencies to carry on the laws.

    The College Network

  19. March 1, 2010 at 6:48 am #

    Amazing post thanks to share.

  20. November 27, 2010 at 5:57 pm #

    Valuable implications for K-12 reform? Emerging Trend: Collaborative Curve http://j.mp/f6YRmN via @DrLorMulick #blog4reform

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