Collective Intelligence Cambridge Digital Education Futures Initiative

The COVID-19 Peer Hub as an example of Collective Intelligence (CI) in practice

Reda SadkiGlobal health, The Geneva Learning Foundation

A new article by colleagues at the Cambridge Digital Education Futures Initiative (DEFI) illustrates academic understanding of Collective Intelligence (CI) through the COVID-19 Peer Hub, a peer learning initiative organized by over 6,000 frontline health workers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, with support from The Geneva Learning Foundation (TGLF), in response to the initial shock of the pandemic on immunization services that placed 80 million children at risk of missing lifesaving vaccines. Learn more about the COVID-19 Peer Hub

From the abstract:

Collective Intelligence (CI) is important for groups that seek to address shared problems.

CI in human groups can be mediated by educational technologies.

The current paper presents a framework to support design thinking in relation to CI educational technologies.

Our framework is grounded in an organismic-contextualist developmental perspective that orients enquiry to the design of increasingly complex and integrated CI systems that support coordinated group problem solving behaviour.

We focus on pedagogies and infrastructure and we argue that project-based learning provides a sound basis for CI education, allowing for different forms of CI behaviour to be integrated, including swarm behaviour, stigmergy, and collaborative behaviour.

We highlight CI technologies already being used in educational environments while also pointing to opportunities and needs for further creative designs to support the development of CI capabilities across the lifespan.

We argue that CI education grounded in dialogue and the application of CI methods across a range of project-based learning challenges can provide a common bridge for diverse transitions into public and private sector jobs and a shared learning experience that supports cooperative public-private partnerships, which can further reinforce advanced human capabilities in system design.

Article excerpt:

As an example of CI in practice, in 2020–2021, more than 6000 health workers joined The Geneva Learning Foundation (TGLF) COVID-19 Peer Hub.

Participants shared more than 1200 ideas or practices for managing the pandemic in their contexts within 10 days. Relevant peer ideas and practices were then referenced as participants produced individual, context-specific action plans that were then reviewed by peers before finalisation and implementation.

Mapping of action plan citations (C3L 2022) demonstrate patterns of peer learning, between countries, organisations and system levels.

In parallel, TGLF synthesises data generated by peer learners in formats legitimised by the global health knowledge system (e.g. Moore et al. 2022).

The biggest challenge to CI in this context remains one of legitimacy: how can collective intelligence compete with the perceived gold standard of academic publication within this expert-led culture?

We argue that as CI education is further developed and extends across the lifespan from school learning environment to work and organisational environments, CI technologies and practices will be further developed, evaluated, and refined and will gain legitimacy as part of broader societal capabilities in CI that are cultivated and reinforced on an ongoing basis.

References cited in this excerpt:

Kovanovic, V. et al. (2022) The power of learning networks for global health: The Geneva Learning Foundation COVID-19 Peer Hub Project Evaluation Report. Centre for Change and Complexity in Learning.

Moore, Katie, Barbara Muzzulini, Tamara Roldán, Juliet Bedford, and Heidi Larson. 2022. Overcoming barriers to vaccine acceptance in the community: Key learning from the experiences of 734 frontline health workers (1.0). The Geneva Learning Foundation.

Full article: Hogan, M.J., Barton, A., Twiner, A., James, C., Ahmed, F., Casebourne, I., Steed, I., Hamilton, P., Shi, S., Zhao, Y., Harney, O.M., Wegerif, R., 2023. Education for collective intelligence. Irish Educational Studies 1–30.