Collective intelligence is a theory which refers to the idea that information is more effective when gathered within a large group of like minded individuals who all contribute different ideas and sources of knowledge on a specific topic. Hill and Antonopoulos (2010, p. 357) refer to collective intelligence as “intelligence that is deemed to emerge from many individual, often disparate, interactions and contributions”. Hill and Antonopoulos discussed collective intelligence networks in their contribution to the 2010 International Conference on P2P, Parallel, Grid, Cloud and Internet Computing in Fukuoka, Japan. I have also written about collective intelligence on this blog previously, you can read the post here.
While the theory of collective intelligence is often discussed in regards to the internet and web communication, the entire concept that encompasses the theory, which is that knowledge is best collected from many individuals at once, can be to applied to traditional face to face communication as well. The structure of tertiary education has proven this point due to us university students often having to participate in dreaded group assignments, however I think everyone will agree that if you are grouped with interested and hard working people, then you will find that the knowledge everyone provides is beneficial and makes the work a lot easier.
This leads me on to discussing international education and student exchange, it is quite common that student exchange programs are quite heavily marketed by Universities and students are always encouraged to embark on these adventures to study at an overseas institution with promises of life changing, cross cultural experiences. Marginson (2012, p. 1) explains that “it is an experience with immense potential to enrich the lives of all who are touched by it” in his presentation on ‘Morphing a profit-making business into an intercultural experience ‘.
When an international student studies at an Australian University, we know that they’re bringing something different to the table than their domestic counterparts, there are sometimes language/cultural barriers and things that are difficult to adjust to, but all the more importantly their presence is undeniably a great contribution to the learning environment.
In relation to the topic of collective intelligence, it can be argued that international students offer more to collective intelligence scenarios such as group work, as they provide insight on situations differently due to experiences that are influenced by things such as their unique culture, family situations, and the education in their home country. However when coupled with domestic students, the entire group or ‘collective intelligence network’, receives a more diverse range of knowledge that they normally wouldn’t have.