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The Borg

Donald G. Perrin

Many innovative concepts come from writers of science fiction, and this modern media environment, films, television and computer games and simulations. The Borg is a collective intelligence of many individuals which gives it incredible power. In Startrek, individuals are dehumanized and chained permanently to the network. In the real world, the Internet is an open source of global intelligence to stimulate intellectual and economic growth.

Another kind of Borg is the SETI Institute, which uses the slack processing time of thousands of computers to process signals from radio telescopes in a Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence. SETI also includes the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe and the Center for Education and Public Outreach. The SETI mission is to explore, understand and explain the origin, nature and prevalence of life in the universe. More than 150 scientists conduct some of the most profound searches in human history to know our beginnings and our place among the stars.

In education, we focus on individual human development using group and individualized methods of instruction. Learning is stimulated in three domains: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor at levels of increasing difficulty and complexity. Cognitive involves knowledge and development of intellectual skills. Affective emphasizes feeling and emotions. Psychomotor is concerned with motor skills and coordination of mind and body. The game plan is a curriculum intended to prepare the learner for a world that does not yet exist. Learning in a traditional classroom comes from lectures, demonstrations, discussions, and guided activities. The flow of intelligence is principally from the teacher, textbook, and learning resources to students. The internet is a world wide web for sharing knowledge and experience.

Modern learning methods place more emphasis on feedback, interaction, and team-based activities. The learner is active and assumes responsibility of his or her own learning. The teacher lectures less, if at all, and serves as guide, tutor and problem solver. Diagnostic-prescriptive approaches determine what is to be learned and the most effective way to learn. Supportive learning environments, interactive technologies and the collective intelligence of class members provide a wealth of opportunities for learning where students interact, explore, learn, and share ideas together.

Collective intelligence and networking give Borg-like power to the learning process. When students share, the lecture becomes a discussion, and the discussion becomes a dialog. In discussion we are trying to make a point; in dialog we are exploring ideas. Often dialog leads to  activities to test ideas and put them into practice.

Unlike the Borg which responds to a single power, collaboration and team work foster productive exploration, communication and learning experiences for all who participate. The result is continual renewal and opportunity for innovation and creativity.

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