By Molly Sinnott
Collective learning is a focal point in Big History and World History Project courses, in large part because it highlights for students our unique human ability to share, store, and pass on information. And it’s not difficult to see the impact of collective learning outside of the classroom as well: think of the Internet, a network connecting billions of people around the globe with the power to share huge amounts of information. The Internet allows our collective learning to grow at an unprecedented rate, with ideas becoming more and more powerful as they’re shared and built upon.
While collective learning can make it easier to share knowledge, it’s pretty easy to be overwhelmed at times by the scale of that information. When turning to the Internet for a lasagna recipe, for example, this planetary-scale collective knowledge can leave a hungry cook frozen. What we want in those moments are recommendations from expert chefs, insight from those who have experimented with a dozen different recipes, or perhaps a unique and surprising recipe suggestion.
This is where the OER Project teacher community shines. It’s a prime example of collective learning, as teachers share and expand on the knowledge and experience of others. And as part of a network of experienced OER Project teachers and newbies alike, it’s a curated space that allows you to access the tools and ideas most relevant to your classroom.
To celebrate and share all the collective learning that has flourished in the community over the past year, we want to share some great community threads. Collective learning in action!
In a recent post, BHP teachers discuss ways to teach intuition. While intuition can be a tricky claim tester for students to understand, teachers share multiple techniques for making it both fun and accessible. Speaking of fun—this thread on using drama to teach Big History shares creative, engaging ways to bring performance into the classroom—drama degree not required. Check out collective learning at its best in this post on the Biography of a Continent activity, where teachers offer suggestions for developing a year-long project or adapting the activity to fit into a regional context.
On the WHP side of things, take a look at this community thread to see teachers collaborating and sharing resources around this WHP AP® colonization activity. Whether or not you teach this activity, there are many resources you might adapt for your own classroom. Fresh takes can help you rethink a classic in new ways, as teachers do here with Alphonse the Camel, offering ideas for collaboration across courses and adding new layers to push student thinking. And if you’re looking for inspiration, this WHP community post on student-created graphic biographies is a must-see. Come for the resources and problem-solving ideas, but stay for the amazing student samples!
Five-star reviews are a great way to get unstuck or discover new favorites. Scroll through these posts on greatest hits in WHP Origins Eras 6 and 7 and WHP AP Unit 5, where teachers chime in to offer pacing suggestions, final project ideas, and student favorites.
These are just a few examples of the ways amazing OER Project teachers are expanding the collective learning of the community. Whether you’re stopping by to share insight, are looking for inspiring new resources, or just need to bounce an idea off your peers, jump into the conversation!
About the author: Molly Sinnott is a member of the OER Project editorial team. She was previously a classroom reading and writing teacher, specializing in supporting students in executive-function skills development. She focuses on building approachable and inclusive content for a diverse range of students.
Cover image: Composite image by OER: stacked paper © rawpixel and freepik.com; abstract molecules on soft grey background © bestbrk and freepik.com.