When I began taking the Test and Measurement course that I was required to take in order to complete my degree, I began to feel overwhelmed as I was reading about Plectica, Facebook support group, WordPress, and Swarm Learning. (On a complex syllabus, I might add). I had no idea what any of this was. I was especially confused by the idea of Swarm Learning. The course seemed to be centered around Swarm Learning. I began to feel stressed out at the thought of learning in a way that I had never even heard of. My professor, Jamie Schwandt, was completely convinced that Swarm Learning was the most effective way to learn.
As I began reading about Swarm Learning, I decided to have an open mind about it and to give it a chance. Thankfully, having an open mind worked in my favor.
While it can be overwhelming and confusing, Swarm Learning helps evolve our texts, assignments, and syllabus because it shows us how to learn and how we prefer to learn, it teaches you how to think, not what to think, and it gives us the ability to make changes to better meet our needs.
I know what you are thinking… “What in the world do you mean by, ‘evolve your texts, assignments, and syllabus?’”
Let me explain:
When the course instructor and student both believe in the power of Swarm Learning, you will begin thinking about how you prefer to learn. I quickly learned that I do not learn the best from a task if there is too much information to be learned and absorbed. I learn best when I am given smaller amounts of information at a time. I would much rather learn about a topic in small amounts over a long period of time rather than learning about a topic in large amounts over a short period of time. The beginning of the course honestly made me feel overwhelmed because I felt that every assignment was giving me way too much information at one time. In other words, I was learning so much new information that I was having a hard time absorbing it all.
In addition to Swarm Learning showing me how I learn best, it showed me how to learn, not what to learn. Jamie Schwandt’s assignment designs, or layouts, were truthfully confusing to me and made me feel frustrated. They were different to me, and because we are people of habit, it stressed me out. (It seems that I really hated my professor. This is NOT the case. Keep reading for a happy ending). While these assignments like, knowledge trails, essay maps, and feedback trails were overwhelming, they turned out to be exactly what my brain needed in order to understand the class.
These assignments were designed to help us completely see the information we learned, see how to connect all of the concepts together, and see how we were responsible for the learning that occurred. Swarm Learning never tells you what to think, it shows you how to think. These assignments helped show me how I think and how my brain works.
Finally, (this is the happy part) Swarm Learning gives you the ability to change a course/concepts according to your needs. Because Swarm Learning is about showing you how you learn best and showing you how to think and what not to think, it showed me that the assignments at the beginning of the course were not the best for me. I found myself trying to learn too much at one time, and it was taking so much time that it led me to feel overwhelmed and rushed to do the assignments. Thankfully, Jamie Schwandt believes in Swarm Learning and believes in the power of feedback. A few classmates and I reached out to Jamie Schwandt via WordPress, email, and Survey Monkey and explained that this was not going too well for us. Because we have a professor who listens, cares, and believes in Swarm Learning, he evolved the assignments to make them better meet our needs.
If our professor was not a believer in this type of learning, did not value feedback, and did not introduce Swarm Learning to us, I do not think a lot of my classmates (or myself) would have made it through the course. We saw how we learn best, relayed that information to him through Survey Monkey, and he adapted to meet our needs.
I will forever be grateful to Dr. Schwandt, the Test and Measurement course at Fort Hays State University, and Swarm Learning for changing my beliefs on learning. This will help me in my courses to come.
Schwandt, J. (2018, October 8). Swarm Learning: How Student Feedback Changes aClass in Progress. Retrieved December 9, 2019, from https://medium.com/@jamieschwandt/swarm-learning-how-student-feedback-changes-a-class-in-progress-87f59e4a35a1.