Swarm Thinking: Know — Think — Choose — Do

Dr. Jamie Schwandt
5 min readNov 17, 2019
Image created by Dr. Schwandt via Thortspace

“I would simply say: Think of everything you never heard of and everything you never did in a class. Now do them, That would be this course.” — Anthony Washington, FHSU Student

My intention is for this to be a quick discussion on a new way of thinking. Swarm Learning (SL) is a teaching methodology I created to teach students how to think, not what to think. SL uses continuous student feedback to change a class while in progress. However, the intent of this discussion is not to discuss SL, but to highlight a key mechanism within SL called Swarm Thinking. For more on SL, visit my website jamieschwandt.com.

A student of mine recently made a connection between SL and Systems Thinking v2.0. My class completes weekly Plectica Concept Maps (CM) and one of them recently combined the two: Swarm Learning and Systems Thinking. I’m not sure if it was done intentionally or if my student meant to discuss Systems Thinking, but Nathan Dooley called it Swarm Thinking. Regardless, I thought it was a simple and brilliant combination.

Derek and Laura Cabrera, creators of Systems Thinking v2.0 (DSRP) and Plectica, use what are called Cognitive Jigs to connect ideas and increase the speed of thought. Using what they call an RDS Barbell, I took Nathan’s remark about Swarm Thinking and made it as a mechanism of SL.

Swarm Thinking RDS Barbell — Image created by Dr. Schwandt via Plectica

Never do the same thing twice

“I need you to be clever, Bean. I need you to think of solutions to problems we haven’t seen yet. I want you to try things that no one has ever tried because they’re absolutely stupid.” ― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

I was reading Orson Scott Card’s book — Ender’s Shadow — when Nathan made the remark. Without going into a discussion of the book — although I highly recommend reading it — the following discussion provided the connection I made with Swarm Thinking:

Dr. Jamie Schwandt

Dr. Schwandt (Ed.D.) is an American author, L6S master black belt, and red teamer.