Swarm Learning

Jenna Shepherd
3 min readMay 5, 2021

by Jenna Shepherd

Swarm Learning (SL) is not just about knowing the theory behind something, but also understanding how the theory applies to life. SL is both a teaching philosophy and teaching methodology, meaning it has a why, what, and how. This book will outline for readers why they are learning about SL, what SL is, and how to use the methodology. It is organized using the principle of meta-learning in the form of a spiral, beginning with the foreword as the origin, followed by subsequent chapters serving as logical entry points along the spiral.

This book does not have to be read linearly and can be read from any entry point along the spiral. It has been split into two parts: Part 1 presents the reader with the why and the what — Part 2 presents the how. (Schwandt)

From this authors perspective, Swarm Learning focuses on the ability to work collaboratively, incorporate and accept diversity while moving to a greater understanding. The intended purpose is to lead to a boarder learning path and higher retention of applicable and executable action. This can be highly beneficial not only in Healthcare Administration but also in across many industrials. Swarm learning functions greatly as hybrid LEAN, Agile principle that deconstructs process and allows for in depth targeted analysis so that the learner can make the best decisions for the issue at hand. While it is hailed as a new way of problem solving, it is in fact a rebranding of the team approach or the 90’s and the collaborative problem solving that was taught as primary education principles of the 2000’s.

Example of a Plectica Map

It is important to identify and acknowledge the roots of SWARM, as truly it is not new. It is a refinement of what has been, which can be a good thing if applied correctly. Like LEAN and Agile it is easy to define and go down a wrong road. The result is getting bogged down, identifying and solving an issue but the true problem still exists. The impact is the perception and often reality of stakeholders is that time and resources wasted. Swarm is a tool and does have a place, however, it is highly cautioned that the application be appropriate to avoid frustration, as it can and often is an complex process.

It should also be noted that even though SWARM is a group learning, key players and personalities have to be established and identified in order for the process to be most beneficial to all learners. In an academic setting it becomes imperative that institutional leaders and educator are mindful and monitor projects and personalities to maximize the learning dynamic. In addition to making assignments relevant and not overly burdensome to the working learning.


Schwandt, J. (2020) Swarm Learning: Teaching Students How To Think, Not What To Think In Health And Human Performance. 1st ed. Dubuque: Kendall Hunt Publishing.