The Great Connections Seminar

The Great Connections Seminar
Discussing ethics

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Business Becomes More Personal as Education Becomes Less So

I found it ironically interesting to read "The Science of Serendipity in the Workplace" in the Wall Street Journal this morning; it recounts how high tech companies like Google and Salesforce are working hard to engineer more incidental personal encounters between employees. They're redesigning buildings, rooms, and floor plans.


Because remarkably innovative developments result from these chance encounters. Like Gmail and Streetview on Google Maps. "'The most productive relationships are difficult to engineer,' says Jason Owen-Smith, a University of Michigan sociologist who studies employee collaboration."

Why is it ironic? While these tech leaders, whose employees are connected six ways to Monday via electronic tools and the Internet, are carefully engineering in-person interactions, education is moving faster and faster towards online learning and classes.

I don't want to downplay the extraordinary educational value to be had from the Internet and technological tools - the sheer amount of information and skill instruction available is mind-boggling. Here's a link to 700 free courses online!

But maybe one of the reasons education is moving more and more online is that in-person instruction is often so dismal. Many classes don't involve real interactions, as students sit and listen to lectures or professors explaining stuff. Are students getting the benefit of learning from other people? Of learning to work with others?

It's something to wonder about.

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