Monday, February 1, 2016

E-Learning--- Multitasking vs Dynamic Global Collaboration-- Pursuing a New World Order-Part I

Both in the education environment and the corporate environment, multitasking has been considered to be an efficient way to prove your own personal worth. After all, what leader would not value someone who could take on many tasks at the same time, all with specific deadlines to be met and performance goals to be achieved? A person showing this skillset was highly valued. This valued skillset from the the industrial economy allowed for creative divisions of labour.

But then, the world changed!

With the development of the world wide web and the advancement of technology came the exponential acceleration of the development of knowledge across the many disciplines. The idea of one person being the "fountain of all knowledge" quickly became an anachronism in age of exponential growth of information and the fact that access to such information became more and more instantaneous making it available "now".

Credit: Industry Tap-David Russell Shilling (April 2013)


No more is this more evident than in the journalism industry where news that once took weeks to reach others on the other side of the world could now be accessed as it is happening. 

Multitasking based upon neurocognitive research has been shown to be a myth.

"The more divided your mind is among a number of tasks the more these tasks are performed with increasing mediocrity."

Credit: www. (Scott Adams)
As a result of the growing awareness of the inadequacy of multitasking, societies responded within the academic world by promoting specialization as the path to follow in tackling the various problems of society. Streaming learners into the created specialties of the various disciplines became the focus of education systems but this is not without problems. Even though collaboration within a specialty would occur, the idea of collaboration across the disciplines was still foreign to many practitioners. This brings us to a great problem which is:

"Complex real world problems require collaboration across disciplines in order to come up with real world solutions." 

We are still trying to attack 21st century and beyond problems with approaches that create "silos of knowledge and skillsets" that have no useful interchange between them.  As a result, what we are faced with is the dilemma of "six blind men trying to describe an elephant".


Each discipline attempts to find a solution to a real world problem using their specific perspective and perseveres in the task believing that at some point they will arrive at the solution. This has been the "perpetual promise of science". However, there is the following nagging question they need to ask:

" Could we have found a solution to a real world problem sooner, if we had collaborated with other sciences whose unique perspective could have given us a clearer picture of the problem and a more ready supply of potential solutions? "

Some disciplines are just now starting to realize the benefit of collaborating with knowledge and skill set creators outside their discipline. As an example, using robotics in the service of surgical practices combines the ideas and skillsets of Engineering and Medicine. What can the science of Nanotechnology offer to the medical specialty of Oncology?

One of the great barriers that needs to be overcome is what I would term "intellectual protectionism" in which the first priority is "to protect our turf from the barbarians at the gate".

So, how do we overcome these barriers? It starts with the realization that we are challenged to put aside "professional glory seeking" in order to use our skillsets and knowledge for the greater good of humanity as a whole. Developing respectful acknowledgement of the skillsets and knowledge of other disciplines is the first step to opening the eyes of the six blind men.

Next.....Cross Disciplinary Collaboration --Part of a New World Order

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