Double-edged sword of connection in education/work

A few months ago, I was listening to this talk of Dr. Candace Thille. She talked about three ideas that have transforming power for education, which is very interesting.

1. Access/ convenience

2. Simulation/ personalization

3. Connection/ crowdsourcing

She asked audience who think 1, or 2, or 3 truly has the power to transform education.

While I am not taking sides (and think that all three parts are important), the idea of Connection and Crowdsourcing being one of the transforming power is intriguing.

Having worked in this area a bit in my research, I find myself now very sensitive to the daily enlightment of what power people have over their learning, by the mere act of connecting them together. Partly influenced by the belief in the power of crowd, this semester I took initiative to form study groups in two of my classes.

However, today when opened up my computer, I have come to realize that these connections people build, can also hurt people’s learning. They can be a lot, and can become a burden, maybe partly due to the psychology of FOMO(fear of missing out).

Now officially, we have Piazza, Slack, emails, informally, we can talk about work/study in messenger, wechat, whatsapp etc. So a lot of the time can often be spend reading, responding to people’s message, which are all work-relevant, yet not real work. The real danger of this, is probably, you think you are learning or doing work, yet you are not really šŸ™‚ You might learn, or get some work done, but may also be easily dependent on and distract by these “educational”/ “professional” social platform, even Piazza. I guess that’s the risk of using any social platform – not being able to be alone.

If I reflect how come these are time-consuming, isn’t it just asking question and answering questions? I think one reason is these also reflect your social presence and social image. People tend to keep a good social image, and to do can take a lot of energy. If you hang out on the internet all the time, it can be like hanging out with people all the time, maybe those who you are not very familar with. Internet and these connection is now putting us not private, where you might feel constantly watched.

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