I read an article about a school in Washington state that allows students to search the Internet during tests.
Yes, you read that correctly. Students at Mill Creek Middle School can go online during tests to search for information. But some schools don't stop there; they even allow students to e-mail or IM information to other students during a test.
Beyond wishing that we'd had such tools when we were in middle school, this raises a great question about the essence of education. Is the goal to cram information into your head and hope you retain it, or is it to get you to grasp the know-how of getting the answers you need, by whatever means necessary?
Let's not forget that a student can burn a lot of time searching for information on the Web. Or the fact that facts beamed to them by a fellow student could be wrong. With both of these possibilities, most students will become better and more efficient at sorting through details to find what they need. So rather than seeing this sharing of information as cheating, I believe that it is helping to create a generation of students who are more discerning about where to go for information, how to evaluate it and how to use it.
What does this have to do with business? Plenty.
As more of us find our interactions with co-workers limited to three sentence e-mails, we are rapidly moving from organizations with many brains to constellations of individuals who are increasingly flying by the seat of their pants as they go through their work day.
Think about it. When was the last time that you brainstormed with a colleague over coffee or lunch? When was the last time you networked or checked in with a colleague whom you hadn't seen in a while? Heck, when was the last time you didn't eat lunch at your desk?
Technology was supposed to bring us all together. Yet the depth of connections between people are at an all-time low.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating a 40-hour per week coffee klatch. But I do believe that each one of us should institute a policy in which we follow up 10 e-mails with a phone call and 20 with an actual face-to-face conversation. (Remember those?)
Organizations talk a great deal about teamwork, emphasizing that people are their greatest assets. Yet when it comes to pay, recognition and priorities, it's all about individual effort.
Great teamwork isn't cheating. But to achieve it organizations need to do a much better job of cultivating it, rewarding it and encouraging it. And this might mean fostering an environment where personal intereaction means more than just an occasional e-mail. Wouldn't it be amazing if our organizations truly became the sum of their parts?
"Use your own best judgment at all times." -- Entire contents of Nordstrom Corporation policy manual.
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Bob Rosner is a best-selling author, an internationally syndicated columnist, popular speaker, and a recent addition to the community of bloggers. He welcomes your comments at email@example.com.
This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.