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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

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Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

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Is It Better to Learn at Your Own Pace or in a Structured Environment?

August 24, 2014, 10:00 AM
Hammock

For employers looking to equip their staff with new information, is it better to set aside office time for team training activities or to take advantage of digital technology, allowing everyone to learn at the their own pace and in their own time? Workplace leader Janet Pogue, who studies how people use office space, says letting people take online tutorials with their mobile devices is a great idea in theory. Since scheduling people to be in the same room at the same time has become increasingly difficult, remote learning offers a possible solution. 

But the effectiveness of these programs may ultimately depend on how new and challenging is the information. If a personal instructor is not available to answer your questions as they come up, digital education programs leave their students little recourse. MOOCs, which stands for massive open online courses, were once hailed as the future of education. Unfortunately, the dropout rate of these online courses stands about about 90%. If you're asking your employees to brush up on a little information they already have a grasp on, however, self-guided study is likely to be more effective.

Employers should note, says Pogue, that failing to schedule time at the office for certain tasks implies they are not important enough to merit the attention of management, sapping motivation for employees to do them on their own time. As edX President Anant Agarwal discusses, self-motivation has definite limits, so basic courses like college prerequisites may experience particular success online.

Read more at Fast Company

Photo credit: Shutterstock

 

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