Remote working and remote learning

Posted on by Raymond Maxwell

I put this on Twitter in an abbreviated form, then expanded it slightly and moved it to LinkedIn. This blog may be its final destination. Or it may not be.

Working remotely requires greater effort from supervision and from management. For that matter, it also requires special effort from workers to make it all work. Being at the worksite with all the stuff you need and all your bosses present provides a built-in level of engagement, between workers and managers, between workers and workers, and between workers and the task being accomplished that remote work lacks. Remote workers are silo’d, from each other, from feedback by supervisors, and even from their assigned tasks. Collaboration is neither easy nor second-natured. In fact, you have to go out of your way to play well with others.

When we work remotely, supervisors and managers need to up their game in a manner of speaking if they expect the same positive results. And workers need to up their game. This telework experience may prove to be the long awaited disruption needed to weed out weak managers. Economists have been studying this phenomenon of ineffective management in the firm since I was in grad school 30 years ago.

The same challenges and the same effect may exist in remote education. Weak, ineffective and just bad teachers will not be able to step up to the challenges inherent in remote education. Remote education, as we have learned from the Coursera platform, requires creativity in opening up channels for learning in the absence of face-to-face instruction, body language cues, facial expressions that indicate either understanding of concepts or the failure to grab the meaning conveyed. Another weeding out opportunity may present itself. Of course, those teachers (and students) that make the adaptation will excel and emerge as new leaders. Unfortunately, students, especially those already marginalized for whatever reason, will absorb the brunt of that weeding out process.

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