The Scientific Community and Networked Learning

In the world of science, there are few instances where a breakthrough or novel discovery are accomplished solely by individuals; some could argue that there aren’t any in history! The identification of DNA, though credited primarily to Francis Crick and James Watson, was an accumulation of the ideas, theories and experiments of many accomplished researchers. Jean Brachet, Rosalyn Franklin, and Martha Chase all held a hand in our understanding of DNA today. Researchers in science and technology fields have always understood the value of collaborative learning; by using information already gathered from others, new ideas are generated, allowing bigger and better advances in the scientific community. Today, more research-intensive institutions of higher earning are adopting a similar approach. Guided by principles of “networked learning”, nations are adapting a global collaborative approach to research. An article by Yojana Sharma(posted here on the University World News)  discusses the rise of global science system. The story states that the number of manuscripts with international coauthors have risen from “16% to 22%” between 2003 and 2016. The number of citations from international sources have also risen. The expansion of science beyond national borders is extremely important for its growth. By adapting others’ viewpoints and motivations, we can solve problems using means far from the standard used in one’s own country. We can tap into resources never once thought of to advance our own understanding of the world around us. The networked learning approach in the scientific community also generates a sort of healthy competition. In order to access the breadth of knowledge provided by the global science system, nations must bring some of their own research to the table. Doing so encourages researchers to provide quality information in exchange for access to global innovations, creating a feedback loop.

As with most movements, there are some obstacles in the world of globalization of education. Political leaders have begun incorporating nativism and nationalism into their ideologies. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with believing in and supporting your country, when you begin to shut out any and all ideas that aren’t generated within your borders, you miss out on new ideas and techniques previously unknown. Restricting free exchange of information in today’s interconnected society is a grave mistake and can potentially lead to more oppressive regulations in a nation.

Collaborative learning is an absolute must for growth and development, particularly in the sciences. If we are to truly to improve the human condition, make advances in technology, and evolve beyond our current selves, we cannot isolate ourselves behind imaginary borders, but reach out to each other and progress as the human race. As always, these are my thoughts and I’d love to hear yours. Give the article a read and drop some comments and let me know what you think.