This blog is a partnership between an older (Jim Stellar) and a younger guy (Shwen Gwee) .
Jim has recent experience leading the development of a large college of arts and sciences that became a national leader in combining classical academic excellence with deep experience outside the classroom, to educate both the academic mind of facts and theories and the “other lobe of the brain” — where instinctive logic operates, where meaning and confidence come from, and where passion for learning develops.
Shwen knows the Social Media world, Web 2.0, and the related technologies that underlie a different form of communication between people, within companies and educational institutions, and across the planet. Shwen was also a student in the neuroscience laboratory that Jim ran as a professor where they played with some of these ideas in both neuroscience and early variants of “social media,” though neither the term nor the technology platforms existed back in the 90’s (at least not in the way we know them now).
Together, we are hosting this blog so as to engage the higher education world (and any others who might be interested) in a discussion of how learning and education reaches people in their heads as well as their hearts. Pascal, the famous mathematician wrote, “The heart has reasons of which reason does not know.” We think it is time to bring these worlds together in conversation, to see where neuroscience meets experiential education; where social media meets the educational mission; where value can be added — through experience — to what is learned in the “ivory tower.”
Much of the real world is calling on higher education to add value the real world needs, but are we engaging both (what we somewhat whimsically call) “lobes” of the brain? The funny thing is that the heart and the head can and do work together in college and in the Web 2.0 world, particularly with social media — where social learning and sharing of knowledge is part of the culture. The trick is to understand that interaction, leverage it, and produce a better outcome. Organizations that do that will prosper. People who do that will grow.
Let’s talk. For our part, we will post. It could be an opinion, or an illuminating student experience, or something like a scholarly article. We will respond for a while and then move on to the next piece. Others are invited to send us materials, but we will screen them and always write forwards to keep a certain voice and flavor to the blog. Of course, all are welcome to comment.
Our first post elaborates on this logic of the intersection of neuroscience and Web 2.0 for the deeper understanding of experiential education. After that, who knows what?