What does it mean to be a Global Land Grant University? - Part 2

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December 8, Roundtable Discussion - What Does it Mean to be a Global Land Grant University Part 4

Part 4 December 8, Roundtable Discussion NOTES

(0:00) Educational Leadership in Nigeria

Janet May: I would like to ask Duppe where educational leadership resides within Nigeria, at the school level as opposed to governmental.

Modupe Irele: That is difficult. There are almost parallel systems. You have the governmental level that run the public schools and then the private schools that are run by a board. Schools also are frequently run through missionaries. Individuals have also run their own schools. I different regions there are different types of educational institutions. You might have in the same area federally run schools, state run schools, and privately run schools. They follow their own curriculum.

Melanie Thompson: Are there educational standards that the schools have to meet?

Modupe Irele: Not really standards, but there are curricular norms and expectations, but no, there are not standards as we think of them in the US.

If you are looking at the British and American models in higher education relationships with Nigerian schools, there is something that Penn State might be able to do. Currently British higher education providers are creating aggressive recruitment organizations particularly in their former colonies to, where they go to the schools in the community and have been creating partnerships. They might start their education with a “foundation year” that happens in Nigeria, and then their work takes place in the UK. This type of activity is something that Penn State might want to consider. Although the learner will eventually study at Penn State, starting the engagement and relationship in Nigeria provides the opportunity for collaboration. As has been inferred, Americans tend to be inward looking relative to the Europeans regarding what is happening in the outside world. This may also be why “partnership” would be beneficial to Penn State.

(3:50) Models for Online Learning Bridging Nigerian Study Abroad

Michael Moore: Can you imagine an at a distance foundation year in Nigeria prior to students coming here?

Modupe Irele: I can imagine it, and I am currently looking at how distance learning can help bridge some of the gaps that we have identified through distance. Right now I am teaching a module for a consortium called the NCUK - Northern Consortium United Kingdom [1]. I am doing it online with the students in Nigeria. Distance learning has a big role to play. In Nigeria this is critical because of the large population relative to capacity of higher education. We have perhaps 50,000,000 people who could study at the tertiary level and only 20 or so universities, with varying quality. There are lots of people who are disenfranchised, not only because of the number of universities, but because of economic exclusion for higher education. Economic access barriers provides conditions that allow learners of average or marginal intellect to access the benefits of higher education and for many brilliant people to be excluded to the detriment of society. Unlocking the potential requires language development, there are literacy issues that prevents expression of ideas. It is critical that we find ways to reduce barriers of all types and realize potential.

Another problem is that we talk about engaging on the grassroot level, going to villages, but even the schools that are supposed to be excellent, are not. They do not have a lot of these things that make for excellence, therefore there are not models of excellence, which should exist. Disenfranchisement comes in different forms.

(8:10) Building Capacity & Providing Educational Opportunities through Distance Learning

Ken Udas: I am concerned about setting centers of excellence in the US. The voucher system as typically conceived seems to concede failure. If we cannot create conditions of excellence in a particular neighborhood (community), let’s just allow our more talented learners to go to better neighborhoods.

In Slovakia a lot of our brightest business students would go to Cominius University in Bratislava because it was perhaps the best business school in the country, but also because it was free. That said, the quality was not as good as many Western business programs. Learners very much wanted to have a Western educational or practical experience at some point, but also to stay on track with their business degree in Slovakia. We would enable this through distance education, providing opportunities to invest in university capacity to internationalize the learn experience. This turned around the connective problems. At the time connectivity was not great in Slovakia, but is was fine in the Western locations that the learners were working from, the challenge became ensuring my connectivity (just one person), and not the multiple learners.

Part 4 December 8, Roundtable Discussion FILES

December 8, Roundtable Discussion - What Does it Mean to be a Global Land Grant University Part 5

Part 5 December 8, Roundtable Discussion NOTES

(0:00) Engagment Between Universities

Wayne Mackintosh: Regarding distance learning and “Foundation” programmes, it might be useful to get in touch with the Open University of Nigeria, which is just opening up. Regarding the recording of digital history and culture, there are a group of East Africans who are just stating a project. It would be good to get a dialog going between the East and West African projects. Wayne would be willing to facilitate this.

Michael Adewumi: Important points about engagement:

  • Do we know how?
  • Sustainability is important, it requires leadership and vision, and cultural understanding.

When ASEDA started the Dean started by noticing that a number of faculty members were engaged in one way or the next with projects or activities in Africa. He asked himself, what would happen if the College committed to some sort of focus in Africa. Can the Department of Mineral Sciences make an impact in Africa? He brought the notion to the leadership in the College, who liked it, so then he asked for volunteers for form a task force and answer two questions:

  • Is it a good idea, if yes?
  • How do we do it?

25 faculty members volunteered, which is an unusual level of interest. After 6 months of incredible engagement on the committee two things happened:

  • The committee established that it was a really good idea.
  • We asked what should we do and how should we do it. We looked at numerous models, and noted models that result in “White Elephant” projects, because they just die. We did not want to do that. We determined that our project had to be based on “partnership”, which has already been discussed a lot during the past two days. It also has to be a cross disciplinary thing. Engineers can’t solve the problem. Social Scientists can’t solve the problem. It has to be holistic. The Engineers and Social Scientists have to get together and look at the problem. The problem is that members of different academic and professional disciplines tend not to work well together, in fact they can view each other as enemies. The first 2 months of this project was traumatic because of the interdisciplinary issues. After a while though, it was discovered that both groups were trying to solve the same problem. The human problem, with just different ways of approaching the problem.

(6:20) Interprofessional Collaboration to Solve Common Problem

Ken Udas: I think that you are hitting on a theme that is incredibly relevant. The notion of inter-professional collaboration around solving common issues. We can think of this also as different professions, teachers, social workers, criminal justice working to meet the needs of a family across a community or a neighborhood. Your experience has been that your professional were able to pretty easily work together. In The “Helping Professions”, this seems not to be the case for all sorts of reasons. Would you see a role for pre-service education in which there is some work that is inter-professional? Should inter-disciplinary education be a curricular feature?

Michael Adewumi: Yes, that is one way of developing the first graduate program of its type. We are getting engineers, social scientists, and physical scientists getting together to manage resources in such a way that it addresses human as well as environmental issues. This is for scientists, policy people, NGO managers to take.

I did not mean to imply that it was easy for the engineers and social scientists to work together, but once they recognized that they were trying to address the same problem, it became easier. They were able to listen to each other. Now we are finding that the students have not problem with this, it is the faculty and it is because we have been trained to be in silos. It is the same thing with professionals.

Melanie Thompson: It is important to consider the policy level. It is fine for folks to be prepared to think across disciplines, but will that be valued in the tenure and promotion system? Will the folks who make those decisions value inter–disciplinary work? It will be a gradual and complex change.

Michael Adewumi: This is difficult and this is why there is the need for local leadership. Without the local leadership it will fail.

(8:50) Professional Identify as a Barrier to providing Service

Ken Udas: Professional identity can lead to a type of elitism. There is a pecking order within the health, human service, and education community. Pediatricians are on top, followed by social workers, then educators, and finally day care providers. This posed a barrier to exchange of information that is needed to support children and families holistically. Now, are there places and cultures that allow for collaboration across the professions or disciplines? That is, are there cultures in which collaboration is more acceptable than here in the States anyway?

(10:15) Proving an Overview of the Discussion

I would like to tease out one or two topics that seem to have come up:

  • The commonality of content and our mutual interest in free content. It is something that we all work with.
  • The occurrence of one way culturally loaded exchange between project funders and organizers and partners in developing countries. This reflects on content that is culturally value laden which reduced their usefulness and portability.
  • There is the need for relationships based on partnership.
  • What is the value exchange for partners from the developed world or the universities that work in developing countries, and how does that impact sustainability.

Where do we start? Should we at Penn State, for example, launch an Open Courseware project? Perhaps though we are developing the content in a why that it is easier to be localized and more useable. Is that a way to approach this? Or is there a way that is more partnership oriented? Or is there a way in which we engage in processes in which we anticipate that there will be folks in other cultures who are creating courseware for our use also?

Part 5 December 8, Roundtable Discussion FILES

December 8, Roundtable Discussion - What Does it Mean to be a Global Land Grant University Part 6

Part 6 December 8, Roundtable Discussion NOTES

(0:00) Creating Content as We Work, Naturally

Melanie Thompson: Taking us a level down from courseware, what about the Wikipedia idea that you discussed yesterday? Is that reasonably structured?

Wayne Mackintosh: Wikipedia is a pretty focused project that supports the development of encyclopedic articles, COL is supporting a project called WikiEducator, which is a wiki that supports the collaborative development of free content for educational purposes. There are a number of projects that have formed using WikiEducator including the Virtual University of the Small States of the Commonwealth, FLOSS for Education, and a number of other projects. In addition to a number of other projects, there is a project in which Nigerian Chemistry teachers are developing content to share, which is an important development because you have African teachers developing content in the hard sciences.

It seems that there is an area where there is mutual benefit for both the developing and developed world in capacity building for using Web 2 technologies to achieve these aims. Africa does not want to use legacy technology. We have the opportunity to better understand appropriate technologies to meet our aims and how to build capacity to develop and use the technologies. These are opportunities to address areas of common interest in the developing and developed world. We have been speculating for some time in education about re-contextualization and education relevance, but we really have achieved quite little in this area. So, why not have a learn by doing project during which we collect content and start systemically figuring out what the localization issues are and what we are doing in a particular context, but do it in partnership, as opposed to providing a solution, adapt it.

(4:20) Mutual Benefits of Partnering in Africa

Michael Adewumi: The academic programming that ASEDA is supporting represents a non-zero sum game in which all participants can benefit. The researchers are sharing ideas that form the content itself. It enriches the participants in Africa and it enriches them here in America as well. You can imagine that we have interest from a lot of American officials who would like to send people to attend, especially if it is online because they can continue to do their work. So we should not think of this as what we are going to give the Africans.

I am sure that when our Dean said we were going to launch this programme a lot of people thought he was crazy because we had to invest about $250,000 per year, but during the past few years, directly related to this programme, there is now more than $7,000,000 worth of research at Penn State Engineering and Mineral Sciences. This comes to the University, we got very good return on that investment. Our involvement in programming in Africa has resulted in a mutual benefit to the US partner.

There are benefits in online programming. When you go to Africa you realize that not everybody is poor. There are people and schools who can pay for content and education. I think that there are ways that we can cleverly raise the money to do online education in Africa sustainability based on mutual benefit. This gets back to what Wayne was driving at about sharing ideas and benefits. There are opportunities to learn as well as attract funds.

When we were going to launch ASEDA I asked the Dean how he was going to measure programme success, and when do you want it, because I know that it is difficult to work in Africa. His response was, when we can see capacity being built in partner organizations in Nigeria and South Africa, that day I will believe that we are beginning to make a difference. He also indicated that he did not view this as a short-term project and that he might not see results for 10 to 20 years. This is the type of time frame that is realistic, these are not 2-year commitments, at least not in Africa.

Another powerful part of “Free” content the way Wayne presented on the 7th is that not only is it available freely, but it can be modified and made available again. That way when the African partners change the content it is freely available to the Americans and that is a benefit flowing back to the US.

Although partnership in Africa might take a lot of effort and be a long-term engagement, those who do will get long-term benefits. Think about the British. They have been engaged for a long-time in Nigeria and they are the influences. Most of the policy makers in Nigeria have British links.

Michael Moore: For one reason or the next, Americans tend to think about short-term engagements and relationships, and do not frequently think beyond 4 years.

(10:45) Online Learning and Bridging to Education Exchange

Michael Moore refers back to Modupe’s suggestions about using online learning as a way of preparing for educational exchanges. That is, using online and blended courses to both set the foundation and bridge for educational engagement between African and American universities. This would be particularly interesting for early undergraduate or late high school students.

Michael saw a lot of opportunity for collaborative development of courses between the World Campus and institutions in the partner country. This would provide some flexibility for foundations to support a six-month-here six-month-there type of exchange or programme. It seems to Michael that there s some real value in this model.

Michael make a second point about the need for an institution to focus a bit and one of the things that Penn State has as a comparative advantage is the work currently going on at the College of Mineral Sciences and ASEDA. There are already a lot of partners and partnerships already established and maybe it make sense to build on the work already done and not head out on another path.

Part 6 December 8, Roundtable Discussion FILES