Tuesday, December 11, 2007

1 Chron 12:32 Report, 51: The GLI Cybercollege proposal

Over the past several months, I have been working on some ideas initially put forward in April to June this year.

Overnight, I have now pulled them together in the form of a web page, and have invited comments and practical inputs.

The header for that page follows:



The GLI Cybercollege Proposal

GEM of TKI April- June 2007

INTRODUCTION: The below summarises a proposal for developing a regional cyber college initiative for equipping the people of God of the Caribbean for discipleship, community leadership, success in their professions and businesses, and for leading in God blessed reformation and transformation of communities and cultures in the Caribbean and beyond.

The first thesis is: a well-implemented cyber college campus supporting local micro-campus centres in a regional network, can materially help to transform the Caribbean church's capacity to lead in community transformation, regionally and internationally.

The second is: on our TVs, in our DVD rental shops, in our libraries, in our bookstores and magazine stands, in our streets, on our computer screens, in our newspapers, in political meetings, in our offices, in our schools and on our college and university campuses -- and indeed in our churches -- an informal cyber college is already in full bloom, serving the cause of de-Christianisation. A second one is being created as we speak, serving the cause of Islamisation. In short, we must recognise that we are now playing catch-up.

The third: We can . . . create a network of integrated micro-campus centres across the region [and beyond it . . .], and tie these in with the existing network of Seminaries, Christian colleges and schools. [With the number of Christians working as educators, we do not want for academic talent and technical education support.]

The fourth: Step by step, a regional cyber college would then emerge, with a focus on both an online campus and local micro-campus learning centres based in communities and churches. I believe this is a plausibly achievable, and plainly desirable, goal that emerges from our present and by practically achievable and affordable steps, transforms our reality into a better state.

The fifth: a vision is a way to build the future by inspiring and motivating people who see how a better way can emerge out of and transform the present to turn hope into reality. So, if a regional Cybercollege is a means to build a brighter future that helps people fulfill their hopes and calling under God, it can catalyse a movement that can grow and help that future to materialise.

The sixth: A powerful vision tends to attract volunteers who put in effort that would otherwise require enormous direct investments of money that probably could not buy inputs of half the quality that inspired people will joyously and freely give. (But of course generous support in cash and kind fertilises such voluntary efforts and multiplies their effectiveness. The freeness mentality by contrast, starves growth, as trying to get something for nothing all the time is in the end self-defeating.)

The seventh: the Web offers several powerful technologies that can be used to create what we have called a Cybercampus -- an online learning environment that provides many of the resources that one would find on a traditional on-the-ground campus. That is, we substitute clicks and bits for walks and bricks. ("Clicks and bits" -- BTW, as helpful, including not only "live" access to the 'net but also the creative use of multimedia CDs and DVDs as well as old fashioned paper-based materials -- are a whole lot cheaper than "bricks." It is also easier to move bits to where people are, than it is to move people to where a campus is, even just across a city much less a region that is about 1,000 miles across, with dozens of countries separated by miles of sea!)

The eighth: On the other hand -- as the log-college story suggests -- there is no substitute for people coming together to discuss and think through things face to face. For this, we can easily observe that no other institution or movement in the Caribbean has a network of locally based facilities that rivals the churches and church-associated institutions across our region. Similarly, no other institution or movement has in aggregate the sort of resource-people who sit in our pews week by week. Such facilities have room, have people, and credibly can access the resources to get reasonable bandwidth Internet hookup and a cluster of PCs to form a local area network. That means that if we can use small clusters of Internet-linked PCs that tie local churches and similar already existing bases of operation to the Cybercampus, we can have an almost instant regional network of micro-campuses tied together by a regionally integrated learning environment. (BTW, This would instantly dwarf the scope of the UWI Distance Learning system!)

The ninth: several web technologies provide powerful tools for creating effective learning environments. It seems, we can do this through one-stop shopping. For instance, [one may download] the generic version of the "free" Internet learning environment, Moodle, as a Zip file.

The tenth: In our region, accreditation of quality of learning is a rising concern for tertiary level education, and one that is dominated by Governmental or Quasi-governmental organisations . . . This is understandable given our region's history, but it tends to obscure the actual origins of the modern accreditation movement as a voluntary, mutual recognition of quality of learning environments, experiences and outcomes. So, why not just go back to the roots? . . . . That is, if we are able to come together across the region and mutually develop, standardise and recognise the quality of learning environments, experiences and outcomes, we will have a basis for respectable certification of learning outcomes. At the upper end, we can also integrate these into well-understood certifications through external exams . . . and through awards such as Associate and full degrees and Diplomas etc. This last, of course, would best be done through integration with the existing network of Christian Bible Colleges, Seminaries etc., and wider regional initiatives in accreditation. That way, we can provide a supportive system for equipping people as effective disciples and servants of God in the home, church, school, workplace and community.

The eleventh: Similarly, through providing second-chance secondary education, bridging studies to tertiary education, useful undergraduate qualifications, degree completion, and eventually paths to graduate and professional qualification, we can create empowering paths to successful careers and community leadership, thence reformation and God-blessed transformation of our region and the world beyond.

The twelfth: This framework on the face of it shows that such a regional college based on a Main, Cyber Campus integrated with local micro-campus centres and partnerships with existing institutions and campuses is plainly feasible and has a lot of promise. It can also start-up on a shoestring, with materials adapted from existing courses and using open source software. Once that happens, it can snowball . . .

This brings us, as always, right back to the fundamental challenge under God:

Why not now? Why not here? Why not us?

Comment and inputs towards implementation are very welcome.


Your thoughts are very welcome. END

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