Saturday, August 25, 2012

CLIP - Colegio Luso Internacional Do Porto - An Educational Project

In an interview with Time magazine, Peter Drucker, one of America's foremost management theorists, when asked "What kind of a century are we in, then?" responded: "In this 21st century world of dynamic political change, the significant thing is that we are in a post-business society. Business is still very important, and greed is as universal as ever; but the values of people are no longer business values, they are professional values. Most people are no longer part of the business society; they are part of the knowledge society.
The greatest changes in our society are going to be in education." When the journalist later suggested whether the world of the 21st century would be characterized by the competition among the three great trading blocks --Europe, North America, and Asia --Drucker answered: "Yes, and the activities of three big trading blocks will have political consequences. I think we are already in the midst of this, and the pattern is not going to be fair trade or protectionism but reciprocity." When asked: "Do you think we and our institutions are ready to cope with what you call "new realities"? Drucker affirmed: "Many are still stuck in the world of 1960. What we face now is totally new and dynamic -and we are quite unprepared for it."
These statements from a man calloused in the world of business reveal a reality of the present characterized by dynamic change on all fronts, by the power conferred by the possession of information and knowledge, by the primacy of education in that context of profound alterations, by relationships among persons, institutions, and peoples based on the concept of reciprocity. with determination Europe searches for the attenuation of centuries old divisions; the nations of the Pacific, led by Japan, try to find a common understanding which may grant them a more condign place in the international forum; the Sultanates of Islam search desperately for a more cohesive and forceful expression of their influence in today's world.
The progress attained in the technology of communications has made the international system of borders almost irrelevant. The quest for new markets has given birth to supra-national economic colossuses, capable of exerting a deep influence in the lives of peoples and nations. The rending of the iron curtain seems to have stolen the last visible and palpable barrier from a world forced to accept more and more, with less and less understanding. This vertigo of political and technological change has fostered a constant movement not only of people, but mostly of ideas and of information.
Knowledge of things and events has been made instantaneous, the volume of information has been suffocating, our capacity for absorption tested to its limits. Peoples and cultures, which some years ago could have been known only through the power of the imagination, visit us daily in our living rooms, so that, what was foreign, exotic, adventurous, has become common place. The need for a new private international school in the Oporto area is self evident. At the end of the twentieth century we are witnesses to an accelerating trend towards cultural globalization and a growing need for unhindered mobility for professionals and their families. In particular, the internationalization of northern Portugal due to the country's present EU membership status has created new educational needs for both local foreign children.
This need could be adequately answered by a high quality school, from the primary through university entry level, with English as the base language and the British educational system as the model. The educational program of this school would permit full equivalency throughout all forms with the Portuguese educational system and other international schools and universities. CLIP - Cologio Luso-Internacional do Porto is designed to achieve the following goals:
1 - To offer a student - centered, thoroughly modern, academically challenging, and internationally focused program of studies;
2 - To offer Portuguese students the opportunity to acquire an international education that will prepare them for attendance of both local and foreign universities;
3 - To provide foreign students with the opportunity to continue their education in a sequential, comfortable fashion;
4 - To offer students of Portuguese parents, who have attended schools in other countries, a proper process of school reintegration;
These objectives could be implemented by the following instruments: - A curriculum based on current British secondary programs, allowing pupils to s it for G.C.E. (General Certificate of Education), G.C.S.E. (General Certificate of Secondary Education), I. G .C.S. E. (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) at O - Level, but complemented with studies of Portuguese language, history and social studies, granting equivalence to the Portuguese secondary education forms 9 and 10; - A higher education access curriculum based on and in accordance with the LB. (International Baccalaureate, Geneve, Switzerland) curriculum, which is currently accepted by most universities across the world, and is also equivalent to form 12 of the Portuguese secondary educational system.
CLIP will furthermore develop its activities around seven basic educational principles:
* Academic Excellence: The attainment or the highest academic standards through a stringent and fully integrated curriculum that stresses individual excellence and group achievement;
* Learning how to learn; the content or the various disciplines is developing at such a rate that makes an encyclopedic approach to education quite unviable. By focalizing on how to learn, our aim is to prepare students for a lifetime of learning and personal development;
* Cooperative Learning: The instructional program of CLIP is based on the premise that students can and should learn from each other, and that they must shoulder the greatest responsibility for their education;
* Diversity and Cross-Cultural Education: The underlying concept of International Education is a learning process that positions the study of the diverse expressions of human life at the core of its program of studies;
* Individual Needs and Concerns: The program focuses on the needs and differences of each individual student. The central programmatic focus in this regard is a Teacher Advisor Program coordinated by a Guidance Counselor;
* Participatory Decision-making: The governance of CLIP is based on a democratic model for decision making as articulated in its Charter. CLIP recognizes the preeminent role of parents teacher and students in the educational process;
* The Arts: The arts are essential to a complete understanding of our nature as human beings and as members of cultural groups. In this regard the arts must be taught as independent cl discipline and integrated on the entire program of studies.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Careers for Education School Graduates

Some people, from the time they are in first grade, know they want to be teachers. For others, the idea can be a sudden insight, or a feeling that grows and develops over time. Regardless of how the knowledge comes, becoming a teacher means becoming an educator; and that means studying education. So, what is education? Education encompasses teaching and learning specific skills, and also something less tangible but more profound: the imparting of knowledge, and well-developed wisdom. Education means 'to draw out', facilitating the realization of self-potential and the latent talents of an individual student.
Educators are always in high demand. The call for new teachers continues to grow as education changes rapidly and the number of school-age children increases. Also, education reform is taking place across the country, so the rules keep changing. New federal and state initiatives are encouraging all American schools, teachers and students to strive to be the best in the world. These changes are creating new challenges as well as new opportunities for prospective teachers.
There is widespread recognition of America's need to build a highly skilled, diverse teacher workforce. States are now raising their standards for teacher licensing and increasing salaries to attract well-educated people who otherwise would be inclined to work in other areas. Generally, teacher salaries have improved considerably in recent years, but salaries vary greatly from state to state and even by school district.
Besides a degree of job security, teaching offers a uniform salary schedule in which earnings are based on years of experience and training, and fringe benefits usually including health insurance, paid sick leave and retirement.
Most large colleges and universities offer degrees in education leading to teacher certification. Some colleges specialize in teacher training. The choice of which kind to attend is up to you. Good teachers come from all types of institutions.
If you are interested in this exciting, ever changing field, there are many career opportunities available. Traditionally, you will need a bachelor's degree, and possibly additional certification-requirements vary from state to state and school district to school district.
Besides teaching, with advanced degrees there are many additional opportunities available in administration and management. Employment opportunities are as diverse as the various support organizations in the world of education. Career opportunities ranging from consultants that work with school operators, to software and textbook publishers, are rapidly growing and expanding. The industry is developing quickly. Numerous new education organizations will join those currently in the industry to revolutionize the way people learn, research, collaborate, and teach.
Today's students will become the leaders of tomorrow's education industry. Using a diverse skill set, ranging from business expertise to a deep understanding of education, visionaries have an opportunity to reshape the industry to better serve students of all ages.
Individuals seeking a career in the education industry should be passionate advocates of
change based on an understanding of the education market today.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Whither Education - An Apathy

Even after half-a-century of Indian Independence, the fate of education, educators and students has hardly improved. The apathy of the power that be, including a large section of society, has not changed when it comes to human resource development and education. Even now there are more than four crore educated unemployed youths in India.
India boasts of being world's third knowledge power but effectively this is the lowest when judged against per thousand-population base. Societal degradation, inflicted by political might, is reflected in educational institutions across India. Aberrations have become the rule on campuses that are infested with self-seekers and politicians.
Democratization of higher educational institutions, though a noble concept, has in the past 20 years turned campuses into a cauldron of stinking filth. These are managed by affiliations charged with little regard for excellence, honesty and intellectual probity. Unethical and politically-motivated decisions serve a few and are reflections of societal catharsis.
Geographic India consolidated into a polity by the British has muted into conglomerations of politically charged, disjointed entities and facsimiles of democratic degradation. The classic conservative yearning for an ordered polity and commensurate pursuit of knowledge on the campuses are missing. Whichever brand rules the country, this section of society commands no respect now. May it be students or teachers they don't have a voice, they don't constitute an essential service and education is not a national necessity. Being a state subject, educational policies suffer from innumerable deformities.
Though it is a constitutional obligation, the non-availability of funds and vested administrative setup have led to the mushrooming of universities, fake campuses, private enterprises and numerous makeshift centers of education as also fly-by-air foreign campuses. It has proved to be a great financial endeavor with hardly any risk involved because it does not come under VAT or any other financial constraints. India has by now more institutions of such type than colleges, an excellent opportunity to rope in knowledge seeking youth and those who desire to fly off to greener pastures.
When it comes to the formulation of policies about higher education, structuring the system, financial assistance, grants and salary, the statutory body-University Grants Commission-is mentioned like a sacred cow worshipped as well as butchered in the streets. How far the UGC is autonomous is a common knowledge. It has become a post office, a government organization, disbursing petty grants, sanctioned by the Central Government, among universities or institutions with a number of tags attached to them depending upon the status of the recipient institutions, state, Central, autonomous or deemed universities. There is a perpetual complaint about the non-availability of funds. The administration should appreciate that the jumbo cabinet and expenditure on legislatures could be cut down to feed and educate a few villages. The teacher wants to be a ladder upon which students could climb and scale new heights.
The Central and state governments invoke ESMA to curb the voice of agitating people, but it takes no time to give benefits to politicians and bureaucrats. It is essential to please them so that a symbiotic balance is maintained as also to oblige a few of them. The government has failed to take effective steps to curb industrialization of education. Within hours the doles given in Parliament and honorarium were doubled but the 6 per cent expenditure of the GDP on education has proved to be dogma persisting right from the Kothari Commission recommendations for over four decades now.
Students of various educational institutes go on strike, almost yearly, demanding withdrawal of excessive fee hike. The tuition fees make up only about 13 per cent of annual expenditure in the present university education. It is now a formidable industry and the aim is to make money. Poor students, however, intelligent they may be, cannot afford to join colleges, professional institutions or courses. They may join such courses by putting their families under heavy debt of banks or financial institutions. Even in the USA, tuition fees contribute to about 15 per cent of the total annual expenditure on higher education. Nehru said: "If all is well with universities, it will be well with the nation." Whereas Rabindranath Tagore once compared educated classes in India to "A second storey in an old building that was added in, but unfortunately the architect forgot to build a staircase between them."
Teaching profession is devalued in the country because the teachers can't compete in our society, have no muscle power, are educated and hence behave differently. Neither do they have guts of creamy bureaucrats nor institutional support of any kind. A teacher can entertain you with a pale smile on hearing that this is the profession of nation builders, the cream of society and a noble profession. The next moment teacher will be branded as cancers in societal marrow, getting salary for no work, craving for power, equality in salary and status with the Class A government servants. The teacher was the consultant and conscience keeper of society till mid-century. One could identify him by his tattered clothes, emaciated pale face, soft voice and meek behavior. He was the guru. That guru, comparatively having a better outfit now, has metamorphosed to a present teacher.
Newspaper reports are replete with his shortcomings; his misconduct in preaching indiscipline, enough is paid to him for no work, as he has to teach only for 181 days in a year. How could he dream of the parity with his bosses in the secretariat, his class dropouts in Parliament and the government. In order to save our hard-earned "democracy" which is being strengthened by a few hooligans, politicians and administrators, the government has to suppress the genuine demands so that education does not progress to the detriment of "illiterate democrats". A handful of teachers adopts unethical means to become rich just like any other segments that are designated scamsters today. Exceptions, however, do not make the rule.
Most of our Presidents, many of our bureaucrats, including ministers, parliamentarians and others, had been in this profession. Did they not do any good work for the betterment of society before their elevation to these posts of governance and reverence? Can't the authorities assess the strength of the demand vis-à-vis the qualification, age at the time of being recruited as a teacher, lack of promotional avenues, stagnation and competency in terms of hiatus in the inflated societal values, urge and necessity to improve qualification and experience to remain in the fray. Education for teachers is a continuous process unlike "one-time-degree-obtaining-education" for others. Evaluation is paramount in this profession for every promotion. Classroom education has become drudgery afflicted by societal unrest, absolute lack of infrastructure, fear psychosis gripping the powerless parents and absences of administration.
My perception is that politicians take less interest in improving the standard of education and living because they know that once the poor comes to know about their corrupt practice they would neither listen nor elect them. Political parties make promises in their election manifestos to reduce employment, poverty and corruption. But this can't be achieved without education. To me, education comes as a discipline, which is all-pervasive. Enshrined in our directive principles and ensuring our countrymen, "right-to-education" makes me feel that we possess the right to educate".
Even when we have ushered in the new millennium, education remains a password to of those who make an arrogant assertion that they know best and are serving the public interest-an interest, which of course, is determined by them. By the perception entrenched with the British subjugation of our people elitist education occupied the center stage to produce Macaulay's clones who were Indians muted to be "English in taste, in opinion, in morals and in intellect". "Educated slaves became strong props to sustain the British rule." Lord Curzon favored bureaucratization of education since he opined that educational institutions have become factors for the production of political revolutionaries. By the Act of 1919 education was transferred to the province.
When we educate we are involved in politics. Educators often think of education being disjointed from politics. In fact, education is perhaps the most political activity in the community. The state has always influenced what is taught in educational institutions. The socio-political (and in some cases religious) ideology colors the content of learning and the emphasis on various aspects. In fact, based on where the child was educated within India-whether it was a large city or a village, whether the school used English or a regional language as a medium of education, among other factors- the child will have a different world view. However, education, based on the syllabus, in India has largely strived towards imparting a temperament of religious, political and social tolerance. The social mores and hierarchies often seep into the arena of learning and color education.
Given the political potential of education, there have been numerous attempts to use education as a way of indoctrination. Sometimes it is covert, at other times it is overt. Sometimes it is subliminal, other times it is deliberate. However, political forces have always used education to further certain world views. Today, numerous educationists and political thinkers in India are afraid that a deliberate attempt to use education as a way of social-religious indoctrination might be the agenda of the new education policy.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said: "Not gold, but only teachers can make people great and strong-the persons who for truth and honor; sake stand fast and suffers long. It is they who build a nation's pillar deep and lift them to the sky". Teaching profession is a bed of roses. A good teacher is always his/her student's guide, friend and philosopher. A boy looked at the sticker on a car, which said, "Trees are friends". He challenged this statement, started cutting trees, saying that, "Trees are not our friends, but our enemies". When asked why he thought so. He said in his science textbooks it was stated "trees bring rain". Since his village gets flooded in every rainy season, so he thought that "all trees must be cut down". Confucius wrote, "If you plan for a year, plant a seed. If for 10 years, plant a tree. If 100 years, teach the people." Literacy is not enough. It is good to have a population, which is able to read, but infinitely better to have people able to distinguish what is worth reading. With overcrowded classrooms and ill-paid teachers,coaching classes are the commercial fallout of a system bursting out of the seams. How can idealism be expected from someone as concerned about the quality of life as you and me?
We have grown up with cherished memories of special teachers who made us love a subject we could actually have been frightened of and who we respected unconditionally. I have come across many persons whose mediocrity is reflected when they project themselves as the best whereas the fact speaks otherwise and those who criticize their alma mater forgetting that they passed out from the same from which they graduated. Education can have a great role to play in decreasing social disparities between groups and in promoting social mobility. For instance, the tremendous expansion of the middle class in India can confidently be attributed to the investment in education, especially in higher education.
Universities are struggling to survive on shrinking governmental grants. In the wake of this it takes shortsighted decisions to cut expenses and increase revenue by increasing fees, which may not be in the long-term interest of the universities. Thus universities end up being run as business enterprises. Education cess is now on considered to partially meet funds for primary education and Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan. Open our universities to foreign students. Foreign campuses may prove to be of hardly any use in generating funds for Indian education. Trading in education may be another jeopardy.
Collaborations could be in specialized fields with foreign campuses like in the past. Even in the USA, private and government ratio in higher educational system does not exceed 80/20. China is experiencing two-way international student traffic with a large number of them from the USA in preference to India. This could be reversed if we build proper infrastructure and achieve proficiency in imparting education of world standard. A realistic education cannot be separated from the realities of the students' environment, which surrounds him, his aspirations, society, the local cultural factors, conditions varying in his own country and global effects. Education, therefore, should be in consonance with the day-to-day living. Till date education does not define our resurgent polity and democracy.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Open Educational Resources (OERs)

This article is one of a series that talks about open education. Open Educational Resources (OERs) are becoming a global phenomenon. Teachers and lecturers, schools, colleges and universities are placing their learning and teaching materials on the internet for others to use. This article provides a non-committal overview of the arguments for and against the use of OER that have arisen from peer-reviewed publications.
What are the benefits of OER?
OER is the spice of life! OER can come in all shapes and sizes or "granularity". An OER can be an individual item such as a photograph available through Flickr, a diagram, a slide presentation, or can be a series of items packaged up into an entire learning unit or course such as those available through OpenCourseWare. Benefit? Plenty of choice for users to find the items they want, whether it is a student user looking for a course or an academic looking for a photograph and wanting to join the open education movement.
Stop recreating the wheel! With budgets being squeezed for education globally, such as the change to higher education looming in the UK, OER offers a wonderful opportunity for institutions to stop duplicating teaching, learning and assessment materials and to start sharing. Benefits? Save time and money in the long run, although investment of both would be required initially to develop and release OER, and to reuse them in a new teaching context.
Be inspired! Using resources developed around the world will inspire and provide new ideas on how to design effective educational strategies and provide a rich source of analogies and case studies. Benefit? Teachers and academics would become more innovative in their practice, and pupils and students benefit from a more inspiring learning experience.
Join a global network! Many OER projects, for example the UK Higher Education Academy subject centre for History's HumBox, have produced OER repositories which offer users the opportunity to network and discuss resources. The SCOOTER project run by De Montfort University in Leicester, UK, has just set up a forum and communicates using Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. Benefit? Dialogue and building communities will improve educational standards and create new collaborations and opportunities for education and research.
Marketing potential. OERs can be linked to individuals and institutions if so desired, and this is facilitated by choosing an appropriate Open Licence like Creative Commons in which the author or institution must be given full attribution and acknowledgement. Branding can be placed on the OER although should not restrict the ability to reuse of the material and contradict the open philosophy. UK universities that have released OER have noted that prospective students often have viewed the materials prior to applying for courses. Benefit? OER could provide institutions with opportunities to influence decision-making of potential applicants, and provide prospective students with a more informed choice of the courses which they will be studying.
What are the pitfalls associated with OER?
OER doesn't save time! Downloading a resource, repurposing it and redeploying it in a new education setting does take time, so whilst saving time is a clear longer term benefit, using some forms of OER will require an initial investment of time. OER might need to be adapted for a new context or to contain new relevant examples. Pitfalls? Using OER might take more time if the perfect resource cannot be found, but using OER will be somewhat quicker than starting from scratch.
OER cost money to produce. OER might be free to use or download via the internet, but they are not free to produce and have associated technical and personnel costs. Institutions need to explore economic models for the development and release of OER, but in the longer run when the culture of sharing and borrowing increases, institutions should start to gain in this area. Pitfalls? OER cost money in the short-term to release, but will save money in the long run.
OER will lose their marketing power. As institutions engage in open education and release materials, OERs will float around in a melting pot on the web and there is a concern that institutions will lose their identity and uniqueness. As education markets become more competitive, the inclination to release OER might start to decline. However it is important to note that the OER is not the finished building - they are the building blocks from which the building is constructed. The uniqueness and selling point of an institution arises from the academic experience created by the place and the people within it. Pitfall? In the long run, when the market is saturated with OER it may no longer be an effective marketing tool, so institutions need to develop new competitive advantages.
Some staff end up doing all the work. Another concern is that a few individuals and institutions will contribute most to the OER movement not get the credit for producing the resources. Institutions are addressing how to reward and recognise individual efforts, and many are going through cultural transformations to create environments where borrowing and sharing is commonplace and respected. The global OER community needs to pledge that OERs are always clearly attributed to the originator. Pitfall? Despite the obvious concern that individuals or institutions might over-contribution, this has not deterred the OER movement in growing.
It is difficult to find OER. The OER movement has the danger of suffering from its success. As more OER are released, and more repositories and websites appear, finding OER becomes an increasing challenge. The OER community is therefore exploring the use of TAGS and meta-data to enhance the discoverability of material, and large repositories on all continents seem to be forming the hubs for search activity, for example Open Africa, OpenCourseWare and Merlot in the US and JorumOpen in the UK. Pitfall? OER is hard to find and users should focus their searching on the larger repositories whilst the OER community continues to work to make their resources discoverable.
Quality and currency. Another genuine concern is how to ensure OERs are good quality and up to date? OER that was released almost a decade ago has inevitably become outdated, particularly for fast-moving subjects such as science and medicine. Authors need to make the dates and versions clear on their resources. The community is much more aware now of how to make OER reusable - by producing smaller units and providing all the individual assets so resources can be updated and rebuilt. Quality is more difficult to address and quality control needs to be built into OER processes, and communities need to find means of creating dialogue to ensure standards are maintained. Pitfall? How to maintain quality and currency are challenges not so easily solved by the OER community.
Accessibility and interoperability. It is a conundrum as to what form an OER should take. With different internet connections and levels of accessibility across the globe, developers should follow guidance from professional associations in terms of maximising the accessibility of their resources and make them operable on as many browsers, computers and mobile devices as possible. Pitfall? Some OERs may be unusable since it is not possible to future-proof everything, but good repositories and projects should be accessible and release OERs in a range of formats, such as De Montfort University "Virtual Analytical Laboratory" (VAL) which caters for PC and mobile devices.
This article has provided a brief outline of some of the benefits and pitfalls of the Open Educational Resource movement. Other articles in the series will look at "An Introduction to OER", "Where to find OER on the web" and "How to create your own OER". Come and join the Open Education revolution.