A KAIROSFOCUS BRIEFING NOTE:
http://www.angelfire.com/pro/kairosfocus/resources/THE_GLI_CYBERCOLLEGE.htm

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 form 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. Contact us here: kairosfocus@yahoo.co.uk

________________________

CONTENTS

1]  1 Chron 12:32 report, 40: How a cyber college campus can help transform the Caribbean Church's capacity

2]  Cyber College 1 -- training for change and transformation of our region

3]  1 Chron 12:32 Report, 45: Cyber College 2 -- visions, volunteers and shoestrings

4] Cyber College, 3 -- building education capacity in our churches and communities


_____________________________



http://kairosfocus.blogspot.com/2007/04/1-chron-1232-report-40-how-cyber.html

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

1]  1 Chron 12:32 report, 40: How a cyber college campus can help transform the Caribbean Church's capacity

I believe that 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.

Consider:
1] We have thousands of church facilities scattered all across the region, in every community of significance, and a long history of positive, indeed often foundational, contribution to education.

2] With a generation of wider access to tertiary education now being under our belts, we have a substantial pool of potential tutors, lecturers and developers for courses.

3] The rise of low cost high bandwidth access to the Internet allows for rapid multimedia communication, not just of text, image, voice and video, but also for low-cost acceptable grade teleconferencing. [Indeed, UWI's distance education system has more and more migrated to the Web in recent years.]

4] More and more, we need to be informed, articulate, winsome and effective, and are facing a world in which the Christian faith is under pressure from aggressive de-Christianisation and Islamisation.

5] A the same time, we have time-tested, powerful answers that can help rebuild the rapidly disintegrating moral, cultural and intellectual foundations of Western culture, of which we are a part.

6] The Caribbean is in desperate need for clear-sighted, high-integrity, effective community based leadership and service, if it is to find a path to truly sustainable development: "Except the Lord builds . . ."

7] Precisely because the Caribbean is the world's first cosmopolitan region, and one in which the gospel played a key role in liberation from oppression and empowerment, we have credibility and a message that can make a big and much needed difference to the world at large.
In short, there is a major opportunity. As we have discussed previously, the fulness vision theme of Eph 1, 4 and the associated operational form of the church's mandate provides motivation enough, if we will listen. For, Christ came, descending and ascending "in order to fill all things," working through the leaders and members of the Church, "his body, the fulness of him who fills everything in every way." As to means, we have or have access to more than enough people and physical and financial as well as spiritual resources to make such an initiative succeed, if we are willing.

Overarching programme goals can be fairly easily and simply summarised, in light of the biblical framework and our evident needs:

Level I -- Consolidating Life-foundations and associated Commitments: helping people work through the basic issues, challenges, decisions, changes, healings and liberations, learning, perspectives, commitments, relationships, attitudes, skills and habits involved in taking up one's cross and following Jesus. [Matt 16:24 - 27.]

Level II -- Basic Service and Leadership, as the focus gradually shifts to basic ministry/service processes and skills, training can stress the church's mission, our part in it, handling of issues agendas and challenges, and basic leadership and ministry in dyad (one-to-one) and in the small groups oriented to outreach, nurture or specific ministry areas (such as drama or social welfare).

Level III -- Community Service and Leadership. The third phase stresses specific gifts, knowledge and skills for lifetime service and leadership in the family, church, workplace, community, region and world, as we work to fill each of its aspects with Christ. This last phase therefore prepares disciples for proactive, prophetic community, cultural, intellectual and institutional service and leadership under Christ. And, once the cross-cultural aspect is added, we will mobilise the whole church for global missions.

So, we would be looking at in the first instance, fairly general discipleship and life issues/challenges training and empowerment, at an age and life-stage appropriate level. [Much of this would be similar in level to what is often called continuing education, and would help transform what happens in Sunday schools and youth fellowships or the like..] The second is at a similar level, but bridges up to to what would be considered Associate Degree level training in many community colleges. The third bridges from that level, all the way up to graduate and professional level studies and skills. Because of the nature of the subject matter and skills, mentoring support will be essential as well, thus the need to link network supported information with interpersonal interaction in a community of learning and growth.

In addition, given the vast pool of general needs and hunger for progress, well-chosen general programmes and courses in second chance secondary education, managerial skills, project management, entrepreneurship and business management, agriculture, financial management, education, degree completion and the like will find a ready market. The hosting or franchising of good quality masters programmes would also be attractive to many.

But, how could such a cyber college be created?
a] Recognise that 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.

b] So, we cannot afford to play delay games and further put off decisions. Time is not on our side.

c] Find a critical mass of people, content and leadership who see the need, are open to the vision and are willing to invest in and work towards it. [This post is in part an exercise to that end. Why not follow up to the Fulness Focus reference site and contact us?]

d] Create or adapt content to address the themes, levels and issues as outlined, using powerful, easily available multimedia and web technologies. By slotting into a framework as above, we can see how we can build up a comprehensive programme across time that really covers the bases. [This blog and associated reference web site are full of suitable content, and there is much more out there across the Internet and in the minds and hearts of many people all across the world. We do not want for "techie" talent, tutors and profs!]

e] One way to do this is to host targetted seminars or camps or conferences on key issues, filming, doing multimedia presentations etc., then transforming the results into a well-packaged cybercourse on a key theme with a proven ability to hold an audience. Such a course can easily be reduced to a set of DVDs and associated print materials etc. that can be circulated as local course resources.

f] Then, say there is a church with a room suitable to turn into a mini seminar room, one with 6 - 12 PCs around the perimeter, a modular conference table in the middle, and arrangements for multimedia projection to the front. [Durable multimedia projectors of good performance can now be had for less than US$ 1,000. Excellent laptops go for the same sort of price range. Credible desktops are down to US$ 400 or in some cases less. Indeed, there is a serious "US$ 100 laptops for students in the third world" movement. (Cf. here, here, here, here and here.) Electronics and quite good multimedia equipment and software are now in general "throwaway cheap." It is more and more worth taking a look at Linux and open software, e.g. the UBUNTU initiative.]

g] Toss in a broadband Internet connection. Bring on a local tutor and a techie or two. Use existing administrative talent and facilities. Mix in a class of interested students, and a course web site with an online forum and place for assignments etc., maybe using blog technologies much like this blog or many others do [Blogs allow for easy publishing to the Internet for non-techies. You can be set up and publishing away in fifteen minutes or less . . . and as this series shows, a course can be presented online using such a blog fairly easily].

h] Presto: we have a mini-campus centre.

i] We can therefore 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.]
So, what is holding this back?

Sadly: Us, in one word. And, time is not on our side.

So, again -- and, I daresay, in the name of our God: Why not now? Why not here? Why not us? END
posted by Gordon @ 5:45 AM
_________________  

http://kairosfocus.blogspot.com/2007/05/1-chron-1232-report-44-cyber-college-1.html

 Thursday, May 24, 2007  

2]  1 Chron 12:32 Report, 44: Cyber College 1 -- training for change and transformation of our region

As we consider how to develop a discipleship and Christian service-focussed Cyber College that works through an online campus and local micro-campus centres, our educational focus must not only be to inform, but to by God's grace help to change and transform: individuals, families, churches, institutions, communities.

This is in accord with the powerful spiritual education and transformation principles outlined by Paul:
2 Tim 3:14 . . . continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
And:
TIT 2:11 . . . the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good . . . . TIT 3:3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.
As well as:
EPH 4:17 . . . you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

EPH 4:20 You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21 Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness . . . . 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

EPH 5:1 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God . . . . EPH 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them . . . . EPH 5:15 Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is . . .
Such passages -- and, we could go on citing more and more on the point! --make it plain that the gospel, through God's grace, by his Spirit and the workings of the Word of God, is intended to change, transform and bless us, utterly filling all things with Christ's grace and glory.

A glance at the gap between the numbers of professing Christians or even church attending ones in our region, and the various social indicators of sin/righteousness, starting with our headlines, shows that such change towards blessing is sorely needed, and too often wanting. (And this is before we touch the even more glaring but too often unnoticed gap between the potential of our church and region in carrying forward the mission of the church in the wider world and what we are actually doing to advance the mission of the church in, and from the region.) In turn, that suggests the need for capacity-building through a well-structured training and mentoring based discipleship programme that focusses on the three phases that were previously highlighted:

Level I -- Consolidating Life-foundations and associated Commitments: helping people work through the basic issues, challenges, decisions, changes, healings and liberations, learning, perspectives, commitments, relationships, attitudes, skills and habits involved in taking up one's cross and following Jesus. [Matt 16:24 - 27.]

Level II -- Basic Service and Leadership, as the focus gradually shifts to basic ministry/service processes and skills, training can stress the church's mission, our part in it, handling of issues agendas and challenges, and basic leadership and ministry in dyad (one-to-one) and in the small groups oriented to outreach, nurture or specific ministry areas (such as drama or social welfare).

Level III -- Community Service and Leadership. The third phase stresses specific gifts, knowledge and skills for lifetime service and leadership in the family, church, workplace, community, region and world, as we work to fill each of its aspects with Christ. This last phase therefore prepares disciples for proactive, prophetic community, cultural, intellectual and institutional service and leadership under Christ. And, once the cross-cultural aspect is added, we will mobilise the whole church for global missions.

The KCASH model, constructed in light of 2 Tim 3:14 - 17, will help us crystallise how to move beyond merely informing towards transforming:
K - KNOWLEDGE -- as Timothy, we need to be informed, thus learn and understand, key facts, ideas, principles, etc., not just to be learned, but to put them to work

C- COMMITMENTS -- Timothy learned commitment from the example set by those who taught him, and was called to sustain that commitment even in the face of death

A - ATTITUDES -- Timothy's way of seeing the world, and what he expected from it was shaped by the viewpoint of the Scriptures and their Author. E.g., he knew that "everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted," [2 Tim 3:12] that his lifestyle was to be shaped by the truth in love leading to good works, that many would turn aside from the truth to myths, and that his principal mentor, Paul, was "already being poured out like a drink offering" [4:6]

S- SKILLS -- To do good works, we must know how. Indeed, Timothy was encouraged to be one who "correctly handles the word of truth." [2:15]

H - HABITS -- such discipleship and service skills need to become automatic, ingrained into our pattern of acting, even when we are caught by surprise or are under pressure. That requires sustained practice, and the discipline to go through that practice.
In turn, this logically leads us to emphasise the spiral curriculum approach. This curriculum design strategy identifies a cluster of key points ["key themes," KT in the below] that mark expert practice, and then sets out to go through the scope and sequence of content in such a way that a wholistic view of what is needed is always in mind [i.e. through the use of key case studies and examples]. Thus, it builds understanding and skill step by step through a spiral path that highlights the application of the key ideas and skills to basic then increasingly challenging exercises as proficiency develops.

In further turn, this suggests that profiling of learning, achievement and observed practice done in the main through portfolio based assessment based on agreed learning tasks and projects would be a logical way to help develop the competencies and to provide objective evidence of achievement. For instance, each module of training can be structured through a course manual that identifies learning targets that the learner "can and does" practice, with associated evidence as summarised. Then the certificates of participation and achievement for the units would summarise the achieved learning targets as certified by the local mentors and community-based learning centre. Units would accumulate through credit banking into certificates, perhaps:
Level I: Core discipleship skills,

Level II: Core leadership and service skills,

Level III: Community service and leadership skills. (Perhaps, at basic, intermediate and advances stages of proficiency.)
The first level is of course foundational, perhaps using stages such as in this course [for new disciples] or this one [for deepening the level of discipleship and service], with this basic evangelism training module, or any reasonable course of basic discipleship that is substantially equivalent to the cluster just linked. An example of a Level II course would be this one, developed for training Cell Group leaders on Campuses in the Caribbean and applicable to many areas of small group or ministry team oriented service and leadership. At the second and third levels, through negotiated agreements, appropriate achievement should also be acceptable for transfer credits at the relevant level in the region's Bible Schools and even Seminaries. (For instance, cf. this apologetics sub-course, this one in basic philosophy, and the content in the briefing notes on transforming Government here, that on sustainable development here, as well as that on the current Intelligent Design controversy here.].

As well, a procedure would be developed to calibrate and integrate other courses for integration into the system, which would thus encourage the mutual recognition of capacity building efforts across the region. It would also encourage the further development of existing courses and programmes, or even the creation of novel training courses that can then be brought under the umbrella of a regional network of training and recognition of achievement.

Overarching all of this, through the use of the Internet, web sites, blog technologies and the like, access to such integrated training would be improved and increased.

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.

A vision, in short.

So, let us again ask ourselves, under God: Why not now? Why not here? Why not us? END

UPDATE, May 25:
Slight cleanup, addition of links "missed" on original posting.
posted by Gordon @ 5:18 AM

____________________  

http://kairosfocus.blogspot.com/2007/06/1-chron-1232-report-45-cyber-college-2.html

Saturday, June 02, 2007


3]  1 Chron 12:32 Report, 45: Cyber College 2 -- visions, volunteers and shoestrings

There are two ways to get something big going:
[I] One way is to inject major money, promote to the max to gather an initial wave of support, and roll out like a stream-roller that seems to be "unstoppable."

[II] The other is to have a powerful, transforming vision that draws people, who willingly volunteer time, effort and skills, and then personally share what they have discovered with others, leading to a snowballing effect that gains support and speed as it goes. (Key lesson: Money is "nice to have," and fertilises growth, but a sufficiently powerful movement can get going and grow fast and strong on a shoestring budget.)
Both can be effective, both require high quality (and preferably high integrity . . .) leadership, and both face the challenge of gathering support for "the new way."

To see a recent example, consider the now famous Linux computer operating system. It started out in 1991 as a student's course project, when Linus Torvalds asked for support online to help him create a UNIX-like operating system, based on the famous educator and computer scientist Andrew S Tanenbaum's educational version, Minix. Soon, volunteers from all over the world collaborated to help create what is now maybe the best example of what open, volunteer-developed software can be like. Indeed, eventually, many large corporations injected billions into the ongoing growth of Linux and associated application software, software that now by and large runs the Internet

(NB: Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia that is the source of most of the links just above, is another example of what volunteer inputs can do -- and as its persistent problems with ideological and sometimes commercial biases shows, of the danger that people with a hidden agenda can sometimes subvert the course of such a movement from its original vision. In large part, so are the Worldwide Web [which also more or less dates to 1991, as a way for Physicists to share their research papers with one another in a collaborative community!] and the blogosphere, of which this post is a part. BTW, the brevity of this last reference article on Wikipedia is itself telling on Wiki's institutional biases! Of course, each of these three movements plays a part in showing a way forward on creating a regional Cybercollege.)

But this is hardly a new idea. The Christian church began -- on a shoestring budget! -- as the first intentionally global volunteer movement 2,000 years ago; and, because people encountered God in the face of Jesus and through that found their lives transformed in a community of discipleship, love, mutual support and service, it thrived in the teeth of the fiercest persecution and has in a great many ways tremendously blessed the whole world. (It has also suffered from the same precise problem of people jumping on to "the wave of the future and trying to subvert it to serve their personal agendas; leading to many a sad episode in the history of the past 2,000 years.)

How does all of this tie in with our focus on creating a regional Cybercollege towards deformation and transformation in the Caribbean and beyond?

In several ways:
1] Vision-Power: It has been said that 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.

2] Volunteer-power: 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.)

3] Example-power: In the early 1980's, the UCCF-UWI interdenominational Christian student fellowship -- itself a capital example of the power of a volunteers-based movement operating on a shoestring -- once had a cell group leaders training programme that bore a peculiar but insightful title: Leadership: service by example. In short, in light of biblical texts such as Luke 6:39 - 40, the young student leaders recognised that leadership, in the end is by example, for good or ill. So, to catalyse a movement, words are important but never enough. One needs to sacrificially model its vision and values in one's own life, so that others can see and follow for themselves. So, if necessary, we need to show how a college can be the C21 equivalent of the famous story of the log by a trail-side with the right men sitting on either end of it, conversing about matters of substance.)

4] Web-power: As we have seen, 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!)

5] Microcampus power: 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!)

6] Moodle power: Above, I spoke of how several web technologies provide powerful tools for creating effective learning environments. It seems, we can do this through one-stop shopping. For instance, just now, after a simple web search, I have downloaded the generic version of the "free" Internet learning environment, Moodle, as a Zip file. (This is of course the web-based learning environment that UWI's Distance Learning programme is now implementing, in whatever pattern best suits their particular approach.) According to Wikipedia,
"Moodle is designed to help educators create online courses with opportunities for rich interaction. Its open source license and modular design means that many people can develop additional functionality, and development is undertaken by a globally diffuse network of commercial and non-commercial users, spearheaded by the Moodle company based in Perth, Western Australia. . . . .

Moodle has many features expected from an e-learning platform including:

Moodle is modular in construction and can readily be extended by creating plugins for specific new functionality. Moodle's infrastructure supports many types of plugin
7] Accreditation power: 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, e.g. Jamaica's University Council, and of course the sheer weight of UWI. Even at secondary level, CXC is a regional, quasi-governmental agency. 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?

8] Standardisation power: 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 [e.g. through CXC exams where appropriate] 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.

9] Education power: 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.
Can we do this?
Obviously, yes. [It may help for me to note on this, that I have some practical experience in developing undergraduate and graduate level educational programmes.]
Will it cost too much?
Not if we start with a vision, then mobilise volunteers who come together in a powerful movement, and especially if we support the volunteers generously. [My estimate is that startup investments of the order of a few thousand to a few tens of thousands of seed-money dollars would potentially have a very rich payoff, once several sites sign-up to become the first several microcampus centres -- I have a few in mind even among the circle of readers of this blog. In effect think of the first phase as "Sunday/Sabbath school on steroids," towards mobilising the people in our churches through structured and certified training towards God-blessed transformation of life, family, community, region and beyond through the power of the gospel. As we have already discussed, we already have in hand content for several startup courses, and could develop a system of certificates based on basic discipleship, basic leadership and community leadership.]
How can we start?

Actually, we can in effect say, "we have already started" -- of course, on a shoestring. Through this blog, we are sharing a vision, which is reaching several people who could credibly get this ball rolling down the snow-covered hill. As the previous post here shows, there is more than enough course material for creating "Version 1.0" of a three-tier discipleship, service and leadership training programme.

So, the key question is really . . . How can we sign up?
Easy: just email me [reply if you got this by email, look up the contact us in the Fulness Focus reference site under "Links" if you are looking at the blog at Blogger], and then let's see how we can get really rolling.
That brings us to the now-traditional three-headed question: Why not now? Why not here? Why not us? END
posted by Gordon @ 4:55 AM
_____________________

http://kairosfocus.blogspot.com/2007/06/1-chron-1232-report-46-cyber-college-3.html

Monday, June 18, 2007
 

4] 1 Chron 12:32 Report, 46: Cyber College, 3 -- building education capacity in our churches and communities

Over the past week or so, given the significance of the Six Day War, we paused to look at it from a balancing perspective. Even just for me, that was a quite illuminating exercise.

While that was happening, my attention was drawn to a thread on the JFK terrorism plot story over at Barbados Free Press. During the course of this, the Six Day war -- surprise [NOT] -- came up, and I made some remarks. Latterly I have had to respond there on UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. Again and again, the desperate need for building up capacity to address critical thinking, and to have a fund of balanced knowledge and information on important matters has been underscored.

This brings us right back to the issue of the need for a new approach to education and capacity building in our region, as has been raised, introduced and further discussed previously. So, let's get back to the idea of setting up a Cyber College in the region, linked to local micro-campus centres (and, hopefully, to existing Colleges in the region).

Thus far, we have:
1] April 11: suggested that there is a need for and an opportunity to create such a click-and-brick based college, with credible resources to get it started then to sustain it. In particular, the existence of a vast church-based infrastructure across our region, and the existence of tens of thousands of tertiary level graduates was seen as providing a potential base for micro-campus centres for course delivery in the local community, and also for course and programme development.

2] May 24: laid out a general framework for a curriculum, showing how it would help to inform and transform "individuals, families, churches, institutions, communities" through developing courses and credible certification that targets: [I] basic discipleship and life skills, [II] preparation for small-group oriented leadership and service, [III] preparation for community level leadership and service; this last including links into general post-secondary, bridging and tertiary education and skill-building in the region.

3] June 2: Launching on a shoestring through triggering a movement, in the era where open source courseware like Moodle [Used by UWI for its Distance Education programme] or other similar packages that are not explicitly educational but are adaptable to that purpose offer us significant capacity to create, deliver, support and sustain effective online-based courses. We therefore looked at several sources of empowerment to do that: vision, volunteers, example, webs, micro-campuses, open-source software, accreditation, standardisation of offerings, and access to education.
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 startup on a shoestring, with materials adapted form existing courses and using open source software.

Once that happens, it can snowball -- how many school teachers, Bible teachers, public lecturers, seminar deliverers, Human Resources Management trainers and College lecturers "out there" across our region have in hand powerful, effective, tested materials that can with some further development easily become course materials structured towards credible certification and even relevant external exams?

The answer is obvious! ( A lot!)

As well, there are many capable people across our region who, perhaps with some assistance, can generate substantial course content [including online/multimedia readers and viewers that can easily be turned into books . . .] and delivery systems. Beyond, there are the many retirees and practicing people who have a wealth of wisdom, expertise and experience that can be tapped by a bit of interviewing and arranging.

But, training does not simply happen out of a reading a book or clicking on a web site, or even doing that in a cyber cafe and chatting about it.

Effective training requires active processes of exploring and using knowledge, then learning from mistakes -- in settings that minimise the dangers of such mistakes! -- and incrementally improving performance through a spiral learning process. Where attitudes are involved, there may need to be counselling and prayer, carefully built up mentoring relationships, and more. Work skills development often needs apprenticeship or internships with appropriate supervision and monitoring. All of this will need a structured framework of learning objectives that can be observed, measured and certified based on reasonable objective evidence.

In turn that needs qualified -- as opposed to merely certificated -- educators who are actually capable of curriculum development and working with performance-oriented assessment systems. But, thankfully, our region is not at all short of such!

So, how can we operationalise the process?
a] We can credibly and fairly easily identify many key education and training foci based on the three educational levels already identified, and we can integrate these into the sort of needs of our churches, businesses, institutions, communities, and the needs, talents and desires of many individuals looking to upgrade their life skills, ability to serve, lead, work and start up businesses and projects in areas that require identifiable and trainable skills.

b] These can then be prioritised relative to the "shoestring and snowball" principle: what we can target to set out with, and what we can roll on into as we pick up momentum and support.

c] Certain key sites out there can sign up as founding micro-campus centres and partner institutions, which would work with the first wave of offerings. [Let's say, that discipleship and life skills, leadership training and ministry (or small business . . .) project development and implementation would be such likely startup areas; which can lead to standalone certificates that could then fit into the wider system of training under development. It so happens that there are relevant materials already in hand for such topics.]

d] With the aid of some good techies [probably on a volunteer basis to start with!], we can develop the online site based, say, on Moodle or a similar package. That gives us a startup Cybercampus, maybe over the course of six to eight weeks of development time . . . .

e] Likewise, based on cheap desktop PC and networking technologies, and the low-cost good performance multimedia projectors that are now out there, we can get a few microcampus centres going in churches, community centres, schools, colleges and even the training units in some firms. Basic teleconferencing -- great for bringing the whole regional classroom together -- can probably be done though say Skype to begin with; the OECS is actually already doing this. Each site will need appropriate broadband Internet access; which is now increasingly affordable through DSL and Cable access technologies. (Of course, the partners would have to in the first instance source the equipment.)

f] Site tutors, admin assistants and course facilitators can be signed up on the local micro-campus centres, as well as of course the first classes of students.

g] For each of the courses, there would be a principal course developer/coordinator (Maybe with co-coordinators and assistants), who would oversee course development and implementation, lead teleconferences and see to it that the course runs to a basic schedule, etc.

h] Assessments would be mainly based on locally assessed learning logbooks, with set-piece exercises and mini-projects, backed up by a main project that would at least on a sample basis be centrally assessed. (Project based assessments are inherently very valid, as they are a realistic sample of the sort of skill and performance to be developed/achieved. Of course, since projects are usually relevant to the goals of the local institution, that too is a benefit of hosting such a microcampus centre! And, reports can be harvested for research information and useful content, helping to form a do-it-yourself, growing library of resource materials.)

i] Based on the results, we would have a first wave of graduates, awarded credible, practically oriented course certificates that also reflect a process of thinking through and discussing then working out problems on the area being studied, and creates a pool of students for the next level of courses, as well as tested, further developed first-level courses.

j] The snowball would roll on from there.
Such an approach is on its face very feasible and is desirable as the costs would not be outrageous, and the skill gaps are there for all to see.

So: Why not now? Why not here? Why not us? END
posted by Gordon @ 6:22 AM

-END-

__________________________________

NOTICES: This briefing note was originally created by GEM of TKI, in December 2007, for use in briefing Christian leaders and others interested in the development of a significant education and training capacity for the church in the Caribbean. This page is subject to subsequent revision and development. (DISCLAIMER: While reasonable attempts have been made to provide accurate, fair and informative materials, no claim is made for absolute truth, and corrections based on factual errors and/or gaps or inconsistencies in reasoning, etc., or typos, are welcome.) FAIR USE: The contents of this note are in part intended for use as a support for learning about responding to the typical intellectual challenges to the Christian Faith and gospel that are commonly encountered in the Caribbean, especially in tertiary education. In turn, that is intended to support the ongoing work of reformation of Western and global cultures through the positive, corrective impacts of the Gospel - observe here, how Plato grounds his Laws in the implications of the inference to design, as cited, in context Permission is therefore granted to link to this page for fair use under intellectual property law, and for reasonable fair use citation of the linked content on this site  for church- or parachurch- group related training and/or for personal or specifically institutional academic use. [But kindly have mercy on the available bandwidth at a freebie site . . . ask me to use the page whole or make significant excerpts on your own site as appropriate . . .] This permission specifically excludes reproduction, linking or citation for commercial, controversial or media purposes without the Author's written permission -- especialy where matters relating to the validity and value of Faith/Religious/Atheological Commitments and Truth-Claims are being debated or disputed. COPYRIGHT: GEM 2007. All rights are reserved, save as specifically noted just above.