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ქართული საზოგადოებრივი კოლეჯის სტუდენტების განათლება საინჟინრო და ტექნიკურ დარგებში - Page 2

 

We have asked NATO for funding to pay the costs of using VPN network connections (at 256 Kbs) during 2009. The resulting network will also be used to facilitate video conferencing and to transport video files recorded of the teachers teaching, scholarly presentations and student presentations. The recordings made with the screen capture application (Camtasia) included on the additional tablet PCs we will purchase using the NATO equipment grant can be encoded in a variety of formats and with varying degrees of compression. The higher compression levels produce small file sizes that can more easily be transferred on less capable networks. The versatility of our primary tools will ensure the delivery of the best possible quality under any given condition. We have also asked NATO for funds to equip a media-enabled classroom at each of three sites in Georgia’s fledgling vocational education network.

Rationale and discussion

After the “Rose Revolution” government came to power in late 2003, the new leaders at the Ministry of Education and Science (MES) charged Georgian Technical University (GTU), the main engineering and technical university in the country, to embark on a program to reform and upgrade engineering education. Teachers, classrooms, and institutional infrastructure were severely taxed during the 1990s when little money was available for higher education. Now, as the result of a new national entrance exam introduced into all higher education in 2005, fewer high school graduates will attend Georgian universities and new forms of higher education focusing on vocational education will be established in regional cities where students who would formerly come to Tbilisi will study for careers in Georgia’s emerging “knowledge economy.”

The educational reforms just described are already having important follow-on effects on students and students. The top-scoring students on the entrance exam will receive stipends. Those who are otherwise qualified for university study will have to pay tuition (or maybe will have access to loans). Also at GTU and other Georgian universities teachers have had to re-apply for jobs and compete for a reduced number of teaching places. Once hired, they – and their counterparts at the country’s new community colleges and vocational education centers – will be required to demonstrate continuous learning via professional development courses. Recently, economic activity in the capital, Tbilisi, and in Batumi, a resort city on the Black Sea coast, has spiked, heightening the need for well-educated specialists in technical fields. So far, though, little evidence of economic activity exists in many of Georgia’s regions.

In 2006, the Ministry of Education and Science (MES) made a decision to adapt the American-style community college model to the Georgian environment as a result of information brought back from the U.S. by Lali Ghogheliani, dean of GTU’s Faculty of Hydro-engineering. Iowa State University is a partner in that effort, along with the Ministry, Cedar Rapids-based Community Colleges for International Development, Inc. (CCID), and five CCID member colleges located in Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and British Columbia. Prof. Ghogheliani now heads up the Georgian side of this effort and ISU’s Ardith Maney coordinates the work of the consortium on the American side. After a year of hard work, classes will begin in October 2007 in the regional capital of Gori, located one hour by car from Tbilisi. In October, 2008, students will start to take courses in their specialties, e.g., construction management chosen because of their usefulness for economic development in that region. It is expected that more specialties (majors) and more regions will be added to the community college network around Georgia.

 

Project Staff & Management

The Georgian and American project staff have all had experience working together face-to-face and through frequent email communication. Lali Ghogheliani, the Georgian project director ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), coordinated higher education reform efforts at GTU from 2005-07. In addition Ghogheliani brings technical and administrative experience as head of GTU’s Hydro-engineering Department and its Teaching Center, which is the main organization on the Georgian side for the community college initiative. Alexander Davitashvili ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) will coordinate the development of the library of course materials and organize the seminars for teachers for GTU’s Teaching Center. Butsiko Charkhartishvili ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), an associate professor of Biology at Tbilisi State University and director of that university’s Teaching Center, will head up the evaluation of teaching modules. Konstantine Magradze ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) will coordinate all technical aspects on the Georgian side, including recording classroom and off-site presentations, editing, and distributing lectures and modules.

 

Steven Mickelson ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), associate chair of ISU’s Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engioneering Department, brings expertise in innovative teaching and learning, as well as content expertise in engineering subjects needed by GTU and the Gori college. As project director, Mickelson will manage the project budget, coordinate ISU involvement in the project, and collaborate with Charkhartishvili on evaluation methodologies. Ardith Maney ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), professor of Public Administration and director of ISU’s International Women in Science & Engineering (IWISE) program, will focus on Georgian outreach activities, relations with CCID’s partner colleges, and with the other funders. Joe Monahan ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), who coordinates distance education programs in the ISU College of Engineering and has collaborated with IWISE on two EIF projects in Kharkiv, Ukraine, will work closely with Magradze and Davitashvili.

Summary

The work outlined here will allow us to start a library of innovative electronic course materials, including videotaped lectures by American and Georgian experts, demonstrations from GTU laboratories, and examples of professional practice for Georgia’s community college students. Also, the experience and know-how that the teacher teams gain will ensure sustainability after the funding ends. The proposal draws on lessons already learned by the Georgian and American partners and leverages financial support provided to Georgia’s fledgling community college system from USAID and other funders. Because these curriculum materials will be organized and coordinated by GTU Teaching Center, students taking courses in civil, construction, hydro-engineering, and other departments at GTU will benefit.

 

The activities in this proposal also complement the experiments outlined in the proposal currently pending before NATO’s science office and it will also allow us to show success when we go back to USAID for funding to extend Georgia’s community college and vocational education network into other regions. Finally, this proposal shows great promise to place higher education in a larger setting of professional education needed in Georgia and indeed all countries, i.e., engineers and technicians need ways to upgrade their knowledge and skills after they go into the world of work. Becoming familiar with making electronic curriculum materials will assure that instructors at Georgia’s leading technical university will turn out graduates with the competencies needed in the workplace. Georgia’s network of community colleges can also produce and administer continuing education courses for community college graduates.