CPDSEC

English
Home პროექტები მიმდინარე პროექტები ეკონომიკის განვითარებისა და სიღარიბის შემცირების პრგრამა (EDRP) გამოიცა 2003 წელს და მიზსი მიზანი იყო ცხოვრების ხარისხის გაუმჯობესება საქართველოში მდგრადი განვითარების მეშვეობით. ფოკუსირება ხდება ზრდაზე რათა შეიქმნას სამუშაო ადგილები და წარმოიქმნას ფისკალ - Page 3
ეკონომიკის განვითარებისა და სიღარიბის შემცირების პრგრამა (EDRP) გამოიცა 2003 წელს და მიზსი მიზანი იყო ცხოვრების ხარისხის გაუმჯობესება საქართველოში მდგრადი განვითარების მეშვეობით. ფოკუსირება ხდება ზრდაზე რათა შეიქმნას სამუშაო ადგილები და წარმოიქმნას ფისკალ - Page 3

 

How this proposal builds on, or would help improve, this infrastructure 

Establishing a country wide educational network would greatly enhance the quality of education for all students, faculty and researchers. Expertise existing in one area could be captured and distributed to students through out Georgia. Content from foreign experts could be more easily utilized, and a two-way communication network of academics, students and industry professionals could begin to take shape. 

The primary technical roadblock to the creation of this academic inter-network is the absence of high speed, reliable internet connections. Even in areas where fast local internet exists, competing private ISPs are known to block traffic from regions other than their own. 

This grant proposes to overcome these limitations by employing GRENA to create virtual priate networks (VPNs) to seamlessly tunnel through the existing private ISP networks, and eventually, to use wireless technology to reach the more remote areas not currently hard-wired to the grid. 

GRENA will provide VPN network connections at 256 Kbs to GTU and to Gori and Zugdidi for the second year of the project.

b.     Nature of communication:

The network will be used to facilitate video conferencing and to transport video files recorded of the teachers teaching, scholarly presentations and student presentations. Less taxing will be the course content that be accessed by the students. This will be largely text and still graphics (PowerPoint, PDF files, etc.) 

The professional, scientific and research collaborations will best be conducted live and so represent the most critical bandwidth issues. Fortunately the software we propose using (Adobe Connect) is very versatile and can accommodate slower connections. In the event that connections come down completely the session can still be recorded and made available when network repairs are made. 

The Flash based technology that Adobe Connect utilizes is very efficient. Further, the video quality can be dialed down to further conserve bandwidth. If problems persist, the video can be turned off. Finally, the built in voice over IP can be replaced with a traditional phone bridge while just the flash converted, very low bandwidth PowerPoint presentation is shared via the network. 

The recordings made with the screen capture application (Camtasia) included on the tablet PCs are part of the portable “micro studio” system that teachers can use to author materials and college outreach officials can take off-campus. This will bring experience from the “world of work” into the classroom and 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.

c.     Project description:

The activities set out in this proposal are all designed to complement and extend – not duplicate – the grant activities supported by USAID. The only equipment expenditure we have in the USAID project project budget was for one laptop for CETL. (Funding for the laptop came out of the USAID grant-holder’s indirect costs for that project). Funding for an assessment trip by Mickelson and Monahan – which was timed to coincide with a visit by Maney to Georgia in March 2007 – was paid for by an internal ISU small grant. At that time all three gave seminars on innovative pedagogies, including those used in distance education in the U.S. and proposed for this initiative. 

Soon after the NATO project starts we will purchase and install the equipment in the GTU classroom and media production center and organize training – for technical specialists and teacher trainers – on how this work is done at Iowa State University and Kirkwood Community College. By the summer of 2008, CETL officials and Gori teachers will be in regular communication through the media-enabled classrooms in both locations and teachers will be have started incorporating new materials into the CDs that will be the main curriculum materials for Gori’s students. 

By the beginning of 2009 we will have a mobile “micro-studio” system in place which Gori and GTU teachers will use to author their own materials and which we can use to model the electronic learning system in new locations in the Georgian community college network. In 2009, we turn our attention to using the “micro-studio” system and the Gori and Zugdidi classrooms for college outreach activities with community groups and audiences at our partner institutions in the U.S. More teachers will create electronic curriculum materials in the second year and the Georgian and American partners will jointly create a strategy paper for MES and NATO about how to build out the network and connect with other regional initiatives of the Georgian government, e.g., building internet connections in Georgia’s primary and secondary school system. 

Through USAID and MES funding, the fledgling community of practice that already exists is currently (July 2007) preparing textbooks on the 12 subjects that will be taught at Gori’s college in 2007-08. GTU and Gori teachers have met together two times per month for 5 months in 2007 and communication between ISU and GTU collaborators is mainly through email. Currently there is little contact among the Georgian vocational education centers or with GTU, except through personal contacts and (infrequent) travel to Tbilisi for meetings of vocational education program directors hosted by MES. So, the real work implementing Georgia’s ambitious plans for educational reform is severely hampered by the kinds of technical and financial constraints of a “digital divide.” 

In addition, not many Georgian scientists and academics – their native language has its own alphabet and is different from any other world language – speak and write English or any other NATO language. Thus, we have included in the budget a modest request to do some translations into Georgian of English-language PowerPoint course materials, instruction manuals, etc. Should this proposal be funded, we intend to apply to the Engineering Information Foundation in New York City for financial support to pay Georgian teachers stipends for developing electronic course materials and developing software. 

Their status as a NATO partner country is important to Georgians as they struggle to create a viable economy and democratic political institutions in a part of the world of great importance to NATO member countries. Georgia’s leadership position in higher education in the former Soviet Union is also important as Georgia’s political and educational officials seek to expand connections in the European space, e.g., meet the educational reform criteria embodied in the Bologna process. And leaders in higher education in Georgia see the workforce-friendly education reforms described here as key to regional economic development. 

That means regional communities of professional practice which the community colleges can facilitate among local stakeholders, as well as the communities bringing together people in similar economic specialties, e.g., tourism across the country and internationally. Although a small country by European and American standards, Georgia’s population of approximately four million people is too big to work face-to-face to share professional expertise and start up lifelong learning networks. 

This project allows Georgians space to experiment with electronic learning materials and live internet connections methods used for the same purposes in Iowa and adapt them to Georgia’s financial and social conditions, as well as its educational culture. This NIG project will be successful because of the close working relations built up between ISU and GTU since 2001 and because it builds on strong support by USAID, the five CCID partner colleges – Kirkwood (Iowa), Muscatine (Iowa), Selkirk (British Columbia), Moraine Valley (Illinois), Waukesha Technical College (Wisconsin) – who are actively involved in the ongoing Georgian community college project, and the Georgian Ministry of Education and Science. 

Just as Kirkwood sends some of its graduates to ISU, it is expected that graduates of Gori college who do not immediately enter the workforce will have the opportunity to get their bachelors’ degrees from GTU or other universities in Tbilisi. Also important for this project is that there is a university involved on each side and that the partnership is strong and active, as can be seen below. 

The university partnerships at the heart of this project were developed jointly by Ardith Maney (Political Science and Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering) and Lali Ghogheliani (Hydro-engineering) through Maney’s International Women in Science & Engineering (IWISE) network which established working relations in 2002 with Ghogheliani and other Georgian scientists working at Tbilisi research institutes. Maney and Ghogheliani also began nurturing research and learning partnerships between GTU’s hydro-engineering faculty and ISU’s agriculture and biosystems engineering department. 

The university partners also participate in a National Science Foundation-sponsored science education program which the American and Georgian partners used to create GTU’s CETL and establish good working relations with ISU’s sister organization. The third main area of collaboration, which Ghogheliani and Maney launched in 2005 and for which GTU and CCID received funded by USAID starting in 2006, is higher education reform in Georgia, especially the creation of a system of post-secondary workforce education modeled on the U.S. community college system across Georgia. This project will model solutions to the network capability of that kind of higher education and serve as a pilot for linking future colleges with U.S. and other international partners.