CLIR Report on NITLE

Logo designed by Khaled Al-Saai

I finally read through this report on NITLE (the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education), and I must say I agree with most of it’s findings.  It is a thorough survey of what was accomplished and what is needed. Thanks are due to Jason Brodeur, Morgan Daniels, Annie Johnson, Natsuko Nicholls, Sarah Pickle, and Elizabeth A. WaraksaI, as well as all who participated in the surveys they conducted, for this job well done.

I was very proud of my involvement in NITLE, which started our as a visionary organization, assisting member institutions to be forward looking and to think big about what they could accomplish. I was Program Director of NITLE’s Al-Musharaka Initiative, which is mentioned early in the report. I am immensely proud of my involvement with that project. Our focus really was on building community, facilitating collaboration, and fostering intellectual exchange, not just across institutions, but also across sectors within the academic community.  Much of what has been published about the initiative focusing on the Arab Culture and Civilization Online Resource (the ACC site), one of our first projects, but it was really the collaborative projects that were the most interesting and produced the most exciting results.  Continue reading

Global Connections and Exchange Program Combines Technology and In-Person Exchanges

Midlothian High School Exchange

Midlothian High School students planted trees in honor of their guests. | photo courtesy of Jamie Schlais Barnes

Here’s an interesting item from Midlothian Exchange, a local paper in Midlothian, in Chesterfield County, Virginia and a part of the Richmond Metropolitan Area.

Two weeks ago, three men walked into Midlothian High School looking for a better understanding of American culture. Ten days later, they left having changed their own perceptions of U.S. citizens and their students’ perceptions of Arabic culture. Their challenge and that of the students at Midlothian High School is to continue spreading what they learned.

Abdulwahab Albaadani, a teacher at Ibn Majed in Sanaa, Yemen, Amine Slimani, a teacher from the Secondary School of Nedroma in Nedroma, Algeria and his pupil, Mohamed Belmeliami, traveled to the U.S. as a culmination of nearly a year’s worth of video conferencing, cultural lessons, and web logging with social studies classes at Midlothian High School…

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Look what I found! An article in Al-Shuruq, November 2003

Al-Shuruq November 2003

I happened to find this on my hard drive the other day. It is an article in Arabic, that was written about NITLE’s Al-Musharaka Initiative and published in the news magazine Al-Shuruq. I was interviewed for this when we my colleague Doug Davis and I were in Paris for a mini-conference we did with the American University of Paris and the Institut du Monde Arabe. It was a pleasure to work with both organizations, but I am especially grateful to Celeste Schenck, now President at AUP, whose brainchild the event was, and Susan MacKay, her assistant, who took care of the logistics.

Articles like this made me very proud because the showed how important the work we were doing was seen by people in the region. So here it is.

My Career in International Education, v 4.0

Globes in Chicago, by John LeGear

In 2005 the Association of American Colleges and Universities launched the “Shared Futures: Global Learning and Social Responsibility” initiative. The mission statement for that initiative describes what should be one of the most important principles guiding higher education today. Shared Futures

is based upon the assumption that we live in an interdependent but unequal world and that higher education can help prepare students not only to thrive in such a world, but to remedy its inequities.

Higher education not only can prepare students to do those things, but it must, for their benefit, for the good of our nation, and because remedying inequalities is the right thing to do. Hence, as the statement continues, the academy

has a vital role of expanding knowledge about the world’s peoples and problems and developing individuals who will advance equity and justice both at home and abroad.

These are fine and noble ideals, but they are also solidly rooted in reality. The United States finds itself involved in two wars at the moment, and neither is with a neighbor or even a nation in this hemisphere. The largest share of our foreign debt is owned by China. America is a nation addicted to television, yet only Zenith makes television sets in the US, maintaining one factory so that it is able to claim it is an American producer. Problems like global warming can only be tackled on an international scale, and when the mortgage crisis hit the banks in the United States, many of the world’s banks also felt the impact. The engine of globalization is, of course, technology, which makes it almost as easy to conduct business between Boston and Hong Kong (8,000 miles) as it is between Boston and Cambridge (next to one another).
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“Millennial Teaching” by Doug Davis

While researching something I was writing recently, I stumbled across an article by Doug Davis, Professor of Psychology at Haverford College and leader of the second NITLE Al Musharaka Summer Seminar in 2003. One interesting this about it is how quickly the technology become dated! But it is a good article and is worth a look.

When the technological and political events that now preoccupy us are exhumed and examined by historians, it will surely be remarked that never was the misfit between professors’ favored styles of teaching and the actual skills and predilections brought to learning by the young so great, or so rapidly increasing. Most of us struggle daily to use the personal computers, word-and data-processing software, e-mail tools, and Web services with which we are provided. We often despair of getting a whole class to read a few paragraphs of Freud with sufficient attention that we can have a real class discussion. On the other hand, the liberal arts college student who five years ago would have described herself as “not a computer person” now spends four hours a night on America Online, even as she tries to make sense of Freud with the best of her downloaded Nine Inch Nails music collection ringing in her ears. Her male suite mate spends a good deal more time playing a (female) Barbarian character in the EverQuest online role-playing game than learning chemistry. Faculty who feel pressured to lug a laptop computer and a bag of audiovisual connectors into class wonder whether this generation can tell the difference between a glitzy Web page and an actual argument, and many students find the “monotasking” of book and lecture a weak brew to accompany the smorgasbord of media to which they are wired. Surely we liberal arts professors are at a nexus having to do with the ways we and our students use information technology.

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