Tags

, , , , , , ,


[Η πιο κάτω σύντομη ανακοίνωση εκφωνήθηκε στο πλαίσιο της Συνάντησης για την Προώθηση της Ελληνογερμανικής Επιστημονικής Συνεργασίας (Tagung zur deutsch-griechischen Wissenschaftsooperation), η οποία έλαβε χώρα στο Πανεπιστήμιο του Αμβούργου στις 5-7 Φεβρουαρίου 2015. Βασικός στόχος της συνάντησης ήταν η γνωριμία και διασύνδεση (matchmaking) Ελλήνων και Γερμανών επιστημόνων, με απώτερη επιδίωξη την προώθηση κοινών δράσεων στο επίπεδο της διδασκαλίας ή/και της έρευνας σε όλο το φάσμα των επιστημών.

Προσωπικά έλαβα μέρος στο ειδικό εργαστήριο για την κλασική φιλολογία, το οποίο συντόνισε ο Καθηγητής Christian Brockmann. Στο πλαίσιο του εργαστηρίου μας ζητήθηκε αρχικώς να παρουσιάσουμε διά βραχέων το επιστημονικό μας προφίλ και στη συνέχεια να αναφερθούμε σε μία ή περισσότερες διαστάσεις της δουλειάς μας, οι οποίες θα μπορούσαν να αποτελέσουν τη βάση για συνεργασίες στο άμεσο μέλλον.

Στα περίπου δεκαπέντε λεπτά που είχα στη διάθεσή μου επέλεξα να αναφερθώ στο καινοτόμο επιχειρησιακό μοντέλο του Ανοικτού Πανεπιστημίου Κύπρου, το οποίο κατά τη γνώμη μου μπορεί να προσφέρει πολλαπλά πλεονεκτήματα στη σύγχρονη ακαδημαϊκή αγορά. Ως βασικά πλεονεκτήματα αυτού του επιχειρησιακού μοντέλου επισήμανα τα εξής τρία:

(α) τη μεγάλη ευελιξία στη διαμόρφωση των Ομάδων Διδακτικού Προσωπικού, οι οποίες μπορούν να αντλούν κορυφαίο επιστημονικό δυναμικό συνδυάζοντας την εμπειρία των μελών ΔΕΠ τρίτων πανεπιστημίων με τον ενθουσιασμό των νεώτερων επιστημόνων (με άλλα λόγια: η πραγματική δύναμη του ΑΠΚΥ και κάθε ανοικτού πανεπιστημίου είναι τα πάμπολλα μέλη του Συνεργαζόμενου Εκπαιδευτικού Προσωπικού, που προέρχονται από ποικίλα ακαδημαϊκά περιβάλλοντα, και όχι τα ελάχιστα μέλη ΔΕΠ)·

(β) το γεγονός ότι το ΑΠΚΥ, κυρίως χάρη στο έργο E-University αλλά και λόγω της σταθερής δέσμευσής του στην αξιοποίηση των ΤΠΕ στην εξ αποστάσεως διδασκαλία, πολύ σύντομα θα καταστεί το πρώτο και μοναδικό bona fide e-university στον ελληνόφωνο ακαδημαϊκό χώρο·

και τέλος (γ) το ότι τα ανοικτά πανεπιστήμια είναι κυριολεκτικώς ανοικτά: δεν δεσμεύονται από κανέναν απολύτως χρονικό ή γεωγραφικό περιορισμό αλλά μπορούν να ενεργήσουν σε παγκόσμια κλίμακα φέρνοντας σε εικονική (αλλά τόσο ζωντανή!) επαφή ανθρώπους από τις τέσσερις γωνιές της υφηλίου. Ως συγκεκριμένη πρόταση συνεργασίας υπέβαλα την ιδέα της διαμόρφωσης κοινών προγραμμάτων στη λογική του υφισταμένου European Master αλλά κυρίως τον σχεδιασμό και την προσφορά πολύγλωσσων Μαζικών Ανοικτών Διαδικτυακών Μαθημάτων (Massive Open Online Courses, MOOCs). Παρά την προκατάληψη κατά των ανοικτών πανεπιστημίων, που συνεχίζει να υφίσταται, οι σύνεδροι αντέδρασαν πολύ θετικά. Πολλοί από αυτούς, ακόμη και Ελλαδίτες, πληροφορούνταν για πρώτη φορά την ύπαρξη ανοικτού πανεπιστημίου στην Κύπρο, κάτι που καταδεικνύει την ανάγκη μας να κινηθούμε πιο αποφασιστικά στον τομέα της προβολής και της προώθησης των προγραμμάτων μας.

Παραθέτω την ομιλία μου παραλείποντας το…περιαυτολογικό μέρος!

LOGO_EL_urlI would like to thank the University of Hamburg, and Professor Brockmann personally, for inviting me to this exciting event. As per Professor Brockmann’s instructions, I shall first introduce myself and present my ancient-drama related scholarly work. Then, I have opted to refer to the institution of open universities, and specifically to the modus operandi of the Open University of Cyprus (OUC), which, to my mind, offers exciting opportunities for cross-European collaboration in terms of joint, interdisciplinary, post- or undergraduate degrees, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), research programmes and other forms of long-distance interaction.

[…]

Since the purpose of this conference is to pave the way for new partnerships, I chose to dwell on what I believe are the major advantages of OUC’s operational model, which render this small but dynamic new university a potential partner able to offer much more than its young age and deceptively small size would suggest.

In my opinion, OUC’s operational model — adult education either of a blended or a purely long-distance mode — offers numerous and exciting possibilities of cooperation in the modern academic world, which emanate from three major advantages inherent in the nature of open universities in general and the OUC in particular: first, great versatility in terms of academic faculty; second, a short-lived but already strong tradition in implementing modern educational technologies for delivering a limitless array of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at a small operational cost; and third, literally open, boundless geographical scope, a practically global reach.

First, open universities, the OUC included, enjoy unparalleled versatility in terms of faculty building. By that I mean the ability to harvest the best academic personnel available in the market every year, in order to deliver varied and exciting interdisciplinary academic programmes and of course to create ideal environments of academic cooperation, personal as much as institutional, even from a distance.

I argued above that OUC is ‘a deceptively small place’. It is indeed; because, while its permanent members of stuff are very few, OUC’s academic personnel can be virtually unlimited, as it grows according to the number of programmes the university offers every year and of course according to the number of students these programmes attract. Reaching a percentage as high as 95%, OUC’s faculty is made up by specially hired academics, working on 10-month contracts and selected annually after a rigorous, constantly re-evaluated selection process. These people originate from all sorts of backgrounds and stations of academic life. They are either established scholars holding university positions elsewhere or young PhDs in the early stages of their career, who boast OUC as their only academic affiliation.

Thus, OUC, like any other open university, can be a veritable hub of academic talent with theoretically infinite potential for expansion; a place where people of different academic origins can coalesce and collaborate, for longer or shorter periods of time, in a versatile environment free from too much bureaucratic hubbub. OUC’s greatest advantage lies in the quality of its adjunct personnel.

Apart from its people — who can be any people, not just the few that happen to reside in Cyprus! — OUC can also be competitive in today’s academic market, because, despite its relatively short existence as an academic institution, it has already managed to become one of the most technologically advanced universities in the Greek-speaking academia. To achieve this, OUC has attracted handsome European funds over the years. It is in fact en route to becoming, very soon, the fist bona fide e-university in either Greece or Cyprus.

The use of modern educational technologies allows OUC to deliver a potentially limitless array of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees for a fraction of the normal operational cost, either on the part of the student (travelling, housing and maintenance), or on the part of the university (large and costly maintained campuses, with laboratories, libraries, office spaces, etc.).

Nowadays, open universities provide virtual learning environments, which have little or nothing to envy compared to conventional ones. At the moment, our basic technological tools are two Moodle-based educational platforms, one asynchronous (‘E-Class’) and one synchronous (‘Blackboard Collaborate’), which have rendered long-distance education at OUC not simply a slogan but an experienced reality. Very soon, via the e-university project, the university will develop even more advanced capabilities, such as virtual laboratories, ‘second-life’, etc.

Thanks to this strong technological arsenal, OUC students can participate in the learning process from wherever they are located, either live (that is, by taking part in lectures and other educational activities in real time and with full interactive capabilities) or asynchronously (that is, by downloading reading material, posting questions or comments on the platform’s chat groups, tackling exercises, watching prepared videos or reviewing the recorded versions of live lectures — every live educational activity can be recorded at OUC, for the benefit of those who cannot enjoy it in real time, provided, of course, that all involved parties consent).

All that the students or teachers really need to access this wealth of material is a simple laptop and a decent internet connection; however, at its compact Nicosia campus the university does provide two state-of-the-art electronic-learning classrooms for conducting live activities (from the simple Blackboard Collaborate class to the most advance teleconferenced event), and will soon also set up a complete laboratory for preparing all sorts of ready-made educational material.

With regard to the educational material, OUC has introduced another innovation. Although most open universities still rely on specially designed course packages, which are costly to commission and quick to go out of date, OUC programmes generally operate on the basis of ‘actual’, up-to-date scholarly bibliography (books, journal articles, databases, etc.). This material is of course adapted to suit the needs of a long-distance adult learner in various ways, mostly with the help of committed ‘Study Guides’, which include summaries, explanations, self-assessment exercises, extra reading, etc. Thanks to a useful bilateral agreement signed with the Organisation for the Collective Management of the Works of Language (Οργανισμός Συλλογικής Διαχείρισης Έργων του Λόγου), a digitised version of the bibliography as well as the Study Guides are uploaded to the asynchronous platform, wherefrom the students can access it easily and quickly without the need to visit an academic library, if one is not readily available close to home.

Finally, OUC as an open university is indeed truly open both in terms of time and of space. Given the right collaborations, it can have a truly global reach. Its students may well reside in different continents and different time zones, they may come from different social and cultural backgrounds and live in completely disparate corners of the planet.

All one needs in order to study at an open university is access to the Internet, and everything else appears immediately on his/her computer screen. To enlarge even further its geographical and cultural scope, OUC has allowed from the start the offer of both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in languages other than Greek — English of course being the prime but not necessarily the only choice. Given the nature of our educational material, the existing programmes of OUC can with little effort be adapted for delivery in other languages, but new programmes or modules can just as easily be designed according to the needs at hand.

To conclude, based on all the above I submit to you that apart from the possibilities for cooperation between individuals either on a personal level or under the umbrella of OUC (for instance in research projects), OUC can be a profitable and exciting partner for delivering cross-institutional, Pan-European programmes of study on an undergraduate, Master’s or doctoral level, on matters that touch upon the heart of what it means to be European in the modern world, such as, precisely, the study of Greek and Latin Classics. The OUC can be perhaps even more useful in further developing the European equivalent of the trend that is nowadays taking the United States by storm, namely Massive Open Online Courses (or MOOCs); that is, short modules of outstanding academic merit, offered to vast masses of people simultaneously at little or no cost to the student.

Advertisements