The New Mail. May 15 War, Economic Crises and Opportunities to Improving Education. No doubt wars and economic crises cause serious problems and challenges for individuals and societies; however, at the same time, they could produce opportunities for implementing creative ideas and new actions.
Therefore, people now have an opportunity to re-build functional efficient institutions that are fundamental necessities for any state. We can start with the transformation of education.
The recent decades of technological changes have eliminated the need for much of the traditional educational system. It has changed the format, access, quantity, management, presentation and the delivery system of knowledge resources. These changes have an impact on educational organization and space. Fortunately, these changes are making education more affordable, environmentally friendlier, and more competitive.
Here is how we could do it. We have to re-organize and strategically focus on what I call “E – (electronic) and M (Mobile)” thinking/applications.
The electronic and mobile applications have drastically minimized the cost of learning resources, space, delivery system, and management. Many curriculum textbooks and learning resources can be taken from open access sources. The logistic aspect of information management system, an administration like registration, admission, finance, and human resources could be administered with open source programs.
What is open access? “Open Access is the free, immediate, online availability of research articles combined with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment.” Today the largest university library in Kurdistan has an estimated 400,000 items but between 30 to 50% of that material is outdated. Nevertheless, today millions of open access academic sources are available. For example, a study conducted by Madian Khabsa and C. Lee Giles published in May 2014, estimates that “at least 114 million English-language scholarly documents are accessible on the web,… Of these, there is estimated that at least 27 million (24%) are freely available…” No doubt since then this number has seriously increased since then.
These quantities of learning resources are much bigger than most universities collections and bookstores not just in Kurdistan but in most countries of the world. Therefore, it is logical to change from the traditional physical/paper based learning resources to electronic resources. This change in addition to saving money by not buying learning resources, it will also free up space in libraries and some laboratory buildings. Furthermore, students will enjoy free textbooks and many more learning resources.
The same phenomena apply to open source programs for administration and management. “The term “open source” refers to something that can be modified and shared because its design is publicly accessible.” Today most administrative work like HR, finance, admission, registration, and information management system could be handled with open source programs. This will make administration and management more effective and accountable.
The same occurrence applies to mobile application in the delivery of classes, access to resources, and university management system. Fortunately, the use of smart phones and the internet is extraordinarily used in Kurdistan particularly by young people. In addition, to using mobile devices for class or lecture delivery and retrieval of learning and teaching resources, smartphones and tablets are used for many more purposes. For example, one could use a tablet or smart phone for photocopying, scanning, recording, reading class materials and other learning resources, emailing, and much more. Therefore, we have to adjust our thinking to mobile application and maximize the benefit of this extra ordinary device for education, economic and social needs.
These E and M applications give countries like Kurdistan extraordinary opportunities to tap into the global market for academic and professional brain power. Universities in Kurdistan could easily recruit needed work force from the global market with much less cost than the traditional way by utilizing multimedia for teaching and other services. Another important element when one can see there are many countries where faculty and teaching staff salaries are lower than in Kurdistan. For example, an article published in Inside Higher Education on March 22, 2012 “Faculty Pay, Around the World” surveys 28 countries and one can see salaries in Kurdistan are higher or comparable to 16 countries in the list which include France, Czech Republic, Russia, China, and Turkey.
In short, E and M application to the educationally system with a global perspective to administration, teaching, learning resources, space, and organization would create greater access and effective, less expensive, and better services. These require a committed leadership and willpower to make the change. I know we can do it.
By Amed Demirhan, MLIS., MADR
The author is the recipient of multiple international awards in the field of academic libraries. His academic background includes a Master of Arts Degrees in Library Information Science (MALIS) and a Master of Art in Dispute Resolution, a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies with a Minor in Spanish all from the United States. For further information: https://www.google.com/webhp?hl=en&gws_rd=cr&ei=YGoPV7rJDuKX6ASB863oCw&fg=1#hl=en&q=Amed+Demirhan