Caught in the Net

Internet LaptopLet’s open up a campus in Saudi Arabia! How difficult can that be? Will our approach work in a new country? Let’s do some research! What culture of inquiry should I use?

We’ll start with some historical data. Colleges of Excellence supplied a great deal of it but we still had many questions. We contacted other CoE’s (Colleges of Excellence) who had just completed their first year. We spoke with many principals and professors who had toiled through the first ever year of the CoE program. They were able to share a lot of data with us however; ONE year hardly qualifies as a trend.

We gathered up some Saudi students attending school at our Welland campus for a bit of action research. We tasked them with designing a college introductory level Math course. That was certainly eye opening! Some volunteered to show us a few of their Math assignments from their previous year in high school in Saudi. That was very helpful.

Where do you go and what do you do when there is a very finite amount of data on this particular situation? How much can there be for something that is barely one year old? You keep digging up sources for information. You make use of your personal and professional networks. You read. You observe. You look forward to first hand observations all with the goal of, someday, coming up with a system that works. A system will need constant revisiting and adjustments.

Isn’t it interesting that all of the above is almost completely dependent upon having access to the Internet? Contact with the Colleges of Excellence, inviting students to discussion and having their parents send examples of their work, chatting with others, all of it made much easier, quicker and simpler through the Internet.

I’m 54 years old and hardly a digital native but I cannot imagine having to do any serious research without it. I have newfound respects for those that did it without the Internet. The amount of legwork alone! Being a good northern Canadian boy, I grew up playing hockey on the street. The most disruptive thing you could hear then was, “Car!” But even that isn’t as frustrating as hearing, “The Internet is down!”




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