Friday, September 9, 2011

GBU: Goal To Have A Good GOAL

Sometime at the turn of the century, I was invited to speak at a national conference of public colleges and universities in the Philippines. The topic was, “The eBook Technology, E-Learning and Online Education.” I was asked because I just introduced in the country the eBookMan, which we were licensed to manufacture in the Philippines and for creating the electronic libraries that were downloaded into it. The device and its software applications were eventually bought by who came up with what we now call KINDLE.

Indeed eBooks or digital books have been made so easily accessible, available, and affordable both online and offline that local knowledge could now be globalized and global knowledge localized. Electronic libraries are downloadable not just in desktop computers, laptops and tablets but more so in handheld devices or smart phones. We used the slogan, “Library in Your Pocket, Knowledge at Your Finger tips.” To the lawyers who installed our e-libraries of Laws and Cases in their handheld devices, we told them, “You can now take the law into your own hands.”

As predicted in that national conference, the Digital Natives (born in 1980 and after) as well as the Digital Immigrants (born before 1980), would find it necessary and beneficial to have what I call a Global Online Academic Life (GOAL).

In a recent study on online education conducted by SRI International for the U.S. Department of Education, it concluded that: “On average, students in online learning conditions performed better that those in face-to-face instruction.” The 93-page report examined the comparative research on online versus traditional classroom teaching from 1996 to 2008. Over the 12-year span, the report found 99 studies in which there were quantitative comparisons of online and classroom performance for the same courses.

Based on the analysis, “on average, students doing some or all of the course online would rank in the 59th percentile in tested performance, compared with the average classroom student scoring in the 50th percentile.”

While online education as a method has been proven to be as effective if not more in imparting knowledge, it must also offer and deliver the right contents to have a good, joyful and satisfactory Global Online Academic Life (GOAL).

That’s why I was not surprised that when my friend, Francisco de Paula Leon Olea, an alumnus of American University’s Masters Program in International Service  came up with a vision to set-up an online university.  He named it Giordano Bruno University (GBU), after an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician and astronomer whose theories and freethinking ideas got him charged with heresy and burned.

Francisco envisioned the development of the philosophical and pedagogical model of education that he fully discussed in his book, “The Awakening of the Humankind”.

As Dr. Louis W. Goodman, Dean of School of International Service, American University in Washington, D.C. commented, “Francisco de Paula Leon’s vision in understanding human political behavior through the use of a bio-epistemological methodology parallel to the evolution of the brain and of civilization was truly evocative. This essay provides an insight to mankind’s potential in the XXI century…As Francisco writes in his conclusion; it is true that as human beings the potential to solve the problems of our times is in our hands. The real question is whether we have the ability to work towards the establishment of solutions or the creation of disaster.  The Human Awakening clarifies this alternative by showing that having this option is consistent not only with our History, but also with our Biology.”

His goal to offer academic excellence is further reinforced by entering into a partnership with the Club of Budapest whose “philosophy is based on the realization that the enormous challenges that humanity is currently facing can only be overcome through the development of a global cultural consciousness.”

For online delivery, he contracted the services of the leading provider for online learning management systems, Blackboard International. Working with the firm, a special attention was placed on unique software focusing on the “Whole Life development as the bedrock of our educational system to promote our transcultural, transdisciplinary and stereotypical cognitive values.” He excitingly calls it, “Facebook of Education.”

A Mexican native, he has invited the participation of a couple of corporate investors in his country to help him finance the first stage of the Project.  The Fabio C. Group joined the Project earlier and some are expected to participate especially because of the successful launching of the Giordano Bruno University (GBU) in Budapest, Hungary.

Francisco de Paula Leon Olea is a man of vision, a man with a mission, and one who has a very practical ambition. He has effectively and efficiently avoided turning it into an obsession thus experiencing no frustration.

I am proud to have been one of the instruments in the attainment of this goal to have a good GOAL (Global Online Academic Life) for GBU. I incorporated the Giordano Bruno University Foundation, Inc., which owns the university and the Giordano Bruno University, Inc., its profit company in the District of Columbia.

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