The University in a Connected World

Our convenor Susan Robertson was interviewed by CGTN while taking part in the World University Presidents Symposium held last week in Beijing. Susan reflected on the university in a connected world and the possibilities which platforms offer for rethinking its operations:

Susan Robertson, a professor of education at the University of Cambridge, who has taken part in MOOCs, found that one of the most characteristic challenges in online teaching stems from the sheer number of participants and the rich sources of relevant reading materials that they can access on the Internet.

“This made me think, ‘Oh my goodness: MOOC is teaching thousands of students at a time’,” the professor told CGTN on the sidelines of the World University Presidents Symposium held last week in Beijing. “I did a huge amount of work, maybe more work than it took for my normal class that I might teach.”

See here for the full article and video interview.

#CIES2018 in Mexico

By Susan L. Robertson

The geo-graphic and historical importance of location for a conference theme can often stimulate, and thus create the occasion for, a more engaged set of conversations around the politics of place and its history. A group of recognisable faces from the comparative and international education, development and globalisation of education worlds were on the very early flight into Mexico City early yesterday. The conference kicked off today on Monday 26th, running until Thursday 29th March, but pre-conference workshops occupied some of our colleagues on the 25th.

The theme of the conference is Remapping the Global Education: South-North Dialogue. It’s a provocative and timely theme given developments over the past decade, where not only has education been increasingly dominated by global actors (many of them private commercial) but education’s historical entwinement with imperialism and colonialism has been placed on the agenda by the Decolonising the Curriculum movement which has rocked campuses from South Africa to the United Kingdom and beyond.  

A quick walk around the neighbourhood where the conference is to be held, the historical centre, and the history of colonisation by the Spanish is there for all to see. The Cathedral Metropolitana pictured below is a case in point. Not only does it hold the distinction of being one of the largest churches in Latin America, but it was constructed out of the stones from the Temple of Huitzilopochtli after the Spanish conquest in 1573.

church  In constructing the cathedral from the temple, it was argued to be a fitting tribute to the Spanish empire, and of course the Catholic Church. These colonial monuments stand to remind us of the ongoing de- and re-territorialising of place and the mapping onto that place of new imperialising social relations.

Education was deeply implicated in this process, largely led by the church. Mexico, of course, is not the only place where the colonial encounter with foreign powers took place. And nor was it the only one. Historical ruins show past cultures prior to the Aztecs and the Mayans, much as the so-called pre-Colombian cultures along the west rim of Latin America were defeated by the Incas in the 1400, to be in turn challenged by the Spanish.  mexico city a lake IMG_1280

The image above is a painting currently housed in the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.  It is a depiction of once was lake that is now Mexico City. Around the lake’s edge were many different nations (prior to the rise of the Aztecs and Mayan’s), many of them warring with each other over resources. The lake was later filled in, though to the south some of the canals are still visible. The  Cathedral Metropolitana pictured above was built on this filled in lake, with the result that it is gradually sinking. The ‘south’ is therefore an encounter with the ‘other’ that goes back prior to the Spanish conquest. though  it is evident this particular phase was violent and long lasting. 

This South, as a metaphor for an ongoing encounter with an imperialising force, the North, has many registers through which to explore the ongoing issues around education, questions of whose knowledge comes to be counted, patterns of oppression and exploitation that accompany the arc of time and its often brutal crushing of alternative ways of knowing.

This is not just a dialogue then about nations, but a dialogue about the consequences of when those whose knowledges are discounted, made invisible or derided as inconsequential to our every day encounters. Let’s see what this mapping might reveal. I’ll keep you posted over the next few days as to where were get on an aptly titled South North Dialogue.

The teaching professions in the context of globalisation: A systematic literature review

Dr. Tore Bernt Sorensen, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium
Wednesday 07 February 2018, 16:0017:30
Donald McIntyre Building, Faculty of Education, 184 Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 8PQ, room GS5.

The intensified political focus on teachers internationally – often centred on specific notions of ‘quality teaching’ and ‘teacher effectiveness’ – over the last decades has been accompanied by a surge in the research literature dedicated to the teaching professions in the context of globalization. Forming part of the five-year TeachersCareers project based at Université Catholique de Louvain, the literature review introduced in this paper maps this emerging scholarly field and identifies the multiple strands that help to constitute it.

The review is ‘configuring’ – as opposed to ‘aggregative’ – in the sense that it seeks to configure, or arrange, the existing literatures and their findings. A main challenge in this respect therefore concerns the identification of groups of relevant titles, as a basis for identifying key themes and major schools of thought and their variations, including minority views and dissent. Moreover, the review aspires to be systematic in following a series of distinctive stages in terms of delimiting the scope of the review, defining inclusion criteria, designing search strategies, screening for relevance, and in the coding and mapping of the relevant literature. In doing so, the review combines hand search of identified key contributions to the literature with searches in the Scopus and ERIC electronic databases. Guided by the question how the ‘teacher problem’ is represented in peer-reviewed literature since 2000, the review outlines and discusses the main strands of the literature, as defined by the strands’ distinctive conceptions of globalisation, the nature of policy and governance, and teachers as social and professional groups with certain roles in education and societies.