Sunday, January 10, 2010


Meeting at Ilia State University
One of my purposes here is to teach research design and methods to graduate students in education. I think I’ll probably end up doing that but it is yet unclear to me how this is to happen. On Friday I met Siko Janashia and we took a taxi to the university where is office is. Below is a picture of me in front of Siko’s building.

I want to find out more about this building. I was told that it the Soviet Russians used it in the 20s and 30s as a military building. It is massive with long corridors that echo and walls chipped and unadorned. The lighting is sparse even in the office spaces I saw. But old un-maintained wood floors suggest it was something more splendid. Siko’s office is also baren but he has wireless and a large space.

There is so much to learn. What I thought was to be Ilia Chavchavadze State University has a new name: Ilia State University (ISU). Siko told me that two weeks ago it was decided to rename the institution. There are too many places in Georgia called Chavchavadze and the deciders (not clear to me who these are yet) felt that branding required something more distinctive. Siko also said that it was felt the word Chavchavadze was too difficult for westerners to pronounce. Turns out there are a large number of invited faculty who teach at ISU. These come from many European countries with pay from many different sources.

I also learned—listen up you faculty members who read this—that some serious restructuring just took place. Academic departments no longer exist. Instead, all are lumped into undergraduate and graduate units with academic foci in the sciences or humanitarian fields (sociology, anthropology, languages, and education). Education is the most popular followed by language study—I think. In addition, separate research institutes have been formed. Faculty members have to apply to be in these institutes but it sounded like anyone who wants to be is. Reminded me of the effort a year ago to have faculty at UNL designate whether or not they wished to defined as research active with the corresponding obligations to publish attached to such an assignment. I was unable to learn how dramatic an impact this has had on the faculty. My guess is that it was not much but it seemed like a dramatic change to me.

I am going to do a talk for the faculty on distance education and how we have developed this part of our practice at UNL. They are possibly interested in expanding their ability to teach courses at a distance.

Should be interesting.

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