Educational Structures in Context
Eva Apostolova and Tom Claes
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The present eBook The Idea of Education is intended as a historical snapshot of the conference The Idea of Education 5 that took place in Budapest in May 2008. The fifth edition of the conference on the idea of education, continued the tradition of critical debate and reflection on Higher Education that started in 2002. Among the topics covered both in the presentations and the discussion panels, were the relation between a Doctoral Degree and career opportunities, self-marketing among university applicants, the impact of globalisation on Higher Education in different developed and
developing countries, and questioning the mission of Higher Education, and the role of the teacher in it. The conference ended with a positive message affirming the role of Higher Education as an autonomous, independent space where different points of view and critical approaches could be tried out before they are implemented in society.
The eleven chapters in this volume are accurate representations of the chapters presented at the conference in Budapest. The editors have grouped the chapters into three sections, each dealing with more general or more specific issues pertaining to education. The first section introduces chapters that deal with general questions about the existing structures of formal academic education. While the authors adopt a critical approach to the existing structures of formal Higher Education, they seem to agree that the primary role of university in creating and organising the social life, (helped by the personal example and experience of the teacher), not only should not be ignored, but should be reinforced to protect universities against the reigning opportunism, managerialism, and bureaucracy that seem to have been affecting, in various degrees, all modern structures.
The second section of the volume focuses on more specific issues concerning Higher Education in different national contexts. While the challenges that Higher Education faces in Canada are different than the challenges it faces in Pakistan or Turkey, the authors agree on one thing: Higher Education should promote the values of democracy and tolerance, prepare students not only for the labour market but also for active citizenship.
Historically, universities have been hubs of creativity. In the context of globalisation where national and cultural boundaries are questioned, universities should resume (or keep) their role of facilitators of social change. This entails the need for Higher Education to remain an autonomous social institution and be available to all social groups, including, and especially, the ones whose access to higher education have been traditionally restricted.
The third section focuses on the impact of technology, and more specifically, the Internet, on Higher Education. The issues the authors tackle range from the use of Web 2.0 technology to the use of mobile phones and different online platforms during lectures. Despite the very different issues and goals that the authors see with regard to the use of technology in the classroom, they argue along the same lines: the fast access to detailed and voluminous information, and the effective structuring of this information that technology offers, should be incorporated as a useful tool in any classroom, to help the lecturer deliver the material successfully and remain connected to the students (and successfully resolve specific problems that students might
face with the course material).
The editors wish to thank all contributors to the current volume whose creative ideas and solutions have greatly enriched the ongoing debate about the place and role of higher education in society!