UG hosting US students as part of online course
Stabroek News
June 12, 2004

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The Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Guyana (UG) is hosting seven students and two lecturers from Florida Gulf Coast University in the US on an on-site ten-day visit as part of an on-line course being offered by the two institutions.

The course is called Caribbean-US Politics at the Florida University, and Issues in Caribbean Regional Politics at UG.

At the end of the semester, exchange visits allow the students of both institutions to participate in on-site activities to enhance knowledge gained in the classroom. As a part of this exchange programme a batch of UG students would be going over to Florida in July.

Some of the students from the US along with Professor in the College of Professional Studies, Amanda Evans-Goff and Dr Mark Kirton, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, UG, hosted a press conference on Wednesday evening at the Hotel Tower.

Kirton recalled that last year UG and Florida Univer-sity signed a collaborative agreement to develop courses to be taken for credit by students of both universities.

It is the first time UG has been involved in an on-line course, which is being pursued by students in the Department of Government and International Affairs. It is also one of the first such collaborative programmes in the Caribbean.

According to Evans-Goff, the course looks at economic trends, political issues, and the political process, and involves dealing with issues of integration such as the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

Both Professor Evans-Goff and Dr Kirton agreed that the course is important because it can be used as a model for the future development of other courses. The technology applied can be reconfigured for lectures in any course, the professor said, adding that Florida University has about 50% of its courses taught on-line.

And Dr Kirton noted that the course provides a new perspective that is mutually beneficial to both students of UG and Florida University (FU). He added that the courses increase access to information and knowledge while allowing for the student bodies to share experiences and build long-lasting alliances. The project also presents the possibility of providing on-line education countrywide in Guyana.

Evans-Goff noted that the two university populations are similar in number with UG having about 5,000 students and FU consisting of about 6,000, making them good partners for such collaboration.

Such a programme, she said, could be expanded into on-line research and grants, which could assist the post graduate Social Science Master's students at her university. She said further that when the UG students pay their return visit they would be visiting various agencies, the Everglades, the Latin Chamber of Commerce and lawmakers such as US Congresswoman Carol Green to discuss some of the issues she faces in her job.

Two of the US students on this trip, Jayme Hodges and Victor Tejera, both Social Work Master's students said since coming here they have visited Youth Challenge Guyana and discussed there the difficulties in dealing with HIV/AIDS. While at the Amerindian Hostel they were able to expand their knowledge of diverse cultures and peoples.