Support to Smart University Transition


Open to all RPCVs

Activity/project background

The higher education landscape is at a fork in the road due to a massive digital transformation. All universities have changed their principles as a result of developments in education and other fields that are generally tied to global education reforms. Higher education is facing significant disruption from a growing number of digital savvy students who want a more natural experience that leads to great outcomes. This is where a Smart campus can help to alter the lives of those who come into contact with it. A Smart university provides innovative ways of working, learning, and teaching in spaces that creatively integrate advanced hardware and software platforms that utilize big data, sensors, social media, and machine learning. Innovative organizations understand the value of transformational change that offers helpful and engaging experiences, allowing universities to make data-driven decisions to improve security and resource allocation.

Mindanao State University (MSU) -General Santos, inspired by the Smart University concept, has recently realized the importance of leveraging its existing efforts to achieve its vision and mission. By incorporating Smart University principles, they will enable transformation to responsive mechanisms that are relevant at this time. The university is now in the process of strategically transitioning and designing its systems and processes to be in accordance with Smart University's holistic architecture. The shift to Smart University begins with the stocking of resources, assessment, and designing of a Smart University Framework. Aside from that, the university is considering establishing pathways for cross- and inter-disciplinary higher education programs.

The transition activities started in July 20, 2021 where a series of orientations have been held with the heads of academic, semi-academic, and non-academic units to explain, discuss, and reflect on the Smart University concept. A technical working group was subsequently formed to spearhead the coordination of activities and resource alignment in support of the university's transition to SMART University. Mindanao State University is seeking technical assistance from a Peace Corps VSPP to help advance its transition to becoming a Smart University. This will be the first partnership between Peace Corps MSU and represents an exciting opportunity to “place” a former Peace Corps Volunteer in a province Volunteers, unfortunately, no longer serve.

Virtual service engagement and tasks

The Virtual Service Pilot Participant (VSPP) will engage in the following tasks, in collaboration with their Host Country Partners:

• Assist in the inventory of resources and assessment on the current capacity of MSU-Gensan vis-à-vis Smart University requirements
• Facilitate and lead a limited number of workshops and write-shops on the development of a framework and guidelines for a Smart University, to be mutually agreed between the VSPP and MSU
• Assist in the formulation of a 3-year action plan for the Smart University transition

This engagement is expected to be approximately 24 weeks. VSPPs are expected to engage on the tasks listed above for an estimated 5-15 hours per week.

Virtual meetings between VSPPs and Host Country Counterparts will take place during normal office hours, Philippine time. Specific times will be determined during orientation. The HCA Counterpart shall initiate the weekly calls with the VSPP preferably at around 8:00am. (Philippine time, GMT + 8). Given the wide time zone difference between the US and the Philippines, virtual meeting schedules can be adjusted and mutually agreed upon with the VSPP.

The Host Country Counterpart will have access to laptop/desktop, Zoom app, WhatsApp, email, etc. for regular communication and collaboration.

Per the Child Protection Code of Conduct, when engaging online with minors (0-18), two adults must be present.

Optional additional activities

The Peace Corps mission is to promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals:

  1. To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  2. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Goal 1 will be achieved through the VSPP's engagement and completion of the above tasks. The counterpart and VSPP may also choose to identify an activity that aligns with Goal 2. Additionally, the VSPP may identify a Goal 3 activity to implement during their engagement. See recommendations and tools for Goal 3 activities.

Essential qualifications

Education: Masters’ degree in information technology or a related field

• At least 2 years’ experience in information technology development work
• At least 2 years’ background on strategic planning and development
• At least 2 years’ working experience in an academic setting

Intercultural skills and motivation: Flexible, strong cross-cultural agility, high tolerance for ambiguity, able to work independently, resourceful, creative, and genuinely motivated and capable to serve virtually

Desired qualifications

Education: PhD in information technology or related field

Technical Skills:
• Familiarity with virtual engagement and communication
• Familiarity with Smart Universities

Partner background

Name: Mindanao State University-General Santos

Type of entity: Government

Mission and goals:

Mindanao State University – General Santos (MSU GENSAN) is a premier higher-education institution committed to offering affordable and excellent education to its clients from across SOCCSKSARGEN and other neighboring regions.

MSU-General Santos envisions to become a national peace, global and SMART university in Southern Philippines. The university’s mission is to provide competent human resources for the development of Southern Mindanao and to help improve the living conditions of Muslims and Indigenous People.

Terms and conditions of engagement

VSPPs will be engaging with the host country partner, in coordination with Peace Corps post staff, remotely from the US. They should have access to a computer, internet, and telephone in order to enable direct engagement with the Peace Corps overseas office and the Host Country Counterpart assigned by the host country partner.

Orientation with the host country partner will be provided, within the designated virtual service hours, during the first week of virtual service via an online presentation and discussion. The host country partner will provide an overview of its organization, the local context, and how they envision collaborating with the VSPP.

The VSPP will have regular check-ins with their counterpart and bi-weekly check-ins with Peace Corps staff. Spending unstructured time with counterparts can be critical to relationship-building and is encouraged through activities such as coffee chats and informal calls within the weekly 5-15 hours.

Engagement-specific safety and security

The VSPP will receive an orientation on Peace Corps’ Child Protection Policy and how it relates to online engagement along with IT security best practices. The VSPP will be expected to follow safety and security guidelines for online engagement to ensure their safety and that of the Host Country Partner and their counterpart, and any beneficiaries of the engagement.

Supervision requirements

The VSPP will report to a designated Peace Corps staff member. The VSPP will be expected to abide by the Virtual Service Pilot Participant and Donation Agreement and Participant Principles of Engagement. The VSPP will also be expected to check in with the designated host country counterpart as assigned by the host county partner.

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