Issues and challenges to consider when implementing blended learning internationally.
SMARTER SCHOOLS | by Michael Spencer
While in the United States it may (or may not) sometimes feel like business as usual in education, there are many different issues that one needs to take into consideration when implementing blended learning in schools internationally.
Regardless of locale, the very nature of blended learning means there is no one cookie-cutter approach that applies when
Running a tight ship benefits everyone involved, and the goal of better education becomes that much more real.
implementing blended learning in to either a classroom or school from one country to another. However, some commonalities for implementation are:
- Use of a Facilitator. The need for a facilitator to supervise the students and to act as an academic liaison between the online education provider and the students at a private school.
- Need for supplemental materials. These materials are the key to further helping students understand core course curriculum should they need further assistance to understand particular subjects.
- Academic proficiency. Students should have a grade-level academic proficiency before taking grade level courses.
- Flexible scheduling. This is one of the core components of blended learning, ranging from students self-pacing to scheduled designated specific time slots.
Although some things may be common from an implementation perspective, there are many granular items to consider when implementing blended learning internationally, among these are:
- English proficiency. Students should have a certain level of English proficiency before taking a course. It’s important to match proficiency to the appropriate academic performance level of the course. Facilitators should have a high English proficiency level or be a native English speaker.
- Payment logistics. Many countries have high taxes on out-of-country payments. There is a pressing need to find the optimum payment method. There are optimum payments methods that do not have high taxes and you should explore them with each individual country.
- Materials. Many courses require materials; providers need to find optimum shipping methods to avoid high-import duties. Schools can opt for courses with or without books, or with e-books only — all things to consider.
- Cultural expectations. As a new education model of delivery, school administrators, teachers, parents and/or students may have their own cultural expectations of what blended learning is and their own envisioned implementation. Clarity and full disclosure can avoid unrealistic or mistaken expectations.
- Training issues. Access to professional development (to prepare the facilitators for their new roles and to develop new skills) should be explored before implementing blended learning.
If implemented correctly, all granular issues such as those listed above are addressed in advance. When that happens, blended models can be highly successful because this ultimately allows the school to obtain a scalable — and sustainable — business model. Running a tight ship benefits everyone involved, and the goal of better education becomes that much more real. On a final note regarding international blended learning, I invite you to contact me with ideas, suggestions or any feedback you may have.
Michael Spencer is CEO and co-founder of ASSIST, LLC and managing partner at Global Expansion Strategies. He is former senior direcctor of International Business at K12 and, prior to that, he was senior vice president of The American Education Corporation. An edtech industry veteran, he is fluent in Spanish, has traveled extensively and enjoys the entrepreneurial side of business. He is a regular columnist for EdTech Digest where he writes the Smarter Schools column. Write to: [email protected]