Transnational Ed Blog: Start-Up Post
You could say it is as simple as supply and demand. There is a rapidly increasing worldwide demand for post-secondary education. Authorized national institutions cannot keep up in most countries, so outside service providers emerge in various forms to fill the gap.
But of course it is not really that simple at all. The delivery of educational services across national borders raises issues of accreditation and quality assurance, access and admission standards, educational imperialism, and the appropriate use of technology. And more.
Transnational Education is not new. What is new is the growing scale of the activity and the change in its very nature due to the proliferation of the Internet. According to an Australian study (IDP Education Australia, 2002), the demand is projected to increase four-fold over the next two decades, with 70% of the total students coming from Asia. Higher Education is already a significant service export in the U.S., U.K., and Australian economies and has the potential to become a major arena for international trade and cooperation.
Transnational Education (TNE) has received the most attention in Australia, New Zealand, and the European Community, where the Eastern European focused UNESCO-CEPES organization gave TNE its widely accepted definition:
"All types of higher education study programmes, or sets of courses of study, or educational services (including those of distance education) in which the learners are located in a country different from the one where the awarding institution is based. Such programmes may belong to the education system of a State different from the State in which it operates, or may operate independently of any national education system."
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Despite its growing importance, it is not well understood, well researched, or even well-regarded in the U.S. Higher Education community. It is, however, my job. I am the Director of International Distance Education for Utah State University, which is actively engaged in the delivery of credit-bearing courses to students in several parts of Asia. Our program is growing, like the field of Transnational Education as a whole. Our teaching model is in transition as we begin to implement new methods. Instructional technology is the enabler, allowing us to leverage faculty more effectively and create more opportunities for interaction.
So I am a representative of a transnational provider, and a publicly funded one at that. One function of this blog will be to write about what we’re learning, from the technology of Web-based videoconferencing to the administration of course articulation agreements – including our emerging research agenda.
The other function will be to look beyond our own experience and bring in news and perspectives from around the world. We subscribe to every journal, newsletter, list or discussion board we can find and afford that is somehow related to international higher education – the blog gives us a reason to capture the best of it and set the pieces in place with permalinks. We will know Transnational Ed Blog is part of a larger conversation about globalization and educating the planet when these posts begin to receive replies, and when we are no longer the only ones providing material for the posts themselves.