Exporting Higher Education: A Four Dimensional Teaching Model
Commercial Presence through Franchising is a one-dimensional approach. The university provides a syllabus and lesson plans to be delivered by the local partner. It may be possible to extend a university's learning environment by combining multiple dimensions, including, but not limited to, local stand-ins. No one method can adequately reproduce the experience. Organizing several approaches, however, so that they systematically support and reinforce each other may be an acceptable way to implement Transnational Education.
1) Intensive Teaching: There are limits to the number of students who can travel abroad and study under American Professors on their home campuses. If American universities are going to compete successfully as Transnational providers, while insisting on direct unmediated faculty contact, they will need to do what some universities in Austrailia and UK have been doing for years -- send faculty to Asia for short-term engagements.
2) Instructional Technology: Current synchronous instructional options confound the traditional distance education categories. Since its inception, pure distance education has meant asynchronous interaction. Originally, the interaction was correspondance-based and its time frame was postal. Now, interaction is web-based and its time frame is instant. Face-to-face interaction is no longer the exclusive domain of campus-based teaching.
3) Local Facilitators: Using qualified local educators in a transnational teaching model is a problem when it represents the only means of instruction. There can be tremendous value in a local presence, however, if a balance of methods and a more facilitative role can be found.
4) Scholarly Research: Without a research component, Transnational Education would appear to be driven solely by commercial exigencies. A serious research agenda focusing on the use of instructional technologies and cross-cultural factors elevates the activity and converts it into a new kind of Laboratory School. For a university, applying qualitative and quantitative techniques to the study of transnational educational effectiveness helps fulfill the research mission. For private transnational providers, research might help fine-tune delivery systems and determine the most cost-effective configurations.