Just today I read an email in my ISC inbox that closed out with the German words "mit freundlichen Grüßen" or "warm regards" in English. The grateful letter, as many of you saw, came from a student all the way in Germany thanking KSDL for the Ku'u One Hanau certificate that followed her successful completion of a course in Hawaiian culture. This small example of KSDL's growing global reach is a great reinforcement of the content discussed during yesterday's "E-Learning Goes Global", a webinar from Education Week.
The webinar began with a quick overview of the growth of online and blended learning opportunities in the US, but its main focus consisted of distance learning trends around the world. Based on the iNACOL international report, Online and Blended Learning: A Survey of Policy and Practice from K-12 Schools Around the World, the webinar presenters Alison Powell, VP of iNACOL, and Robert Spielvogel of Education Development Center, Inc. covered the progress of many countries around the globe as their educators work towards expanding access to education through technology. According to the webinar, 60 percent of countries surveyed reported government funding for online and blended learning, with China and the British Columbia region of Canada seeing the largest expansions.
As one would expect given the diversity among the world's nations, each area takes a slightly different approach to e-learning. Hong Kong, for example, has focused more on moving all of its textbooks to digital format. Mexico is implementing programs aimed at providing every teacher with a laptop and driving buses with mobile computer labs to rural, underfunded schools. In the UK, education has become one of that country's top three exports due to its partnership with China to digitize all of the Chinese curricula. In more remote or dangerous parts of the world like Africa and the Middle East, educators are primarily using mobile devices to spread disease prevention and work readiness programs. Looking at all these examples, one can only imagine the potential for growth in distance learning programs offered by Kamehameha Schools.
As evidenced by this morning's email from Germany, the knowledge presented at "E-Learning Goes Global" is definitely relevant to my job as Lead Instructor in ISC. For myself and other instructors, examples of distance learning from across the world can be incorporated into our A'o Kumu courses as inspiration to many of the educators hoping to use more technology in their classrooms. The article "US Schools Forge Foreign Connections via Web" I found through this webinar provided examples of students across America connecting with their counterparts in many foreign countries. At Kamehameha Schools where a respect for Hawaiian culture drives much of our educational philosophy, the distance learning programs discussed in this article could be great starting points for instructors seeking to connect KS curriculum to more learners beyond the Hawaiian islands. Furthermore, as ISC continues servicing all the departments within the KS enterprise, we can look with encouragement towards an even greater expansion of our educational materials through emerging technologies like smartphones, e-readers, and even some platforms that haven't even been invented yet.