Building Relationships in an International Blended Learning Program : Opportunities and Challenges in a Central American Country

Building Relationships in an International Blended Learning Program : Opportunities and Challenges in a Central American Country

Ravisha Mathur (San José State University, USA) and Lisa Oliver (San José State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-751-0.ch019

Abstract

Several challenges that were encountered in establishing a joint international Masters program in Instructional Technology in a Central American country were explored. These challenges involved aspects of program development, delivering effective course content, using appropriate learning strategies, operating in a cross-cultural context, and working in an organization that had limited technological capacities. The foundation for working with these challenges involved establishing strong, mutually beneficial relationships with the Central American country, the Central American University (CAU), and the students. In addition, the overriding theme in developing this blended learning program was to allow for capacity-building since one goal for creating this program was so that the North American University (NAU) would build the program and relationships to the point that the CAU would be able to take over and manage the Instructional Technology program on its own.
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Setting The Stage

Universities are increasing their international collaborations and as a result the number of distance education programs and students involved in these programs has subsequently also increased. However, the success of these programs is largely dependent on two factors: 1) appropriate access and use of technology, and 2) establishing good relationships with the countries, institutions, and students involved in program development and delivery. As several studies have documented, barriers within these two factors can prevent students from effectively learning in both an online and a multicultural context (Cegles, 1998; Leggett & Persichitte, 1998; Muilenburg & Berge, 2001).

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