Brazil/Chile’s Main Ministers fostering Higher Education Reformation

“A successful person is one who can lay a firm foundation
with the bricks that others throw at him or her.”
  –David Brinkley

Courtesy of RedCuba.Files.Wordpress.com

When assessing the best way to possible to rebuild Brazil and Chile’s higher education model, the Ministers of Education will need fast-acting, logical ideas that support sustainable efforts to reconstruct an outdated university infrastructure. The current dysfunctional system which students continue to protest, minimally prepares those enrolled to enter a competitive, financially delicate, intricately complex, technologically advanced marketplace.

Of course in time all of South America’s ‘higher education’ head honchos will face a challenging transition as they revise how and what their campuses will teach the modern, digitally geared learner. So as these countries begin such a hefty urban overhaul, get to know the two main Ministers managing this reformation:

Chile’s Minister of Education …….. Harald Ricardo Beyer Burgos
Age- 48 ; Born in- Osorno, Chile
Alma Mater- Universidad de Chile
Political Affiliation- Independent
Entered Office on- December 29th, 2011
Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) website- www.MinEduc.cl/

Before he was Minister…
Prior to his new political position, Beyer previously served as Deputy Director for the Center of Public Studies (CEP), a public opinion poll company. He’s also served as Education Committee Coordinator, working with Chile think-tank organization, the Tantauco Group. In 2008, Beyer also worked closely with the Council Rectors of Chilean Universities delegation. But most importantly, in 2006 Beyer sat on the Presidential Advisory Council, convened at the time by President Michelle Bachelet, to help address the ‘Penguin Revolution’ student protests.

Students leaders fear concern that… although Beyer possess genuine academic leadership expertise, his background includes little political experience; therefore it’s likely that his committee will be unable to meet their demands for an end to Chile’s class-based education system.

Challenge(s) ahead… Planning/executing a proactive strategy that diplomatically albeit efficiently resolves how to deal with mounting student protests, which polls show carry a 70% national approval rating supporting their demands.

Courtesy of Imguol.com

Brazil’s Minister of Education …….. Aloizio Mercadante
Age- 58 ; Born in- Santos, Brazil
Alma Mater- BA-Economics, University of São Paulo ;
MA and PhD- Economics, University of Campinas
Political Affiliation- Workers’ Party
Entered Office on- January 24th, 2012
Ministry of Education (MEC) website- www.Mec.Gov.br/

Before he was Minister…
Mercadante’s political career really began when he helped establish his political party system ‘The Workers’ Party’ in 1980. He was later nominated to office as a São Paulo State Senator between 2003 and 2010. After accepting President Rousseff’s 2011 cabinet bid nomination, he served as Minister of Science, Technology & Innovation until 2012 when he changed responsibilities.

Students/Professors/Academic leaders fear concern that… Mercadante’s committee will fail to create an education environment that helps two million voting teachers gain access to more adequate resources, professional training, and technological skills. Sustainable, improvements will only take place when national structural polices begin to change.

Challenge(s) ahead… Designing/implementing unprecedented reform to improve almost every aspect concerning education that will better prepare Brazil to handle the 2014 World Cup, and 2016’s Summer Olympics. Mercadante will also need to build programs that help Brazil reach a 30% university enrollment target and a 98% goal to put lower education children into school by 2022. There’s also a huge ‘regional inequality’ discrepancy between the country’s Northern and Southern cities and anxiety about the 1.7 million 15-17 year-old students currently not attending school.

Tackling the many issues causing bureaucratic rift between a government and the country’s academic institutions will understandably require patience, confidence, and several Ministries of Education entering and exiting office terms, but it’s the gradual cost necessary to make long-term reformation a reality. However, if Beyer, Mercadante and Latin America’s other representative candidates initiate a pledge to collectively start making a effort to fix higher education, then the entire region’s academic communities will be better served by their collaborations. Because after all, it’s not a true ‘reformation’ until the Ministers decide to play a leading part.

Amanda // @acmontgomery
E acrawfordmontgomery@gmail.com
LinkedIn.com/in/AmandaMontgomery

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Will TomoClases.com steer Chile’s Universities to a Tech Savy Future?

   “Serving others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” — Mohammed Ali

Courtesy of S3.AmazonAws.com

Trick Question (it’s Halloween season folks) — Name two people receiving more Chilean press than a Miner Survivor preparing to enter the Presidential Race?
Answer: Meet the dynamic entrepreneurial duo, Guimar ‘Vaca’ Sittic and his CTO sidekick Eric Denovitzer, the latest Chilean startup all stars hoping to lead their country’s – and in time all of Latin America’s – entire education industry to embracing the 21st century.

So when/where and how exactly did these head honchos brainstorm such a progressive concept (seemingly overnight) that in the last six months they’ve recently joined Argentina’s top idea incubator NXTPLabs.com and began site expansion to the Argentina, Brazil, and Colombian markets?  For starters, they’re both alumni to notable US Universities – the University of Chicago and Princeton respectively.  Then combine this top-tier higher education experience with a multi-lingual/international business sense and it results in producing two civic-minded leaders perfectly ready to embrace the challenging landscape, when it comes to designing an online learning community that will change all future generations.  Vaca Sittic’s previous stint, helping cofound/sell restaurant booking website CenaPlus which raised $3.2 million in funding by February 2011, also gives the team an advantageous, competitive edge.

To quote an old Texas adage, this is not the boys’ first rodeo.

Courtesy of TheNextWeb.com/LA

In describing the company’s site premise and overall purpose, TheNextWeb.com’s reporter Anna Heim highlights how TomoClases.com takes the “offline classes and workshops marketplace model,” that’s comparable to the already popular domains like Khan Academy or SkillShare – but will concentrate their ambition more to specifically improving Latin America education.  Understanding certain, culturally relevant elements also matters a great deal when analyzing how the site will provide sustainable content long term.

During his interview with Heim, Vaca Sittic points out how, “Countries such as Argentina and Brazil have a strong culture in terms of hiring tutors for children. Moreover, people are constantly learning something new ranging from a new sport or an eccentric hobby. Hence, Tomo Clases will have a big impact in this countries in 2012 – we shorten the gap between professors and students from any field, and also encourage everybody to become a professor by teaching what they know.”  

Completing such thorough, primary, in-depth due diligence understandably generates ample, invaluable rewards.  It’s exciting to watch where TomoClases.com will go next, especially considering that even since last April’s beta launch when they first introduced the site to only the Chile/Mexico markets, the community now shares 600+ online classes to a 1,250+ user database.

Courtesy of Blog.TomoClases.com

So just how far will this online mercado, that openly shares an interactive knowledge source to one of the world’s fast-growing regions go? Well if the developing team keeps up their current work, it’s likely that TomoClases.com will evolve far beyond the founders’ initial vision and aspirations. It’s interesting, that where so many online platforms fail to maintain a strong, online brand community presence, TomoClases.com’s Blog, Twitter, and Facebook channels all display enriching, supplemental content. It’s a smart strategy that will only help the founders as they plan to court students, professors, and select education leaders’ participation more aggressively.

Anyone who still stands with both their initial entrepreneurial project and body intact despite enduring numerous, relentlessly searing VC investor screenings certainly posses a natural ability to demonstrate creative, charismatic leadership. But it’s also arguable that certain things succeed because on only the most select occasion, Lady Luck will opt to shine favor toward endeavors she deems worthy.  TomoClases.com’s serendipitous, timely beginning hit the web not long after several reports announced that Latin America’s current informal education market, a sector where 18 million users already spend $5+ Billion USD annually- was growing by 16% every year. Indeed, this proves point to international journalist Henry Golden’s now legendary business philosophy, “The only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work.”  As TomoClases.com continues to circulate their initiative worldwide, hopefully this winning streak will keep pace.

Courtesy of Facebook.com/TomoClases

It’s almost hard to believe that in just a few short week, students everywhere will rejoice to celebrate another semester’s end, yet the duo will not spend the remainder of 2012 enjoying a leisurely holiday season.  Far from it in fact, as they’ve expressed that their next major milestone will mean securing 10,000 classes and expanding the user-audience by at least ten-fold.  However while the weary TomoClases.com team soldiers on, a hard working holiday now will hopefully mean magnitudes of vacation time to themselves later, after they’ve managed to successfully create one of Latin America’s most lucrative, extraordinary businesses.

As Chile’s national motto so wisely expresses ‘By Right or By Might’ – it’s a tough, tedious road to creating a movement that will forever impact a region’s education industry.  Yet every new accomplishment brings TomoClases.com just a little bit closer to that truly admirable goal. Keep the course dear friends – the world’s already anticipating your next exciting announcement 🙂

Amanda // @acmontgomery
E acrawfordmontgomery@gmail.com
LinkedIn.com/in/AmandaMontgomery

Corazón Digital: A Chilean University’s Alumni Volunteer to make an Impact

“It’s not that successful people are givers; it’s that givers
turn into incredibly successful people.” — Patti Thor

Any curious researcher wanting to learn more about which top-notch Chilean universities lead the way to progressively educating this emerging nation’s future work force, will no doubt discover La Universidad de las Artes, Ciencias, y Comunicaciones – also known by its international acronym UNIACC.

The private university, since opening their doors in 1989, currently operates three campuses (including the institution’s Santiago headquarters), offering 18 bachelor’s and two master’s programs to a 3,000+ student congregation. Moreover, comparable to the premier arts/technology instructor networks one finds at Yale, Harvard, MIT, and Stanford; UNIACC boasts an internationally recognizable, faculty directory all their own. And while class choices run the gamut between digital communications, computer science, architecture, journalism, etc. – all UNIACC degree candidates enter their respective programs with an understanding that their work must exhibit passionate creativity and always harbor a unique force combining invention, innovation and change.

As a result, by encouraging such a standard amongst the entire student body, this produces a dynamic alumni community, who then go on to work with world’s top media publications, advertising agencies, marketing firms, or even for a brand’s global internal communications team. Collectively, these graduates recognize that charismatic professionals lead by example, continue their education beyond graduation and give charitably whenever possible. So perhaps it’s unsurprising that earlier this summer when a relatively small group of UNIACC alumni began campaigning to launch the initiative Corazón Digital – as a way to help mainly immigrant women learn necessary, basic computer program skills – university administrators practically leaped at the opportunity to offer the organizing committee resources and their enthusiastic support.

Although Corazón Digital maintains an admirable, on-going track record, launching any new project or philanthropic effort will unavoidably generate numerous challenges. In an interview with the university, Senior Director of Communications, Alfredo Santibanez shares that, “One of the first challenges for the project was that it was needed [a] digital volunteers form; that is, [a way to find] people who can teach information technology. We found that the digital volunteer training requires some knowledge and content must be systematized.” Indeed, coordinating, organizing and distributing materials takes patience, time and effort. On average, the program’s volunteers spend 32+ hours teaching course lectures that all explain how to use Word, Excel and PowerPoint successfully.

However, anything worth completing correctly typically adds up to a rewarding end. To date, 300+ participants now posse an advanced training background regarding these programs. More importantly, course instructors also see an intangible benefit by volunteering their time to help improve the local community. Since seeing this initiative’s impact around campus Santibanez observes how, “[Student volunteers] gain an awareness about realities that maybe [they] did not know; [every volunteer] can provide concrete tools for people to overcome their barriers, gaps and situations that may [previously excluded them] from better job performance.” An earnest testament proving once again how one never experiences success without giving selflessly first.

Courtesy of Twitter.com/IntelAprenderCL

If you’re interested in supporting the Corazón Digital initiative, there are several ways to follow up with UNIACC, in addition to the school’s main website.  They promote several social media channels including active Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts.  Specific questions about the program can be directed to either Magdalena Quintero, Intel® Aprender’s Lead Coordinator or UNIACC’s Senior Communications Director, Alfredo Santibanez.  Lastly, if you’re a UNIACC alum/current student that’s worked with Corazón Digital at any point, please feel free to share your thoughts/comments about volunteering below.  Here’s a cheer to this fantastic cause and the truly inspiring individuals that kickstart this project both on and offline. ¡Felicitaciones para su trabajando!

Amanda // @acmontgomery
E acrawfordmontgomery@gmail.com
LinkedIn.com/in/AmandaMontgomery

Does your University speak Global?

It’s rather extraordinary… for you see when one performs thoughtful, sound research, they gain a remarkable ability to make two questions grow where only one grew before.” Thorstein Veblen

Courtesy of BiggerThinking.com

In seeking to understand how university campuses located in both Latin America and European countries employ emerging media platforms to develop their branding initiatives and more importantly use these technologies to strengthen relationships between students, faculty/staff and the surrounding community, I woke up the other morning upon realizing that in truth, I’m actually quite curious about a broader, more encompassing question… Do these university campuses speak global?

And then I had to scratch my head because that question led the way to even more questions concerning this Fall’s thesis research:

What does it mean to speak global?

When a university campus located –in the US, Nicaragua, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, or elsewhere– employs emerging media platforms to develop their branding initiatives and uses these technologies to strengthen relationships between students, faculty/staff, & the surrounding community, they’re making an earnest attempt to speak global.  Every online channel (Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.) that they opt to use creates content and effort which expands the campus’s network (both internally and externally), increases worldwide connectivity on behalf of those enrolled/employed at the institution, and also helps to expand what relationships/resources assist the university’s larger institutional goals.

Why does having the ability to speak global matter?
After reading a recent report from NACEweb.org which cites that there are at least, 723,000 international college students in the United States, and that this reflects a 4.7% increase from last year; it’s only logical to argue that a campus possessing the ability to speak global (using both digital and traditional media) matters significantly.

Moreover, a 21st century student compares their selection of college campuses using a rigorous grading scale.  To feel confident that they’re going to obtain the best education possible they’ll consider beside geography, financial cost, and campus culture: If a campus will offer opportunities to connect, study and/or intern with partner universities abroad?  Are there career center resources readily available to assist with life post-graduation?  Do faculty demonstrate a commanding knowledge of course subject matter and their field so that in the long run they might turn to their former teachers when seeking mentoring?

When a university demonstrates that they not only meet but surpass such standards, they’re building a brand identity which conveys that the campus seriously aspires to speak globally and maintain an internationally influential role.

Out of all the universities in existence today, which campuses most powerfully demonstrate a capacity to speak globally?
Again, although this project’s research focuses on the emerging media presence concerning campuses based in Latin American and Europe; a 2009 article written by CollegeSurfing.com‘s editorial board shares extensive information regarding the selected ‘Web 2.0 College Olympics‘ winners and how each university employs various digital media platforms to enhance their campus’s online and offline branding initiatives.

In order to specifically review current emerging media efforts taking place within Latin American and European universities, studying the below list of international educators and the campuses that they represent will tremendously consolidate this research niche:
– Professor Julio Blanco — @JulioCBlanco (Pontificia Universidad Católica Argentina; Buenos Aires, Argentina)
– Professor Miguel Angel Trabado — @MATrabado  (ESERP School of Business; Barcelona/Madrid, Spain)
– Professor Sandra Turchi — @SandraTurchi (Escola Superior de Propaganda e Marketing; Sao Paulo/Rio De Janeiro, Brazil)
– Professor Martha Gabriel — @MarthaGabriel (HSM Educação; Sao Paulo, Brazil)
– Professor Andrés Silva Arancibia — @AndresSilvaA (Universidad Andrés Bello; Chile)
– Professor Roberto Arancibia — @RobertoA (Universidad Mayor, Universidad UNIACC, the Universidad del Pacífico; Peru/Chile)

Finally, if a university wishes to increase efforts toward learning how to speak globally (using digital and/or traditional media)… what are a few resources that will help their cause?
Countless (and largely free) resources exist around the web to help those institutions struggling to keep track of trends/news concerning social media and education.  A few favorites that’ve come highly recommended by colleagues include: Educause.edu, Chronicle.com, Classroom20.com, Edweek.org, WorldWideLearn.com.

Of course all of these questions merely hint at several concerns regarding international education and how it employs always-evolving digital media.  As a reader, please feel free to send in any and all comments, observations, or questions you might have relating to this field and topic.  Excelsior!