I have been churning on this one for a while. In my travels and my work with international schools around Asia, I have found that the needs of non-US schools, teachers, curricula, and pedagogies are just not being met. There is something unique about our situation that requires a special set of best practices specifically tailored for international school environments.
You’ll notice that I didn’t say “Standards.” There are very robust standards out there that are available to all schools. The two best ones are the ISTE Standards and UNESCO Teacher Competencies. ISTE has done a great job of breaking their standards down into stakeholder group: Students, Teachers, Administrators, and Coaches. UNESCO’s competencies talk about the pedagogic conditions teachers need to embody for the greatest impact of EdTech on their students.
However, both of these have an issue: their greatest strength is their largest flaw when you apply them internationally. Both UNESCO and ISTE have created broad reaching standards, so broad that they can become unwieldy to apply at a site based level. Further, they were not crafted by international school educators. The ISTE standards for the most part have come from US public school educators and UNESCO works with MOE focused international educators. Not to fault them at all, but their broad nature and their origins don’t align with the needs of international education.
We need a set of best practices, approaches to integration, or even conditions for success that understand the key elements of international schools. Consider the following variables:
- Extreme linguistic and cultural diversity
- Transitory nature of staff and students
- Variances in teacher training
- Balance between host country conditions and school ethos
- Resource availability and reliability
- Ownership – standalone vs. schools group, profit vs. non-profit, association vs. investors
- Cosmopolitan nature of international school stakeholders
And of course the list goes on and on to the point where I can’t even fathom where to go to address these needs.
I would suggest that we put together a group of international school EdTech professionals to draw upon outside standards and internal knowledge to develop a set of best practices, considerations, and strategies for international schools to use around the world.