After a semester teaching English in Colombia, I’ve learned a lot about education in this fascinating country. Here are three takeaways for online course providers wanting to expand in Colombia or similar Latin American countries:
- Focus on English and skills courses first – People here are incredibly eager to learn English. Everyone from coworkers to taxi drivers have begged me for private lessons. There would be a rush of new MOOC users if more people knew guided online English classes were available to them at the touch of a button. I suspect courses teaching other skills that open up career possibilities would be equally popular.
- Meet the people where they are – Colombians in general spend a lot of time on their smartphones. Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp are so incredibly popular that most phone plans include unlimited access to these three apps. MOOC providers should not only be advertising on social media and within apps, they should also incorporate these multimedia elements into the courses themselves.
- Make classes fun and flexible – Latin American cultures are known for their “work to live” culture, as opposed to America’s more “live to work” mentality. To succeed here, MOOC providers will need to revamp classes to make them as enjoyable as possible without dumbing them down. Colombians as a whole will be less willing to sludge through a dry class than most early MOOC adopters. This is not to say Colombians don’t work hard or enjoy learning; they just want to have a good time while doing both things. I strongly suggest MOOC creators revisit their classes to see how they can spice them up a bit.
I’m more convinced than ever that online courses are the perfect fit for Colombia and comparable countries. With just a few tweaks, MOOC providers should be able to attract millions of eager learners here!