MEXICO CITY – A Boston-based firm wants to strengthen new educational trends and models in Latin America through technology and the “sharing of experiences among companies,” Fernando Valenzuela, regional president for Cengage Learning, told Efe.
“Latin America, which has one of the world’s youngest populations, is also a laggard in educational technology” and needs strong support in this area, Valenzuela said.
The LearnLaunch Accelerator adds a “Latin American approach” to Cengage Learning’s model developed in Massachusetts, and it aims to support start-up companies as they seek access to funds, vendors’ talents, logistics, accounting and management resources.
For companies in the education area, new software is being developed for content delivery and teacher training, along with the integration of affordable hardware in schools.
The accelerator “will be able to serve tens of companies,” Valenzuela said, adding that it would operate in Mexico on three levels: elementary and secondary education, college and university, and trade schools.
This approach “follows trends that are by now truisms accepted in the world of education, such as partnering with the entertainment industry, the use of video games, the co-creation of content by students, and the teacher’s role as content curator and not as owner,” Valenzuela said.
Results are achieved via a balance among “pedagogy, business and technology,” in which technology is “not used simply because it is attractive but because it leads to better learning,” he said.
One of Latin America’s advantages, he added, is that “in the region, new technologies are less dependent on the existing technology infrastructure, and they add to trends” like the increasing use of smartphones.
“The fact that start-ups emerging in recent years are not burdened by transformations in infrastructure allows them an easier path to technology,” Valenzuela said.
Education today requires “the integration of many players,” among them academic and commercial figures,” in a model counting on the relationship between the private sector and educational institutions, and for this reason the program will have an initial partnership with the Autonomous University of Chihuahua.