GLOBAL ELEARNING AND THE IMPROVEMENT OF EDUCATIONAL AND SOCIAL PROSPECTS FOR YOUTH IN LOW INCOME FAMILIES IN THE U.S. AND MEXICO
Throughout the world today, as a reflection of the staggering income inequality, education as a social institution is characterized and challenged by a growing cultural, national, socio-economic, schooling, achievement and digital divides and gaps.
Although the UN Declaration of Human Rights guarantees the right to an education to everyone, there is a growing, global denial of access to low-income families. Division and denial are rapidly morphing into a real threat to international development, prosperity and security.
This salient, obvious, dialectical relationship between prosperity, safety and educational access led Houston Preparatory Academy (HPA), a not-for-profit U.S.-based educational organization founded in 1991, to create U-Prep, a multi-university, cross-national initiative that enhances longitudinal, high-quality educational opportunities that combat inequality and injustice in impoverished communities in the U.S. and Mexico.
Since 1998, U-Prep has effectively addressed the lack of educational opportunities for students and families in Houston, Texas in the U.S., and since 2006, in Renacimiento, Guerrero, Mexico. In 2011, high levels of violence in Mexico prompted U-Prep, a proven, cross-cultural, international model, to create a new approach to practice, service and research that preserved the high quality of its program while considering the safety of its teachers, interns and students.
U-Prep broadened its already well-developed, face-to-face, cross-cultural pedagogical approach to Global Learning by coupling it with existing, cost-effective, synchronized, internet-based computer resources (Skype, E-mail, IM). U-Prep eclectically adopted the Salmon staged, scaffolded model of step-wise, on-line learning. U-Prep created math, literature and English curricula based on multi-disciplinary research and proven best practices in education. U-Prep further transformed teacher-centered pedagogy into an empowering student-centered approach to education that is at once personal, inter-active, cyber-based and -friendly and highly participatory.
College-age U-Prep students in both countries are offered internship opportunities for local and international leadership, commitment and service. U-Prep aligned its longitudinal goal of creating and fostering academic and community leadership. Universities in both countries see U-Prep as a seedbed of prospective students and campus leaders.
Program sustainability is enhanced by a bottom-up approach and intensive student and family participation in all service delivery. U-Prep’s ethnomethodological method highlights cross-cultural competence, understanding and respect among students and families on both sides of the border to harness and mobilize talent, potential, initiative, creativity and change.
Therefore, using Global eLearning delivered through a blend of face-to-face pedagogy and existing assistive technologies, U-Prep is able to defend the global right to a quality education by providing a dynamic, comprehensive, community-based, culturally competent, student-centered educational model that continues to enhance educational opportunities and supportive social services for students and families in the U.S. and Mexico.