Homestay: the make-or-break part of a student’s study experience

“A school can provide PhD-level teachers, gold-plated desks, a perfect nationality mix, and 100% graduation rates. None of that matters if the student is getting what looks like dog food for dinner”

Cam Harvey, owner of Working With Agents Consulting, writes about the importance of open and honest communication in a strong agent-school partnership – one that always puts the health and strength of their relationship first.

“I’m fascinated by the stories in international education. And there are stories out there. Lots of highly emotional stories.  Each one often has multiple, emotionally charged versions depending on who is telling it – the school, the student, the parent, or the agent.
Read More

Tighter regulation in Canada will act as a seal of quality for international students

“The new act will be a key protector of international students’ rights. It will make all institutions, both private and public, accountable”

The International Education Act was given royal assent Canada’s the Manitoba legislature last month. Susan Deane, college director and principal of the International College Manitoba, a Navitas pathway college, explains how the legislation will help bolster quality by making institutions accountable.

“In 2012, the Canadian International Education Advisory Panel recommended increasing Canada’s international student numbers from 265,000 to more than 400,000 within 10 years.

Though progress has been made in recent years, the size of the Manitoba international student population still lags behind other provinces. British Columbia, for instance, accounted for 25 per cent of Canada’s international student population, while Manitoba claimed only three per cent.

Now, thanks to new legislation, the province of Manitoba has the leverage to attract more students from around the world by demonstrating that international education in Manitoba is of the best quality and is maintained by stringent standards: Bill 44, the International Education Act, was given royal assent in the Manitoba legislature Dec. 5. The legislation will act as a seal of quality to show prospective international students and their families that Manitoba provides education worth investing in.

The International Education Act would establish a code of conduct for institutions that educate international students, creating consistent high standards across the province. This will set requirements on recruitment methods, course quality and student supports, and will aim to prevent misleading or deceptive conduct in relation to international students.

It will also mean that an education provider must be approved to enrol international students. Lists of non-complying providers and recruiters will be made public.

Accountability has always been a top priority for the International College of Manitoba (ICM), and for this reason we welcome the International Education Act. ICM has a recognition agreement with the University of Manitoba whereby it offers the equivalent of first year university on the University of Manitoba campus to international students in a supportive environment. Upon successful completion, students enter second year in regular classes at the University of Manitoba. This soft landing helps students move successfully to a Canadian learning environment.

ICM has more than 850 students, and we’ve educated students from more than 72 countries. A further 825 students have completed the ICM program, 95 per cent of whom have been admitted to the University of Manitoba. These are high-achieving individuals worthy of our support.

“Canada has long lagged behind other top international education destinations in the regulation for international students”

The new act will also be a key protector of international students’ rights. It will make all institutions, both private and public, accountable — something Navitas, ICM’s parent company, has been doing for many years.

Canada has long lagged behind other top international education destinations in the regulation for international students. The International Education Act will start to elevate Manitoba to international standards, building the province’s reputation as a high-quality education destination.

As the flow of international students into Manitoba increases, the creation of an industry benchmark for international education, and the protection of student’s rights, will become ever more important.”

Accreditation for an independent, single-site language school: the advantages still outweigh the disadvantages

This week, the deadline passed for the US’s Intensive English Programs to be accredited in order to issue student visas. Nate Freedman, Campus Director at Boston-based Language Skills, gives a first-person account of the accreditation process of an independent, single-site language school. 

James Stakenburg, Head of Teacher Training at Rennert, recently presented his case study of going through the accreditation process (The PIE News, October 25), stating that “the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages”. And as the accreditation deadline draws closer, we are continuing to hear from both members of the accrediting bodies and the schools they accredit on the challenges and benefits of accreditation.

From the perspective of an independent, single-site language school, where administrators and faculty already “wear many hats”, adding the task of accreditation, which requires a comprehensive review of the entire program, poses so many challenges that during the application process the potential benefits of being accredited can seem distant and unattainable. Throughout our journey to accreditation, we asked ourselves many times: will the advantages of accreditation really outweigh the disadvantages?

Well, now that Language Skills has received initial accreditation with CEA, the benefits are becoming clear, and I can begin to reflect on the question of whether the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

Advantages: Our faculty loves the improvements to the program. Clearly written syllabi and curricula with relevant course goals and student learning outcomes make their jobs easier and more enjoyable. Improved faculty orientation and ongoing professional development provides greater job satisfaction. Upon hiring our newest instructors, we heard a lot of, “wow, I am so impressed with how organized you guys are!”

Students also enjoy the increased structure and relevancy of their courses, and it allows us to market the program with greater confidence. No longer do we believe our quality is on-par with international and multi-site programs, but we have evidence to show it.

Disadvantages: Along with being a language school, we can’t forget that we are also a small business! Maintaining a healthy small business requires the careful allocation of resources, and finding the resources to go through and now maintain accreditation was and continues to be our biggest challenge. Mr. Stakenburg admitted that Rennert “took someone off their regular job full-time for three months and most staff had extra work to do as well” to prepare for accreditation. We too had to find creative ways to meet the demands of accreditation with limited resources.

Yet, as I’m sure many of The PIE News readers can attest to, working with limited resources is not something only schools of our size and model face, and that all US language schools facing the December deadline of accreditation will see unique challenges and benefits.

In our case, accreditation has already opened new marketing channels and increased employee and student satisfaction, and we have managed to do it all with our own internal resources. It appears that Mr. Stakenburg’s claim was right: even for independent, single-site language schools like ours, the advantages of accreditation still outweigh the disadvantages.

Are pig trotters the best we have to offer China?

“Providing young people with opportunities to live and work in the UK is likely to do far more to build an appreciation of ‘British norms and values’ than bungled conversations between the prime minister and Chinese officials”

“Nothing says ‘declining international influence’ like heralding a deal to export pig semen and trotters as ‘doing all we can to ensure that businesses up and down the country reap the rewards from our relationship with China’.

In the week that David Cameron led the UK’s largest ever trade visit to Beijing, new research by IPPR shows the UK has a much better export offer to make.  China sends out more international students than any other country in the world. And as China’s economy grows, so does demand for international education.

Using such trips to encourage more Chinese students to study in the UK would be a ‘win-win’ for China and the UK. The UK’s education sector is globally renowned. But its funding structures are in a mess. Billions of pounds in student loans are likely to go unpaid. Last week the government had to stop some universities offering places to UK students due to a lack of funding. The government pledged in the autumn statement to lift the overall cap on UK students in 2015. But there are serious question marks over how this will be funded. In this context, international students provide vital revenue. The Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) estimate that they contribute over £13 billion to the UK economy each year, generating 70,000 jobs and keeping courses like maths and engineering viable. And there is room for growth: BIS estimates that the number of international students in UK higher education can increase by 15-20 percent over the next five years. In addition, providing young people with opportunities to live and work in the UK is likely to do far more to build an appreciation of ‘British norms and values’ than bungled conversations between the prime minister and Chinese officials.

Yet we heard nothing from David Cameron about this. The UK’s competitors, such as Australia and France have streamlined their visa processes and put together packages such as improved work rights to entice globally mobile Chinese people to study in their institutions. But the UK has done the opposite. The UK’s ‘post-study work’ route was closed in 2011. Application requirements have been made more convoluted. Education providers are being forced out by the cost of meeting strict regulations. Despite significant global growth, the overall number of international students coming to the UK to study has dropped from 245,000 a year in 2010 to just 176,000 a year.

The Government claims that the lower numbers are a result of tough action against ‘bogus students’. But the Home Office’s own analysis shows that ‘bogus students’ only account for a small part of this reduction. Rather, the reductions in student numbers are because of the government’s commitment to reduce net migration to the UK. International students comprise one third of all immigrants to the UK. In order to reduce immigration, the government have to drastically reduce the number of international students. While there is an argument to be had about reducing migration for other reasons, reducing the number of genuine students is directly against the UK’s best interests and is causing profound damage to a vital export industry. Importantly, this is an issue on which government, the education sector and public all agree on: 68% of British people want to see the number of migrants coming to study at UK universities maintained or increased.

The government faces a difficult problem balancing support for the education sector with responding to public concern about immigration. However, the policies the Coalition is pursuing are achieving neither. Instead, the government need to commit to increasing international student numbers by implementing a package of measures to attract the brightest and best while clamping down on abuse and ensuring that students contribute to life in the UK. Not to mention, promoting the UK’s colleges internationally. This will allow the UK to retain its reputation as a world leader in quality education, as well as provider of porcine products.”

Jenny Pennington is Researcher at IPPR. She tweets at @JennyIPPR

10 essential things to consider when choosing a US University

Dustin Daniels at Florida State University on 10 things international students should know before choosing to study in the USA:

1. Location and Culture

The first thing to know about the American university system is that there are over 4,000 colleges and universities to choose from. These sites of higher education range from small liberal arts colleges to large public research universities, specialized community colleges, and many others in between! I’d say two of the most common kinds of universities are those found in more urban city centres and those found in more rural ‘college towns’.

Going to school in the city can be a very rewarding experience, as the city life can help complement your time as student and add a layer of cultural discovery to your collegiate career. On the other hand, it might also dilute or convolute your time as well, as the hustle and bustle can sometimes build a wedge between you and the university student experience. Likewise, a ‘college town’ is typically a place where you can find a small community coalescing around a university as its main focal point and lifeblood. There is something to be said for this kind of school, but it might also mean you don’t have access to the amenities or the diversity of a large city.

2. University Pride and Alumni Network

One of the amazing aspects of the US university system is the great pride and enthusiasm that folks develop for their school. This pride often starts with competitive sports programs, but also manifests in many other areas. It isn’t uncommon, for instance, for students to wear university apparel, attend university events, and rejoice in university achievement, whether it be a sports championship or a faculty member winning a research award. Pride for your university allows you to build powerful relationships that often transcend generations, backgrounds and ideologies. It allows you to feel part of a greater community; a feeling that you quite frankly cannot put a price on.

With this university pride comes an alumni network. These networks are used to help people continue to stay connected to their university, while also allowing for professional development and advancement. It isn’t uncommon for graduates in the US to get their first job as a result of connections or information provided by a university’s alumni network. When picking the best school for you, you ought to consider the kind of network that will stand behind your degree and help you get where you want to go.

3. Public and Private Universities

There are two types of universities in the US: public and private. The main differences between the two are the prestige of studying at a private university over a public one, and the cost which obviously is much cheaper at a public university. A year of classes of public tuition costs around $3,500 (around £2,250) whilst some private universities charge well over ten times that. A public university also has a large number of students, which may suit someone who thrives in a social educational environment. Private universities have smaller classes and allow students to forge closer relationships with their tutors.

4. Scholarships and Funding

When looking at how to pay for a US education, your focus should then turn to scholarships and funding.  Not all US universities offer scholarships to international students and government loans can’t always be applied to paying for and tuition and fees. Despite this, increasing fees for university around the world have made the U.S. university system quite competitive comparatively to other countries around Europe. One of the most important things to look at is the OVERALL cost of going to a particular university: specifically tuition and fees, on-campus or off-campus accommodation, cost of living in the location of the university, etc. One of the most confusing traps I have seen international students fall into is being distracted by only looking at tuition fees or the kind of scholarship universities offer. Here is a typical scenario:

University A is a public research university located in a small city. It costs $40,000 a year to attend, including accommodation and tuition. University B is a private university located centrally in a large city. It costs $100,000 to attend for all accommodation and fees, but it offers a 50% scholarship to all international students.

As you can see, even with no scholarships, university A would be a better choice from a funding standpoint.

5. Liberal Arts Education: Majors, Minors and Credits

Liberal Arts colleges and universities provide specialised education in the basic disciplines of humanities, plus social and behavioural sciences. They offer a huge range of potential Major subjects, including Political Science, Religion and Sociology. All universities will also allow you to study a Minor subject if you so desire. Some Majors even allow a Minor to take the place of supporting coursework. Each Major and Minor requires a certain level of credits that need to be achieved to qualify for a degree. The definition of a credit can be difficult for someone who has not been born in the U.S. to get their head around. Credits are awarded for the time you spend studying or in class. If you have already attended University in the UK, you should be able to transfer some credits across.

6. Internships & Undergraduate Research

Internships and Undergraduate Research programs are where companies sponsor students to go to university in the hope of securing them as employees once their studies have finished. This is an excellent way of securing financial backing for your studies, and some companies will even help with accommodation and transport. It’s not all study though – some companies will expect you to work for them as well, particularly during breaks.

7. Rankings

When choosing a university, the rankings that are produced by several independent institutions are a good place to start, but should be viewed with a grain of salt. These rankings can tell you about certain qualities of schools, but can leave out some vital information such as student satisfaction, engagement, and alumni performance. They can also be biased towards smaller universities that focus on a few key subject areas. Many times students think that the ‘Ivy League’ schools are the only ones worth considering, when many non-Ivy schools are collectively and in many individual programs more well-regarded. At the end of the day, US universities all over the country are known for something, so make sure to cast a wide net.

8. The US Student Experience

The main difference between being a US student and a UK student is that whilst the UK student is encouraged to be an expert in a single field, a US student is more likely to become successful if they can exhibit a breadth of knowledge. On the social side of things, students in the U.S. are much more likely to spend time together, especially on campus. Many students will live on campus for all four years of their degree. Eating and playing sports together and being members of sororities and fraternities is a big part of university education.

9. SAT & ACT

Many times students wonder whether their secondary school program, whether it be an IB diploma, A-Levels, Advanced Placement, etc. allows them to forgo taking their SAT or ACT tests. The answer is almost always NO! Because U.S. schools have students from all over the world applying, it is hard to fairly compare them. After all, a student’s achievements in Canada vs. in Italy may be completely different. This is where the SAT or ACT come in. These standardized tests focus on general knowledge and skills in math, verbal reasoning, writing and science, though each is slightly different. They are usually required for all students as a way for the university to compare students effectively and to predict how they are likely to do in their first years of studying. Few universities waive this requirement, but some do let you postpone taking the exam until after admission.

10. Cultural Capital & Global Consciousness

US universities do their best not to promote cultural capital and to treat all students equally, no matter their social status. However, outside of the lecture halls and classrooms students from poorer backgrounds may find themselves at a disadvantage, and be looked down upon by those more socially fortunate.

More information on Florida State’s International Gateway Program can be found at, where they offer some useful tips of their own for any potential students.


Paying for an International Education – Expensive: Yes. Easy to Understand: No

An interesting take on HSBC’s research that indicated Australia tops the league of costly study destinations…

“The cost for international students to acquire a degree has become a more and more debated issue.  One reason is that the worldwide revenues attributable to international higher education have reached around USD 120-140 billion.  When schooling, language, and vocational training are added in, total revenues are estimated to exceed USD 200 billion (ICG, 2013).  International education has become a large, global business.

Costs for individual students to participate in international education of course vary widely.  One year of high quality academic language or higher education studies can run from as little as USD 14,000 to more than USD 60,000.  Understanding these costs has attracted attention, most recently in an overview published by HSBC which received widespread media coverage.

Flawed and unrealistic

Unfortunately, the data presented by HSBC appear to be both flawed and unrealistic.  For one, many international students are required to demonstrate a minimum level of funding in order to obtain a study permit.  To indicate student cost of living amounts which run significantly under such thresholds is not helpful, and would clash with legal requirements.

In addition, some cost of living data presented by HSBC simply bears little relation to actual cost of living as established by respective higher education institutions, governmental bodies, and other research.

For example: Germany can be a “cheap” country to study in for international students, but a monthly cost of living level of USD 524 as indicated by HSBC does not map remotely to the reality of living in cities which are home to Germany’s ten largest universities (which include Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, and Munich).

Rent alone in these cities would reach or exceed this cost level (the average rent for students in Germany is USD 406.  Source: 20. Sozialerhebung by the Studentenwerk (a report sponsored by the German government).

10 institutions hardly representative

HSBC’s tuition research was based on scoping a country’s ten largest institutions by enrollment.  This is hardly a representative sample in a country such as the United States, which is home to more than 4,000 higher education institutions, nor does this relate to international enrollments.

Not surprisingly, the supposed tuition averages indicated for many countries are neither an accurate portrayal of average fees, nor particularly helpful.

International students in the United States can find themselves courted by institutions which will offer full scholarships while most others will be asked to pay annual tuition fees exceeding USD 30,000.  Anyone fortunate enough to be admitted to Columbia University faces a tuition bill of nearly USD 47,000 per year.

Getting it right

Getting it right requires a bit more of an effort.  Earlier this year, ICG completed a commissioned research project on international tuition fees which took nearly 2,200 hours to complete.

Results have been presented at various conferences, including EAIE and AIEC conference in Canberra (the EAIE presentation can be accessed at ICG’s homepage under September Updates,

The outcome of this research is contained in the International Tuition-Based Competition Database (ITBCD) which contains tuition fees for more than 7,000 individual undergraduate and graduate degree programs, added fees per program, and actual cost of living calculations.

The latter alone required 400 hours of research and analysis.  The point is that an international comparison of tuition fees and cost of living requires many data points, a proper methodology, and a recognition that supposed averages can be utterly misleading.

What this research shows is that the total cost of obtaining the most popular degree amongst international students – a Bachelor of Commerce or Business – at a ranked international university ranges from USD 120,000 to nearly 300,000.  Most degrees required an investment of USD 150,000 at minimum.

International students who enroll in non-tuition systems such as universities in Germany will still face a minimum investment of USD 45,000 into cost of living in most major cities.  Clearly, for most international students it is not cheap and possibly very expensive to study away from home.

With the aforementioned caveat of not using averages to make too many assumptions, countries can be broadly characterized as follows.

–       Australia overall is a highly expensive country which nonetheless can provide good outcomes to its graduates.

–       The United States is characterized by the widest spread of costs from quite reasonable to very expensive, and institutions ranging from world leading universities to little more than vocational training institutions.

–       Canada’s international tuition fees are often below the corresponding mean, but cost of living in Vancouver and Toronto has negated this advantage largely.

–       New Zealand offers good value (outside of Auckland) based mostly on its moderate tuition fees, though some program fees appear to be poised for notable upticks.

–       The United Kingdom offers middle-of-the road tuition fees costs with London setting a high cost note for both fees and cost of living.

–       The Netherlands offers lower-end tuition fees with middling cost of living levels, offering overall a compelling value proposition.

–       Germany offers great value based on its no-tuition fee setting, but much less outcome.

With a consortium of universities having signed on to ITBCD, we expect to publish updated results in the spring of 2014.  In the meantime, the only safe assumption is that being an international student will be more expensive in 2014 than it was in 2013.

Daniel J. Guhr is Managing Director of the Illuminate Consulting Group in the USA. 

Attracting Students from China

Since the turn of the century, the number of students studying abroad at a tertiary level has nearly doubled, with China being the largest contributor to the pool of foreign students.

In 2010 there were approximately 550,000 Chinese students pursuing higher education in a foreign country. More than 1 in 6 foreign students originate from China.

Not surprisingly, that’s created a huge push from educational institutions in the UK to attract Chinese students.

Tailor your offering

It’s tempting to take a one size fits all approach when it comes to attracting foreign students. What works in Australia should work in China. However the fact is what works in one country often won’t cut it in another.

The simplest example of this is the digital space. Google, the search behemoth, dominates many markets. It’s the leading player in Europe and North America, as well as in many emerging markets such as India. However with nearly 75% of the market, the largest search engine in China is in fact Baidu.

According to Paul Hoskins, chairman of Precedent, a marketing agency working in the higher education sector, you may also need to tailor your offering. “A simple example is to ensure that a required/featured module in any programme aimed at China is Business and/or Management,” he says. “These subjects are highly valued.”

League tables are vital

One of the key factors for Chinese students is league tables. At first glance this may seem pretty obvious and not all that helpful. Educational institutions already spend a lot of time looking at league tables and how to improve their standing.

However the important factor here is that Chinese students will not only look at the league tables for the university as a whole; they will also look at the league tables for specific subject areas.

Consequently, it’s vital that you focus on your strengths. Avoid the temptation to market all of your courses in China. This might seem self-defeating. The more courses you offer the more you’ll sell, right? But the simple fact is if you’re average or below average in a certain area, your marketing efforts in China are likely to be wasted. If you’re good at something, focus on that.

Factors out of your control

Other factors that are important to Chinese students include immigration issues, attitudes towards international students, standardised tests required by schools such as the SAT and how easy the visa application is.

These factors may be out of your control, but that does not mean they should be overlooked.

For example, if the visa application is difficult, any assistance you can provide will pay dividends down the line. This may be as simple as providing some additional support pages on your website specifically tailored to Chinese students.

Just because you can not control a factor, don’t think you can’t affect how it is perceived and handled.

Some of this may seem obvious, but the key factor is not to take a boilerplate approach to attracting Chinese students. Consider their needs, consider their concerns, and consider what it is you can offer that will make the 5000 mile trip worthwhile.

Hannah Sweeney works for 4Ps Marketing.  

The French touch!

Olivier Chiche-Portiche, head of promotion at France’s higher education agency Campus France rightly puts the country’s regular “will we, won’t we” with the English language into perspective (PIE Chat, July 26).

France indeed boasts numerous HE courses delivered in English in both the private and public sectors. And the wish to attract the best foreign students for prestigious courses, particularly in science, technology and medicine, is dominated rather by France’s desire to spread its global influence economically and politically than by the need to find additional revenue streams. This brings enormous financial and other advantages for foreign students.

French is one of only two languages taught and spoken on every continent (guess which is the other!) but as a nation we are often reluctant to insist on the language’s key international role, despite the odd headline-catching quote and also the substantial state support for promoting both language and culture worldwide in a variety of forms.

Paradoxically this is coupled with a reluctance to aid a more effective spread of French by supporting the very active internal FLE (French as a foreign language) market which provides the linguistic underpinning essential for a wider use of the language.

For sure, the state introduced a British-Council style accreditation scheme in 2007 and some 90 training centres (public, private, associative etc) are now recognised out of the 300-plus in the hexagon.

Accredited centres can join Campus France and are now in principle prioritised for visa applications and official language contracts proposed by the France state and international bodies.

But Chiche-Portiche gives the game away by emphasising that Campus France’s support is aimed mainly at its membership of mainly public institutions amongst which figure comparatively few specialist language centres. As he says: ‘The network has some schools of French” (writer’s emphasis).

But let’s face it, even students following courses delivered in English need to live (and love) in the local language and fluency is also vital for getting the top level work placements in French companies essential to complete most degree courses.

There is, however, a general reluctance amongst the public structures supporting French education to accept the essential basic input of language schools in the process. This is grounded firstly in the national predisposition towards all that is public as opposed to private, even/especially when the latter proves more effective, but also in the intellectual snobbery of the educational establishment.

The embarrassing truth that French actually needs to be taught in a practical hands-on way (just like English!) as opposed to being absorbed subliminally via literature, cinema etc (France’s much vaunted “cultural difference”) creates a dual approach difficult to reconcile.

Luckily the private sector has not been quietly waiting for official backing, as PIE readers must know. Of which more anon. In the meantime, vive la France, vive le français!

Tom Maitland
Director, French in Normandy

Four tips to prepare for students with their own devices

The growth in consumer devices such as mobile phones and tablets looks set to continue, and with an international survey finding that 65% of children have a mobile phone handset[1], more and more students are turning up to class with their devices in pockets or backpacks.

However, technology that can inspire and enable a generation also becomes a real challenge for a school when students and staff expect to be able to connect their own devices to the network.

Today, educational technology is migrating from simply enhancing traditional teaching to transforming it. PCs and tablets not only provide the interface to the Internet, but are also the platforms for digital learning tools, online assessment, and student collaboration.  Studies have shown that the schools that embrace these technology changes see strong positive impact on student grades and learning outcomes.

‘Bring your own Device’ (BYOD), is already an issue for businesses worldwide, as they struggle to balance the benefits with the challenges.  So, how can schools across the globe embrace the opportunity by developing a BYOD policy and what is involved in policing it?

Embracing BYOD can bring benefits to a school if done right.  For instance it can reduce security risks, increase productivity in the classroom and provide cost savings through a reduction in school-owned devices.

Where to start?

Guidelines are important and let students know that using their own devices are welcome, but instruction and education use is the primary reason for that access. They should also include clear statements of consequences for student failure to follow the school’s acceptable use policy.

Here are four tips to help managers of IT systems within schools stay sane when faced with multiple devices on the IT network.

 1.    Ask yourself: Is your wireless network prepared?

While your wireless network may be experiencing more demand now than ever before, the truth is that this just the beginning. Projections indicate that we can expect these figures to continue to skyrocket, with more devices, applications and traffic demands on the way. Unfortunately most school networks are nowhere near prepared enough to keep up with these increasing demands.  Therefore, the first important tip is to review the capabilities of the existing school IT infrastructure and ensure it is fit for purpose.

2.    A Unified, proactive approach to BYOD

Without a unified network management approach – one that extends to the pupil – the costs and resources necessary to manage a BYOD initiative become overwhelming, taxing the school beyond its limits. A unified approach to BYOD adoption policy needs to cast a wide net, covering issues such as:

  • Approval of mobile devices
  • Registration and on-boarding
  • Usage policies
  • Budget constraints
  • Infrastructure restrictions

3.    Document and communicate BYOD best practices

Through the communication of a strong mobile device acceptable use and security policy, schools and colleges can define user conduct, support policies, IT support responsibilities, and security controls and features with very little room for confusion.  These documents provide general use guidelines for users accessing the school/college network and deliver a framework for conduct for staff, students and guests alike.

4. Appoint a leader, plan ahead and constantly review

A BYOD solution should not be a responsibility that goes hand in hand with the many other day-to-day IT management tasks. Appoint a member of staff to be a cross-functional leader who will oversee the BYOD strategy as a whole.  Ensure adequate time is taken to plan appropriately, make sure you know which devices you will and won’t support.  Finally, review policy compliance regularly – there’s no point in setting policies if they’re being violated and content isn’t secure.

[1] Research carried out by in 2012 by mobile operators in conjunction with GSMA and the Mobil Society Research Institute

Mark Pearce is a strategic alliance director at Enterasys Networks

Using the internet to shape language teaching

As a French language teacher I am always looking for ways to better engage my students with the language and support their learning needs.

And as I work in a British university in China, teaching French to students from all over the world, using English as the instruction language, it can be a challenge to find an approach that appeals to all.

One thing my students do have in common is the internet and their ability to use it effectively. And as language teachers we should be harnessing this ‘Generation Y’s’ digital know-how.

The internet is changing how young people learn.

Young people today, for the most part, are more tech-savvy than they have ever been.

They are actively involved in the internet’s participatory cultures like joining online communities, producing new forms of creative work such as video or digital sampling, working in teams to complete tasks and develop new knowledge, and shaping the flow of information by creating blogs or podcasting.

Being literate today doesn’t just mean knowing how to read and write on paper, but knowing how to read and write across multiple media platforms – books, videos, social networks, blogs, text messages etc.

And being fluent in another language also means being able to navigate, and contribute to, these platforms.

How can these skills help us teach young people languages?

Alongside my teaching, I have conducted research into how the internet’s participatory culture can be used in student-centred learning environments and found that transmedia storytelling – telling a story across multiple media – can be an extremely effective method of teaching.

My research involved asking students to create multiple media products to investigate, and help others learn, lexical and grammatical teaching points in French, Japanese and English.

Once they had created their products, the groups then commented on others’ products using Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) and blogs moderated by their tutors. They used these comments to improve their own products and to practice writing and reading in the respective languages.

The results showed that the students were able to create sophisticated media products ranging from multi-genre films to remixed songs and computer games, and that from the comments posted on the blogs, and elicited after the project, they had fun while also improving a number of important key competences that are often outside the domain of language learning.

I found that if well moderated, transmedia storytelling can provide students the opportunity to engage in projects that tap into their own experiences of social networking and digital creation.

Teaching the teachers.

The key to this, of course, is ensuring language teachers have the knowledge necessary to create these kinds of learning environments.

I recently shared the findings of my research, and trained secondary school teachers to use transmedia storytelling, at the V International Convention of Reading and Writing in Bogota, Colombia, which explored new ways of language teaching.

I found that the teachers who attended the conference from all over the world were keen to explore teaching methods that ensure the language skills young people are developing are relevant to them in the real and online worlds.

Meanwhile, my colleagues in the Language Centre  at The University of Nottingham Ningbo China are engaged in research and course development that investigate new ways of using technology to enhance learning.

It is really through our own continual learning, and sharing of knowledge, that we can hope to teach young people the language skills that will help them navigate the online world and achieve true digital literacy.

Filippo Gilardi, is a French tutor in The University of Nottingham Ningbo China’s Language Centre. For more information on his transmedia storytelling research contact him on