Public Relations for Online Educational Systems

Traditional public relations and community goodwill efforts for online education assistance is somewhat difficult because the online educational system helps those that participate in the virtual world as opposed to an educational facility. This fact should not deter a public relations specialist who works on online educational programs or systems because they need to contact those people who are not online and perhaps might like to look at online education systems as another option.

Many people cannot attend class due to transportation issues or human mobility issues. Many folks are stay-at-home parents and they cannot attend class either, but a need to get an online degree or participate in an online education system to get the skills they need to earn a living.

What types of ways can you promote an online educational system? Of course the best way is through word-of-mouth advertising. However, it is not always so easy to get to those people who are in their homes all day and sometimes it makes sense to use public service announcements on the radio or a little radio advertising. Other times direct mail can work.

The best thing is a front-page article in the newspaper of the success story of someone who used the online educational system to get an advanced degree or a good job. It is these sorts of public relations and publicity programs that make online educational systems more newsworthy. Perhaps you will consider some of this in 2006.

Why Finland’s Education System Works

Not too long ago, Finland’s education system was comparable to that in the U.S. How they changed their system is interesting, because by having “less” school they are achieving greater results. In the U.S., the system of “doing what you hate longer and harder” seems to be the prevailing logic driving the “scientific test-results” orientation to achievement. Both systems are multi-cultural and multi-lingual and have special populations served in the general education setting.

U.S. Approach To Reform

Children must enroll in school (kindergarten or first grade) at age 5. Many children have had preschool experiences because parents work or they are qualified for Head Start, Early Start, Even Start and other programs. Preschool standards involve readiness skills (standards directed), but not all children receive such instruction. Direct reading (decoding) instruction begins in kindergarten and ends in second grade. State (and federal) standards direct what instruction children receive from kindergarten through high school and in higher education settings (technical/vocational schools and colleges/universities). Children must remain in school until they reach the age of dropping out (varies by state but usually between 16 and 18 years of age) or they graduate by meeting all their state’s requirements. Standards, formal testing and statistics drive decision making by central administrators not in contact with students.

Finnish Approach To Reform

Children enroll in school at age 7, but they are given several years of preschool experiences which focus on language and physical development. The schools tend to be small because population centers are few; usually the schools have 300-400 students. Local teachers control their schools and curricula; they spend some of their work day developing and/or preparing materials to be used. Their school day is shorter than in the U.S. and they spend a lot of time outdoors, either in play or in applied “work” in the outdoor setting. Students attend elementary schools for 5-7 years, at which point they attend either a vocational schools or a higher education schools. Student skills and interests drive local decision making by teachers working with students.

What Are The Critical Differences?

The critical differences are:

· Preschool experiences are different: the U.S. focus on readiness (cognitive) skills development for reading and math, the Finnish focus on developmental skills in language and physical development. This translates into developmental readiness for instruction (Finland) or struggle to achieve (U.S.).

· School sizes differ: The U.S. consolidates and usually has 500+/school, the Finnish have few students so everyone receives attention. This translates into emotional security (Finland) or insecurity (U.S.).

· Children start reading instruction at different ages: the U.S. at age 5, the Finnish at age 7. This translates into being neurologically ready for instruction (Finland) or compensating with taxed memory skills (U.S.).

· Vocational schools are options for education in early adolescence. This translates into motivation (Finland) or non-motivational (U.S.).

· Decisions are based on testing/statistics (U.S.) or motivation and interests (Finland).

Conclusions

Focusing on behaviors and achievements for guiding change eliminates the humanness of education: interest, motivation, purpose. No matter how anyone looks at it, the U.S. system is a failure. Perhaps those making the decisions should relinquish the controls and let teachers who work with students and know what they need and want to learn make the decisions. Instead of rushing children to early achievement, maybe those who know about what happens to children developmentally will start driving the reforms.

Understanding the Education System to Study in New Zealand

Primary School Education

Schooling is available to children from age 5 and is compulsory from ages 6 to 16.

Primary education starts at Year 1 and continues until Year 8, with Years 7 and 8 mostly offered at either a primary or a separate intermediate school. Most schools teach in English medium, but some schools teach in the Maori medium.

Some schools in New Zealand are Kura Kaupapa Maori in which the principal language of instruction is Maori and education is based on Maori culture and values. Most Kura Kaupapa Maori caters for students from Years 1 to 8, and a few (Wharekura) cater for students up to Year 13.

Secondary School Education

Secondary education system in New Zealand covers Years 9 to 13, (during which students are generally aged 13 to 17). Most secondary students in New Zealand attend Government-funded schools, which are known variously as secondary schools, high schools, colleges or area schools.

The National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) is the national senior secondary school qualification to study in New Zealand. Students are able to achieve the NCEA at three levels via a wide range of courses and subjects, both within and beyond the traditional school. The three levels of the NCEA correspond to the final three years of secondary schooling (Years 11-13). The student must achieve 80 credits on the National Qualifications Framework, 60 at the level of the certificate and 20 others to gain an NCEA.

Tertiary Education

The tertiary education to study in New Zealand is used to describe all aspects of post-school education and training. There are 36 public tertiary education institutions, including eight universities, twenty-one institutes of technology and polytechnics, four colleges of education, three wananga (Maori tertiary education institutions). There are also 46 industry training organizations, and approximately 895 private training establishments, which include private English language schools, registered by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority. Tertiary education in New Zealand offer courses at widely different levels, from transition programmes to postgraduate study and research.

Technical and Vocational Education

Technical and Vocational Education to study in New Zealand is mainly offered at institutes of technology, polytechnics, private training establishments. Some programmes are also available in secondary schools, wananga, government training establishments, one college of education and several universities.

Higher, or Degree-level Education

Universities usually offer higher, degree-level education, but institutes of technology, polytechnics, wananga and colleges of education, and at some private training establishments also offer higher degree programmes.

Summary: School Education in New Zealand is divided into Primary and secondary education. Post school education is covered by tertiary education. Technical and Vocational Education is offered by institutes of technology, polytechnics, private training establishments. Higher education to study in New Zealand is provided by Universities and other institutes.