5 keys to position an online training institution in the Latin American market


Taking advantage of global trends, many Spanish institutions are making their way into the education market in Latin America. This fact is based on two fundamental conditions: the language and the low competence. Thanks to the fact that all of Latin America (with the exception of Brazil obviously) speaks Spanish and its population is not characterized by mastering several languages ​​(as is the case in Europe, for example), Spain becomes a great opportunity to carry out your studies. At the same time, educational institutions in Latin America often face a large number of problems, such as the challenge of trying to keep their curricula up to date, with few resources and with respect to the intense and accelerated changes in the market and society.


Thus, Spanish institutions, more agile and generally with more resources, have skillfully developed a training offer that adapts to changes and is fundamentally aimed at this captive audience in Latin America. This fact has been developing for decades, but every year it gains more strength thanks to online education. This allows students to study a European program without leaving their country, which saves them the expenses of travel and stay abroad and allows them to continue with their work in the country of origin.


The point is that these types of European institutions face certain obstacles that are hindering and jeopardizing their chances of success, especially in the medium and long term. Some of these facts are:





Una llave que carga un rollo de papel escrito que se inserta en un mapa de América del Sur y América Central que a su vez asemeja a una cerradura. A modo de caricatura.
Some of the keys that open the door to the Latin American market. Drawing by the author.

1. Poor structuring


Virtual modalities have not yet been integrated into the societies of the center and south of the American continent. [1] In other words, the lack of institutions and people trained in this field keep online education a novelty for many sectors of society. In this way, anyone who sets out to build an offer in this context faces ignorance and resistance that significantly reduces the target audience. Therefore, one of the biggest challenges is educating your potential buyer about a format and a possibility that you do not have in mind.



2. Desigualdad espacial


Generally, the best Internet connection possibilities are found in large cities, while rural areas do not usually have fiber or similar services; this difference is strongly felt in Latin America. [2] In contrast, online education has tended to promote videos, interactive videos and live classes, which are hardly available to the rural population. It is true that these models are usually more attractive, but also more expensive to produce. In this way, training based on asynchronous tools that do not require significant bandwidths could open up to a much larger market in Latin America.



3. Computers versus mobile phones


In the same way, the possibilities of access to the necessary equipment to be part of distance learning are affected by the great inequality that plagues the center and south of the American continent. Although it varies from country to country, many studies have shown the poor access to computers and connecting land lines that exists in Latin America. In contrast, with the massification of mobile phones, the appearance of cheaper models and the ease of establishing wireless connections, the percentage of the population connected to the Internet through this type of device is much higher. Although it is true that more and more courses are adapted to the mobile format, practically none are designed to take full advantage of its characteristics.



4. Continuity and not quantity


As the offer of online programs multiplies, the biggest challenge looms in the future. Graduate institutions in particular face stiff competition for potential new students. This initial search stage is usually considered the key to success and becomes the object of enormous efforts and investments, but the only way to guarantee the sustainability of the institution is to focus on building a quality program, with resources and teaching strategies that promote the subsequent success of your students. Over the years, the reputation of the institution and thus the desire to enroll regardless of cost or other conditions, will depend on the scope of its graduates and the so-called word of mouth.



5. Local market growth


Currently, although large sectors of society demonstrate resistance to the online model, as I mentioned above, the laws in Latin America are making important advances towards enabling blended and virtual formats; [3] a fact also driven by the Covid19 pandemic. In the medium term, this phenomenon will tend to multiply local offers of online and mixed training, which will mean more competition from less expensive institutions that grant directly valid degrees in their respective countries and that can link more directly with their potential students.



Posdata


There are conditions that will allow some institutions to leave anonymity, others to transcend; preferring to try to found a new meaning and value to educational practice in the phenomenon of remote control. [4]



Referencias


[1] R. Claudio, Ed., Prospectiva de la Educación a Distancia en América Latina y el Caribe. Loja: Instituto Latinoamericano y del Caribe de Calidad en Educación Superior a Distancia (CALED), 2018.

[2] R. L. Alvarez, “La universidad virtual en latinoamerica,” Etic@net, no. 2, 2003.

[3] C. Rama, “La fase actual de expansión de la educación en línea o virtual en América Latina,” Universidades, no. 70, pp. 27–39, 2016.

[4] N. Borrego, H. Rodríguez, R. Walle, and J. Ponce, “Educación Superior Virtual en América Latina: Perspectiva Tecnológica-Empresarial,” Form. Univ., vol. 1, no. 5, pp. 3–14, 2008.

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