Higher Learning Research Communications

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In this issue of Higher Learning Research Communications (HLRC), researchers and academics in Ireland, United States, United Kingdom and Mexico share their research findings after applying innovative teaching technologies and learning models in different academic, cultural, and national contexts.The research presented here covers diverse subjects such as alternative tools and learning models in the classroom, faculty training in new technologies to achieve student learning, and the application of social theory to understand educational attainment. One innovation that is transforming the design and development of curricula is the incorporation of mobile technologies to complement the learning experience in the classroom. To this end, Morales introduces innovative research conducted at the Dublin Institute of Technology that studied the integration of mobile learning (mLearning) tools in an Econometrics course. Morales discusses the role of mobile technologies as part of the teaching-learning process, the benefits the subjects in this study encountered when using the mLearning tools, and the impact in the learning environment.In the second article featured in this issue, Anthony, Gould, and Smith from Walden University offer a new understanding of how educational institutions can be studied as social systems by applying the concept of system archetypes. The authors compiled and compared data about educational attainment of three specific groups in the United States and provide an analysis of their findings.Johnson and Marsh discuss the application of a blended learning model implemented by the Laureate English Program-Cambridge University Press partnership at a group of Laureate International Universities (LIU) institutions and how this model is currently the subject of a research initiative that started in 2012. The authors also share information about the first phase of the research project, how the blended learning program has been implemented in different institutions, and the experiences of instructors and students participating in the program.To demonstrate how faculty benefit from professional training programs, Polanco-Bueno from Universidad del Valle de México shares the findings of a study aimed at identifying the effectiveness of the International Certificate on Significant Learning (ICSL) program in providing faculty strategies to optimize student learning. The author shares pre and post-tests results and experiences from the participants as evidence of faculty learning achievements. In addition to the authors referenced above, following our previous issue dedicated to the international accreditation of higher education, we are pleased to feature an article from our guest author, Dr. William Plater, Senior Advisor for International Affairs for the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), a regional accreditor in the United States. In his article, Plater describes how in preparation for the future and in response to an international need for collaboration in accreditation and quality matters, WASC has expanded its scope to accept a limited amount of applications for international accreditation. Plater also emphasizes the importance of coordinating between internal and external quality assurance activities and their significance in this time of global interdependence within a collaborative quality assurance approach. Undoubtedly, institutions of higher education are facing similar challenges regardless of their geographic location: demands for an education that is not constrained by time or location (distance and blended education), demands for effective non-traditional forms of instruction, and institutional systems that have student learning at the center of the equation.The articles featured in this issue provide an opportunity to reflect about the current state and the future of international higher education, the tools that are being created to advance student learning, and the invitation to work in collaboration to innovate and maintain the highest standards of academic and institutional quality.