Education is crucial in an inclusive scenario that trains efficiently and with quality.
In Colombia, more than 40,000 people study under the virtual or e-learning modalities, providing access to quality academic programs from anywhere, with no set times,training in open communities and acquiring new co responsibility logics by means of specialized platforms.
A model that should be considered an answer to media society, which has helped to promote new inclusive learning scenarios in which the main tool are TICs.
"This methodology has a high communicative potential converging synergies and intermingling human, solidary and vital networks. Due to the latter, it generates conditions for debate and collective construction, transcending unilateral transmission of information from professor to student,"
says Jaime Alberto Leal Afanador, Hadmaster of the Universidad Nacional Abierta y a Distancia (Unad, Open and Distance National University).
It is an ideal solution for many people, such as Claudia Esperanza Montenegro Coral, single mother, 40 years old, working from Mondays to Saturdays, eight hours a day, who found in the e-learning a great opportunity for taking on a professional quality career without leaving aside her responsibilities. Currently, she is in the sixth semester of business administration at the Unad, and she was promoted in her work thanks to the results obtained with this initiative.
Pros and Cos
In spite of the advantages, there are still many paradigms for virtual education, especially around quality in contrast to classroom education. In this sense, Fernando Dávila, Headmaster of the Grancolombiano Polytechnic School, says that this stereotype is being overcome.
"Not because someone says it, but because the professionals themselves show it through the results in Sabe Pro, in which they are over the national mean value, and in the working world, in which they perform efficiently.”
Another paradigm of this model is the need of having direct contact with the teacher and with other students. This is refuted by the fact that:
"Digital learning allows for doubt resolution in a deeper and more elaborated way, since, although the answer is not immediate, the teacher has more time to analyze the solution,"
"This learning system allows for a more personalized follow-up of the student, and when there are questions, they can be solved over chat, e-mail or forums,"
points out Montenegro.
In e-learning there are institutions doing an excellent job, as well as there are others that are performing very poorly.
"What is important is that, when there is didactic planning supported by advisory and coaching program, high-quality results are achieved, which is equal or better, in many cases, than those achieved through classroom education," says Lariza Enriquez, teacher at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (Mexican Autonomous National University.)
However, this system needs the student to develop certain skills for their academic experience to be effective. This is what Donna Zapata indicates, professor at the Antioquia University, in her report Contextualization of Virtual Education in Colombia, in which she explains that:
"Professionals are needed with the capacity to: search information in a critical sense and apply it to problem solving, innovate, face problems on a daily basis, use technology to improve quality of life and performance, communicate by means of electrical media, integrate to scientific communities in their area of knowledge, learn in an autonomous way throughout life, adapt to quick changes in the modern world, use more than one language, know and value cultures."
Challenges of the Model
According to Javier Botero, Vice-Minister of Education of the former administration:,
"This inclusion policy has shown many achievements, but there is still a long way to go."
This is how the model poses challenges for teachers, students, and the national government. The first challenge is guaranteeing Internet connectivity in all regions of the country, task that is being carried out by the Ministry of TIC by means of the National Fiber Optic Project, that has the aim of connecting 700 towns by means of fiber optic and the 4G network, which has shown many advantages.
"We are taking Internet to all rural centers of more than 100 inhabitants so that, in this way, they have access to the web and, thus, to education, which results in country children to have the same opportunities as city children," declares Diego Molano, Minister of TIC.
Another challenge is that regulations are generated in the country to control the performance and quality of institutions offering this digital service.
"Regulations must facilitate and make these teaching scenarios possible, since the existing rules are not in line with this type of model and, hence, the variables that make it specific are not considered. Therefore, distance and classroom learning must be considered differently,"
These regulations shall allow institutions to offer virtual programs that have personnel qualified for the task, because it is not the same to be a virtual than a classroom trainer. They must even be the teachers the one who guide on the good use of TIC.
Source: Tatiana Lizarazo Correa, writer for EL TIEMPO: http://www.eltiempo.com/ vida-de-hoy/educacion/ARTICULO-WEB-NEW_NOTA_INTERIOR-12408180.html