Cecelia Maria Velez White – Minister of Education of Colombia

Notes from the Minister's presentation, August, 2007, in Bogota, Colombia.
  • Developing countries are just developing eLearning, so we can do this at the same time
  • Status of elearning in Colombia and what we hope to accomplish in policy terms in the next four years.
  • Leapfrog forward
  • 10 themes of the Plan Decenal – an unprecedented process, noticing that TIC is key
  1. Fines y calidad de la educacion – 21st century goals, globalization and autonomy. IT is to know how to manage iCT is basic and fundamental skill that must be developed as an end in education
  2. Equity – access and equality, universal coverage with changed education system so that it is not so unequal in quality. Still have problem with access, but that is minimal compared to not having the same level of education everywhere. This raises the role of ICT to reduce and diminish differences in education.
  3. Education for peace and citizenship
  4. Pedagogical renewal
  5. Professionalization and dignification of teachers, especially ICT skills in
  6. Science and technology
  7. Early childhood education
  8. More and better inversion en education
  9. leadership, creation, transparency y redicion de cuentas en el system educative
  10. la educacio mas all del system educative

Lots of focus on how ICT can contribute to these goals.

On top of what the government is thinking, from the technocracy visions, we have huge participation. 20,000 people got together to discuss this and they asked that we place at the core ICT. That is why we are convinced we have the responsibility to respond to this popular demand. Within the framework of govmt programs ICT was already prioritized. We have suggested a quality policy for education from a government perspective. Around competencies, things we are benchmarking against, evaluated by OECD countries, by Latin American Laboratory. Deal with communications, abstract thinking, scientific thinking. Given the level of conflict we have in Colombia also develop citizen competencies, developing people and communities. In a country like Colombia forced to work in a special area. Pay great attention that through school based programs we can help Colombians live in true peace. We have general labor competencies. Due a color problem we have issue sin middle education and higher education. Currently attempting to articulate the system around standards. Started developing early childhood programs. A series of descriptors of competencies in 0-5 age group, in primary education, knowledge test for 5th graders, for secondary and now testing the exams for middle education, the state exams to determine competence. Aligning university state exams to these competencies. Have become far more explicit in these areas. Now working on higher education. It is evident that this is the core of our education policy. Have to come to agreement about what we want to achieve and have come to good agreement. Not far from what the citizens suggested for the plan, perhaps expressed differently. Giving people the chance to improve their standing in the labor market and to be able to live in peace. Not about telling people what to do, but to describe the values we want to develop, for the education systems to contribute to democracy. General labor competences. Synthesis of goals and ends of education in the 21st century. For now to 2019

The biggest challenge – we have the quality challenge and the coverage challenge which implies increasing the coverage levels to the levels we hope to achieve. IN dire need for increasing secondary education at 100% now at 92%. We hope that by 2010 we will have full coverage. We aspire to have an 87% of middle and 74 in higher education. Monumental effort. The important thing is we are now on the verge of having this image enshrined in the constitution that all children are in school through 9th grade. Because the population is highly dispersed, we need ICT and eLearning to help address the coverage in middle and secondary education. But in a more careful manner to bring in children of out of school age. We believe their socialization is an important aspect of their development. It must not be seen that elearning is the only way. In higher ed we are leaning towards making sure that the massive enhancement of education through elearning to reach out to the far corners. We went from 480.000 to 500,00 HS graduates. Increased by 120,00 last year number of graduates. Goal of 630,000. have increased middle school population this is increasing demand for higher end from far corners. We can’t be there, so some will move to cities to find traditional higher end. But some places will only be reached is through eLearning. To reach 34% in next three years. By 2019 to have a 50% coverage cannot be done without elearning.

Regarding these challenges in quality, we have a responsibility of improving the identified competencies and elearning will helps, and to enhance higher ed coverage. We have a demand and need, compared to the current status of elearning in Colombia. Studied models this year (presenting later) but have less than 12 truly virtual pre-grad programs in Colombia. We have confusion between distance learning and elearning. Have developed distance learning programs that can become virtual learning programs, but we have not been able to accomplish this. Have very few actual programs.

We need a greater supply of truly virtual programs. We have a mixture of types of program, blending learning. Understanding true elearning is more complex and demanding.

Elearning is not regulated. We are working on definitions for qualifying, but need to improve the requirements we are demanding, particularly in programs of academic peers. I’ll show you later.

When we started to analyze the programs, there are certain reflections on pedagogical and technical needs, lack of ToT, low installed capacity and emphasize on generating resources but not on the delivery. Uploading programs and platforms, and objects which may be used b a teacher to introduce technology in the classroom. Not envisaging the elearning modality as an option itself. We must make greater efforts.

We hope to accomplish: enhance quality of elearning through higher education quality system. A mechanism that allows institutions to be accountable, provide reliable information for users, promote quality and self reflection. A system for quality assurance. The quality system has three pillars. The observatory of the labor market – the ultimate judge of what we do. Monitoring 700,000 students who graduated 2000 – 2006, seeing how they are in the labor market, wages, time to finding job. This is supplying us with important information being used by higher ed institutions and very useful when we started to devise our policies for our public education supply. Sure Colombians have heard about the importance we have attached to technological education. Wages increase faster for those with technological competencies. This is a clear signal to the market that we need technicians and technologists and have to have policies to improve this supply. We inherited some problems but we have turned them around. Institutions supply information through SNIS – information on what is happening in higher ed institutions, for indicators, products and outputs. When you demand information, it changes how they are organizing themselves. We have the ECAES – quality exams of higher education. We have grown number of programs and graduates. An important benchmark for the entire system. Trying to relate them to the quality records we have.

In the main body we have the quality system . One is accreditation for high quality. (Programs and institutions). We had lots of new efforst but they did not always meet minimum conditions for good programs. Now have record for minimum conditions. CONACES Registro Calificado (condiciones minimas) It is wonderful to see that all universities are now giving greater consideration to research, number of accredited research groups have skyrocketed, number of invitation to teachers to participate in research has increased. Far more descriptive

We have a promotions strategy for the third pillar. Capacity building for those institutions who are not meeting standards. Instead of asking them to leave, giving them a chance to better themselves. 15 institutions who’s records have been denied in past who are part of this system. In this regard I’m convinced we are truly starting to do development in Colombia via the quality system. When we see a flaw, we can give support.

For eLearning not doing as well. Need to define minimum conditions through resolution 2755 of 2006 which defines characteristics of quality in offerings. We have self evaluation indicators related to accreditation of programs. We must differentiate distance education from elearning. The process for accrediting elearning is the same. We define the conditions, deadlines, programs are submitted to CONACES, we identify peers to do study visits, F2F and online. That is marvelous. Makes the process expedited. When the council passes judgment.

As far as the rest of the quality assurance – identify academic peers to ask as advisors. We had an important basis – good universities generating peers who could quickly and simply train themselves and participate in the evaluation purpose. We don’t have those peers in elearning. May have to identify international peers. That is our biggest challenge. Our international guests are going to make important contributions for defining those minimum quality contributions. Work to be done in developing the peers. Many of you are at this meeting, but we are here to learn together.

We are convinced if we can certify quality we can tell those interested in elearning that they have a quality education program, a way to grow this demand fo elearning. The possibility of reaching out to remote areas without higher education supply is what motivates us to do this in a rigorous manner. We want to reach them with at good supply and improve the competitiveness of our education programs. Elearning we are not benchmarking us against national but international. Access to elearning is the web. If we are not good in elearning they will choose programs of other countries. We want them to choose our courses and not those of other countries. So we have an international outlook.

We want elearning based on basic competencies, development of life long learning skills. We believe that elearning, vis a vis traditional learning system is to develop competencies. The introduction of technologies will improve the skills of our students.

We want programs with validated and certified programs. Use of technologies around a defined plan. One of the evidences of the study is that this not felt in all universities. You here are the nerds of your institutions. Others don’t see what you see. … lost translation for a bit…

Have teachers who can manage and improve their own competencies. Elearning becomes the basic tool to reach out to 310,000 teachers to improve their competencies. It is the only alternative. We have tried to reach out through direct invitation and courses, but it is too slow moving process. Exhausting and costly. The challenge of improving the teaching competencies lies in these new technologies.

We would like to at least have, with the massive attendance of this forum, we want you to surprise us. We want 100 programs with an elearning component for 80%. Connect 80- institutions to the REANATA network. To ensure connectivity to a high speed network need. Need quality assurance system based on academic peers who we will identify and train. Reglamentacion del registr calificado para la modalidad 100% en linea, y para modalidaes mixtas. We want to harmonize with international standards.

What are we doing to make this happen? We have a sort of stock exchange, an open exchange where we are requesting the submittal of technological elearning programs. Linking and alliances with competitiveness sectors. On a regional basis. Some did not have capacity at first. Regions that did not show up did not have universities or capacity to even have traditional classroom programs. In the last round focus on elearning and open to you all. This afternoon you will be given the details on how to establish contact and submit elearning programs for areas where we have gaps.

To support you and the process, this applies to both the implementation of ICT in higher end and to people having the tools they need to set up their eprograms. Strengthening the learning objects in our elearning portal, http://www.columbiaaprendes.co – where we rewarded with prizes the best elearning objects. Put them on the portal for all universities. Currently have 1800 virtual objects. We have selected the best objects and made them available to all university. They are there for you to appropriate and adapt to your context and need. See them as a benchmark in developing your eprograms. Forming etutors, reaching out to etutors three years ago, invited them – first round high level dropout. Second time all completed 2200 completed certification through ecourses. We have the institutions who wanted to strengthen their capacity participated. We have the network of etutors. We have a lecture on networks. Some of those tutors are present here. Gives more momentum. Working with schools of education, teacher training schools. Have to reach out to teachers through elearning. In certain areas, we don’t have the means to reach out to them. So working with schools of education, pedagogical university . In very general terms we hope that the international speakers contributions and subsequent debates you may engage in on the supports you need for us to obtain thsese goals, this forum is going to translate into concrete actions, the push we need to be able to achieve what we hope to accomplish in elearning. Thank you for being here.