Universidad Continental leads the way in distance education
Find out how the university has achieved a strong digital transformation for its distance education offering, which is supported by Open LMS and its e-Learning partner. Sybven.
Universidad Continental in Peru stands out among the seven best universities in the country for its modern and innovative educational offerings. The institution has five faculties, 28 undergraduate programs, two specializations and 10 graduate programs. Students can choose between three modalities: face-to-face, face-to-face and distance learning, and totally remote instruction, offering a multi-modal and multi-campus education.
With four modern campuses in the cities of Arequipa, Cusco, Huancayo and Lima, and its P&D educational model that encompasses consolidated and emerging global theories and practices, Universidad Continental offers a distance education model based on independent work, interaction, personalization, collaboration and flexibility. These concepts work and evolve from the planning, continuous monitoring and analysis-based management promoted by the university. In fact, through this model, the institution achieved a five-star rating in the "Online Learning" category of the QS Stars Rating System, and quality certification for online training accredited by the Spanish agency AENOR.
Achieving an effective online learning ecosystem
At Universidad Continental, the digital learning ecosystem digital learning ecosystem has evolved from being a set of tools, resources, technologies and methodologies, to become a space that integrates and generates educational value for both teachers and students. Achieving the technological integration of all tools, platforms and solutions is fundamental for the institution and represents a great strength in its offerings, thus improving distance education.
When it comes to a digital learning ecosystem, integrating technology with the instructor's methodology and the needs of the students is a challenge that the university is continually working towards. Miguel Ángel Córdova Solís, Director of Digital Technologies for Education at Universidad Continental, said. To this end, and with the aim of providing visibility and a contribution to society, the university created a Learning Tools and Resources Center to promote the consultation and orientation of online resources for teaching and learning.
To evolve its digital learning ecosystem, Universidad Continental has also been working rigorously to incorporate emerging digital technologies with strong educational potential into its academic offerings. From simulators and virtual labs to XR (virtual and augmented reality) applications, the university has sought to pursue a strategy that combines the use of existing technological solutions, coupled with proprietary developments customized to the needs and requirements of its faculty.
The road to digital transformation
Universidad Continental is considered a pioneer in online education in the country, which can imply a great social responsibility, according to Córdova Solís. When it comes to digital transformation, the institution is proud of the road it has traveled to date in terms of progress. More significant than its achievements so far, however, has been the conscious exercise of constantly looking ahead to inform its next steps.
Currently, the university is implementing a two-year digital skills development plan for its faculty, with the ultimate goal of supporting educational transformation efforts at the institution. "It is a continuous path of improvement, change and evolution because technology is advancing and new paradigms and emerging pedagogies are emerging all the time" said the director. The way students learn also evolves and the university wants to be able to respond to these changes in order to continue innovating.
Main challenges of online education
Online education can pose pedagogical challenges, especially when getting started with eLearning. According to Córdova Solís, eLearning technologies help teachers by providing them with a variety of tools to produce their own materials and/or reuse existing ones. "eLearning platforms allow us to have a 24 × 7 online space available to our students where we can not only share content but also develop activities and apply learning assessments. In addition, the vast amount of information recorded on each learner is a dream come true for any instructor when compared to the resources we had 15 years ago."
Distance education proposes a new teaching methodology. Techniques and strategies should be more in line with the learning and not so much with the teaching component. "Important strategies include collaborative and experiential activities that challenge students to deliver work in innovative ways that showcase their learning, and providing tutorials based on what we identify from the information gathered by the LMS," says the director.
On the road to online learning, choosing a good LMS partner is also essential. At Continental University, Open LMS provided special support during the pandemic by enabling the institution to scale its web services to support a larger number of users. The university also received a great deal of support through integrated solutions like Intelliboard for personalized tutoring.
Initiate a digital transformation project
When it comes to initiating a digital transformation initiative, the director proposes that educational institutions should drive technology initiatives for two main reasons.
1 ) Institutions of higher education should work on processes, practices or services that adopt technologies that provide a better experience and communication tactics for students and faculty.
2 ) The learning experience must be transformed. Today, all educational institutions that have survived the pandemic have implemented online platforms and digital technologies. However, this must be accompanied by new ways of delivering content, new teaching techniques and strategies, new assessment methodologies and, finally, a faculty mentoring role that generates truly unique and personalized learning experiences for students.
Miguel Angel Cordova Solis is the Director of Digital Technologies for Education at Universidad Continental in Peru. As a systems engineer and instructor since the age of 20, he has worked in various educational entities supporting online learning processes and the management of online platforms, when any reference to eLearning, LMS or digital platforms was relatively unknown or perceived as a futuristic trend.
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