Externadista Virtual Education Center
In recent years, the Externado de Colombia University Virtual Education Center (VEC) has diversified its services and increased the range of possibilities to contribute to the qualification of teaching-learning processes through the implementation of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
In 2018, The VEC continues the Virtual Support Classrooms, the web environments available to teachers to use as support or complement to face-to-face undergraduate or graduate class subjects; at the end of 2017, there were 281 active classrooms. They are designed and constructed by teachers, supported by the VEC, through training and ongoing guidance.
Together with the Virtual Support Classrooms, are the Small Communities that constitute a digital interaction environment. This platform aims to meet the faculties’ needs to have technological facilities, as well as access to a secure and unified communication channel with, and among, graduate students.
Every small community created for each group or cohort of different graduate programs aims to generate networks of exchange of information and knowledge and be the main space where coordinators communicate with students, publish study materials, and send notifications, among other activities. Currently, there are close to 290 small active communities.
To assist users in the use of these tools, the VEC team also offers support, such as password recovery, data access, and search of academic programs documents, among others.
Also continuing is the ICT Zone, a space for Externadistas Professors, aiming to be the platform to reflect how ICT can improve their teaching practice. Its main objective is to serve as a forum for collaboration and support among teachers to exchange information, content, and participate in activities relating to the design and implementation of strategies and technology applications in the classroom.
This year, also, the Education and Training in the Pedagogical Use of ICT is strengthened. The plan consists of the development of workshops, custom consulting, and training on techniques, methods, and learning evaluation, using ICT. These spaces are opened throughout the year as it is important that, in today’s world, teachers be trained as digital individuals, skilled in the management of technological tools and promotion of informational skills among students. Attendance to these activities by the University teaching community has grown exponentially; in 2013, when the spaces first opened, 58 professors attended, while last year (2017) a total of 248 professors participated.
On the other hand, the RedEX initiative is part of the new group of services the VEC launches in 2018. RedEX is the Digital Educational Unit for Educational Resources Production. Mainly, the Unit consists of a physical space, equipped with everything necessary to enable professors to enrich teaching and learning processes and explore and design digital resources in various formats.
With technology hardware and software, and human talent capable of providing the necessary support, RedEX offers professors the following services:
- Personalized and group advice on pedagogical, technical, and graphical issues.
- Micro-workshop cycles to learn the management of tools for digital resources production.
- Activities to strengthen virtual classrooms.
- ICT times: Informal spaces where teachers share their experiences on incorporating ICT in their academic work.
- Loan of teaching materials and tools.
- Loan of software for the design of digital educational resources.
Also, the VEC launches EX-MOOC, a project for creating massive online open courses with the Externadista seal. For 2018, the Externado approved the design and production of courses on issues of interest for the various faculties.
The University promotes these initiatives because it has the academic strength, the recognition of the educational community and, additionally, the human talent, technical expertise, processes, and procedures to support the creation of courses of this nature. Currently, the first course, dealing with penal abolitionism, is being developed.
Additionally, the University faculties, together with the VEC, are developing virtual projects in businesses, governmental organizations, NGOs, and various social sectors. Among them, the General Auditor of the Republic (AGR), the Ministry of Finance, and the Higher Council of the Judiciary, the Ministry of National Education (MEN), and the Colombian Agency for Reintegration (ACR), among others.