Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ ICT in Education in Colombia

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Jul 26, 2006

Summary of a talk by Javier Botero Alvarez, Vice-minister of Higher Education, Colombia
June 26, 2006, Bogota, Colombia

26 percent coverage in HE in Colombia (about midpoint in Latin America)

Revolucion Educativa
- 350,000 new seats in education (target
- time & effort required
- use of new technologies in HE
- goal was to contribute to develop competencies
- system for quality assurance

1. content
2. use & appropriation of technology
3. access and technological infrastructure

- production of quality content - bank of LOs - to be able to make them readily available, so they don't have to begin from scratch - the academic world have been developing these objects - good way to go by promoting the sharing of these learning objects. Last year, held a contest, over 300 were submitted, they're all in the object bank, which can be accessed through the portal
- upper education desktop & portal - developed in May 2004, 186,000 users registered; 125K visits per day
- promoting the use of IT in schools - national centre of education - state of the art distributed system, each institution has its own local administrative zone, and it collects all the information for statistics
- evaluation of objects: we could have put everything in the bank, but they are not assessed, but we prefer to load only objects that have been evaluated, so users can trust the object
- portal - Colombia aprende

- needs assessment
- tutor network (red de tutores)
- teacher training in the learning environment
- studies in the use of new technologies at the management level
- institutions should have a development policy to use the new IT
- it should become a clear fundamental axis for these institutions - so we have worked on a managers' network in the field of new technologies

- we need infrastructure, but it is not enough in itself
- we have to have it very clear what we are going to do, that is why we have to have the content
- high speed network - RENATA - Columbian high-speed network for education, 6 cities connected now
- launched videoconference service through the network
- the policy behind RENATA is that it has to be based on the regional and institutional initiatives
- research network - COLCIENCIAS
- expand access so there is access in all cities of Colombia - want 100 regional centers (so far have 65 centres already created) - these centres have the function of giving access to students, esp. for regions that are marginal


These IT process should be available in all training, and teachers and students must know how to access and take advantage of these new technologies. The interactivity and collaboration spaces are also great; they facilitate teamwork & the redefinition of the teaching process. It's a question of taking the content of a regular class and defining it so it can be downloaded into the network. But the tools are much more powerful now, everything has changed, the pedagogical means as well.

We commissioned a study to give us reliable information. 171 institutes of HE participated (63 percent of total, 40 of 74 universities, 52 of 90 higher ed institutes, etc). Public as well as private institutions. Classified into 4 groups, based on use of IT, increase in use, courses using e-learning or ICT, attitudes of the administration, etc, and the cooperation existing at the institutions & in business.
- vanguard
- cooperating
- self-sufficient
- sceptical

50 percent of institutions have IT policies - this is a serious problem, there must be an institutional policy so it becomes a sustainable strategy

82 percent of universities use tech at the organizational level; 90 percent of universities have or are building an intranet; 67-74% of universities report online; 65 percent of universities have registration online (only 19 percent of technical institutions). All these stats lower for the other types of institutions.

Access to PCs - practically all administrative personnel have access, teachers 96 percent in universities (numbers range 8% and up). Student access - 20 students per PC - about the same at every level. This is a high number compared to international standards. But middle and lower education, 0 to 1. So it's better.

Use in Education

55% of institutions in study do support teachers in use of IT, but 45 percent do not, and this support is very important. Technologies are used for online courses on the use of new technologies, teaching using e-learning (47 percent have active courses, 24 percent in development, for universities - lower for others). It is more a support function, not the main methodology of delivering a course. And sometimes there are no strategies for ensuring the quality of the course.


There is a weakness in this respect; very few institutions use these to work in a network or collaborative manner, both in material production or design of new program. None is over 35 or 40 percent. International cooperation - the figure is very low, it is only 16 percept that offer international courses. The use of these technologies is low in cooperative work; we hope with the use of RENATA perhaps this will improve to some extent.


vanguard - 13 percent
cooperating - 13 percent
ss - 37 percent
sceptical - 37 percent (these are institutions that do not believe in this)

Characteristics of Vanguards
- they have an IT plan
- online registration for courses
- integrated in teaching significant number of courses related to basic and supplementary training
- they have their own allocation of resources for technology
- strategic cooperation with national institutions
- most are universities, and most are private
- 89 percent have an intranet

- 58 percent have an IT plan
- they have some digital services, such as registration
- technologies are used less, but there is a positive attitude
- they are interested in cooperation with national agencies
- 30 percent would like to offer e-learning, etc

- 64 percent have formal plans
- ITC integrated in teaching
- limited number of e-learning
- positive attitude to ITC
- very little strategic cooperation with institutions or abroad
- not so much use in teaching, more at the management level
- if these institutions open up, they will probably be vanguard

- limited number of virtual courses
- little cooperation with other institutions
- mostly small institutions, so they have staff and financial problems
- many of these are public institutions, this requires working with the sector
- 14 percent have IT plans
- few have an intranet, few provide access to staff and students
- no online registration, no e-learning
- 25 provide tech support to teachers

The use of IT in education is not something that should be voluntary. It is essential. Using these ICTs the students will become the actor in training; while there is a formal lecture the students may sit and daydream, but when students use ICTs the students will participate. Not to mention the self-discipline which is promoted, which is very useful in the later life.


1. Create a national bank, including institutional banks, with clear quality standards. So they will use these learning objects; they need to reach agreements and promote cooperation.

2. We have to keep teaching teachers, so we can have an education that is not only virtual but all the modes and means. And developing competencies in students, use of these tools as part of their professional development in other schools.

3. A permanent administrative approach, including a plan.

4. Access to infrastructure, including consolidation of RENATA. We have to broaden access to RENATA within the institutions.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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