Thought the community might like to see the report from my trip last year to Chile. On November 12, 2009 SUNY and INACAP signed an MOU agreeing to “Broaden International Opportunities for Students and Faculty “ specifics will be communicated as they become available.
Alejandra M. Pickett, Associate Director
SUNY Learning Network (SLN)
State University of New York (SUNY)
Santiago, Concepción, & Valparaíso, Chile
September 27 – October 10, 2009
I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to visit and lecture in Chile via the US Speaker and Specialist Grant Program on “Best Practices in Distance Learning” from September 26 to October 3, 2009, at a variety of institutions and venues.
In Santiago I had the pleasure of meeting with Mrs. Sally Bendersky, chief of the higher education division at the Ministry of Education, to discuss how information technologies can advance the quality of teaching and learning in higher education, and to share strategies that have proven successful in reaching diverse learners. I also met Sonia Zavando Benitez, chief of the department of innovation, and Constanza Mekis Martinex, coordinator of libraries from the curriculum and evaluation unit of the Ministry of Education. They were particularly interested in evidence of online learning effectiveness and I have shared with them various resources and publications on this topic.
I then had the opportunity to visit UNIACC and to meet Andrés Lastra, Academic Vice Chancellor or UNIACC and Prof. Luis Cabrera, director of the department of educational technology, and to present on the topic of effective online instructional design. It was a pleasure to address this knowledgeable audience of experienced faculty, administrators, and instructional designers and technologists. They were engaged and asked great questions, looking for examples and feedback on specific online instructional design problems. I have several email exchanges with the director and an interested student from the presentation and am very impressed by the efforts in UNIACConline.
In Concepción I had the opportunity to visit the University of Bío-Bío (UBB), and to meet with Prof. Marlene Muñoz Sepúlveda, director of UBB Center for Distance Education, and her colleagues, Dr. Elizabeth Grandón, director international relations, and Bernarda Larenas, eLearning coordinator, as well as faculty, administrators, and staff from UBB. This visit stands out for me for two reasons: first, because Prof. Muñoz sought me out prior to my arrival in Chile via several social web venues to initiate contact and conversation with me, something I greatly appreciated; and secondly, because this was the first of several presentations that I conducted in Chile entirely in Spanish. The presentation “The 21st Century Classroom: Exploring the potential for instruction & learning” was very well received and I have continued my contact with Prof. Muñoz. She has expressed interest in future collaborations and a return visit to Chile for her university.
In Valparaíso, I was introduced to the Aula Virtual PUCV and met Prof. David Contreras Guzmán and his staff. They are in the beginning stages of migrating from a homegrown course management system to Moodle, and so we share similar experiences and had much to discuss. It was an excellent opportunity for me to address a team of highly experienced instructional designers working to support online faculty with whom I have so much in common. I have had several email exchanges with the director and one of his staff. We have become friends in Facebook and I have become more familiar with the impressive work being done in the Aula Virtual. This was also one of the presentations that I conducted in Spanish.
It was a pleasure to be invited to address the group coordinated by Susana Claro, teacher-training director of Enseña Chile. Meeting her and having the opportunity to meet her graduate students and other interested faculty and administrators at the PUC to show them my experimental course ETAP 687 Intro to online teaching as the basis for our discussion on “New Tools in Adult Distance Learning” was a great opportunity to meet an engaged and knowledgeable group of dedicated educators in an intimate classroom setting. This is another of the presentations I conducted in Spanish. I have been in contact with Prof. Claro and she has told me that as a result of my presentation they are now using several of the tools I demonstrated. I was very impressed by caliber of students and the dedication and commitment of the efforts of this group to improve education in Chile.
The presentation at the PUC for the impressive TELEDUC event was very well attended and received. Richard Warner, executive director of the Center for Distance Education UC was a gracious host introducing me to PUC officials, and education, and military officials present at the conference. There was enthusiastic response to the presentation in the forms of lots questions and interest from participants in my contact information.
The main issues discussed in all meetings revolved around the effectiveness of distance education and the development of instructional design methods, support services, and technical resources to facilitate the effective delivery of online courses. Audiences were primarily interested in effective online teaching, learning and course design practices, as well as in how to insure online course quality, how to authentically assess student learning online, and in keys to success and lessons learned from SLN. I think one clarification that I was able to add to the conversation was the distinction between elearning/ereading and what we in SLN consider online learning, which involves deliberately designed and facilitated interaction between the instructor and students, between students, and with the content to achieve specific course learning objectives. I was able to discuss and demonstrate specific examples of “how to”, “why?”, and “what happens when?” in the design of engaging online content, the facilitation of engaging online collaboration and interactions, and the use of varied methods and approaches to provide engaging online feedback and assessment. I also shared SLN’s model and approach to faculty development and course design, which begins with a student-centered constructivist approach to learning, which is supported by a theoretical foundation that informs our understanding of effective online teaching and learning environments and practices, and that we use to guide our investigations and to move research findings in to practice that positively affect student and faculty success, motivation, retention, satisfaction, and reported learning. Criteria for evaluating the use of emerging technologies to enhance instruction were also addressed.
The highlight of the trip was without a doubt the time spent with INACAP and the CIEDU group, the keynote addresses in Santiago and Concepción, the trip to visit and present at the Valparaíso campus, and the numerous meetings, events, broadcasts, trainings, and presentations at all levels of the institution. I cannot speak highly enough about their interest, care, hospitality and attentiveness during my visit. They are a unique institution in Chile with a dedicated staff, and the vision, leadership, and alignment at the executive levels with the desire and commitment to make a significant impact in Chile and in South America with online learning. It was an extraordinary honor to be sought out by them and recommended for this program, which I deeply appreciate both personally and professionally. The relationship between SUNY and INACAP will be formalized on November 12, 2009, with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two institutions making collaborations between SUNY, the SUNY Learning Network, and INACAP possible. I look forward with great anticipation to the possibilities of future collaborations, exchanges, and projects with INACAP and a continuation of the work begun on this trip with their pilot program of online courses and faculty.
Another highlight of the trip for me was the invitation to attend the reception hosted by US Ambassador to Chile Paul E. Simons at his residence in honor of Angela Emerson, the embassy’s newly arrived Cultural Affairs Officer, and to then to also receive a request from Ambassador Simons for a personal meeting with him to discuss my visit and online teaching and learning. It was a great honor for me to be able to meet him and to introduce him to SLN and SUNY, and to discuss my work and thoughts about online teaching and learning in general, and in Chile with him. It also meant a great deal to me that Laurie B. Weitzenkorn, US embassy counselor for public affairs in Chile, personally attended my TELEDUC presentation and spent time with me discussing online teaching and learning. Lastly, I cannot neglect to mention and commend U.S. Embassy Cultural Affairs Education Specialist Diana López-Rey Arce for her expert coordination and administration of a very demanding agenda. Her personal attention, genuine interest in the topics, expertise in Chilean education and culture, and her extensive network of colleagues at the institutions, offices, programs, and events we visited made her an invaluable, informed, and effective companion, organizer, and adviser. Prior to my trip I had numerous phone conversations with Diana to review the program schedule and to clarify goals, expectations, and needs to insure that I understood the audiences, the venues, and the contexts of each university, group, and event, so that I could tailor my presentations appropriately. The program schedule was delightfully ambitious and perfectly targeted to appropriate audiences for my presentations. I received a briefing on my arrival at the post and an exit interview attended by Angela Emerson, cultural affairs attaché, Andrew Curiel, cultural affairs associate, and Diana López-Rey, my coordinator. I can think of nothing that would substantively improve the program. The overall logistics and administration of the program were expertly initiated and supported by Program Officer Carmen Gloria Aponte from the U.S. Society, Values and Politics International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC. The arrangements, communications, and details from her office were superb and efficiently handled. I do have to acknowledge and thank my colleague, Claudia Hernandez Muñoz from the SUNY Office of International Programs, for interceding on my behalf with Program officials while I was on vacation to prepare the paperwork necessary for participation in the program within a very short timeframe
Since being back I have had the chance to review my notes, cards, reflect on the trip and now with that context to review web sites from the institutions, organizations, people and programs I visited. I only regret that we did not have more time for more interaction. I have followed up with each of the principals from my visits and look forward to and would welcome the opportunity to continue the conversation started on the this visit to continue to share experiences, best practices, lessons learned, and to further explore common interests, collaborations, or exchanges. I prepared and provided a document full of links to support all the presentations I made, and to facilitate contact and to provide further information or review of information presented,. I have publicly posted all the presentation slides, websites, and documents (links appended below). In my follow up with individuals, I sent links to these posted materials, publications, and electronic resources to reinforce my presentations. I have also appended, for your information, links to media, US embassy, and organizational coverage of my visit, presentations, and interviews.
I am so grateful for the warm reception I received in Chile and for the interest in my work. I seek to inform and influence the quality of online teaching and learning environments, to insure the effective development of online educators, to understand online instructional design, and to advocate for the effective use of technology to enhance instruction and engage learners. My mission is to learn from others and to share what I know because I want to change the world and believe that that can be accomplished with education. I believe very strongly that education is a right, and the way to address many of the issues we face in society today in all parts of the world. Online learning is one way to provide access to those that might not be able to avail themselves of an education in any other way. The US speaker and specialist program provided me an important opportunity to connect and interact with educators, officials, decision makers, and innovators in Chile to network, share, learn, and to begin conversations that would not otherwise have been possible. Chile is in a unique position because of its geography, resources, existing infrastructures, and its high percentages of penetration in the population with access to the Internet and telecommunications. They are well positioned to significantly respond to the need to improve their k12 educational system and to meet the higher education needs of working adults and other underserved populations in the country with online learning options.
I learned so much on my trip and had such wonderful opportunities to meet with so many dedicated Chilean educators, officials, and students- all extremely interested in online teaching and learning and technology-enhanced instruction. It was also an extraordinary experience for me on a personal level – to for the first time address groups publicly and professionally in Spanish, my mother’s native language, and to have had the opportunity represent myself in Chile as an educator, woman, woman in technology and higher education, working mother, and Latina of Colombian heritage. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity.
The opportunity to represent my country, the State University of New York, the SUNY Learning Network, and my work to engage in conversations with educators, decision makers, administrators, staff, faculty, and students in Chile on the topic of online learning is a privilege I feel very deeply. Thank you again.
Public links to web resources, documents, and presentations from my program
Links to web and media coverage of my trip:
Media & Interviews
- For the following 3 El Mercurio links you have to copy and paste the url. It will not function to just click on the link from this page:
- http://www.utecnologica.cl/tportalvp/index.php?t=58&i=41&cc=16668.436&tm=3 & http://www.utecnologica.org/tportalvp/?t=91&i=2&cc=16668.744&tm=3 & http://www.utecnologica.org/tportalvp/index.php?t=91&i=2&cc=16668.744&tm=3 & http://www.utecnologica.cl/tportalvp/index.php?t=58&i=41&cc=16668.436&tm=3
- http://www.inacap.cl/tportalvp/?t=43&i=49&cc=16678.295&tm=3 & http://www.utecnologica.org/tportalvp/?t=131&i=2&cc=16678.1167&tm=3 & http://www.utecnologica.org/tportalvp/index.php?t=131&i=2&cc=16678.1167&tm=3
- http://aula.virtual.ucv.cl/d10.php – see starting at 10.2.09