The educators, who were gathered in a conference room in the Sheraton Hotel in Guayaquil, Ecuador, burst into applause.
They had just heard itslearning global trainer Kat Thorne describe how itslearning can include children with disabilities in classroom discussions. Kat told the story of a disabled boy who was unable to raise his hand in class. Instead, he participated by writing blog entries in itslearning that were read by his classmates.
This story resonated with the educators, says Nelson Quintero, CEO of Aprende, the company that distributes itslearning in Ecuador.
“That presentation got cheers. They really liked that. They see itslearning as something different. They see that itslearning is not just software, it´s not just a tool. itslearning is something that is going to help them educate students of all levels. That really gets into the hearts of people,” Nelson says.
´Paradigm shift´ in education in Ecuador
Representatives from 15 schools in Ecuador attended the itslearning launch event, including staff from the five largest schools in Guayaquil, Ecuador´s largest city. The launch, which was held in the beginning of September, attracted 30 participants, including principals, teachers and school IT staff.
They stayed 20 minutes after the presentation, peppering the Aprende Ecuadorian team with questions about itslearning. “We showed them how to make a course in itslearning and they really liked it. At the end of the lunch, they wanted to learn more,” Nelson says.
This reflects a growing interest in learning platforms in Ecuador, Nelson says. Online education is a hot topic in the South American country whose government is encouraging the use of learning platforms in schools.
"itslearning represents the new kind of education. The schools need to be prepared for what the government will ask them to know. We want them to be ready for what is coming in terms of online education. The government is asking for new technology in schools. itslearning is going to fit into this new paradigm shift my country is going through to improve education," Nelson says.
A country of contrasts
Today in Ecuador, Nelson says about 20 per cent of schools use a learning platform, representing the start of the online education revolution. But the educators at the itslearning launch in Guayaquil want to know more, with 80 per cent of them scheduling follow-up meetings with Aprende.
In a country of contrasts, from the sweltering heat of the Amazon to the windswept volcanic rock of the Galapagos Islands, the education landscape is just as varied. A country with large income gaps, access to technology is not guaranteed for all Ecuadorians. Nelson says 90% of students attending the five largest schools in Guayaquil have access to smartphones and computers at home. Students in rural areas, however, are not as connected. This fall, the Aprende Ecuadorian team will roll out two itslearning pilot projects, one in a distance school and one in a school known for embracing technology.
By teachers, for teachers
The challenge lies in getting the distance school students hooked on online learning. This is difficult because many of them belong to the lower class and are less familiar with technology. The Aprende team believes if these students can use itslearning, any student can. “We just have to show them how easy it is to use,” Nelson says.
The teachers who attended the launch recognized itslearning´s potential to change education in Ecuador for the better, Nelson says.
"The future of education is online. itslearning was built by people who know education. It was made by teachers for teachers. They know about education. That´s something the teachers appreciate. They thought they were a part of this and they relaxed. The teachers realized itslearning was necessary to be ready for a new level of education in Ecuador and around the world," he says.
Posted on Fri, September 21, 2012
by Kristine Lango