Education Resources & Best Practices

Experiences of Change in the Teaching / Learning Model

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Written by José Guillermo Berlioz Pastor

Introduction

Education is a continuous process without end. It is the most significant pillar for the economic development of a system or country; the majority of governments focus their budget on improving the quality of education as a social benefit.

I’ve always had a passion for teaching, to which I have devoted over 26 years. The experience I have gained in the business sector I have put into practice in the classroom.

Some of the notable qualities that professional and excellent teachers possess are ease of expression, charisma and tolerance. However, I cannot exclude, which is the most important feeling of all, is enthusiasm for teaching. A person can have broad expertise and experience in their professional area that is vitiated by the teaching and the ability to transfer their knowledge to the public or particular audience.

Background

I remember my first experience at the academy in 1987 and I was only 25; I was working in a normal day job at an advertising agency. My class started at 6:15am at the Zamorano Pan-American Agricultural School. Although I had just recently begun working in my first job and had no experience in classrooms, I did have in mind that I should be eloquently talking about issues and selling my points of view.

My first challenge was how to express myself in Spanish, having learned everything in English; I accept that it must have been quite funny for students, when they heard me mixing both languages. In time I was perfecting my techniques in classroom learning modalities.

I began to dictate other courses, always related to Marketing. I acquired professional growth in management with renowned companies such as IBM, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Zamorano and Terra Group, which helped establish my dominance and empathy for teaching.

I decided to innovate my style by putting theories into practice with terms and topics covered in one class. I would illustrate examples of products, brands, and companies in real life, as a concept, using the scenario above that could be applied in different ways. That’s when I modified my teaching style, relying less on theoretical and more on practical and creative methods, applying systems where students could develop the analysis and reasoning skills to interpret and propose viable and assertive strategies.

Learning Methodology – Pedagogical Turn

In 1988 I began teaching at UNITEC, I was also undergraduate professor at the University of San Pedro Sula (1994-1998), and a postgraduate professor at the UNAH (2009) and Zamorano (1999-2009). In the same year I began to teach Master courses, but it was not until January 2013 that I taught full-time UNITEC, when it really took a 180 degree turn away from what I originally perceived the teacher-student relationship in the teaching-learning methodology.

With experience at other universities I could see that UNITEC was different from the rest in its student culture. The traditional system or method of learning-oriented teaching was misplaced and simply did not work. The student had evolved with new the ICT resources available in this booming digital generation. Young people today are more curious, inquisitive and demanding in their forms and styles of reasoning and use of logic.

The Value Added Training for Teaching

I then enrolled in the LAUREATE teacher training modules, starting with higher education. I concluded that it was necessary to change the traditional mode of learning that all teachers know. We focused on other student-centered teaching methods, such as a counselor, and applying the “Coaching” techniques.

It is necessary to cultivate a trusting environment where the information exchange is always a two-way process, while understanding more about the students’ needs and continue to develop educational techniques that can be detected in shorter periods, with the opportunity and concentrate efforts to improve key areas.

I was a teacher who came, taught with much credit and good judgement of the class, applying various monitoring and evaluation methods, but was apathetic and unworried if the students really learned or not.

Taking the Higher Education module helped me developed a spirit of commitment and I could see how important coaching process in learning by doing model.

Evolution of 100% Virtual and Hybrid Learning System

In May 2013 I began the module that was a 100% Virtual and Hybrid Learning Modal. With this, I evolved into another world of education: using innovative tools on a virtual platform with discussion forums, blogs, pre-recorded interactive videos and zoom sessions in real time.

Using technological platforms like Blackboard and / or Moodle are modern requirements that enable the student to show greater empathy and harmony with the class: facilitate the learning process, access to educational materials, complete evaluation forms online, virtual “coffee rooms”, download links, space to upload work, projects, homework, and teacher consultation area. I also benefit using it as a work platform for engaging, using social networks like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for gathering information and interacting and updating students in a micro and macro environment.

Conclusions:

A teacher can be excellent teaching classroom courses without showing their expertise in virtual education. The latter is a totally different environment which needs up to three times more time than a classroom course, always ensuring that a student from Costa Rica, Peru, Mexico, Panama or Honduras never feel alone. Even though everyone is scattered in different countries, we are actually in the same room. That’s the magic of technology.

It is great how everyone enjoys hearing each other’s accent and different ways of speaking, their colloquialisms, eating habits in each country, learning about new cultures, discovering different consumption habits and trends from one market to another, as well as how to cultivate new friendships who could become strategic partners in the future; all of which are invaluable elements in virtual learning.

It is important to emphasize that when students work in teams to progress with a project and present it at the end, they integrate ideas and apply them to their selected social, cultural, economic, demographic, political and technological social market conditions.

The multicultural learning is the most important element by multidisciplinary and is unmatched by any other system.

It is impressive to see the student participation in discussion forums: sharing each other’s thoughts and together building a relevant database, created from a simple task and in the end, able to generate a comprehensive source for collecting logical information and adapted from what they had studied.

Therefore, new resources and tools that offer virtual education make no difference whatsoever, unless a teacher implements a hybrid learning model which effectively use of the platform in class time.

It is natural that there is some initial uncertainty about whether or not the student will learn, how user-friendly the platform and tools are, if this can work with people from other countries and if there is an agreement of ideas of its use. In the end you will realize that using this virtual class models that you will wish to be online and watching what is happening on the platform, and there will always be something new.

Finally, I must state that the more time that you use the virtual modes, there is more interaction, greater presence and more involvement with the student which can be seen with the different options through ICT.

Recommendations

For teachers, a clear message: times change, new technology enables us adapt to new teaching environments, which is part of education and will be necessary to train, if you really want to be up to date with reality.

I invite both teachers and students to be part of this new experience. It is not a normal virtual class; it is will people from various countries, it will develop new skills and abilities that will keep you active and up to date in the education system.

Guillermo-BerliozMy name is Jose Guillermo Berlioz, I am Honduran, and I live in the city of Tegucigalpa. I work at UNITEC (Universidad Tecnológica Centroamericana) and I hold two positions: the first as Director of International Relations and the second as Academic Head of the School of Marketing and International Business. I teach undergraduate students (present and virtual methods), and I have taught at the graduate faculty, as well as masters programs.

I studied a BA in Marketing from Louisiana State University (LSU) and another in Business Management, University of Louisiana at Lafayette. I also obtained my Masters in Business Management and Marketing at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), Spain. I am currently completing my Doctorate (PhD) in Economics and Business at UNITEC.

About the Author

Universidad Tecnológica Centroamericana

La Universidad Tecnológica Centroamericana (UNITEC) forma profesionales emprendedores, capaces de trascender por sus competencias y valores, en un ámbito humano y tecnológico, para que contribuyan al desarrollo sostenible y transformación de la sociedad. UNITEC será reconocida en 2015 como la mejor Universidad de Centroamérica por su calidad educativa acreditada, el uso de tecnología de vanguardia y la formación de talento humano con enfoque local y global.