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Connecting the classrooms with technology

Interactive class
Professors can enrich their teaching methods with the help of Conecta-TE.    
10/04/2018
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The innovative pedagogical models Los Andes uses enhance learning environments, and classes are not only taught in classrooms.

                                                   
‘Ronaldo’ is today’s winner. He beat ‘Messi’, ‘Beyonce’, ‘Sofia Vergara’, ‘Lebron James’, ‘Serena Williams’, and 24 other characters. This is not the list of the world’s highest-paid celebrities. The competition does not take place in a sporting environment or in front of the cameras but in the Construction and Estimation Systems class offered by the Department of Architecture at the Universidad de los Andes, which is led by professors Daniel Huertas Nadal and Juan Manuel Medina del Río.

It is a surprise quiz and to take part students create their own avatar and answer a series of questions with their cellphones in a given time limit. Finally, the score is displayed on the screen and a summary of the answers is shown.

Assistant professor Huertas Nadal says that, “We are not interested in the answers all being correct. We want to identify the areas within the group that need to be strengthened. We are not so bothered about the result as we are the process”.

This is only one of the tools used in Uniandes that is part of the innovative education in class. The initiative started a year-and-a-half ago and is being supported by Conecta-TE (Center for Innovation in Technology and Education).

It is part of what today is known as the Flipped Classroom: a new pedagogical model in which the direct teaching is done outside the classroom and the time in class is used to develop activities that have significant learning value.

In a traditional classroom the professor presents content, while the student receives the information. Outside the classroom, when the student is doing homework, they apply what has been learnt in class. In the flipped classroom, these two activities are inverted. According to the director of Conecta- TE, Luz Adriana Osorio, by using this methodology, the student can engage with the content before the in-class session. They can explore it at their own rhythm using different formats, and in the class session the teacher can dedicate the majority of their time to using the knowledge learnt. “The professor plays the role of mediator in the knowledge acquisition process”, adds Osorio.

The Construction and Estimation Systems class is a perfect example of what an inverted class looks like. “We make small videos that we call ‘pills’. These are summaries in which we highlight the main concepts or issues associated with the topics that they are working on at that moment. The videos are ten minutes long and are put on a platform that the student can access before class”, explains Huertas Nadal.

In this class, to improve the pedagogical experience, a unique blend of tools is used such as virtual forums, viewing the construction of Building C with a 360° virtual tour using Panotour, padlet (a digital canvas to create projects and include multimedia archives that is easy to share), WhatsApp discussions, and case studies.

The help that Conecta-TE provides

Making sure that teachers’ educational stake is enhanced and maximized with alternative proposals requires at least a year of work before a semester-long pilot can be launched. Conecta-TE helps teachers who want to apply different methodologies in their classes to redesign their courses. It then shows them how using technology can enhance pedagogical designs.

“Conecta-TE is not going to teach you technological strategies. It gets inside your head, coaches you deeply, and removes the inner part of your teaching abilities. It then makes you ask yourself if what you are doing is good or not,” states Juan Manuel Medina del Río who, together with his coworker, has been implementing his pedagogical strategy with second-year architecture students.

Medina del Río, who is an Associate Professor, considers that what teachers should do, instead of teaching content, is present basic concepts and then develop competencies that allow young people to learn to learn. The teacher adds that, “They need to be autonomous, capable of learning collaboratively, and able to make decisions in the face of diverse situations. They need to cope with new useful techniques as well as other problems, which is what architects do regularly. It is for this reason that we have structured a teaching program based on challenges rather than lectures”.
 

The role of technology in teaching
 

For Luz Adriana Osorio, expert in collaborative learning environments, it is clear that technologies do not solve educational problems. However, they do give enormous potential to pedagogical possibilities, and, thus, play a very important role in in the teaching-learning process. “Technology has penetrated everything that we do in society, students communicate, make purchases, relate to each other, and make plans using technology”, says Osorio. For this reason, they are comfortable using it in class.

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Schooling is not the same as learning

Image of a primary classroom in Colombia
Photo: AFP
04/04/2018
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By: Nancy Palacios Mena
Professor in the Faculty of Education

Universidad de los Andes

 

For a long time, it has been shown that simply going to school does not mean that children will learn. This should be fundamental; however, it is not the case for many education systems throughout the world. For example, the results of applied tests given to Colombian students have demonstrated that after eleven and thirteen years of schooling, the intended outcomes have not been achieved and students have deficiencies in reading, writing, mathematics, and other areas.

This is, in fact, one of the main concerns established in the World Bank’s 2018 World Development Report, which was recently presented in the Universidad de los Andes. “Throughout the world, hundreds of millions of people become an adult without being equipped with the most basic skills that they need to be able to get on in life. Many of these have gone to school, but they still do not have the necessary skills to correctly count the change after making a purchase, read the doctor’s instructions, or understand what an election campaign is promising. They are even less able to have a rewarding career or educate their children,” states the report.

Shortcomings in teachers and school director’s training and motivation, inefficiency in the design and implementation of education public policies, continuing with inefficient teaching methodologies, and the poverty in which many families are living are some of the main reasons that many schoolchildren are not achieving the expected learning outcomes.

Faced with this situation, there have been many theories that have advocated ending with schooling as it is today and replacing it with alternatives such as using technology or home-schooling. But these alternatives do not themselves guarantee better learning outcomes if the social and economic situation does not guarantee access to one or the other.

If this is the situation, then the best option is to reform the school system we have rather than abandoning it. However, this requires the commitment of and decisions to be made by multiple actors that together will establish the following: robust public investment that is well used for the education sector; the guarantee of recruiting the highest-quality teachers and directors, fair pay, ongoing training, and a stimulation system that helps to keep the teacher motivated; implementing pedagogical strategies that continuingly promote better learning outcomes, the end of politicking, and the guarantee that technical professionals will be kept on who have broad knowledge in the education sector in the entities that are in charge of education. These are just some of the urgent actions necessary to make sure that going to school means learning.

Finally, without denying the importance that the other factors mentioned have, one of the conditions that lead to results in the classroom is both teachers and educational institutions being committed to their work and dedicated to making important changes to teaching. When there is clear determination to leave behind the traditional form of teaching, that is essentially characterized by the student’s passive role, it becomes a challenge for the teacher themselves to continuously demand more from the student.

The goal is that year-by-year the students achieve much more complex structures of thought and understanding and knowledge that is more sophisticated, pertinent, and that has more meaning. In other words, the objective is to guarantee the construction of knowledge.
 

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The Center for Sustainable Development in Latin America will open an office at Los Andes

Jeffrey Sachs, economist and director of the Center for Sustainable Development.
Sachs will attend the Universidad de los Andes for the Sustainable Development Objectives for Latin America conference.
23/03/2018
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Jeffrey Sachs, economist and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and the Center for Sustainable Development visited the Universidad de los Andes on Friday March 2nd to give the Sustainable Development Objectives for Latin America conference.

The vice-chancellor of the university Pablo Navas, the Dean of the Faculty of Economics Juan Camilo Cárdenas, the coordinator of social and environmental sustainability in the Faculty of Business Administration Ximena Rueda, and emeritus professor of the Faculty of Business Administration Manuel Rodríguez Becerra were all in attendance.

When the conference had finished, the Universidad de los Andes and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) announced their alliance to establish the Center for Sustainable Development Objectives (SDO) for Latin America and the Caribbean with an office at the Universidad de los Andes.

The SDO-LAC Center is part of the worldwide Sustainable Development Solutions Network, which includes the SDO Center for Africa (launched in 2016) and the SDO Center for south-east Asia (launched in 2017); this will be the first office in Latin America.

The initiative is supported by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which is designed to be a regional hub for research and SDO training as well as public policies related to sustainable development.

“The SDO-SDG Center for Latin America and the Caribbean brings together experts from all over the region and the world from the public and private sector and civil society who are committed to working on the ambitious 2013 agenda that was adopted by the United Nations”, affirms Jeffrey Sachs, director of the SDSN.

Pablo Navas, the vice-chancellor of the Universidad de los Andes, highlighted that, “Uniandes is a world-class institution that has notable researchers and students who are committed to achieving sustainable development goals; this center will promote new opportunities that will bring our standard of excellence to new research, education, and policies with our allies throughout Colombia and the region to achieve our common goals.”

The activities the center undertakes will use the work that has been carried out by the IDB as a reference to make sure the SDO progresses. Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the IDB, commented that, “it is very important that all the actors, including the private sector and academic institutions, collaborate with governments and groups from civil society to achieve the sustainable development goals. I am proud of the IDB’s collaboration with Uniandes and the SDSN to found this Center as a platform to create successful strategies that motivate sustainable development throughout the Americas”.

The SDO Center for Latin America and the Caribbean

The four specific priorities of the SDO Center are:

To promote the Sustainable Development Goals in Latin America and the Caribbean through interdisciplinary research, and in doing so, unite universities in the region, the private sector, the government, and civil society.

Design and direct a research agenda related with education, innovation, infrastructure, inequality, sustainable cities, climate action, biodiversity, change of soil use, conservation, and peace.

Train a new generation of leaders in the region in sustainable development by offering high-quality executive training courses directed at students, professionals, civil servants, and policy leaders.

Work as a focal point for initiatives related to SDG 16 (Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions), especially to share knowledge and solutions in an attempt to prevent armed conflicts, the resolution of armed conflicts, reconciliation, maintaining and sustaining peace, and advances in sustainable development.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) were agreed upon globally in 2015 as a framework for action and responsibility to guide the advance of sustainable development until 2030. The Center will focus on the most urgent development challenges in the region: SDG 4 (Quality Education), SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure), SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities), SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), ODS 13 (Climate Action), SDG 15 (Life on Land), and SDG 16 (Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions).

The creation of the center was announced by the vice-chancellor of the Universidad de los Andes Pablo Navas together with Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network-SDSN as well as members of the university’s board of governors and academic council.


 
About Jeffrey Sachs
Sachs is an American economist. He completed his Master’s degree and PhD at Harvard University where he was a professor for 25 years. He then moved to Columbia University as director of the Earth Institute and has been a professor of Sustainable Development and Management and Health Policy.
Sachs has also been director of the Millennium Project at the United Nations and special advisor to Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, on the Millennium Development Goals: the international agreements to reduce extreme poverty, hunger, and disease.

He has worked as advisor to several South American governments such as Bolivia, Argentina, and Venezuela as well as to several European (including Poland, Yugoslavia, and Russia) Asian and African governments. He is recognized as an expert in serious and difficult economic crisis situations. He works with international agencies (World Bank, International Monetary Fund, etc.) in the fight to reduce poverty.

He was on the list of the one-hundred most influential people in the world in Time magazine.

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Tropical Virus, the new film made by Uniandes alumni

The poster for Tropical Virus, the graphic novel on which the film made by the Uniandes alumni is based.
Tropical Virus will be premiered in Colombia after having been shown at international film festivals.
23/03/2018
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In 2018, after a five-year creative process, the animated feature film Tropical Virus was ready. It was inspired by a graphic novel of the same name by the Colombo-Ecuadorian illustrator Paola Gaviria –known as 'Powerpaola'– and the book tells her personal story as well as the relationship she has with her family, sex, drugs, and marriage.

“It is a simple story that helps you understand the importance of being loyal to yourself”, says the director Santiago Caicedo.

Caicedo, a personal friend of the artist, decided to make this film together with his wife Adriana García, who is also an art graduate from Uniandes. It turned into a professional challenge for them and their producer Timbo. Being their first feature film, their goal was to make the most quality product they could despite their scarce budget. They worked with a key team of six artists and more than one-hundred other people throughout the process. The film has just been shown in four international cinema festivals and the hope is that it is shown in cinemas throughout Colombia in the second half of this year.

“Every film is an experimentation process” says Adriana García, who is not a professional musician but composed the original soundtrack. For her, perhaps the most important lesson she learnt from this production was to not fear trying.

“We do not need to define what we do because there are always intermediate places, and, when it comes to creating, it is better for something to exist than not to exist. We made the film with this in mind -modestly- but it is inspired by a very human history that gave us the possibility to experiment. We are now going to see if the result is good or bad”, she said with the aim of inspiring artists-in-training.

Both Adriana and her husband are professors at Los Andes. She teaches classes on Movement Composition and Sound and Action, and he teaches an Animation class.

Tropical Virus had its world premiere last year at the official competition of the first ever Animation is Film Festival in Los Angeles. It is now being shown in Berlinale, as the Berlin International Film Festival is known, and in the International Cinema Festival in Cartagena de Indias (FICCI).

The film will be shown as part of the Global Selection at the South West Film Festival in Austin, Texas, which brings together the latest trends in cinema, music and related arts. Lastly, it will be shown in the Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema (BAFICI).

For more information, consult the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

Tropical Virus will be shown in cinemas throughout Colombia in the second half of the year.

For more information on Tropical Virus as well as news about arts and humanities click HERE

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The Latin Grammys come to Universidad de los Andes

Professor Carlos Silva mastered the album Ni un paso atrás by Jorge Celedón.
Professor Carlos Silva mastered the album Ni un paso atrás by Jorge Celedón.
19/12/2017
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Carlos Arturo Silva Castro, teacher in the Department of Music at Universidad de los Andes was one of this year´s Latin Grammy winners.

This award has been a long time coming for the musician as he has been nominated on seven occasions during his career. In 2015, he was nominated for a Grammy for his work with Toto la Momposina.

As well as teaching at Los Andes, this sound engineer is director and head mastering engineer at his own company: C1M. This company has dedicated over a decade to musical mastering. The producer is a member of the Latin Recording Academy, which allows him to register the mastered productions there so as they can be nominated in different categories.

It was this mastering work that quite rightly led to his triumph at this year´s Latin Grammys. Sivia Castro was in charge of mastering the album Ni un paso atrás by Jorge Celedón.
He describes his job as his passion that has spurred him forwards ever since he found music when he was young.

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Los Andes and Stanford are partners carrying out research into health in Latin America

Two women and a man with emblems of Universidad de los Andes and Stanford University.

The Colombia Collaboratory on Chronic Disease – an alliance between Universidad de los Andes and Stanford University.

Olga Lucía Sarmiento, professor in the Faculty of Medicine at Universidad de los Andes and director of the EpiAndes Epidemiology Group.

Olga Lucía Sarmiento, professor in the Faculty of Medicine at Universidad de los Andes and director of the EpiAndes Epidemiology Group.

Felipe Montes, professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering, Faculty of Engineering.

Felipe Montes, professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering, Faculty of Engineering.

Carolyn Finck, associate professor in the Department of Psychology and Director of Internationalization.

Carolyn Finck, associate professor in the Department of Psychology and Director of Internationalization.

Two women and a man with emblems of Universidad de los Andes and Stanford University.
Olga Lucía Sarmiento, professor in the Faculty of Medicine at Universidad de los Andes and director of the EpiAndes Epidemiology Group.
Felipe Montes, professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering, Faculty of Engineering.
Carolyn Finck, associate professor in the Department of Psychology and Director of Internationalization.
20/03/2018
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The Stanford Colombia Collaboratory on Chronic Disease

Some scientific studies have revealed that, in Latin America, the death rate caused by chronic non-communicable diseases (including cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease) has reached 69%. In turn, it has come to the attention of scientists that the efforts in the fight against these diseases has mainly centered on monitoring and methods of observation that have no impact on the increase itself.

In Colombia, which is the third largest country in the region after Mexico and Brazil, this figure is higher than 70% and is increasing. The situation is worrying as it is the main cause of mortality and morbidity in the country.

These data are part of the Planning for a Regional Center of Research Excellence in Colombia proposal that was presented by a partnership between the faculties of medicine at Universidad de los Andes and Stanford University in order to apply to the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) tender to create a regional center for research and prevention of chronic non-communicable diseases.

The proposal made by the team of Colombian scientists and students was the winner.

Thus, the Stanford Colombia Collaboratory on Chronic Disease was born: a center of excellence for research, development, evaluation, and the promulgation of programs to prevent these types of diseases, some of which are due to physical inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle.

Olga Lucía Sarmiento, head of the team of researchers at Los Andes and director of the EpiAndes Epidemiology Group, highlights that, “Some of the objectives are: designing attendance-based and online further education courses that help remote regions in both the country and Latin America; and creating research inputs for epidemiology, biostatistics, behavioral science, etc. to prevent chronic non- communicable diseases”.

This center for excellence will allow scientists from the region to widen their knowledge. This will have an impact on the treatment of chronic non-communicable diseases with the use of technological or innovative tools that are accompanied by sports, educational, and urban planning institutions.

Researchers – doctors, psychologists, and engineers, also suggest that is important to develop the necessary infrastructure and skills to strengthen academic programs and applied research projects to promote healthy habits and prevent cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and breast cancer

Sarmiento explains that, “Another objective is to strengthen the partnership between the two institutions through two pilot studies to evaluate and promote physical activity in female survivors of breast cancer. This has not been done in Colombia and we hope to have support from the District Institute for Recreation and Sports (IDRD) and the Secretary of Health to design a program that answers these women’s needs.
 

The multidisciplinary work was undertaken by:

Universidad de los Andes
Olga Lucía Sarmiento, director of the EpiAndes Epidemiology Group, Faculty of Medicine.

Carolyn Finck, professor in the Department of Psychology and director of Internationalization. Felipe Montes, professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering, Faculty of Engineering.


Stanford University
Abby King, Faculty of Medicine.
Robert Haile, Faculty of Medicine.
Lisa Rosas, Faculty of Medicine.

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