Finding a flexible platform
To keep pace with the changing world of education, UPB needed a platform that would be flexible enough to meet both its current and future needs. It decided to eliminate the risks posed by developing a platform in-house and running it in its own data center, and find a platform that could provide state-of-the-art educational technology.
After completing the migration of UPB’s online courses to D2L’s Brightspace platform, the UPB team focused on learning how to use the functionality of the platform to maximum advantage and design a better environment for learning. UPB learned a lot from working closely with the D2L team to develop courses that offer an interactive learning experience, with D2L helping them find the right solutions throughout the project.
The university discovered that it can take advantage of the Brightspace tools to drive innovation. For example, UPB developed a course that uses gamification to give students a different experience as they navigate the platform.
The university also helped its faculty gain personal experience of learning through the platform in a project called InnovaTIC, which provided workshops that gave teachers the opportunity to explore the platform in more depth. They learned how to upload their own videos, how to send feedback, and how to use rubrics. This experience alleviated teachers’ concerns about having to use a new technology and proved that the platform is easy to use.
According to UPB, students’ experience of online learning depends on three things: the design of the platform, the teacher’s input as moderator and tutor, and the content of the course itself. With the Brightspace platform, the university can achieve this combination, while intuitive functionality makes sure students can quickly navigate and master the new technology.
With Brightspace, UPB can expand into new regions and reach out to indigenous and afro-descendant communities in remote areas of the country. In isolated areas such as Puerto Asís, Putumayo and Meta, there are places where internet access is available and students may be able to access the platform from their mobile phones. This highlights the importance of using platforms like Brightspace that can connect students in rural areas to urban centers.
“It’s easy to create content on the platform, or even set up a new course,” says Liliana Uribe, project manager at UPB Virtual. “We have a methodology where we work together with the teacher from the beginning to set up the course on the platform.”
UPB Virtual carries out a defined process of content curation for its virtual environment based on the university’s model of education, which covers the whole production process. Many different types of professionals are involved throughout the process, from teachers, communication specialists and designers to quality management and technology teams who make sure that everything works correctly. Content curation and course design are managed in a collaborative manner by both teachers and domain experts, who contribute their knowledge and expertise to help UPB Virtual bring the latest best practices in teaching to online education.
“One of the reasons why we chose Brightspace is that we realized D2L listens to our needs as they arise, whether they come from a student, a teacher, or the technical team,” says Gloria Figueroa. “That close relationship helps us adapt to developments in learning and deliver whatever our students need from us—that’s why it’s an advantage to have a tool like this.”
UPB has been able to combine its model of education with technology to offer a learning experience centered around the student. The Brightspace platform’s ePortfolio tool enables students to keep track of their learning and the results of their assignments. The platform also allows them to plan and arrange meetings easily. Moreover, it’s easy to integrate external tools that enrich the platform to create innovative learning experiences for all online courses.