A leader in education, research, creativity, entrepreneurship and freedom of thinking in Ecuador and Latin America, Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) set the bar high by implementing the philosophy of the Liberal Arts, entrepreneurship and scientific, technological and cultural development throughout its 25 years of history.
Striving to Engage and Balance Quality
Universidad San Francisco de Quito has a diversified course offering and an academic community with several interests and various backgrounds. However, their vision was limited by operational factors, such as inefficient online course creation and an uneven level of faculty engagement and quality.
Every time an instructor had to teach an online course, it needed to be redesigned from scratch. On one hand, the content offered was outdated due to limited delivery possibilities and, on the other, it wasn’t enough to meet each student’s individual learning needs. This expensive and time-consuming process discouraged many instructors from teaching online, since they spent more time troubleshooting than actually teaching.
USFQ’s former online learning environment delivered a limited offering of technology-mediated education. The virtual environments consisted of simple courses in which educators would provide digitally adapted material or coordinate video conferences with the participants. Even though the instructors had the technology at hand, the platform simply wasn’t enough to create enhanced learning experiences, and ultimately limited teaching.
Expect More: Flexibility
Before implementing the Brightspace technology, USFQ’s virtual learning environment was available exclusively to their distance education courses. “With Brightspace, we could expand and offer an online environment for all our bachelor and graduate programs,” said Myriam Rodriguez, Technical Co-Director at USFQ. The University chose the Brightspace Online and Blended Learning solution, which is designed to extend learning beyond the classroom and set students and teachers up for success through engaging and enriching learning experiences.
Expect More: Engagement
The experience of the Introduction to Mathematics team provides a clear example of how Brightspace empowered educators with the freedom to teach the way they want to teach, while maintaining consistency with the curriculum. Before implementing the platform, each instructor would create their own material and teach their courses with different levels of knowledge and varying demands.
With Brightspace, the faculty began to meet with course coordinators and other stakeholders to create a template course using the Course Builder tool. Upon its creation, every faculty member had the permissions to edit the template. Once the template had been approved, the level of permissions was changed to enable instructors to include their own content within the previously defined format. Depending on the settings defined by each user, the content created by an educator would then become readily available to fellow instructors.
In addition to fostering faculty collaboration, this new practice enabled USFQ to maintain a balanced quality level across all Introduction to Mathematics courses, allowing the university to meet the accreditation requirements set by Ecuador’s educational authorities. “The faculty was very enthusiastic, they took the opportunity to build their best experiences into the Master Courses templates,” says Paul Hardt, Director of Online Education at USFQ.
“100% of the Medicine students at USFQ have been approved in Ecuador’s national course examination, scoring 16 mean percentage points higher than the national average.”
Myriam Rodriguez, Technical Co-Director, USFQ
Learning for the Way We Live
The benefits of implementing technology that extends education beyond the classroom are clear in the report generated by USFQ using the Brightspace Analytics Essentials tool. Since the platform’s deployment in 2011, the adoption rate soared from 0 to 60%. The faculty now uses the Brightspace technology on a daily basis.
In addition, students now have access to a solution that suits their unique pace and individual learning preferences. With pervasive resources available when they’re needed most, students feel closer to their peers and professors and ultimately share more experiences, increasing engagement and boosting academic achievements.
Deeper Insights for Better Outcomes
Faculty tasks have been optimized by creating content using the logic of collaborative economy, which multiplies the reach of the resources produced. This speeds up the content creation process since courses don’t need to be renewed every semester. In addition, educators can now rely on analytics and predictive tools that enable them to track each student’s performance and customize the content delivered according to their individual progress.
By interacting through a centralized platform, teachers, students, coordinators and administrators can share their views on education. This creates an environment of ongoing enrichment and ensures that best practices are extended to all departments, reaching every learner in the institution.
 Results courtesy of Universidad San Francisco de Quito