The Dean of the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences of the University of El Salvador (UES) talks to Jovesólides during her visit to Valencia on the occasion of the debate on the digital divide and the future of blended learning held in April as part of the Para ICT También technical cooperation project funded by the regional Ministry of Participation, Transparency, Cooperation and DemocraITCQuality.
Farfán emphasises that this first phase of the technical cooperation project has been very fruitful for the implementation of blended learning in the curriculum and is an example of innovation for the other faculties at UES. The first phase of this programme, in which Jovesólides, the University of El Salvador and the Universitat Politécnica de València have collaborated, has strengthened teaching skills and increased opportunities for the social and labour insertion of Salvadoran youth.
What has the project 'Para ICT También', developed together with Jovesólides, meant for the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences at the University of El Salvador?
Para ICT También was also extremely important, because before the pandemic we had made some efforts to train teachers in ICT and apply it to teaching methods, but we did not succeed because we had space problems. We have around 5,000 students, with five subjects per student, and only 25 classrooms. The ratio is unsustainable with 200 students per classroom. We extended the timetable so that we could make maximum use of all the classrooms we had. The pandemic meant that we made an internal effort to consider blended learning, but the reality is that we did not have the capacity to train all our teachers in ICT. For this reason, we are looking for external technical support to expand the virtual training mechanisms and learn about new platforms. We needed a collaborative project like Para ICT También to transfer a large number of lessons to the online environment and formally incorporate blended learning into the university curriculum.
What have been the main achievements of the project?
Technical cooperation with the Universitat Politécnica de València through Jovesólides has enabled the introduction of blended learning at the public university of El Salvador, so that Salvadoran teachers have a broader view of virtual educational environments. It is now necessary to deepen the knowledge acquired, especially those that are considered particularly relevant to the area of jurisprudence and law that concerns us. Moreover, a public university with a small budget like ours should be grateful for the financial support of the Generalitat Valenciana to equip the first multimedia room and to set up an audiovisual laboratory with equipment for our students that facilitates the use of tools that we did not have before.
Does the future of public higher education in El Salvador lie in the introduction of blended learning?
Many faculties are making the same effort as ours. We would like to extend the online teaching network to the other faculties at UES, but we understand that each is going its own way. We believe that we have come a long way from our beginnings and want to introduce the hybrid model to preserve the benefits of face-to-face teaching and the convenience of virtual teaching. But we still have a long way to go.
It refers to the continuation of the cooperation project Para ICT También…
Yes, we have come a long way but we are not there yet. Therefore, there is an interest in the possibility of a second phase of the Para ICT También project. We intend to reinforce the efforts begun with the elements identified by the teachers in each of the subjects taught. We must point out that each theme has its own particularities and in this sense there are elements that are more interesting for some themes than for others. This is why we want to redouble our commitment to this cooperation project and initiate a second phase.
What will be the focus of this second phase?
We hope to implement the improvements that are still needed, such as expanding new technological tools for our students and faculty and strengthening the connections that will allow us to move forward in implementing blended learning in the curriculum. To do this for all students who need it and to allow us to manage space and technical resources more efficiently.
What do you take away from your visit to Valencia?
It has been very important for us to be able to share the results with all the agents involved in the project in Valencia. Show them to the Generalitat, Jovesólides and the Universitat Politécnica de València. We have also had the opportunity to talk to the University of Valencia to help us in the future. We were able to contact the Dean of the Faculty of Law, the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and the coordinator of the Master's programme in Administrative Law at the University of Valencia to discuss the further stages of the project. Through the events we participated in with Jovesólides, we were also able to make other contacts. For example, we have been able to have discussions with women's rights organisations and we have some women's rights programmes where we can exchange and synergise.
Para ICT También is a technical cooperation project funded by the Ministry of Participation, Transparency, Cooperation and DemocraITCQuality.If you want to know all the news and activities of this project, follow the hashtag #ParaTicTambién on social networks.