Artículos en Inglés

30 Jul 2013
Artículos en Inglés | Por: Mauricio González

Carlos Martínez- Engineering professor

Translated by: Vivian Melara 

What is your academic background?

I graduated from the University of El Salvador in 1996 with a degree in Electric Engineering. In 2007, I obtained a Doctorate in Telecommunications from the Carlos III University in Spain.

What motivated you to become a teacher?

I was always moved by the desire to study. I am in the university because I like to study and the University of El Salvador is the only place in the country that pays me to keep on doing what I like: studying. It’s all about cultivating oneself.

How does the idea of providing online courses from American universities arise?

It all arose in the context of long distance education, specifically in 2002, when some American universities decided to record their classes and upload them to youtube and the rest of the teaching material was on each university’s websites.

Ten years later, in 2012, there was a new revolutionary idea regarding web 2.0, in which you can establish bidirectional communication among students around the world. The innovation lies in that now you can interact, send and grade homework. Students can ask questions in forums, they can have access to textbooks, virtual labs and can obtain a diploma that certifies the received education. The virtual class works parallel to face-to-face classes with the regular university assignments which share their content.

How does this program work?

It is part of a mass phenomenon when Sebastian Thrun, professor of the University of Stanford, created his own interface and could enroll 160,000 students. Afterwards, he created the company The Audacity of Udacity where students from all around the world can enroll and study. There are more than 100 universities in this consortium.

In 2012, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) along with Harvard University created their own experiment and initiated an Electric Engineering assignment called EDX. In October 2012, as the Engineering Faculty, we felt attracted by this education system and we persuaded around 30 students to enroll in some of these classes to complement their curriculum.

More than 25 students obtained a diploma through these studies and have learned to use these new formats of education; they have been up to par with students from prestigious international universities. 

How did students and professors receive the educational web community?

I consider that the experiment done in the Electrical Engineering School of the National University of El Salvador was successful. We are a school of 600 students and 25 of them have a diploma from MIT. We are 12 full-time professors and almost half already received a diploma in the aforementioned institute. All of us have done this as an extra activity, outside our work responsibility. The only incentive was to take advantage in this platform. 

We must be clear that this is not about substituting universities but rather acquiring new abilities and discipline to study long-distance. This is one of the challenges for this new educational modality.

What benefits does this program have for the professional futures of students?

This aspect is a little uncertain, even in the United States, since to validate the diploma that certifies a student has studied in the interface, a student is required to pass a test and pay for it. Now, I think the most important aspect is to dominate the content and that allows a student to break into a highly competitive workplace.

In what concrete aspects have UES students taken advantage of this platform?

Many of the students that could utilize the platform acquired abilities that the UES, for different reasons, could not have taught them. They have learned many things about information systems, interpretation, and data analysis, input in the area of scientific research and other areas that at a national level we need to promote to advance.

According to your criteria, what are the principal deficiencies of the college-level public education system in El Salvador?

A third of the students in college-level education are formed in UES. The resources we have are few and long distance college-level education can help optimize those resources. This is a tool for the teacher and not a threat, since these provide, in many occasions, assignments to reinforce basic education, but this shows, more precisely, our raw material: the students.

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