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First Pedagogical Day
Virtual and Distance Education

October 14, 2010



Lucila Pérez; Karen Wigby; 

Nicola Wills; Justin Scoggin; 

Dolores Zambrano.


Integrating educational technology into the repertoire of pedagogical tools available to the Ecuadorian teacher becomes more important every day. The number of schools that use some technological tool to inform, disseminate or even increase contact between teachers and students is gradually increasing.  Likewise, there is a growing number of universities with digital platforms for the use of their teachers and students.  Many of these institutions now offer basic courses on web 2.0 tools to train their teachers and some offer more advanced courses on instructional design for virtual courses.


Despite the high availability of powerful and free tools on the Internet, useful to the educator for pedagogical purposes, their implementation is slow and very basic. of Ecuadorians have used the Internet and 9% of households in Guayaquil have Internet access (INEC, 2009). However, its use is higher among young college and university students. People who use the Internet acquire great abilities to socialize through social networks, but few have learned to use the Internet to teach or learn.

Casa Grande University organized the first Pedagogical Conference on Virtual Education with the purpose of opening an academic space to explore the use of technology in education.  The exhibitors shared their experiences both as students of online courses as course designers with virtual components. 95 educators from Guayaquil, Manta, Babahoyo and Quito participated. This space is expected to become an annual event where educators can share and learn about the best use of technology for Ecuadorian education.

To start the day, Justin Scoggin presented a topic as a thread for the whole day.  There is a common perception that the so-called "digital natives", people who have grown up using the computer and social programs on the Internet, have important advantages over people from a previous generation, "digital immigrants", when they take virtual courses. Ecuadorians of English who are trained in virtual courses that indicates that there is no positive relationship between the experience with social networks on the Internet and the successful completion of online training. The “natives” can use the tools on the Internet to communicate with their friends and family, but they do not necessarily know how to use them to further their professional development aspirations.

The evidence shows that there is rather a positive relationship between the autonomy of the student to take responsibility for their learning and the successful completion of their course.  Students who can correctly measure the time required for each activity and be responsible with their academic obligations, they have, in this case, experience in the classroom and have an average age of forty. Most of them are “digital immigrants” but they have no difficulties in learning to use the tools on the Internet for academic purposes. The challenge, then, for both students of virtual courses and their teachers, is to use the existing tools on the Internet to foster deep learning, which is conditioned to being a mature and self-motivated student.

For these sessions, the four most relevant topics for this challenge were chosen: instructional design, collaboration, reflection and evaluation. They are central themes to learning organized around constructivist principles in online courses and therefore it is necessary to explore their implementation in virtual environments.

Topic 1: Instructional Design for Online Courses

Instructional design is the process by which teaching is improved through the analysis of learning needs and the systematic development of learning materials.  The stages of design include analysis, design , development, implementation, evaluation and administration, also known as ADDIE.  According to Merrill (2000), the first principles of instructional design are: identify the problem, activate learning, demonstrate learning, applying learning and integrating learning into daily life.  Merrill (2000) argues that a novice designer designs with the principles in the order presented, however an expert has flexible performance by using the five principles in your own way of doing design. Most importantly, although there are many design models and many mental models, the principles remain the same.

The model chosen to design the courses at UCG is Backwards Design by Grant Wiggins.  Based on their experiences designing an online course, Marcela Santos, Irma Guzman and Cesar Vergara presented several key guidelines they used in their designs.

Marcela Santos explained that the two biggest changes she faced in her course was to use the principles of instructional design ''incorporating virtual tools for learning and promoting collaborative online learning.''  She concluded that "the structure of the course, taking into account the construction of understanding and development of skills... added to the teacher-student interaction ensures its success."

Irma Guzman highlighted the issue of time management in the design of her course.  She explained how she changed her course from 16 face-to-face weeks to 5 weeks online.  Although there was a drastic change in the time given to teach the course, the course continued to focus on the student and their performance, the objectives; and that it was designed based on constructivism.  What changed was the tools used to better achieve understanding and authentic performances.  Clark (nd) notes that instructional designers often use technology and multimedia as tools to enhance instruction.

Cesar Vergara focused on the sequences of activities in the design of his course.  When selecting the activities, he argued that it was necessary to focus on the application, usefulness and potential of the material in the virtual environment to ensure a logical and coherent sequence that will lead the students towards the fulfillment of the proposed objectives.

The presentation ended with a recommendation on how to design based on constructivism and how to encourage online participation.  The need to define the role of both the instructor and the student was discussed. They also indicated that it is necessary to create a learning ecosystem, in which there is a global vision with an exchange of information, experiences, technology, social interaction, different learning environments and reflective thinking.

Topic 2: How to promote Online Collaboration.

Learning over the Internet is not the same as face-to-face because much of the communication is done asynchronously. This leads to thinking about the advantages and disadvantages that can be had when designing an online collaboration where pedagogical factors that promote learning must be considered.

Online collaboration is based on collaborative learning which, according to Vigostky (1978), consists of learning with others and from others, referring to what is known in social psychology as the Zone of Proximal Development.

Salinas (2000) states that "collaborative learning is the acquisition of skills and attitudes that occur as a result of group interaction", where several students meet and each one is responsible for their work, contributing to the achievement of the objectives of the work. raised, for which they support each other, clarity in communication and constructive resolution of conflicts through reflection and respect for different points of view being essential.

The main characteristic of Collaborative Learning  is that it takes place face to face or in other words network to network, without forgetting that teamwork as a teaching technique makes students develop solidarity and cooperation.

To evidence online collaboration, the work of Priscilla Ubillus was presented, with the theme Forum, who states that when you participate in a scenario where debate, agreement and consensus of ideas are encouraged, the cycle of interaction that fosters reflection and maturity in the messages e invites us to analyze the quality of the contributions in order to improve them, motivating the creation of a community bond among the participants.

Kira Vera presented the topic GoogleDocs using a collaborative exercise for pre-intermediate level using the film Devdas, based on the novel by Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay to encourage collaborative work.

Dolores Zambrano presented the Wiki topic and stated that the use of this collaborative tool favors collaborative work, increases student motivation and allows the content of a research project to be presented.

The exhibitors' experiences confirm that student collaboration is as or more effective online than in the classroom when students have to build a product together and when they have the tools that enable this process at their disposal.

Topic 3: How to Encourage Online Reflection

Currently, the topic of reflection is very present in academic circles; however, there are few programs that intentionally implement it as a learning tool as suggested  the new Education Law Project, by supporting “the integral, autonomous, sustainable and independent development of people (Art. 2d).”  Our experiences at the university in recent years suggest that virtual environments facilitate reflective processes.  But, what is reflection and how to implement it? .  According to J. Moon (2004), reflection in education has the purpose of understanding the world better through connecting knowledge and disciplinary methods to real life through written processes._cc781905- 5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_  The written reflective process not only REPRESENTS learning but also IS learning and virtual environments can enhance this s processes through logs, portfolios, and formative assessment.

Under the theme of reflection, there were three exhibitions that presented experiences on how to facilitate reflection in virtual environments in three different contexts. K. Wigby  presented Projects and Virtual Subjects and shared experiences on his participation in various aspects of projects designed to bring students to positive aspects of your culture that you want to share with others.

Pilar Correa presented Logs and self-assessment emphasizing the value of reflection and making explicit the problems through a diary that allows detecting improvements in the process.  From his point of view, the diary is one of the most useful instruments to reach knowledge, analysis, understanding and assessment of the teaching and learning process carried out by the student, as well as to know and respect the learning rhythm of each of them.  Even in English classes, virtual environments can facilitate timely reflective dialogue between the teacher and the student through the log of learning.

Mariana Hi Fong from Camchong presented the theme Conceptual Maps and Collaborative Reflection through her subject Administration of Educational Centers._cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b-bb3b-1958d57-cf-136bad57-1958ba5d5 -bb3b-136bad5cf58d_ Concept maps are graphical means to organize and represent knowledge.   It is a process of finding the relationship between concepts, how they connect, which Bloom (1956) identifies as the highest levels of cognitive performance, the evaluation of knowledge and the synthesis of knowledge.  In his experience, working collaboratively in small groups of three or four students to build conceptual or mental maps it has been proven that they are very useful in virtual environments. For example, one of the members can start the map virtually and then give permission to the colleagues to edit it. They can then post their comments via email or on the forum, and make the appropriate changes. In this way, the subject is reflected from a variety of perspectives, or the concepts are hierarchized in a different way; that also makes them go back through the material and even look to other sources of information to reach a consensus.

Topic 4: Assessment for Online Courses

Four topics related to online student assessment were explored in this series of presentations.  The first topic dealt with an innovative strategy that consists of giving formative "notes" during the subject as a way of formative feedback to prepare students for final papers.  This strategy seeks to keep students of online courses informed of their progress to avoid desertion, which is always a special challenge in the virtual environment._cc781905 -5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_ Another result sought by this strategy is to direct the student's attention to learning, which is represented by a grade, and not to the grade as commonly happens in our educational institutions.

In the second segment, Hugo Velasco presented the use of comprehension performances for English courses with virtual components. This is a strategy that seeks to assess the progress of students in relation to the objectives by giving them an "opportunity to show what they know and are able to do in relation to a given concept or task."1_cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b- 136bad5cf58d_It is key that these tasks take place within authentic contexts so that learning is more meaningful.  The example that the presenter gave for his course is the final performance: “Preparation and presentation of a virtual magazine in which it is promoted or motivated to study at UCG and live in Ecuador.” Students will carry out this task using a program called ISSUU to create virtual magazines.  The main advantage that this strategy has over the traditional exam is that it can demonstrate what the student can do with the language learned and not just what you know about the language.

In the third segment, Gladys Ipanaqué presented the use of assessment matrices for virtual courses.  They are qualitative descriptors that establish the nature of a performance, allow transparency in evaluation strategies and help focus the students' attention to the key components of performance.  The speaker gave an example of how to use these matrices to regulate student participation in discussion forums and thus raise their academic quality. In the fourth segment, Olga González shared innovative strategies for the use of formative feedback in virtual courses.  Her experience as an online student shows that the teacher must open a variety of channels to stay in touch constant with the entire group and with each student.  Among them are open forums, discussion forums, messages on the digital platform, chat and even text messages sent by cell phone. If the teacher designs the course in such a way that it encourages a constant look at each student's learning in relation to the objectives, from the teacher or from the students themselves to their classmates, and that this feedback is direct, descriptive, specific and immediately, a high-quality academic environment can be generated.


There are a wide variety of freely available tools on the Internet that are ideal for fostering student collaboration, deep reflection, and formative and peer assessment.  Most of these tools are easy to learn. even if the student is a “digital immigrant” and does not have much experience with social media programs.  However, the tool is effective in facilitating academic purposes as it is contextualized in a plan pedagogical. In other words, you have to select the tools that best contribute to the pedagogical plan. The best time to make this decision is in the phase of defining the instructional design of the subject.

Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, Understanding by Design; 2005


Bloom BS (ed.) (1956) Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, the classification of educational goals – Handbook I: Cognitive Domain New York: McKay

Diario Expreso, Sunday, December 13, 2009. Internet resource:

Moon, J. (2004). A Handbook of Reflective and Experiential Learning: Theory and Practice. London: RoutledgeFalmer.

Online Collaboration

Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in Society. Cambridge:Harvard.

Salinas, J. (2000). Collaborative learning with new communication channels, 199 – 227; in Cabero, J. (ed.) (2000). New technologies applied to education. Madrid: Synthesis.

Instructional design

Instructional design definition, (sf).  De

Merrill, MD (2000).  First principles of instruction.

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