Open University Center of the Pontifical Javeriana University, Colombia
AbstractAccording to García Canclini (1990) there is the assumption that Colombia is a hybrid society. Upon this standpoint, and within a traditional higher education structure characterized by being fundamentally conventional or campus based, the Open University Center of the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana was created as an education program that breaks with every traditional scheme, which in turn, encourages a new learning pattern. The Open University Center emerges as a "social response" focused on the "here and now" of today's society in Colombia. The Javeriana University (a hybrid university) can be placed in this context as well as the Open University Center, as a part of it. Since its creation, through its programs this center offers education to the most vulnerable of Colombia's population, contributing to raise their quality of life. In this article, the authors outline the Open University Center's place in the University's context: its historical development and its structure concerning students, programs, regulations, infrastructure and technological equipment. They also identify the implications and relationships of the traditional education proper of the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, as well as the projection and contributions of the Open University Center to the University's future in the pedagogical order of distance education towards virtual education. According to Garcia Canclini (1990) Latin American countries are a synthesis that intertwines vestiges of indigenous cultures and colonial Catholic Spanish traditions with current political, educational, and communication developments. From this dynamic, traditional cultures are melded with modern-day influences to create a modern day culture in which to be educated means one knows how to incorporate advances in technology with art and literature of the vanguard to create a traditional setting of social privilege and symbolic distinction. The multi-temporal heterogeneity of modern culture, therefore, is a consequence of an historical condition in which modernization complements, rather than replaces, the traditional and ancient (Garcia Canclini, 1990, p. 45). From the foregoing, we can say that Colombia is comprised of a society that has, in the past, whole-heartedly embraced traditional higher education structures. As a result, new educational programs that fundamentally break with traditional expectations, well necessary and welcomed, signal a fundamental shift in this country. One such fundamental shift can be witnessed in a new program called Distance Education for Primary Education Teachers, a program designed specifically to seek out and address problems experienced by teachers in their classrooms. Developed for teachers who cannot move to the city (location of the University) to pursue formal higher education studies, this distance education program has altered in the perception of what university is all about, thereby creating a viable and alternative social response to the "here and now" of Colombia's social, economic, labor, and educational contexts.
Copyright (c) 2002 Omayra Parra de Marroquin, Lina Clarizia Corredor
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