The Technical Institute of Professional Studies (ITEP) is a vocational training center founded in Madrid, Spain, with more than 40 years of experience in the area of higher education. ITEP aims to aid adult learners to improve or complement their level of studies, in order to access better job opportunities. To date, ITEP has provided higher education to more than 20,000 students.
For the past few years, ITEP’s main focus has been to provide official training courses, both in-person and online. Its current educational offering includes courses in the fields of medicine, business administration and finance, and marketing & advertising, among others.
Adopting Online Training Cycles and Tools to Facilitate Learning
Although ITEP had already implemented virtual classrooms several years before the COVID-19 pandemic, it decided during the summer of 2020 to implement a new approach to its courses by introducing a pedagogical coordination course for each specialty. A teaching guide, resources, a welcome video and related links, among other resources, are now uploaded online. This has been possible through the institute’s alliance with Open LMS as its trusted provider of distance education. Currently, ITEP has more than 4,500 users on its LMS platform.
“We are doing great with Open LMS. It is intuitive, teachers and students use it well, and there is no problem in terms of stability. It is a very stable platform,” says Antonio Sanchez, ITEP General Director.
Given the current state of affairs globally, ITEP has integrated additional tools into its online platform ecosystem in order to provide students with quality, uninterrupted education. Among the tools integrated into Open LMS are:
- Blackboard Collaborate, which facilitates the streaming and recording of online classes
- Kaltura, which provides functionality for the creation of video content directly from the LMS
According to Sanchez, these tools were incorporated in 2020 for their efficacy for both in-person and online teaching and learning. In the future, the institute wants to incorporate a tool that supports online exam remote monitoring, and which is already available as an integration to the Open LMS platform. “One tool we would like to introduce to complement the existing ecosystem is the e-procotoring tool to monitor exams written at home,” said the director.
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The Future of eLearning
Although ITEP has traditionally taught classes in person, Sanchez and his colleague Oscar Millan, the platform’s administrator, believe that a hybrid or online learning modality is here to stay. In fact, ITEP currently has different physical centers where some classes have been divided into groups or subgroups called “bubbles”. In these bubbles, students can alternate amongst themselves between in-person and real-time online classes.
“The hybrid modality is here to stay. The ease with which an in-person class can be recorded and then accessed by a student online—all integrated into Open LMS—is something to take advantage of. We were prepared to go online from the outset, so we were able to continue operating when the pandemic broke out,” said Millan.
Sanchez also believes that anyone who had doubts about eLearning prior to 2020 is now using online learning without setbacks. “It is possible that many people who before were reluctant about online learning, now use it”.
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Digital Transformation in Education
To carry out a successful digital transformation initiative, ITEP provides these recommendations:
1. Know what and how you want to teach. It’s important to know what kind of information you wish to impart and how it will be accessed by students. For example, it’s possible to teach via Blackboard Collaborate, but if the tool is not integrated into your LMS, classes won’t be accessible at a later date.
2. Once you know what you want to do in terms of teaching, it’s essential as an institution to acquire the right knowledge at the software and hardware level. After a decision has been made, it’s also important to define your needs with your chosen provider, such as release schedules.
Currently, ITEP is focused on further expanding its in-person and online learning offering. Included in its plans is the creation of micro-tutorials for instructors, students, and administrators, with the aim to solve quick queries and store them within the platform. “I am sure that everyone will be grateful for it,” concludes Sanchez.