Break the mold!!! Or how to get old-fashioned designers to attempt new educational tricks

Concurrent Session 8

Session Materials

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Brief Abstract

B@UNAM's educational model is in a redesign process tending to  create courses that challenge teachers and students with more motivating materials. The challenge, to achieve the appropriation of this new model among teachers, with the purpose of enacting it in the design of every material and activity in each course.


I'm a Historian, with a Masters in History by El Colegio de Mexico. For over 8 years I've worked in on line education in Mexico's National Autonomous University's On line High School, B@UANM. Currently, for one and a half year now, I coordinated the Social Science and Humanities area in B@UNAM, and currently I'm the Academic coordinator of all areas. I love on line education, looking for innovations, new areas and ways to show content, and to really use technology to make education a marvelous experience.

Extended Abstract

B@UNAM (Mexico’s National University virtual high school) launched in 2007 and we have served more than 30,000 students in México and 34 other countries.  While approaching our tenth anniversary, we engaged in a redesign process we call the reloaded version of our program. Our goal is to use a different approach to target our students with more interesting and motivating materials, and to create courses that challenge both teachers and students.

In March 2016 we started looking for places, people and ideas that resonated with our educational philosophy, and we came across the German architect Olè Scheeren. He has built breathtaking structures which have a profound ideological background. He designs based on the idea that any building or structure is alive, that shares the designer’s narrative and that is affected by the narratives of all the people who inhabit or visit the structure: people and their lives transform buildings into life experiences. Buildings are designed from a grid of emotions, provocations and narratives. While we delved into his core ideas, everything matched our deepest beliefs of what online education should be.

With all this in mind, we created a new design model based on the idea that every student creates her/his own experience. Therefore, our online courses should be alive and they are susceptible of being transformed by each student. In our program, learners take one course at a time, for four weeks, so they are immersed in one environment, and get to be a part of it. We strive to make each learner feel that s/he inhabits the course, that s/he  transforms it with through all the interactions, and that it was created and constructed specially for her/him.

With our brand new model, very eagerly we summoned our best teachers (all of them with a solid academic career and experience in online education and in our own program) to invite them to create the new courses. We had an average of 3 experts to redesign each course. After the initial meeting, we started setting goals and dates to finish all 24 courses in a six month period. After a few weeks several teachers expressed concerns because they did not clearly understand the specifications of new model, some of them turned in some activities and materials, but they had nothing to do with the idea and purpose of the new model, they followed exactly the same design as in the previous courses, with just small changes in some of the tests and activities, but not what we expected. So, the challenge we face now is how to achieve the appropriation of this new model among the teachers, with the purpose of enacting it in the design of every activity in each course. Implementing a learning model for teachers may lead to a community of practice that consolidates the adoption and effective implementation of the new model. This will benefit the entire student community at B@UNAM, as well as teachers and course designers.

Guadalupe Vadillo is a Psychologist with an MA and a PhD in Education. She has more than 25 years of experience in the high school and university levels. Since 2005 she has worked at UNAM's Virtual High School: developing curricular design, coordinating the academic area and this year she was named Director of this fully online program.

Ana Lía Herrera is the Academic Coordinator of B@UNAM at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She has been an online teacher for the program since 2009, she has also design History courses and supervise other experts in course development and teaching. She has a Masters degree in History. One of her main interests is in designing effective strategies for Social Sciences.

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Jackeline Bucio is the Educational Innovation Coordinator for the Educational Development and Curricular Innovation Division at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She teaches and design courses in the area of Language and Literature at B@UNAM (Mexico’s National University virtual high school) and she participated in its new educational model implementation. She holds a PhD in Linguistics and her main research interests include ciberpragmatics, innovative learning environments and the use of Wikipedia in educational contexts.