La Reina Roja 2.0. Ch. 2. Online universities in Spain: 3 models

Our society is becoming more and more demanding and having an accredited training is getting more necessary to get a job. Today, the opportunities to access education are varied and offer options to people who otherwise, due to their personal situation, would not be able to follow a regulated training or obtain a qualification. Higher education institutions offering distance learning allow people to manage their time, to combine personal, family and working life and to train in more than one discipline at a time if desired. It is an option that helps reducing costs for people who do not have a choice in the location where they live and prevents them from having to move. It allows students to obtain a qualification regardless of their age and, above all, and very important today, lifelong learning, for the preparation of new skills. Lluís Pastor has interviewed three of the most important online universities in Spain. 

In the first interview, Jesús G. Boticario, UNED’s Vice-Rector for Digitalisation and Innovation, explains how UNED was created to provide education to many people who did not have access to university. His model has gradually changed from the old distance model to an online model that is complemented by audiovisual and publishing diffusion. It has a marked social character and is in a moment of change where both its own and external online platforms offer solutions to the needs and demands of both learning and evaluation. The massive techniques of data use are revolutionized together with its new content manager the way of understanding learning in UNED.

Jesús G Boticario (UNED): “UNED was effectively established at a time, in 1972, when there were very few distance learning reference models in the world and no internet”.

Rubén González Crespo, UNIR’s Vice-Rector for Academic Planning and Teaching Staff, tells us how his institution works a lot on the learning experience, focusing above all on the profile of students over 35 years old. The large number of ASPs (Administration and Services Personnel) with which they work allows the teacher’s work to focus on teaching, correction and feedback, complemented by the work of their tutors. They share with UNED the use of multiple platforms to satisfy different needs of the institution and they combine this with the promotion of the mobile experience and virtual laboratories. In their idiosyncrasy lies the combination of synchronous and asynchronous experiences. 

Rubén González Crespo (UNIR): “Our vision as a university would be to become one of the most important universities in the Spanish-speaking online context worldwide”. 

Finally, and for the first time as part of the La Reina Roja project, we are going to talk about the UOC. Carles Sigalés Conde, Vice President for Teaching and Learning, describes how the UOC was created as the first online university for students who, on many occasions, already have previous studies and are well aware of their learning needs. Students are active and work on challenges, learning the skills they will find in the workforce. The teaching plan articulates their learning together with the accompaniment of the teachers and the group. The teaching staff, the technology and the eLearn Center, the unit for the development of the learning model and innovation, articulate the gear of the evolution of the educational model.  

Carles Sigalés (UOC): “The UOC is not only online in terms of its academic activities but in terms of all its services, from enrolment to the award of the degree”. 

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The eLC is the team of experts that the UOC has to facilitate applied research in e-learning, promote innovation in this field and transmit the value of e-learning as a fundamental element of the University's identity, both inside and outside the institution.

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