Board Appoints New Executive Director to Take on the HETS Future

Friday 20th of January 2006
Board Appoints New Executive Director to Take on the HETS Future
After discussing the most relevant issues for the first semester of 2006, during its January meeting, the HETS Board of Directors appointed a new Executive Director to lead the organization in its next steps, which will be a key to the future, success, and sustainability of the organization. The new Director of the Consortium, Mrs. Yubelkys Montalvo, will take on the challenge to guide the organization towards a self-sustainability model and continue the implementation of targeted services and programs for all members and the educational community, in general.
Following her contribution to the organization as the Executive Assistant to the Director and Public Relations Specialist for seven years, Mrs. Montalvo served as the Interim Director for a five-month term. As an expert in member relations, project management, administration, communications, and event coordination, the recently appointed Executive Director is expected to take on the new opportunities and challenges awaiting HETS throughout the next years.
As resulted from this past January 12 and 13 HETS Board Meeting, held at the Central Office of the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Montalvo’s job will focus on bringing sustainability and economic growth to the Consortium and diversifying member benefits, as it expands its membership, creates new services, and proposes new educational technology options for its constituencies. Strategies to be implemented will also open new doors towards the enhancement of the organization’s image and strengthen its mission.
The Board Meeting turned out to be an opportunity to review the Consortium’s accomplishments during the last semester and to look ahead towards the possibilities for the next years. Based on current audience needs and market trends, the Board of Directors, presided by Manuel J. Fernós, made relevant decisions regarding HETS target audiences, strategies for sustainable growth, organizational roles, and the need for membership diversification, among others. Particularly outstanding was the fact that HETS will be giving participation to new types of organizational affiliates, corporate collaborators, and individuals interested in helping the organization achieve its mission.
HETS’s year 2006 will be characterized by a variety of educational and networking events. These events will range from professional development workshops and outreach activities to thematic roundtables, business receptions, and a second annual virtual congress.
For more information on HETS events, services, and member opportunities, visit www.hets.org, or call (787) 766-1912, extension 2221.
By Wilmarie Latorre

A Semester Full of Changes for HETS

Sunday 23rd of October 2005
A Semester Full of Changes for HETS
The Hispanic Educational Telecommunications System has undergone several important changes through this semester, starting with the departing of its seven year-long Executive Director, Dr. Nitza Hernández. Dr. Hernández decided to take on a new professional challenge, accepting a new position as Director of the Graduate School of Sciences and Technology at the University of Puerto Rico.
Her expertise with HETS has led her to a position in which she will be able to keep impacting Puerto Rican graduate students. For more information, access http://egcti.upr.edu/noticias_egcti/noticias.html
 
In order to keep on track with all the Consortium’s priorities for this semester, the HETS Executive Committee designated Yubelkys Montalvo as the Interim Executive Director. Mrs. Montalvo had been performing as the HETS Executive Assistant and Public Relations Specialist for seven years, demonstrating to be a leader in member relations, project management, event coordination, administration, and communications. Strategically well-prepared, Montalvo not only has followed up thoroughly on all pending projects, but has also taken on new opportunities of great benefit to the Consortium and its stakeholders.
Throughout the rest of the year, HETS will be focusing on diverse important strategies that will keep the Consortium up and running, as well as open new doors towards the enhancement of its image and the strengthening of its mission. The First Hispanic Virtual Congress, the enhancement of the HETS website, fundraising strategies for the sustainability of HETS, membership outreach campaign, and the growth of internal communication initiatives are some of the most important efforts to be implemented over the following months. This last strategy includes the launching of the Consortium’s first members-only newsletter: The HETS Connection.
In the meantime, the Executive Committee has selected a Search Committee to look for potential candidates to fill up the position. This Search Committee will be in charge of evaluating the candidates and making recommendations to the Board of Directors. A new Executive Director is expected to be selected during the January 2006 Board Meeting, to take place in San Germán, Puerto Rico.
Other administrative changes include the transfer of HETS’s fiscal account, as a direct result of last June’s Board elections process. HETS funds will be administered by the Ana G. Méndez University System, member institution of the appointed Treasurer of the Board of Directors and President of the institution, Mr. José F. Méndez.
For more information on these and other news, as well as other HETS projects and initiatives, access www.hets.org, or call (787) 766-1912, extension 2221.
By Wilmarie Latorre

First Hispanic Virtual Congress to Convene Online in October, Featuring Latest Education Technology

Tuesday 07th of June 2005
First Hispanic Virtual Congress to Convene Online in October, Featuring Latest Education Technology
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Higher education and technology leaders from throughout the world will convene the 1st Hispanic Virtual Congress, “Blending Technology, Cultural Diversity and Distance Learning for Hispanic Higher Education,” October 19-31, 2005.
” For the first time, the leadership of colleges and universities throughout the Spanish-speaking world will have an opportunity to meet simultaneously with information technology leaders and innovators in a live, bilingual setting to address Hispanic higher education needs,” said Nitza Hernández, Executive Director of the Hispanic Educational Telecommunications System (HETS) and a Hispanic Virtual Congress organizer.
” This forum will provide an extraordinary opportunity to learn about the best expertise and latest research on emerging education technologies, which can prove a powerful catalyst to help bring higher education success to every diverse learning community,” Hernández said. ” Together, we can overcome traditional barriers of time, income, language and geography through the wide reach of the Internet with technology-driven initiatives that also embrace cultural diversity.”
To maximize attendance, registration will be free for participants who register at the 1st Hispanic Virtual Congress Web site at www.HispanicVirtualCongress.com to access daily forums, reports, speeches, presentations and live chats in English and Spanish. Reports and findings will become a public archive stored permanently as a Web site repository for continued access. The deadline for submitting proposals to present at the Virtual Congress is September 15, 2005. Sponsorship information also is available at the event Web site.
Hernández said the sheer numbers and reach of the partner organizations in the inaugural Hispanic Virtual Congress will ensure wide participation. HETS, the world’s first bilingual distance learning consortium, is coordinating the 1st Hispanic Virtual Congress in partnership with the bilingual Internet expertise of Universia Puerto Rico (UNIVERSIA.PR) and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU). HACU represents more than 400 Hispanic-serving colleges and universities in the United States, Latin America and Spain. Universia represents a network of more than 800 universities around the world.
Other 1st Hispanic Virtual Congress partners are:
  • The Consortium for North American Higher Education Collaboration (CONAHEC), a leader in model cross-border research and higher education partnership initiatives involving Canada, Mexico and the United States;
  • The Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications (WCET), which promotes the use of best educational technologies for its member learning communities, nonprofit organizations and corporations in the United States and abroad.
  • The Inter-American Distance Education Consortium, or Consorcio-red de Educación a Distancia (CREAD), a leader in cost-effective educational technology and distance education partnerships and other initiatives throughout the Americas.
Among featured speakers will be WCET Executive Director Sally M. Johnstone and Jose Silvio, the former general program coordinator for UNESCO’s International Institute of Higher Education for Latin America and the Caribbean. Silvio now is a faculty member in the Educational Technology and Distance Learning Program of the Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University in Florida – home base to CREAD. Additional speakers will be announced at the Virtual Congress Web site in coming weeks.
“The Congress is a unique opportunity to share knowledge with a global community interested in the emerging trends in information technology, distance learning and online pedagogy, but with a special focus on issues of access, retention and academic success of Hispanics,” said Universia.pr Managing Director, Graham A. Castillo Pagán.
Hernández said recent studies report that online learning will be a critical factor in higher education strategies in coming years, with nearly 2 million students already studying online in the United States.
In the United States, she said, online learning strategies must address both the digital divide between minority and non-minority populations in terms of access to the Internet, as well as how to best use emerging education technologies to address historically low Hispanic high school and college graduation rates.
“As the youngest, largest and fastest-growing segment of the American population, Hispanics are destined to play a key role in U.S. culture and the economy,” said HACU President Antonio R. Flores.
“Barriers to higher education access and to the optimal use of educational technologies pose challenges to Hispanic achievement,” Flores said. ” This conference will bring our best wisdom to bear on these issues.”
 
For more information, visit www.HispanicVirtualCongress.com
By Yubelkys Montalvo

Exhibit on Latino Achievement Opens at Universidad del Sagrado Corazon

Friday 08th of April 2005
Exhibit on Latino Achievement Opens at Universidad del Sagrado Corazon
Universidad del Sagrado Corazon April 7, 2005
Cultural antrophologist Ricardo Alegría, Puerto Rican historian Teodoro Vidal, plastic artist Pepón Osorio, physician Antonia Novello and artist Chita Rivera are five Puertorricans among the distinguished latinos like Ellen Ochoa, Rebecca Lobo and labor leader Dolores Huerta, included in the photographic exhibition “Nuestros Caminos/Nuestras Historias: Retratos del Logro Latino” that will open April 7, and continues through June 25, in Sala de las Artes at the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón.

 
“Nuestros Caminos/Nuestras Historias: Retratos del Logro Latino” presents narratives of 25 individuals and one extended family that tell a much larger story about the influences—from family members to public figures-that made them who they are today. The exhibition was developed by the Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives and organized like itinerant by the Servicio de Exposiciones Itinerantes de Smithsonian Institution. The exhibition, its national tour and related programs are made possible by Ford Motor Company Fund.
“This exhibition is an anthology of compelling biographical portraits that evoke the depth and breadth of Latino contributions to American society,” says Luben Montoya, interim director of the Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives. “There will be well-known names in the exhibit as well as people who may not be as famous, but whose inspirational stories need to be told.”
Among the exhibition’s portraits are composer and orchestra director Tania León, public servant Alfred Rascon and Dr. Juan Romagoza. A biographical narrative that includes excerpts from recent oral history interviews complements their portraits. For example, the Nobel Prize-winning chemist Mario Molina tells how he became fascinated with science. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson describes the event that led him to pursue a life of public service.
The exhibition includes personal stories, photos, oral histories and dichos, or traditional sayings. The influential dichos pass knowledge, experience and values down through the generations. They include such sayings as ?Sí, se puede! (We can do it!); Si no sabes de dónde vienes, no sabes a dónde irás (If you don’t know where you are coming from, you don’t know where you are going); Si vale la pena hacerlo, vale la pena hacerlo bien (If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing it well); and El que algo quiere, algo le cuesta (No pain, no gain).
“These stories celebrate what’s at the heart of so many Latino success stories-a desire to achieve and make a difference,” said Sandra Ulsh, president of Ford Motor Company Fund. “Visitors to this Smithsonian exhibit will have the opportunity to learn about Latinos who have made varying but very important contributions to the American fabric.”
A seven-member advisory committee that included historians, curators and people known for their work in the U.S. Latino community, selected the men and women featured in the exhibition. Their stories combine to provide an inspirational, illustrated anthology of Latino accomplishments across generations.
Ricardo Viera, a consultant on Latino and Caribbean contemporary art and photography, challenged three of today’s most exciting photographers to create the 25 portraits. Through color photographs, Celia Alvarez Muñoz, Héctor Méndez-Caratini and Luis Mallo reveal their subjects’ character within the context of his or her own “place.”
Nicolás Kanellos, the Brown Foundation Professor of Hispanic Literature at the University of Houston and director of a national Hispanic literary research program, wrote the exhibit’s introduction. Kanellos also is founding publisher of the journal The Americas Review and of the publishing company Arte Público Press.
“This exhibition is more than a collection of individual photos and stories, more than a gallery of heroes and heroines, past and present. It is a collective narrative of the multiple ways we have succeeded by contributing to our communities, to the nation, to mankind,” Kanellos says. “They inspire all of us to pursue excellence, not for fame or recognition, but moved by our desire, as Latinos and as Americans, to leave this world a better place than we found it.”
The mission of the Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives is to foster understanding and appreciation of Latino history and culture using the vast resources of the Smithsonian’s collections, research and public programs, both in Washington and across the United States.
The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 50 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science, and history, which are shown wherever people live, work, and play. Exhibition descriptions and tour schedules are available at www.sites.si.edu
By Wilmarie Latorre

Board Members Explore Future Directions for HETS

Monday 14th of February 2005
Board Members Explore Future Directions for HETS
Last January 13 and 14, HETS convened a Board of Directors meeting with representatives from fifteen member institutions in California, Colombia, Florida, New Mexico, New York, Puerto Rico, and Texas.
As in previous occasions, this January Board Meeting took place in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at the Central Office of the Inter American University and at the Metropolitan University. The meeting gave space to the introduction of a new HETS member institution, major discussions on the Consortium’s future, and the exploration of new paths towards the strengthening and sustainability of the organization.
The use of a new strategy to help the Consortium achieve its mission, while meeting its member institutions’ needs, made this Board Meeting different from the others. Board Members divided up in three discussion groups to explore the possibilities of institutions collaborating together in other HETS projects, strategies to help achieve the sustainability of the Consortium, and possible areas in which their institutions would like to see themselves involved, among other issues.
During discussions related to the value and contribution of HETS to its members, HETS’s role as a networking organization was pointed out as one of the main added values for all affiliated institutions. Among other benefits, member institutions have the opportunity to relate to and collaborate with a diversity of other higher education institutions for distance learning initiatives. Last year, HETS met the goal of adding two new institutions to its membership of 20 universities and colleges, as presented by Dr. Nitza Hernandez, HETS Executive Director, during her report to the Board of Directors. The Executive Director attended a total of five different conferences around several states and Puerto Rico to promote and share with other partner organizations the Consortium’s projects, accomplishments, and mission.
As informed by Dr. Hernandez, HETS is currently competing for a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) through a project intended to meet the needs of nurses for continuing education on cultural competence. This project is expected to help HETS achieve sustainability by offering a certification as a continuing education credit provider, cross-licensing of contents among partner institutions, and affiliations of non-partners. In order to support the Consortium’s sustainability and continuation, the HETS staff is also moving towards obtaining funding for capacity building. HETS Board Chair and President of the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Dr. Manuel Fernós highlighted the shared resources for student support services that HETS member institutions could provide, like online tutoring services in the areas of language, math and information technology skills.
Upcoming issues and strategies presented at this Board Meeting included finding solutions for pricing, enrollment, and quality control with regards to the HETS Online Learning Collaboration Initiatives, a HETS project consisting of the creation of collaborative online programs that meet the needs of the Hispanic workforce. Some of the issues related to articulation agreements for the Online Learning Collaboration Initiatives were addressed when Dr. Ricardo Fernandez, President of the Lehman College, informed his strategies to reach an agreement with the City University of New York (CUNY). This is a really important step, since four of the thirteen (13) institutions involved in the collaborative initiatives are part of the CUNY system and need to articulate agreements in order to succeed.
This Board Meeting gave also place to the presentation of the Consortium’s newest institutional member, Bronx Community College, presided by Dr. Carolyn Williams. Dr. Williams delivered a brief presentation on her institution, and presented their institutional DVD to help the rest of the Board Members and HETS get better acquainted with this new member.
HETS next Board meeting was scheduled to take place on June 21 & 22 at the University of Texas Brownsville. For more information and recent news, contact HETS through 787-766-1912, extension 2221, or ymontalv@inter.edu.
By Wilmarie Latorre

HETS Reaches New Potential Audiences through First Hispanic Virtual Congress

Wednesday 23rd of November 2005
HETS Reaches New Potential Audiences through First Hispanic Virtual Congress
HETS has just made a breakthrough in the Hispanic online learning industry, bringing to a large audience the opportunity to learn, share, and discuss experiences, best practices, and lessons learned in Hispanic-focused online education through the First Hispanic Virtual Congress. The Hispanic Virtual Congress gave HETS an extraordinary chance of gathering the knowledge and experiences of people from the United States, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Brazil, and Dominican Republic, among others.
“This initiative has opened new doors to the larger community of Latin America, where innovative online learning initiatives are constantly transforming and improving educational perspectives”, said Manuel Fernós, Chairman of the HETS Board of Directors.
As of October 31, 2005, the virtual event’s closing date, nearly 700 people had registered at the Virtual Congress. A total of 30 presentations, most of them in the area of Online Teaching and Learning, where selected among a diversity of presentations submitted. Other outstanding presentations focused on Quality and Assessment, Infrastructure and Emerging Technologies, Support Services for the Distant/Online Learners, and Institutional challenges, Policy Issues, and Collaboration Initiatives.
The two keynote conferences, delivered by Sally Johnston and Jose Silvio, contributed significantly to opening an active discussion on educational resources for college students, and quality and equitable virtual education for Hispanics. As stated in Johnstone’s conference, each day, more and more students expect their post-secondary institutions to make high quality educational materials available to them through the Internet. Open resources allow learners to create their own discoveries navigating through accessible online educational and support materials. To Jose Silvio, it is highly important that quality online education is accessible to all students, no matter their social status or limitations.
The Virtual Congress helped increase awareness about the need to adjust to the current and future trends in virtual education. Leaders at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico gathered to watch José Silvio’s presentation on “Quality, Equity, and Pertinence of Hispanic Virtual Education”, sponsored by HETS, and discussed important related issues for the institution. As informed by Dr. Migdalia Texidor, Chancellor for the Metropolitan Campus of the Inter American University, this particular conference brought up a challenge for institutions serving a student population whose native languages are Spanish and Portuguese. “We have to start looking forward to the goals, roles, and difficulties, and future of virtual education at our institutions”, added Dr. Texidor.
Other significant results of the First Hispanic Virtual Congress were the possibility of networking local, national, and international institutions, and the opportunity to expand collaborations among and beyond HETS member institutions.
For more information, visit www.hets.org, or call (787) 766-1912, extension 2221.
By Wilmarie Latorre

President of the IAUPR re-elected as HETS Board Chair in Decisive Board Meeting

Tuesday 12th of July 2005
President of the IAUPR re-elected as HETS Board Chair in Decisive Board Meeting
Manuel J. Fernós, president of the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, was re-elected for one more year, as Board Chair of the Hispanic Educational Telecommunications System (HETS), during the June 2005 Board Meeting hosted by the University of Texas at Brownsville on June 21st and 22nd. This meeting also place gave to a set of important decisions for the continuation and sustainability of the HETS Consortium, including important strategic directions that will certainly be of a great benefit and advancement for its member institutions. Board officials and representatives from members in California, New York, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, Texas, and Colombia attended this meeting and contributed with their expertise to decisions made on the future of HETS.
This Board Meeting was the first after the closeout of the Learning Anytime Anywhere Partnership (LAAP) project, a US Department of Education grant that helped HETS develop some of its most important and challenging programs and services, including the emblematic Virtual Learning and Support Plaza, a website that turned out to be a HETS trademark. The lack of funding to support the initiatives created through this grant posed the importance of deciding on ways to continue HETS efforts, without impacting negatively the benefits of its member institutions. This gave a bigger sense of urgency to this semester’s Board meeting.
Some of the most vital decisions were related to the support services offered by the Consortium to its member constituencies, including those hosted in the organization’s website. The new HETS website has integrated the Virtual Plaza as part of its services to students and faculty members in online learning and online teaching, respectively. This site will not only achieve the institutionalization of the Virtual Plaza, part of the LAAP project, but it will also support the sustainability of HETS.
HETS has been focused in the development of a website that can become a vendor for other organizations; provide products, services, and solutions to its constituencies; and be a capacity building alternative for the Consortium. This website could also facilitate collaboration through online tools for interacting, sharing, and communicating. “Right now, one of the most attractive services available in this new site is an online searchable catalog with information of all online programs available at HETS’s member institutions,” said Dr. Nitza Hernandez, HETS Executive Director.
Other important decisions included potential changes in the organizational structure of the Consortium and the opportunities envisioned to diversify the organization’s funding. HETS will keep looking forward to diversify and broaden its available funding through grant proposals, income generating activities, services, and new sponsorship opportunities. Other HETS priorities for 2005-06 include research opportunities to promote the growth of knowledge in online learning in cultural diverse communities, such as the First Hispanic Virtual Congress, to take place from October 19-31, 2005 (www.hispanicvirtualcongress.com). HETS will also keep assessing its member institutions’ needs in order to develop programs and services in the e-learning arena that comply with those existing needs within institutions, including administration, students, and faculty.
For more information about this and other HETS initiatives, contact HETS at 787-766-1912, extension 2221, or through ymontalv@inter.edu
By Wilmarie Latorre

HETS Encourages Development of Online Student Support Services

Monday 11th of April 2005
HETS Encourages Development of Online Student Support Services
SAN JUAN, PR – As part of its efforts to train faculty and administrators at member institutions to better serve the Hispanic student community, the Hispanic Educational Telecommunications System (HETS) hosted a two-day workshop on Best Practices in Online Student Support Services. This innovative workshop, facilitated by the Assistant Director of the Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications (WCET), Pat Shea, brought together more than 70 college administrators from HETS institutional members in Puerto Rico, New York, Florida, and New Jersey.
The workshop took place last March 17 and 18, 2005 in San Juan, Puerto Rico at the Central Office of the Inter American University of Puerto Rico and the University of the Sacred Heart. Workshop attendees included a diverse group of deans of academic affairs, deans of student affairs, distance education directors, librarians, academic advisors, counselors, IT administrators, admissions administrators, registrars, and financial aid officers.
The first day of the workshop focused on the exploration of existing institutional services and best practices. Here, participants got the chance to learn, not only about existing best practices, but also about techniques to measure performance in student services. During the second day, institutions got together, by service area and by institution, to discuss collaboration possibilities in online support services. Through performance indicators given by the workshop facilitator, participants were able to analyze their own institutional sites and envision ways of making them more attractive, interactive, and student-oriented.
As the main facilitator of the workshop stated, online student services should be designed specifically to serve student needs, while interacting with them as individuals. Web services have moved from an institutional information perspective towards considering customer needs and interests, and, then, clustering personalized and customizable services. Ideally, web services should be moving towards a completely interactive experience where students are guided through institutional processes, receive personal advising, and are engaged in proactive personalized communication.
Outstanding practices in Student Support Services among HETS member institutions include an integrated enrollment management system at the Ponce Campus of the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, an online academic advising model at the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico, and online tutorials at Hostos Community College. Workshop participants realized that every member institution has its own weaknesses and strengths. HETS sees an open opportunity to help its members move forward, with the proper training and support, and to foster collaboration among them for the creation of shared support services.
Workshops such as this are an opportunity to keep training our constituencies in online learning. Through this type of events, HETS can get closer to its member institutions, get to know more about its needs and interests, and learn ways of helping them advance in the online student support services area&quo;, said Dr. Nitza Hernandez, HETS Executive Director. To participants, this workshop represented a way of learning how to develop better services and websites for their students.
One of HETS members’ collaborative projects, the Hispanic Online Learning Access (HOLA), has proven the power of getting institutions to work together in the creation of online support services. Six HETS member institutions from New York, Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico have jointly created a set of online learning objects designed to help students succeed in online education. These include tutorials in the areas of cooperative learning, learning styles, BlackBoard, Internet research, Word Processing, and development of information skills. This type of initiative surpasses institutional policy barriers that may arise from curricular joint initiatives. It also helps in developing products tailored to the needs of each institution’s students.
HETS efforts to promote the growth of online learning, teaching, and support initiatives in Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) will continue strengthening with the First Hispanic Virtual Congress on Blending Technology, Cultural Diversity, and Distance Learning in Higher Education, being organized for next October 2005. The goal of this Virtual Congress is to facilitate and generate an online discussion among faculty, students, researchers, and administrators who are willing to share information, ideas, and expertise about a wide range of issues on information technology and distance/online learning as they relate to Hispanic higher education and cultural diversity.
For more information about this and other HETS initiatives, contact HETS at 787-766-1912, extension 2221, or through ymontalv@inter.edu.
By Wilmarie Latorre

HETS Promotes Growth and Quality of Online Learning through Series of Events

Monday 14th of February 2005
HETS Promotes Growth and Quality of Online Learning through Series of Events
The Hispanic Educational Telecommunication System (HETS) has been actively involved in creating and delivering a series of conferences and workshops to encourage the growth and quality of online learning and online student support among higher education institutions from both US and Puerto Rico. During the past two months, two conferences on Quality Indicators in the Production of Virtual Courses and Working with Student Diversity in Online Instruction, both delivered in Spanish, have benefited faculty, administrators, and student support staff from institutions in Puerto Rico.
“These conferences are a very important part of the Consortium’s newest efforts to impact its member institutions, help improve online learning practices, and get closer to higher education institutions in Puerto Rico, where HETS is currently headquartered”, said Dr. Nitza Hernández, HETS Executive Director.
Last January, concurrently with the meeting of its Board of Directors, HETS sponsored a conference on quality indicators in the production of virtual courses (Diseño e Indicadores de Calidad en la Producción de Cursos Virtuales), focused particularly on a Latin American model for Distance Learning. This conference was delivered by Dr. Maritza Rondón, Director of UNAB Virtual, the virtual college of Universidad Autónoma de Bucaramanga, in Colombia (UNAB). This university, which is at the vanguard of e-learning in Latin America, is the first international member of HETS.
Through her conference, Dr. Rondón explained the processes structured and followed by UNAB Virtual to design and deliver online courses, maintaining the quality of the instructional design and the basic pedagogical principles, as well as ensuring the best learning experience for the student. UNAB Virtual has a rich catalog of online programs, at undergraduate and graduate levels, and online professional certificates in areas such as Education, Public Administration, Law, Education with New Technologies, and Computer Sciences, among others. Besides its virtual offerings, UNAB holds collaborative agreements with other organizations to train faculty in online teaching.
“HETS is strongly committed to being an advocate for quality issues in online learning, and the best way to start is by bringing the information and resources to its members”, added Dr. Hernández.
On January 27, HETS convened its Puerto Rico members, as well as other higher education institutions in the Island, to a conference-dialogue with Dr. Henry Ingle on student diversity in online instruction. Dr. Ingle is an online professor for the University of Texas, El Paso and offers online courses in areas related to new information technologies, diversity and multiculturalism, and global and international communications, among others. Ingle has served in varied administrative and academic leadership roles, which include Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Assistant Vice President for Technology Planning, and Director of the Office of Technology Planning and Distance Learning,
Ingle’s presentation, “One Size Does Not Fit All: Working with Student Diversity in Online Instruction” , covered the contrasting concerns about education when dealing with student diversity, as well as strategies for designing instruction with a conscious commitment to the changing diversity of the student population. As stated by Ingle, coping with student diversity in online instruction implies understanding and targeting different learning styles, as well as unique backgrounds. It also requires the acceptance of language and communication differences, and being able to deal with various comfort levels for learning at a distance. Above all, online instruction makes it critical to comprehend the convergence and divergence in the roles of the teacher and the learner. Moreover, Dr. Ingle’s presentation, characterized by an active discussion between the speaker and the audience, pointed out the impact of online instruction in the teaching workforce.
HETS conferences and workshops to support, not only online teaching, but also online support services, will continue through the rest of the year with the collaboration of other colleagues, member institutions, and partner organizations. The Consortium is currently inviting all of its members, non-members, and other interested individuals and organizations to a two-day workshop on Best Practices in Online Student Support Services, which will take place on March 17 and 18, 2005 in San Juan, PR. As a main facilitator, HETS has invited Pat Shea, Assistant Director of the Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications (WCET), a leading consortium in the US representing the most innovative thinkers in the use of educational technologies. Pat Shea also heads WCET’s research efforts in online student services, and recently directed a FIPSE-funded project to design Web-based student services.
Other major events being planned for this year include the First Bilingual Virtual Congress on Blending Technology, Cultural Diversity, and Distance Learning in Hispanic Higher Education, from October 19 to October 30, 2005, in partnership with Universia.pr and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU).
For more information on these events and other HETS projects, contact 787-766-1912, extension 2221, or ymontalv@inter.edu
By Wilmarie Latorre

HETS Receives Award for its Innovative Use of Technology

Tuesday 01st of February 2005
HETS Receives Award for its Innovative Use of Technology
Last September 2004, the TechFoundation granted to the Hispanic Educational Telecommunications System (HETS) a $2,500 cash award for its demonstrated commitment to the innovative use of technology in fulfilling its mission. TechGrant is a grant program that provides nonprofit organizations with access to capital to help meet their technology needs. This program focuses directly on funding critical technology needs, while using its electronic newsletter to publicize innovative ways to find capital.
After submitting a Case Study on how the consortium had used technology to serve the needs of its constituencies, HETS was chosen as a finalist, in the international category, out of an exceptional field of candidates. HETS was selected, with another outstanding group of five mainland organizations, among a total of 600 nominations from community leaders, nonprofit executives, and other interested individuals.
HETS”s Case Study highlighted its main projects aimed to help Hispanic college students bridge the digital divide and increase their levels of educational attainment. Through its projects and programs, HETS developed an online community that would bring students, faculty, and professionals together for learning and support. Attention in the Case Study was given to the Consortium’s major achievements during the past five years: the Virtual Learning and Support Plaza, the E-Mentoring Program, and the Online Learning Collaboration Initiatives Program, among others.
TechFoundation established its TechGrants program to identify, assess, and assist nonprofit organizations seeking to implement worthy technology projects that will benefit their local communities or benefit nonprofits everywhere. TechFoundation aspires to implement an increasing number of highly successful projects that will bring quality technology resources to selected nonprofits in the United States, and show that effectively deployed technology can have a great impact on the ability of a nonprofit to achieve their mission (www.techfoundation.org).
Other organizations rewarded with the 2004 TechGrant include the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, CA), the Georgia Center for Nonprofits (Atlanta, GA), Cambridge Community Television (Cambridge, MA), the Center for Court Innovation in New York, and the Public Radio Exchange in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The latter two organizations were awarded with the First and Grand prizes, respectively.
For more information about HETS and its projects, visit www.hets.org and virtualplaza.org.
By Wilmarie Latorre

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