” 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