As an organization dedicated to promoting the use of telecommunications and distance learning as means to facilitate higher education and support the success of Hispanic learners in distance education, HETS has acknowledged the importance of creating different tools to improve faculty and academic leaders performance in these areas. In order for distance learning and educational telecommunications to be effective, faculty and administrators need to be in complete knowledge and control, understand its significance, and be able to integrate their expertise with the specification of this modality.
Through Professional Development Events, the Consortium assists its members and individuals outside its member institutions acquire the necessary knowledge to cope with the challenges of Distance Learning and Educational Technology. This is possible with the contribution of outstanding resources and collaborators that, in connection with HETS, apply their expertise in building innovative training efforts for the educational community. Experts who have contributed with their knowledge to this important task include: Dr. Maritza Rond?n, Director of the Virtual College of the Universidad Aut?noma de Bucaramanga, in Colombia; Dr. Henry Ingle, faculty at the University of Texas El Paso; Pat Shea, research expert in Online Student Support Services and Assistant Director for Member Services of the Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications (WCET); Sally M. Johnstone, is the executive director of WCET; Jos? Silvio, faculty of the Educational Technology and Distance Learning program at NOVA Southeastern University; Dr. Sarab Singh, Vice-president of Student Space ; Nalini Lamba, HSI Program Officer US Department of Education; Dr. Antonio de las Casas, Associate Vice President of Distance Learning and Technologial Development at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico; and Dr. Tom?s Sarram?a, Communications expert.
Through PDEs, HETS has opened discussion and training spaces on key issues for a successful distance learning practice, such as quality indicators in distance learning, diversity issues in online instruction, best practices in online student support services, strategies to maximize retention rates, foundations of educational models, and effective electronic communication. Subject areas for PDEs are selected based upon the needs identified among member institutions, as well as the opportunities and challenges posed by the current educational trends. During these events, participants are exposed to important theoretical approaches, based on the know-how of the experts delivering the workshops, but also to interactive sessions, practical exercises, and collaboration and networking opportunities with other colleagues.
While all the aforementioned events take place on-site, HETS also launched, with the support of other organizations such as Universia and HACU, the First Hispanic Virtual Congress on “Blending Technology, Cultural Diversity and Distance Learning in Hispanic Higher Education”, an online discussion about issues and best practices in information technology and distance/online learning, as related to Hispanic higher education, cross cultural communication, and cultural diversity. This particular event gave HETS the chance to bring to a large audience the experience of reading, learning, sharing, and discussing important experiences, best practices, and lessons learned in Hispanic-focused online education, as well as to meet exchange ideas with colleagues and renowned experts in a complete online environment.
The importance of these strategies lies in the significance of the organization?s constituencies. HETS Professional Development Events are an important means of serving our members and discovering opportunities for future collaboration, as well as the creation of initiatives within and among our member institutions.
For more information on past and future PDEs, visit HETS News and Events section at www.hets.org