|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 firstname.lastname@example.org