Opening Opportunities: The Role of Distance Education
published: July 23, 2013, recorded: March 2004, views: 2109
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Before many American universities even considered the idea of distance learning, Patricio López del Puerto had launched the Virtual University at Tecnologica de Monterrey, Mexico. Its mission “to deliver first class education to new educational environments and to people in remote locations,” has truly been accomplished. What began in 1989 has blossomed into a massive enterprise. Currently, the Virtual University provides more than 85,000 students with undergraduate courses, graduate programs, and continuing education training programs in Mexico and abroad. Once dependent on satellite delivery, the University hosts its 12 master’s degree programs fully on the Internet. López del Puerto notes also the shift from a “traditional talking heads” model of teaching to “self-guided, meaningful, problem-based learning.” Faculty facilitators coach students, who collaborate with each other on case studies. The Virtual University’s long-range ambitions range from national educational development programs, such as an 8 million dollar project in El Salvador to train teachers, managers, parents, and students, to distance learning for public officials and non-governmental organizations. López del Puerto’s proudest achievements are 700 community learning centers in both Mexico and the U.S.: places for the poorest people in the most isolated locations to log on, discover the outside world and get an education.
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