Teaching and Learning Centres created in Latin America to guarantee quality higher education

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The Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) has coordinated the Erasmus+ PROF-XXI project, which aimed to build Teaching and Learning Centres (CEAs, in its Spanish acronym) in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Latin America. The aim has been to improve teaching and learning processes in higher education, as well as to guarantee universal access to quality education.

The project stems from the desire of Latin American HEIs to improve the quality of their teaching processes. Currently, there is a lack of preparation by teaching staff to offer quality education and apply technological innovation. To this end, the PROF-XXI project has created four CEAs to serve as a reference and promotion for other institutions in the region. These centres have been set up at the University of San Buenaventura Cali (Colombia), the University of Cauca (Colombia), Galileo University (Guatemala) and the University of San Carlos de Guatemala.

"Digital technologies have advanced to such an extent that, often, teachers don't know how to apply and use these technologies to teach better. This is why it's necessary to create centres that support, help and train teachers in these new learning-applied technologies," says Carlos Delgado Kloos, a lecturer in the Telematics Engineering Department and lead researcher of this project.

Throughout the duration of this project, guides and models of advanced CEAs have been developed, focusing on the development of teaching skills in three areas: pedagogy, technology and strategic management. Professionals have also been trained in management and innovation skills to promote cultural changes in teaching and learning.

In this regard, teacher training plans have been designed for quality management: active and hybrid methodologies; monitoring and assessment strategies through learning analytics; and research on teaching practice itself for continuous improvement. The aim is to train teaching staff to carry out efficient educational innovation processes, both in person and virtually.

"In addition, these centres have benefited from this European funding for the purchase of infrastructure and equipment for the demonstration and teaching of the use of these technologies. These spaces have been created and the means have been deployed to provide this training to the teaching staff at each of the universities," says Delgado Kloos.

Sustainable cooperation between Latin American and European higher education institutions has also been encouraged, building a cooperation network. "It is not limited to these four universities. It is a demonstrator so that other institutions can also learn about it and follow a similar path," says the researcher.

The PROF-XXI project was carried out within the framework of the Erasmus+ programme (GA 609767-EPP-1-2019-1-ES-EPPKA2-CBHE-JP). It was developed from January 2020 to July 2023 and seven partners from five countries worked on it: the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (Spain), the University of San Buenaventura (Colombia), the University of Cauca (Colombia), Galileo University (Guatemala), the University of San Carlos de Guatemala, Aberta University (Portugal) and Toulouse 3 Paul Sabatier University (France).

"We are now facing another big challenge, which is that of generative artificial intelligence. This will change everything, including education, and although we have to prevent it from being used fraudulently, it will also allow us to go further. Therefore, this is a great revolution that will bring about a big change in education and we are already thinking about how we can respond to this great challenge before us," concludes Carlos Delgado Kloos.