We believe that this educational program will effectively contribute to the improvement of the quality of highschool distance education by putting in practice an integrating and innovative pedagogic process for this level and type of education. In addition, not only a knowledge basis for general distance education learning will be created, but also specialized persons in the educational applications of the new communication and information technologies will be trained.
Moreover, this teaching-learning system contributes to increase the pertinence and significance of the acquired knowledge. Since one of our main institutional goals is to socialize the access to technology, we need to understand that this not only means delivering a high quality on-line education at reasonable costs but also to provide the necessary means to gain access to it. To achieve a greater reach in the sectors with higher risks of dropping out from high school and with fewer educational opportunities, a quality on line educational program must necessarily include scholarships for its students, thus complying with the international mandate regarding educational and technological inclusion, especially in the age of knowledge-based societies. Every year, at least twice, our onsite Tutors are instructed, besides computer usage, basic hardware and software installation, on the use of different online services; additionally, the facilitators and teachers receive three formative online courses on several aspects of online communication, information acquisition and online efficient content delivery and teaching. (http://www.fuvia.org/docencia/). What were the barriers/problems? How they were overcome? TECHNOLOGY ICT use Since we have developed and implemented a totally online six year High School using updated ICT, we have designed over 80 multimedia (MM) motivating courses, along with the actual development and programming of an online multi format library (prototype) and an animated 3D-like virtual School Campus user interface. For the courses implementation and delivery we are using free software trough GNU license.
Particularly we are using the "Moodle" course generating system (Moodle 1.8.2+ (2007021520)). On this technological environment we have developed the entire learning community, integrating databases, interactive resources and tools, fora, Wikis, Scorms, Lams, etc. We are using: Fixed connection: DSL, IDSN, Cable Wireless connection: WiFi, Satellite , N/A Estimated monthly Internet cost: 330 USD for Internet services only to support our office work Minute cost for local mobile phone calls: 15 cents in USD Project Access points: Library, Telecenter, Cafe Nets, etc. Fixed Connections: Desktop Computer Software license type: Open Source Communication tools: Instant Messaging, Voice Over IP, Phone, emails, forums, among others, all integrated into the CMS platform Software applications: The MOODLE software (course management system) comes very basic thus we have developed a 3 dimensional (3D) motivating user interface for easier student connection and navigation. We have also developed an online Library prototype, besides over 80 courses with multimedia content. PROJECT ECONOMICS Our main problem was the economical and fund raising activities. Here we present some of them and how they were solved. Our project reached sustainability by the end of 2007 Sustainability strategy: Since all of our students come from a very basic family and a subsistence economy they all receive scholarships upon evaluation of their academic performance, thus we have several local and international nongovernmental and government organizations that support us: UNESCO, MoviStar (Fundación Telefonica), REPSOL, UDENOR, MIES, Cotacachi Municipality, among others. Thus far we have reached the equilibrium point. Annual budget: 360000 USD ($) U.S. Dollar (USD) Funding sources: Loans, Grants, Donations Operational development plan and changes.
Although the online high school is working well thus far, we continue improving the courses and multimedia contents, students’ interactions, updating our software and visiting all the students at their communities. We also want to conclude the construction of the online high school’s online library and an orientation student service developed on the online platform. Business strategy: Our project is totally social oriented, thus we are constantly contacting local and international governments and organizations for funding. During 2009 we will start working within other countries in the Andean Region. Recently (Nov. 2007), we were invited through UNESCO to Namibia with the future possibility of replicating the project in Africa and Asia.