by Evelyn Levine
Professor Leire Nuere Salgado is not afraid of change. In fact, during the uncertainty of the pandemic, she spearheaded a community of educators from Universidad Francisco de Vitoria’s faculties of psychology, education, online learning, digital transformation and innovation, along with experts in the Canvas LMS and in graphic design. The team’s goal was not only to prepare for what lay ahead, but to fundamentally change the way they teach students at the university, which is located in Madrid and also known as UFV-Madrid.
The result was “Formar para Transformar” (“Educate to Transform”), the 2020 IELA Award Winner for e-learning in the Academic Division. The project was designed to do nothing less than teach faculty to better prepare students to go out into the world and transform it into a better place for everyone.
As Professor Salgado explains:
“It was the last two months before summer vacations. We faced an uncertain future, not knowing if teaching would have to be online, hybrid, or if we could return to classroom teaching, Spain was in lockdown since March 2020, everyone was trying to adapt, and instruction had to go online quickly; all this produced great fatigue in both students and teachers.”
“We did not want to stop at just meeting the technological need, which was the most pressing at the time. We wanted, as one of our maxims says, “to go beyond”…it was a great moment to make our mission even truer, to deepen the relationship with the student as a method to produce the necessary impact that will lead them to transform the world.”
The online program for faculty was divided into three parts; each with three synchronous sessions, employing 25 different learning methodologies and tools.
The variety of methodologies applied was innovative; the program employed a range of techniques, from standard lectures to a more active gamification method. Student evaluation was multi-level:individual, by peers and community feedback, and via self-reflection and questionnaires. Training for faculty was provided on UFV-Madrid’s new LMS, Canvas.
The objectives of the faculty training included:
- Inspiring the mission of transformation.
- Instituting new pedagogical approaches and teaching objectives, new types of relationships with students, and new evaluation practices – all in a newly designed virtual classroom using the Canvas platform.
- Focusing on impact through self-diagnosis, surveys and measurement.
A standout aspect of the program is the communal nature of both its development and implementation.
To prepare faculty there were three communities comprised of four teams each:
1. The Community of Designers included experts in pedagogy, e-learning, technology and graphic design.
2. The Community of Happeners and Facilitators. Happeners mentored the faculty members and assisted with questions on Canvas. The facilitators trained faculty on the different methodologies and evaluation systems.
3. The Community of Superhappeners was in charge of preparing, guiding and accompanying the happeners and facilitators, and reflecting on the course’s progress and the effectiveness of its synchronous meetings.
Inspiration from Around the World
Faculty members participating in the program were inspired to incorporate the best practices from various countries that are considered leaders and innovators in education.
Course evaluations showed:
The most highly rated items by the faculty who participated in the program were those referring to the quality of the content, the attention received, and the opportunity to reflect on one’s own teaching work. The least-valued items related to the time organization of the course, as a number of teachers stated that the course included too much content for the time available.
Student evaluations of UFV-Madrid courses have improved in all areas compared to the previous year. The overall average score went from 4.77 out of 6 in the 2019-2020 academic year up to 4.84 out of 6 in 2020-2021, after faculty had completed the “Formar para Transformar” program. During such difficult pandemic times, an increase in student satisfaction is notable. That is the quantitative data available at this time. It is also worth considering for future analysis how such a multi-level systemic culture change may take a while to be accepted, appreciated and to manifest results in an organization.
UFV-Madrid’s “Formar para Transformar” program shows that sometimes a crisis can turn into an opportunity—and even more than that, it can become an inspirational journey.
About the author: Evelyn Levine works as a Training and Staff Development Director for the U.S. Courts. She writes on worldwide learning and development trends in public and private sectors. She can be reached at email@example.com.