Article ACSA – EdCal, January 9, 2017
CALSA extending best tech practices to Central America
Technology is changing teaching methods in the United States, but many thirdworld countries are experiencing growing pains with hardware, software, and connectivity integration. Leaders of the California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators believe they can be an asset to student and educator development around the world.
“We’ve traveled to many countries to see the challenges school systems face,” said David Verdugo, CALSA executive director. “There is a lot we can do here in this country to benefit students worldwide.”
In December, Guatemalan Education Minister Maria Eugenia Barrios Robles de Mejia met with Verdugo and other CALSA members in Sacramento. The meeting served as an opportunity to establish an important dialogue.
“There is a lot of transition in my country,” Robles de Mejia said through an interpreter. “We’re trying to initiate change for our students and teachers but we have to determine how we make change for the better.
The Guatemalan government has begun settling issues impacting the number of instructional days for students. Now Robles de Mejia believes technology will serve as a vital tool to strengthening the learning environment for students. But the issues relating to technology go far beyond putting a tablet or laptop in front of a student.
We want our students to have computers and tablets and we want to make sure everything is in the cloud because internet access is a problem in some portions of the country,” she said. “But we also have to consider how we educate our educators to use technology and we’re not there yet.”
CALSA believes this is a place where they can provide help.
“I believe we have a sense of what is needed and what assistance we can provide,” Verdugo said. “Now we have to align resources with the students and instructors needs.”
Verdugo pointed to device allocation as an important second step. The first step is providing the professional development to educators to ensure success.
“We’re exploring opportunities at California universities that can provide some of the professional development, as well as an upcoming summer education summit that we think can be of great importance to the Central American education community,” Verdugo said.
Robles de Mejia said manipulating opportunities for a number of different socioeconomic entities in different regions may be the key to education success in the future.
“Distance education may be one of the best methods of educating students in our country,” she said. ”As we work together to build more opportunities, I believe we have to put a focus on developing and delivering a national curriculum in technology.”
Photo provided by ACSA – L-R, Melissa Rodriguez, CALSA Executive Assistant; Eliezer Zapeta Domìnguez Top Political Cabinet Advisor for Guatemala; Roberto Salinas, director of the CALSA Summer Institute; Vice Minister of Education for Guatemala Maria Eugenia Barrios Robles de Mejia, CALSA Executive Director David Verdugo; ACSA Executive Director Wes Smith.”