ORT Argentinas virtual campus presented at international conference


14 November 2008 ORT Argentinas virtual campus presented at international conference ORT Argentinas innovative development of a virtual campus serving its two existing campuses in Buenos Aires will be a topic of discussion at a leading international conference to be held in London next month. Virtual Campus CEO Guillermo Lutzky has been invited to present ORT Argentinas project at the Online Information Conference on December 3. The conference is expected to draw together more than 900 academic and business delegates from more than 40 countries. It provides a forum dedicated to learning, debate, professional development, technology reviews and assessments, expert discussion as well as case-study presentations and the sharing of research results and opinion. Its an amazing experience for a South American educator to be invited to travel half-way around the world to show his schools achievements to other professionals, Mr Lutzky said. This is proof of the opportunities that the ORT system gives to its teachers and its students, that in a third world country we can develop a top-of-the-line educational project of interest to people in the richest countries. This really shows what ORT is all about. ORT Argentinas Virtual Campus is designed to expose students and teachers to new technologies, especially to collaborative tools known as Web 2.0 applications and to achieve a richer and stronger interaction between students, teachers, administrators, the Internet as a learning platforms and the school community. The aim is to make the processes that take place within the organisation, the school and the classroom public, transparent, flat, ubiquitous and adaptable, Mr Lutzky said. Im not aware of anyone else in Latin America doing something as extensive as this. This is a pioneering project to empower teachers and students to produce and to publish. The first stage of development is characterised by the use of weblogs to form a network of content: weblogs of a school subject where teachers and students publish and others where only teachers publish, collective weblogs (from teachers to students and teachers to teachers), student weblogs, weblogs of school projects, and institutional weblogs. The resulting network of 250 weblogs, which can be seen at http://campus.ort.edu.ar , has raised ORT Argentinas profile on the Internet and strengthened classroom productivity both aspects helpful to ORT Argentinas attempt to raise much needed money to fund an expansion of its physical campus with a new Science and Technology Centre. The Centre will not only provide the most modern facilities but will free up space in the existing school buildings to allow more students to enrol. Patterns have emerged: when quality work is published there is a need to make contributions following the same high standards, Mr Lutzky said. Teachers assess homework and projects, read weblogs from other departments and publish relevant information for students and colleagues. Furthermore, other teachers from non-technological subjects have also made use of weblogs. The institution has begun to open new spaces for dialogue and action. Mr Lutzkys presentation has already caught the eye of Sheila Webber, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Information Studies at the University of Sheffield, who has highlighted it on her own weblog. I think it is interesting, she writes, since the initiative involves students at school, and their teachers, creating and using blogs. This would seem to develop information literacy, learning more about how to handle and use information through creating it, and becoming a more informed information consumer. And the feedback Mr Lutzky has received following previous conference presentations has also been positive. People have remarked that my school must be special to implement a project like this, he said. Schools by definition are very conservative organisations and to start a programme like this you need to be on top of technological changes and you also need to create an organisational shift to encourage teachers and students to produce and not just be slaves to text books produced by other people.