The University of Antioquia

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"Scopia opens up opportunities to practically any project or program for undergraduate, masters or post-graduate degrees."

—Guillermo León Ospina Gómez

Benefits

Increased Productivity
Enhanced Collaboration

THE UNIVERSITY OF ANTIOQUIA DRIVES VIRTUAL EDUCATION

The University of Antioquia will train 60,000 students in grades 10 and 11 from 204 public schools, as well as high school graduates from 90 educational parks belonging to 8 sub-regions of the Department of Antioquia. Its aim is to facilitate student enrollment and make it easier for them to stay in higher education through the Virtual Education model, so that they can start a career without leaving their communities. A large part of the program relies on the support of the Avaya Scopia video conferencing technology.

The University of Antioquia has been a public education institution for 215 years. It covers all of the Department of Antioquia, which has a population distributed over an area of 63,000 km and comprises 125 municipalities of which it serves 117 from eight sub-regions (their economic conditions do not allow them autonomy in running education). It also takes in students from other areas of the country.

CHALLENGES

  • The need to reduce truancy rates for students living in distant regions

  • Students needed the ability to continue their education without having to travel great distances outside of their municipality

VALUE ADDED

  • The Scopia platform allows undergraduate students to receive their academic training in their own communities without needing to travel to the regional centers

  • Video conferencing has proven to be a much more effective learning environment than an exclusively virtual model

  • The video conference model has reached a 99% acceptance level compared to results for web conferencing and other virtual education models

  • Students are now able to be part of classes that are taught in other areas of the world (students currently take music classes from teachers in Boston)

Substantial Difference

According to engineer Guillermo León Ospina Gómez, Coordinator of Special Virtual Model Projects at the University of Antioquia (Ude@), the institution is significantly different from the majority of the other higher education schools by offering virtual education which provides equal opportunities to students who live in distant regions of the country. This process began 11 years ago and now, in the sites in each of the eight sub-regions, academic meetings, evaluations, lab work, research tasks and many of the university's undergraduate and postgraduate projects take place.

Engineer Ospina Gómez explains: “With the aim of overcoming the formidable challenge that this plan poses, in 2005 we made the decision to prepare a proposal to apply the virtual educational model by means of an LMS education platform (Learning Management System), on which content, classes, forums and tasks were based. However, we realized that contrary to Marc Prensky’s thesis, which stated that the so-called digital natives (born this century and onwards) practically had a chip installed for the handling of information and communication, we found that this statement was not true. We had to create the ‘Learning to study remotely’ course so that students would have less trouble accessing their academic training through ICT."

“On the other hand, to jump abruptly from a purely presence-based model to an exclusively virtual model would generate an increase in university dropout levels and consequently we were inclined to support the education of students through a highly interactive and personal medium such as video conferencing,” says Ospina.

As the program progressed, engineers Jorge Bettin, coordinator of the Ude@ video conferencing platform, and Fredy Ríos Restrepo, head of video conferencing room support, conducted research on the impact that the video conferencing systems had on regional sites, which served to leverage this process. "We applied the video conferencing model and web conference, and researched the way in which students accepted such technologies. From the results obtained, the acceptance level of video conferencing reached almost 99%, which is very high compared to the results obtained for web conferencing and other technologies applied in the virtual education models,” explains Ríos Restrepo.

Video conferencing allows students a smoother transition from presence-based to virtual education as it keeps face-to-face contact with the teacher while also submerging the student in the virtual world. This technology also facilitates two screens: one to interact with the teacher and another where students can enjoy higher quality content than that offered by the typical blackboard or a slide projector.

"Video conferencing opens up opportunities to practically any project or program for undergraduate, masters or post-graduate degrees. Our university has endless possibilities when it comes to this technology and that is why demand has grown." 
 

—Guillermo León Ospina Gómez, Special Project Coordinator of Ude@ Special Virtual Model Projects

 

Exponential Demand

Demand for video conferencing began to increase over time and grew exponentially at the university. In light of the strategy's success, a call for tenders was launched in 2012 to equip 17 rooms with this technology. “Avaya’s Scopia solution won the tender to improve the system through a video conferencing server and another server for the streaming service,” comments Bettin.

Then, in the wake of even higher demand and with an agreement established between the University of Antioquia and the departmental government, approval was given to expand the regionalization and install an extra 90 terminals in the municipalities, divided into 80 Educational Parks and 10 Educational Towns. They were equipped with video conferencing technology to enable students to receive an academic education without having to travel to the sub-regional sites.

Six providers took part in this second tender, five of which offered equipment from Avaya and one from Polycom. After analyzing the technology and experience of the companies, the final scoring revealed an Avaya business partner as the successful bidder. “The compulsory and desirable technical factors were decisive,” said Fredy Ríos. “The difference between one technology and the other is that Avaya complied with the requirement of 1080p and 30 frames per second in full HD, continuously and simultaneously across all the terminals, whereas the competition did not meet this requirement.”

Thanks to the investment of approximately one million dollars, the University of Antioquia received a solution comprised of three MCU Scopia Elite series 6000 servers, which were able to establish problem-free communication with 120 regions in full HD and be extended to up to 720p in standard video, according to Bettin. The first stage of on-site installation of the equipment and the implementation of all the logistics began on August 5, 2016 in 45 municipalities. And before the year ends they will be installed in all 90 municipalities.

"After 11 years of working in the field of video conferencing, we have enough 'muscle' to propose enhancements to Avaya that can be incorporated into future technological developments, such as the handling of heavy content, especially video.”

—Guillermo León Ospina Gómez, Special Project Coordinator of Ude@ Special Virtual Model Projects

 

Virtual Model

“Here we have 17 rooms in operation, plus these 90, making a total 107 with Avaya technology for a population of 60,000 students," says engineer Ospina. Therefore, a student can study the majority of their first year courses at the University of Antioquia without having to leave his or her municipality. This represents savings on costs, social impact, a reduction in CO2 emissions and other variables.

According to the specialist, this technology allows the student to have a direct and two-way relationship with the teacher and other students, and while at the same time, it gives the student more freedom to work with these media without any problems. “After three semesters we place the student in a web conference model much closer to his or her own computer and once they are sufficiently advanced they feel much more comfortable studying in a totally virtual model.”

Another use of the video conferencing model is when students or teachers who are part of the presence-based models travel to another country, they can follow the courses via Scopia, on a daily basis. “Anyone in the academic community can access the video conferencing service. There are students that receive music classes from teachers in Boston.”

According to Ospina, “the important thing is that video conferencing opens up opportunities to practically any project or program for undergraduate, masters or post-graduate degrees. Our university has endless possibilities when it comes to this technology and that is why demand has grown as well as the need to have a better interaction with virtual education through the video conferencing terminals.”

No Technology Downtime

“The Avaya Scopia technology is robust, safe, reliable, easy to operate and offers us the peace of mind needed when we communicate with any of the terminals,” adds the Ude@ Program Coordinator. “It withstands heavy usage reliably and it does not need continuous maintenance, otherwise we would be in trouble as education cannot be stopped. This was one of the factors that influenced us the most when deciding to go with Avaya. It also allows better management of the bandwidth which has been one of the most difficult issues to resolve in many regions.”

Maicrotel has been excellent. “They have completed the task in a thorough manner. They have always supported and assisted us with all our requests, although there were only a few as the system is robust and our engineers received sufficient training.”

In the wake of this undeniable success, those responsible for the project have been invited to various regions of the country to report on how the program works. “Other municipalities want to link up to this process because the experience has been very positive and we are the best virtual education model in limited communication environments to be replicated,” sums up Guillermo Ospina.

“Anyone in the academic community can access the video conferencing service. There are students that receive music classes from teachers in Boston.”

—Guillermo León Ospina Gómez, Special Project Coordinator of Ude@ Special Virtual Model Projects

About the University of Antioquia

The University of Antioquia is a public education institution that has been in existence for 215 years. It covers the department of Antioquia, with a population distributed over an area of 63,000 km and comprises 125 municipalities of which it serves 117 in eight sub-regions. It offers 252 undergraduate courses and 184 post-graduate courses taken, with almost 40,000 students enrolled. It is considered the leading university in the Department of Antioquia and it is second largest in terms of the number of students attending in Colombia. Since 2014, it has also obtained the highest level of Quality Accreditation for 10 years. It also offers 13 double degree agreements with foreign universities.

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The University of Antioquia is a public education institution that has been in existence for 215 years. It covers the department of Antioquia, with a population distributed over an area of 63,000 km and comprises 125 municipalities of which it serves 117 in eight sub-regions. It offers 252 undergraduate courses and 184 post-graduate courses taken, with almost 40,000 students enrolled. It is considered the leading university in the Department of Antioquia and it is second largest in terms of the number of students attending in Colombia. Since 2014, it has also obtained the highest level of Quality Accreditation for 10 years. It also offers 13 double degree agreements with foreign universities.

What our Customers are saying
“The Avaya Scopia technology is robust, safe, reliable, easy to operate and offers us the peace of mind needed when we communicate with any of the terminals.”

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  • Guillermo León Ospina Gómez

  • University of Antioquia