Partly due to the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, educational institutions have been forced to rethink how they teach. Universidad Privada Peruano Alemana (UPAL, in Spanish) is a great example of change and innovation. The Peruvian institution began operations during the health emergency, creating an education ecosystem where all elements of online teaching and learning come together.
UPAL offers professional skills development in line with today’s job market requirements. To this end, it developed a comprehensive training ecosystem that seeks to maximize students’ learning experiences through autonomy, flexibility, and ample faculty and peer interaction.
José Eduardo Castillo, UPAL’s general director, shares the institution’s educational model, designed to bring together both academic and social contexts through output, creativity, and sustainability.
An Unconventional Education Offering
During Open LMS Innovation Summit 2021, Castillo presented UPAL’s integrated digital teaching and learning ecosystem. This eLearning space was created to inspire new ways of teaching and learning, focused on practical real-world instruction.
“We strive to engage and inspire learners by challenging the conventional way of teaching and learning, coming up with solutions to some of today’s great challenges. To do so, we start by building a ‘multi-layered’ teaching environment,” said Castillo during the live session.
UPAL’s educational model is made up of three distinct components:
1. Personalized and collaborative teaching and learning: Students can choose their course load, allowing them to pace their learning journey and gain a greater sense of accomplishment.
2. Diverse evaluation processes: Use of different evaluation methods focused on comprehension, teamwork, and awarding points for solutions that can be applied to real- life scenarios.
3. Experiential model: Implemented to hone leadership and critical-thinking skills.
In addition, mentors are available for each student and play an active role throughout the learning process.
Building an Interactive Student Community
UPAL created an online learning system based on projects, research, and collaborative knowledge-sharing using community interventions. It also created a community of energetic students motivated to solve real-world challenges.
The digital ecosystem works to connect the educational community with technology and academia.
“We redesigned learning, going from simple to more complex concepts, providing learning opportunities across a range of competencies aligned with our social purpose,” shared Castillo. Based on this idea, UPAL also developed wellness, psycho-pedagogical, nutritional, and digital campus services.
In addition, students receive microlearning content to strengthen their soft skills. Free English lessons are offered, students can opt into international learning experiences with dual-degree options, and professional opportunities are shared via a state-of-the-art CSM platform. “Open LMS helped us design a user-friendly digital ecosystem with everything in one place. It’s easy to maintain and students can access their full courses any time,” affirmed Castillo.
The eLearning platform also allows students to access the school’s virtual library and smart campus to carry out admissions and administrative processes, surveys, and payments.
Reducing Student Dropout Rates
Online education turns the timing and location of learning into non-issues, but a lack of financial means to access eLearning undoubtedly impacts some students. To this end, UPAL has managed to reduce student attrition by 15% by providing free mobile internet to students in need.
In addition, “The Open LMS platform has an average of 1,400 synchronous and 300 asynchronous hours per period. This has allowed us to offer a service that not only connects students in Lima but the other 21% who come from provinces.” stated Castillo.
Implementing Open LMS has enabled the higher education institution to establish a learning path for students by implementing commercial strategies, and the ability to easily contact current and potential students.
“eLearning platforms must always work for the end-user, which is why the experience is built with the user in mind, rather than from a technology-based standpoint. If we’re not catering directly to the end-user, the student, then we’re not really integrating them with the digital world.”
By adopting Open LMS, UPAL offers a secure and uninterrupted service and a broad digital ecosystem that adapts to the institution’s teaching and learning needs.