SENA Transforms Its Educational Model Using Cisco Technology
Traditional Classrooms Evolve to Virtual Training Environment
BOGOTA, Colombia, January 22, 2009 - SENA, the Colombian National Learning Service, has selected Cisco for the technological renovation of its 175 offices around the country. The goal of this project is to integrate information technologies into the SENA educational model, so that more Colombians citizens have access to education and training programs virtually.
The technological renovation consisted of a new wide-area network supporting 31,000 computers around the country, a nationwide Cisco® Unified Communications system, local-area networks, a data center infrastructure and wireless networks to connect students and apprentices. The system also provides access to the educational system on the Internet, as well as to management applications at central and regional levels.
"We needed a training system that transcends the classroom. We had to ensure that our service would be available in any region in the country where citizens need access," said Dario Montoya, general director of SENA. "We needed to speed up the learning processes, eliminate the old teacher-classroom-student model and evolve toward a methodology in which the young apprentice is the one who develops his or her own competencies guided by a tutor within a collaboration framework. In addition to this, we had to reach out to more citizens. All of this had to be achieved with the new network and the virtual education system."
The new SENA communications infrastructure has surpassed all expectations. The initial goal was to have 21,000 computers connected to the network, but that number reached 31,000 in the first year. It is expected that 50,000 computers will be connected in 2010.
All of the organization's communication traffic circulates through SENA's national network, as well as the applications for online courses: virtual classrooms, video conferencing systems, chat, messaging and video streaming.
Tutoring and working groups for all apprentices are held through the new communications system at a national level. The existing applications include simulators for apprentices of electro-mechanics and hydraulic systems courses that may operate through the Internet. By logging in to SENA's Web site, the apprentices may access the simulator that is physically located at the SENA Techno Park in Bogota. This virtual facility can be operated live through Internet Protocol cameras and with the help of controls on the exercise Web page, as if participants were physically present.
Online courses have doubled, and applications such as video conferencing, tutoring and virtual classes have grown rapidly.
"Cisco delivered a complete solution. We were able to integrate everything under the same platform regardless of existing data, processing, management, financial or educational technologies. Our in-depth knowledge of the technology that was implemented allowed us to quickly and efficiently train the employees responsible for the network. It allowed us to understand the great perspective and impact that the SENA has at a country level on the social development of Colombia and how it meets its objectives, thanks to technology and communications," says Claudia Duarte, account manager at Cisco Colombia.
With the help of Cisco's technology and Unified Communications solutions, SENA trained 1,312,026 Colombians during 2007 through the virtual training programs and reached 197,951 apprentices of a superior technical level.
The new technological infrastructure has transformed the lives of many people who previously did not have access to education through other means. Through SENA's Web site (www.senavirtual.edu.co), a person may choose one of the courses available in his or her city or town, register online, take the admissions exam right there, and even start to train immediately with the help of a tutor.
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