The Educational Portal of the Americas continues to make gains in the region
In its sixth year of existence the Educational Portal of the Americas (www.educoas.org) continues to be an instrument that strengthens, consolidates, and expands training and professional development opportunities through the use of ICTs. This initiative that started as a result of an important contribution by the United States cooperation fund has been developing human resources ‘skills in the last years through its Virtual Classroom. Participants scattered all through Latin America and the Caribbean have been able to enroll in courses and have access to top-quality education even from remote locations such as Ancud and Chiloé in Chile; Quindio in Colombia; Ayacucho in Peru; La Chorrea in Panamá, among others.
Although the Portal was originally designed as an instrument to provide reliable information about distance learning opportunities, it soon received a mandate to foster the use of ICTs for human development by offering online courses itself. The 2001 mandate intended to address the changing needs of professionals in their pursuit of continuing education. As a result, an online platform was created in-house and it has grown to include more than sixty expert tutors who contribute to deliver high quality online courses.
The Portal Classroom places particular emphasis on overcoming several of the major obstacles for improving educational and skills building in the Americas, such as high costs, limited time and limited accessibility. It has delivered more than 140 training activities that have contributed to prepare more than 13,000 citizens of the region. Participants who register for courses include school principals and teachers of primary and secondary public institutions, college professors, as well as other public servants. The Portal’s experience clearly highlights the prospects of online education in increasing human potential in the region.
Within its short lifespan, more than 80,000 citizens have registered as Portal users and its website and has received more than 300 million hits from 120 countries and territories in the world. The Portal, in conjunction with the scholarship and training program of the OAS as well as the Leo S. Rowe Pan American Fund, is part of the strategy of the Department of Human Development to support the development of human resources in the region.
In the course of the next few years, the Portal will focus its efforts in creating new alliances and strengthening the existing ones in order to provide a new catalogue of online professional development courses and other multimedia forms.