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Information and communication technologies (ICT) are important tools for traditional learning. Today, they have also become the starters of digital education, which is defined as the education modality where students and professors are linked through different ways and methods of communication to make knowledge transfer and open dialog between both parts easier.
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), some of the main goals of digital education are: equal access to education; education coverage in places where attending a classroom is not possible due to the lack of physical, economic, and academic resources; open access modalities for people in need due to economic or geographic constraints; and the support of continuing education that helps people meet global challenges with updated knowledge, respecting the needs, conditions, and individual interests of each participant.
In a sustainable society, the rate of natural resources use should not exceed the rate of their renewability, so that the exploited areas can regenerate naturally. This also means using less to produce the same. In this context, digital education is significant to contribute to a sustainable world where instructional design enables teaching and learning through ICT, with the same quality as traditional learning but without the physical infrastructure and resource consumption.
During 2019, a total of 31,371 students were enrolled in the digital education programs that UANL currently offers. At the upper intermediate level, the distance learning and blended learning modalities are available at 14 and 13 high schools, respectively. At the undergraduate level, the programs of Exercise Sciences, Law, and Criminology have distance learning modalities. At the graduate level, the degrees in Physical Activity and Sports, Nursing Sciences, Educational Innovation, and Upper Intermediate Education are also distance learning options.
Furthermore, UANL has an institutional platform that promotes the use of ICT as well as Learning and Knowledge Technologies in educational processes:
Nexus: a virtual platform that facilitates the teaching process between students and professors in its different learning modalities: traditional, distance, and blended. In 2019, Nexus served 22,188 students.
VirtUANL: an online learning system that allows students to choose different modalities through the semesters, having the option to combine courses of different modalities in the same semester according to their needs and priorities. They can access the courses anytime and anywhere from a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone.
Environmental Benefits of the Digital Education Program
In addition to educating highly skilled human resources for the economic and social development of Nuevo Leon, the UANL Digital Education Program supports one of the main objectives of sustainable development: ensuring the access to quality and inclusive education for any person regardless of their economic and social status.
Another benefit is the decrease in greenhouse gas emissions since students do not need to use fossil fuel-based vehicles to attend classes. Moreover, digital education saves the electricity used for artificial lighting and air conditioning, as well as other resources such as gas and water.
Thanks to this digital program, a total of 10,787 metric tons of CO2 equivalent were not emitted. With this, UANL could reduce the carbon footprint caused by its academic activities, despite the significant student enrollment increase each year.