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July 27, 2005

UCCP collaboration with Mexico will provide online courses in Spanish

By Jennifer McNulty

The University of California's online education program took a leap forward with the recent announcement of a plan to translate its online math courses into Spanish.

The university has agreed to share its online materials with Mexican educators, who will translate the courses and make the Spanish-language versions available to students in California.

The Santa Cruz-based UC College Prep Initiative (UCCP) has developed online high school and advanced placement courses that utilize streaming video and interactive simulations to help students succeed in subjects like algebra and calculus.

“Many students in California are entering college without the basic skills they need to succeed in math and could benefit from such courses,” said UCCP director Moisés Torres. “This exchange provides California's native Spanish speakers with a powerful supplemental tool to support their success in math, as well as their progress in meeting California's rigorous academic standards.”

Spanish-language courses are also a key step in the development of a binational high school that would support the educational goals of students on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, said Torres. Such collaboration would allow migrant students to finish their high school education online in Mexico or the U.S. and would enable students in Mexico to take high school courses that would help prepare them for admission to colleges and universities in the U.S., Mexico, and Europe, he said.

The language initiative was announced at the third annual UCCP Online Teaching & Learning Institute, which was held at the University Inn in Santa Cruz July 20-22. Susan D. Patrick, director of the Office of Educational Technology of the U.S. Department of Education, delivered the keynote address during the institute, which was attended by about 170 educators. The proceedings were also made available online for those who could not attend in person.

A delegation of education officials from Mexico attended the institute, including representatives of Colegio de Bachilleres in Mexico City, the Corporate University for Internet Development (CUDI), the National University of Mexico (UNAM), and the National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT), Mexico's equivalent of the National Science Foundation. Like UCCP, these organizations have developed an array of online high school courses designed to help students complete accelerated and remedial work, and to fill in gaps in course offerings at some schools. The binational collaboration grew out of meetings held in Mexico City earlier this year.

“Cooperation over the Internet opens a new era for us,” said UCSC vice chancellor Francisco Hernandez, founder and executive director of UCCP Online.

The distribution of UCCP's online courses outside California is overseen by Gary Lopez of the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education. Lopez administers the National Respository of Online Courses (NROC), funded in part by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. He discussed technology and Mexico's counterpart to Internet2 with Mexican education officials.

Institute participants also discussed plans for a recurring online learning conference in Mexico City that would complement the UCCP gathering.

“We have problems in each of our countries and between our countries that can be addressed by both the online learning environment and by combining the languages and cultures of Mexico and the U.S.,” said Torres.

In other news from the institute, Julie Mendoza of UC's All Campus Consortium on Research for Diversity (ACCORD), based at UCLA, discussed her research on the high school dropout rate among Hispanic students in Los Angeles. Hispanic students have the highest dropout rate in the United States and in California, she said.

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