The rector Ignacio Sánchez and the rector of the University of Aysén, Natacha Pino, participated in the first of several meetings that will be held this year around A + S initiatives in university contexts. During the event, the importance of face-to-face and virtual work in the future of this type of program was highlighted.
With the presence of more than 90 people, including students, teachers, professionals and those interested in learning linked to community work, the meeting “Challenges of Distance Service Learning in the context of a pandemic” was held. During the event, the rectors of UC, Ignacio Sánchez, and of the University of Aysén , Natacha Pino, talked about the ups and downs that the development of A + S courses has had in the context of the pandemic.
Despite the difficulties, particularly for the field work required to work in A + S courses, both universities have made efforts to keep active courses that integrate theoretical and practical learning, with a focus on supporting communities. Although the rectors agreed that the pandemic has posed significant challenges for A + S courses , in the long term, the elements of distance connection that have been incorporated into university work can become a contribution.
“In the future, the ideal would be to achieve complementarity. Nothing beats presence, but virtuality allows us to summon many people at different times and places. I think that the A + S of the future will be able to make use of virtuality for some contents and face-to-face for others ”, pointed out the rector Ignacio Sánchez.
“In the future, the ideal would be to achieve complementarity. Nothing beats presence, but virtuality allows us to summon many people at different times and places. I think that the A + S of the future will be able to make use of virtuality for some content and presence for others ”- UC Rector Ignacio Sánchez.
Along the same lines, Rector Natacha Pino delved into the potential of communicating with communities and people who work from different parts of the country: “Virtuality has proven to be a great connection tool. It does not replace a classroom, but it does give us the ability to meet with distant people ”.
Universities at the service of communities
Asked about how A + S can contribute to improving the well-being of people in vulnerable contexts in the current scenario, Rector Sánchez and Rector Pino alluded to the inalienable social role that higher education institutions play in any context.
“From each of our subjects it is possible to detect those needs that are present in the environment. Sometimes it is thought that from some subjects it may be easier to tackle an A + S project, but if one learns to read the environment, we will always have something to deliver, even being virtually “, explained the rector of the University of Aysén.
Last year, despite the difficulties imposed by distance education, UC developed 146 courses-section with A + S, and this semester 90 subjects are being developed under this modality.
Along with the contributions that these courses provide to the communities with which they work, the UC president highlighted the learning potential of this methodology. From his own experience in contact with patients at the community level since the first years of the Medicine career -not through A + S courses, but through other instances-, the rector Sánchez rescued the virtue they have courses focused on community needs to reaffirm a vocation.
“It seems to me that every university student should have a contact with the real world, have experiences from the university, to know what is the area that is going to find once they graduate,” he said.
The next webinar on Service Learning will be held in May and will address the challenges and benefits of this program in relation to interdisciplinary work.