Wearable technologies for creating interesting learning experiences

Advances in wearable technology are making possible to use such devices to generate practical learning experiences for classes that are traditionally taught in a theoretical or explicatory manner. Providing enhanced mobility, wearables can turn into mobile laboratories.

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Real-time multicultural distance learning environments

Today, students use digital tools in every aspect of their lives, for communication, socialization, entertainment, organization and learning. Therefore, the design of effective digital spaces and tools has become extremely important in terms of pedagogy.

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In Search of the Scientists of the Future. A Global Need.

The growing worldwide concern for fostering science and engineering education has led many universities and institutions to design programs that will increase children’s interest in these fields and, in particular, encourage girls to enter the realm of science.
Photo credit: Women in STEM Introducing Girls to Engineering / Wikimedia Commons.

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Instant learning

Today, higher education is facing the challenge of a globalized environment and a growing need to innovate in teaching-learning processes in order to produce the professionals demanded by the changing world of work. In the future, a new way of producing significant experiences for students will be through instant learning, also known as “ultrafast cognition”.

Image credit: Hashim Al-Hashim / Wikimedia Commons

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Migrant women in transit through Guadalajara, Mexico. The case of the ‘El Refugio’ shelter

By Eduardo González Velázquez

Teaching practice should take place in a multiplicity of spaces that surpass by far the limits of a classroom. Therefore, I teach my students the theory of the migration phenomenon dynamics at school, but also include field work in which we visit the shelters and soup kitchens where migrants receive aid on their way through Guadalajara. In this way, we have managed to achieve the perfect combination of theory and practice that offers a more far-reaching knowledge that favors the students’ comprehensive education.

The current impact of the topic of migration on education is extensive, not just because of the Mexicans who are forced to emigrate since they don’t have access to education, but also because in the current context of migrants returning to Mexico, we urgently need to create appropriate mechanisms to meet their education needs. Therefore, teaching about the topic of migration is absolutely necessary, which is how this article on women migrants passing through Guadalajara emerged. Women who nearly always travel alone, who leave their communities without anyone to guide them across the desert, motivated mainly by their desire to build an independent life project, to undergo a process of empowerment.

For many women, finding the doors of a shelter can mean the difference between life and death.

In their field trips, my students witnessed first-hand the feminization of migration, as well as the violence suffered by women in their communities of origin and across the migrant routes. They also observed the women’s strategy of staying in Guadalajara for a few days before continuing on their northward trek. The violence experienced along the migrant routes is an extension of the difficult circumstances in their hometowns. Assault, rape, abuse and systematic harassment by the authorities, the police and members of the armed forces; in fact, the violence doesn’t stop even when the migration adventure comes to an end. On the contrary, when they reach their destination, they still find themselves in a violent environment.

Photo by Peter Haden

Photo by Peter Haden

In the midst of the vicious territoriality of the migrant routes built by the exiles of war and poverty, the network of shelters and soup kitchens emerge to humanize the constant flight of human beings. For many women, finding the doors of a shelter can mean the difference between life and death, and between coming to the end of the road or continuing to dream of reaching the northern border. These places where migrants are given assistance teach my students significantly more about migration.

Of the population that the El Refugio shelter has received since 2013, 5% are women. Of the 133 women on the register, 40 are Mexican, 58 come from Honduras, 13 from El Salvador, 21 from Guatemala and one from Nicaragua. Seventeen of the women, including 4 Mexicans, 11 Hondurans, 1 Guatemalan and 1 Salvadorian, were travelling with their children. Only 12 were accompanied by a man. Fourteen were returning to their communities. The average length of stay at El Refugio is two days. The oldest woman was 57 years old and the youngest 21. Of the children, the youngest was a four-day-old baby boy.

Advancements in the study and teaching of migration, in the classroom and through fieldwork, have enabled teachers and students to gain greater insight into the migrant phenomenon.

Female migration is reshaping overall relationships in the family, work, gender and power, as well as consolidating female autonomy. Central-American and Mexican women who experience “obligatory migration” owing to indescribable violence, become “vulnerable exiles” as a result of an excruciating reality awash with extreme violence that curbs the exercise of their citizenship, trapping them in a practice of “pending citizenship”.

Female migration is reshaping overall relationships in the family, work, gender and power, as well as consolidating female autonomy.

Of course, advancements in the study and teaching of migration, in the classroom and through fieldwork, have enabled teachers and students to gain greater insight into the migrant phenomenon, and, in this way, obtain better theoretical-empirical tools to propose holistic solutions to the extensive issues generated in migratory contexts.

About the author

PhD Eduardo González Velázquez is a Research Professor at the National School of Social Sciences and Government of Tecnológico de Monterrey, Campus Guadalajara.

École 42, the tuition-free school without teachers and without books

By José Escamilla de los Santos


The University as we currently know it is in constant transformation. An example of this is the École 42 in France: a tuition-free school without teachers and without books. The project emerged as a result of the view of the French millionaire, Xavier Niel, that universities are not developing the IT experts needed by French industry with the knowledge and skills required in this field.

Universities are not developing the IT experts needed by industry.

École 42 is a highly selective engineering school in software development. The first year it opened its doors, it received 50,000 admission applications for 1,000 places. Applications are open to anybody: you don’t need a high school diploma, or an undergraduate or graduate degree. The only requirement is to be between the ages of 18 and 30.

An educational business model is more than just tuition, enrollment and budgets, since it also involves organizational structure and operations matters. This includes academia, professionals, support staff, facilities, technological infrastructure, physical and virtual spaces, and amenities.

École 42 has a total of 30 employees, including teachers and support staff for the cafeterias, cleaning and security. Importantly, the students themselves are responsible for managing and operating the school’s services, such as the internet network and computers. Since students don’t pay any tuition, most of them are more than willing to participate in these tasks for the school, as a sort of community service. This support provided by the students makes it possible for the school to operate with just 30 employees.

The selection process for admission to École 42 is as follows. First, participants take a series of online tests related to topics such as attention, logic, concentration and resilience. Then, the best 3,000 participants are selected and divided into groups of 1,000 applicants. The next stage of the process consists of an immersion test known as “La Piscine”, which is French for swimming pool. Each group of 1,000 applicants begins a one-month boot camp (intensive programming course). For this stage of the process, no knowledge of programming is required. In fact, there is even a difference in the levels of programming skills among students. There is a weekly evaluation. At the end of the intensive course stage, the 333 best students from each group are chosen for a total of 1,000 students who will begin training at École 42. The duration of studies at École 42 is planned to cover a period of three years; however, since students can advance at their own pace, they can even graduate within one and a half years.

Xavier Niel at École 42. / Photo: Martin Bureau, AFP

Xavier Niel at École 42. / Photo: Martin Bureau, AFP

An educational business model based on altruism.

At École 42, the figure of the professor does not exist as we now know it, but there is a pedagogic team, in charge of designing the curriculum. In relation to the academic activities, students are responsible for their own learning and also carry out peer activities and peer evaluation. Learning activities are designed with a project-based learning, peer-learning and peer-evaluation approach. Consequently, when students carry out team activities, the team’s grade is the lowest grade of any of the team members, assuring that they all contribute to the team so as not to affect their grades. The pedagogical approach used at École 42 is oriented toward the development of disciplinary competencies, but not explicitly toward transversal competencies.

École 42 is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Its physical installations are modern and inspiring and are similar to those of the companies in Silicon Valley. There are spaces that integrate street art concepts and works by Banksy, table soccer spaces for entertainment, a “disco elevator” with music and lights, and the school’s exit door says “hasta la vista, baby” as you leave.

Affordable learning that advances a large number of students thanks to peer learning and peer evaluation.

The school’s business model is based on altruism. Niel donated part of his fortune, 100 million euros, to build École 42. In addition, Nicolas Sadirac, who in 1999 founded École pour l'informatique et les nouvelles technologies (Epitech), with his experience in learning by doing helped in the conception and creation of École 42.  

With this model, students are expected, on completing their studies and after obtaining a good job, to offer other people the chance to study like them at École 42 totally free, by giving donations. Some interesting facts reveal that 50% of graduates work in startups where they can make recommendations and put their knowledge into practice. 35% work in companies established as corporations and 15% found their own company.

In 2016, another official École 42 campus was opened in Silicon Valley, in Fremont, California. Niel's interest to establish there was due to the great labor demand that exists of students with the knowledge of computation and programming. The École 42 model has also been adopted in other countries and there are currently three franchises in Rumania, Ukraine and South Africa.

An alternative for university credentialization.

The example of École 42 poses several scenarios for innovating in educational settings, beginning with its unique business model and could represent a proposal for replicating this model in Mexico and other countries in Latin America. It also becomes an alternative for university credentialization, because it means that students do not necessarily have to attend university in order to become experts in programming or informatics, as it offers a shorter path with a higher level of employability than many universities, making it very attractive. In addition, it leads us to question why traditional education is so distant from practice. Elements of this model could be incorporated into a traditional university to make practical work more attractive to students with the aim of joining the workforce more rapidly. Finally, some elements or components of the model could be replicated, such as the pedagogical and didactic aspects, where learning is self-directed and teamwork increases the students' commitment to learning.

Digital learning across the board?

By Juan José Tena García


Over the past three decades, technology has gradually transformed the way we live, communicate and learn. The use of digital tools in the classroom and in educational projects has become vital, not just to communicate and connect with students, but also to develop skills and competencies for managing their professional lives. Therefore, the teaching-learning process cannot be disengaged from this reality.

There are several ways of integrating technology into education. One of them is Connected Learning, a theoretical framework proposal based on connectivism and a set of principles for guiding research and educational development. This learning model offers the possibility of experiences consistent with the information era of today’s youth. In other words, technologies are used to match the interests, friendships and academic achievements of young people through production experiences, shared purposes and open networks.

From a social aspect, Connected Learning considers that the function of education is to serve the interests of young people and their communities. This model is based on the evidence that flexible, adaptable, effective learning develops the individual interest of each student, as well as a social commitment to overcome adversity.

The fact that the new generations grow and discover through digital media, social networks and virtual games is an undeniable reality. We need to adapt to this means of transmitting knowledge, but, above all, foster in our students ethics, citizenship and a social commitment to their environment, paying off our social mortgage.

Young people have to navigate through digital environments that actively support the secure development of their identity as participants in public spheres. The new citizenship demands that university students should be agents of change in the digital era, although this will of course imply opportunities and risks for young people who seek this role.

Photo by John Loo

Photo by John Loo

Technological tools help teachers and students to become involved in real problems in the community and to foment civic participation. The main challenge lies in the method and the tools employed by educators to teach their classes and requires changes to the teaching methodology and theory. Therefore, teacher training courses are key to the implementation of these technological strategies to assess outcomes in the short term.

The possibilities for students to acquire new knowledge through connectivism are huge, and one of the clearest advantages is the democratization of education and learning, since virtual spaces give every student access to the information and knowledge they require.

The new citizenship demands that university students should be agents of change in the digital era, although this will of course imply opportunities and risks for young people who seek this role.

One of the main criticisms of Connected Learning is the digital gap and the limited Internet access existing for students in the diverse contexts in Mexico, preventing the proper use of digital tools. In addition, both students and teachers require digital tools and prior knowledge of managing social networks, such as an IT device, a good connection, tools, techniques and technologies, and experience in using them.

Therefore, in a country like Mexico where economic and sociocultural differences are enormous, a lack of financial resources and IT literacy directly affect the use of technology in some sectors of society and lead to ignorance of learning techniques, thus limiting the effectiveness of connectivity.

There is still a long road ahead of us. The new generations need the tools and knowledge to change our nation’s reality, a transformation that should not just be technological, but also imply a social and ethical commitment to improve the conditions in Mexico. This is the task that is still pending and the arduous path we must follow in our daily classes. I would like to invite you to implement the technology and digital tools available to us in order to transmit this knowledge to the latest generations of students. Making learning meaningful for students is just as important as transmitting knowledge.

About the author:

Juan José Tena García holds a Master’s degree in Human Rights and Democracy. He is Director of the Department of Law at Tecnológico de Monterrey, Campus Morelia, and teaches the course Citizenship and Democracy.

"Mac for every student ?" by Luc Legay
"Laptop" by John Loo

Interview report: Dean Kamen | Inventor, entrepreneur, advocate for science and technology, and founder of FIRST

Interviewed by the Observatory of Educational Innovation


Dean Kamen, participated as keynote speaker in the 3rd International Congress of Educational Innovation. As an inventor, holds more than 440 U.S. and foreign patents, many of them for innovative medical devices that have expanded the frontiers of healthcare worldwide. He is also the founder of FIRST, an organization dedicated to motivating the next generation of young kids to understand, use and enjoy science and technology (FIRST, 2017). 

Observatory: How can we innovate education in science and technology to make these subjects more interesting?

Dean Kamen: If you said to kids, "We're going to play football soccer tomorrow” and they showed up but there's no field, no ball, there's only a 50-page textbook called “The History of Soccer” and then after that, there's a quiz, to see if they know the rules. But if they never played, never kicked the ball, never ran, nobody would like soccer. Well, isn't that how we teach science? We learn this formula, then that formula, and then there’s a quiz on this formula, and then a test on that formula. But, if you said, "We are going to build a robot” and to build a robot, students got to connect this to that, and need to understand voltage and current, and got to understand how to measure things, cut things and assemble things. And then, my robots are going to run around, and if I didn't do it right, it's going to fall apart like the first time you tried to kick a soccer ball and missed. But then you practice, get better and come back, and you see your robot doing more, and that's exciting, and you're proud of it. 

So, when they say they're teaching science in school, they're not teaching science, they're teaching the history of science. They learn Isaac Newton, 1687. They learn Archimedes, 275 BC. They learn facts. They learn names. They learn formulas. To this day, I don't remember which law is which. I don't care what the label is. I know what the laws mean and how to apply them. I believe that we should stop teaching the history of science. Science isn't about studying those guys.

When they say they're teaching science in school, they're not teaching science, they're teaching the history of science. They learn Isaac Newton, 1687. They learn Archimedes, 275 BC. [...] I believe that we should stop teaching the history of science. Science isn't about studying those guys.

Observatory: What is FIRST?

Dean Kamen: FIRST stands for (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). FIRST is an organization dedicated to motivating the next generation of young kids to understand, use and enjoy science and technology. It was founded in 1989 and has served more than 300,000 young people, ages 6 to 18, in more than 60 countries around the globe. My goal in starting FIRST was to create a generation of kids that embrace technology and see it for what it is: a powerful tool to fix the world and give them great careers. Studies have shown that FIRST alumni are highly motivated to pursue careers in science and engineering (FIRST, 2017).

Observatory: What are the competencies that you see in children who have experienced the FIRST program and that differentiate them from other kids?

Dean Kamen: People used to tell me, "Dean, you're not going to teach kids how to be a roboticist in six weeks." And I'd say to them, "You're exactly right." Of course, I don't plan to do that. In fact, FIRST, as I said today, F-I-R-S-T, education isn't even in our name. We are For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. If the kids recognize it, if they are inspired by it, they'll go get an education. It will take them 10 years. We're not going to give them an education. That's what schools are for. To answer your question, they have self-confidence and self-respect. They understand how to work with teammates even when they disagree with them. I think FIRST is a model to show kids what the world could be like if people are open-minded and willing to learn and work hard, and willing to fail and pick themselves up and try again. That's what they learn.

Observatory: What inspires you to work on an invention, and how do you decide what project or idea to work on?

Dean Kamen: It's very hard to explain to somebody why we worked on a specific project. But when you look at all the projects we work on, I think the safest thing I can tell you is, there are so many big problems to work on, we end up sort of stepping onto one if we think our engineers are uniquely qualified to do it better than anybody else, based on their experience. And maybe we believe we need to do this one because nobody else will do it. So, we don't work on any project unless, fundamentally, we believe we're going to make a big difference. If we do this and it happens right, it'll make a big difference to the people that need it.

For example, we worked on a water machine because we can help the largest number of people on this entire planet. It's the biggest problem, there is no water. But, also, we worked on a prosthetic arm for a few hundred soldiers, and we hope they won't need anymore because we hope to stop sending them out into battles to get their arms blown up. So, I guess a long answer to your question is, we finally pick the project to work on mostly if we think we're really going to make a difference. If we had to compete with five other companies for the project it means we don't need to do it, they'll solve this problem and can take care of it. What I’m saying is I'm not in this to compete.

Observatory: What personality trait makes you who you are?

Dean Kamen: I guess curiosity about the world is what's always driven me, believing that if you think about it long enough you'll understand it, you'll have an insight, you'll figure out how to solve a problem if you really understand it. So, curiosity is a driving force in the world of innovation.

Observatory: Do you think higher education is efficiently delivered? 

Dean Kamen: I think it could be made more effective. It could be made lower cost, and therefore it could be delivered to millions more people that desperately need it. I believe there are many things we could do to make it different. For example, I would make sure kids use the education piece for the education. In other words, I think people confuse education and training, and we use schools to do the training, and we should use schools to do the education. And for the training, schools should say to students, "If you want to be able to do this, here's this program." It's Word, or it's Inventor, or it's some software program. "Go study this and learn how to use it." You don't need a professor to train you to use this program; you just need to practice it. That's training. And then come to class and use the classroom for the education of taking your training and doing something valuable with it.

Observatory:  What's your opinion about this 3rd International Congress of Educational Innovation?

Dean Kamen: I see a lot of people from Tec de Monterrey and its 26 campuses and 37 high schools, and others that came from other institutions in Mexico and other institutions around the world, including South America. It seems like there's a lot of energized people, energized universities, energized companies, energized parents, energized professors, and energized government people that really get it. They realize that if they want the future to be really successful and exciting for these kids and for their country, they've got to double down on tech, and they've got to give kids the inspiration and the tools to make tech part of their future. And, so far, that seems to be the mission of this convention, and that's pretty exciting.

FIRST (2017). Founder, FIRST President, DEKA Research & Development Corporation. http://www.firstinspires.org/about/leadership/dean-kamen

Images: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ciietec2016/albums/72157677668877466                                                             

How to innovate Mathematics teaching?

By Rodrigo Ponce

Many of us who learned mathematics through the structured or traditional method will undoubtedly find this scene familiar: the teacher comes into the classroom, starts explaining a theorem and writes exercises on the blackboard; the students copy them down, solve innumerable exercises and, finally, time permitting, complete an example of what they have learned. This scene is not just from the past, but is still being repeated today in many classrooms.

The reality is that Mexico, along with other Latin American countries, has oen obtained the lowest scores on the PISA test (Programme for International Student Assessment) by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), which measures students’ development in reading, mathematics and science competencies.

We need to foster students’ inquisitive spirit, in which knowledge acquisition is mostly centered on observation and experimentation.

This test evaluates the application of mathematics in a specific context; however, it must be stressed that students are rarely taught how to put their knowledge into practice. Instead, teachers continue to work with mathematics in an abstract, theoretical manner.

If we change the way or method of teaching math, more students would find it easier to learn this subject. In fact, learning and using math develops key skills, including problem solving, which also enhances comprehension in other areas of knowledge, such as science.

Math by Jeremy Mikkola

Nowadays, the educator’s task goes beyond teaching a topic in the classroom; there is a pressing need to innovate and evaluate student learning outcomes. As teachers, we should consider students’ experience with natural phenomena, invite them to experiment and introduce the conceptual theories used in mathematics according to their observations, thus avoiding contradictions in student learning.

This is no small challenge faced by the new generation of educators. In fact, Leonardo Garnier, former education minister of Costa Rica, commented in an interview with the Observatory of Educational Innovation of Tecnológico de Monterrey that the new generations of educators tend to teach in the same way they were taught 20 years ago, and not how they were trained at college. Breaking this pattern is very diicult, although many teachers have managed to implement this change.

I had the opportunity to attend an annual event organized by the Latin American Association of Research in Educational Sciences (LASERA), which brings together teachers and researchers from Latin America to address topics such as curricular content revision, teaching-learning strategies, methodological experiences, and new teaching materials and instruments. A recurrent challenge presented in the seminar was how to foster students’ inquisitive spirit, since knowledge acquisition starts largely through the observation and experimentation of natural phenomena.

A trend in education is the use of Remote Laboratories, which have overcome the limitations of in-person laboratories.

In addition, I learned about the transformation project in Costa Rica for the basic math education program, that includes a radical switch in teaching strategies and methods, and reform of the program of study, which is divided into four learning stages: Formulation of a real-life problem or challenge, where problems that are tangible and meaningful for students are presented; Independent student work, so that students can discuss, investigate and propose solutions; Brainstorming and communicating answers, which promotes collaborative group work to visualize the dierent proposed solutions, since discussion is encouraged to complement the work of the diverse teams; and, Closure of the learning module, where the teacher consolidates the knowledge acquired using mathematical concepts and theorems.

This new proposal for math programs can be replicated perfectly well in any area of natural science, since the most important part of the teacher’s function is the appropriate, relevant selection of the problems presented to students, emphasizing real contexts. Particularly in science, natural phenomena experimentation must be a priority, so that students can solve problems hands-on, creating an experience and knowledge through real-life challenges and the observation of possible solutions.

Another trend in education is the use of Remote Laboratories, which have overcome the limitations of in-person laboratories, providing a virtual interface, where students can work with real laboratory equipment and observe activities through a computer or mobile device webcam. Moreover, virtual laboratories are web applications that emulate the operation of an in-person laboratory and allow students to practice in a safe environment before using physical components.

At present, students have access to remote experiments conducted in universities in other states and countries, which are carried out with real equipment and managed online. The experience of a remote laboratory allows students to generate significant learning, compared with traditional techniques that use only abstract concepts and equations, without actual hands-on experience with the real phenomena presented.

In relation to this topic, I was able to get in touch with Deusto University (Spain) which currently allows high school and undergraduate students in Mexico to remotely access their laboratories. In this way, by means of an interface, the students can put into practice the knowledge acquired in the classroom, by observing and experimenting in a real-life laboratory online.

Finally, these changes would not be possible without teacher professionalization. Argentina, for example, has proposed three pillars for qualities educators need in the new millennia:

  1. Pedagogical Foundation, since teachers must have scientific knowledge of student learning and of the current pedagogical methodologies. In other words, just mastering their specific subject is no longer enough.
  2. Teamwork with colleagues, because sharing activities or working together is important to keep up to date both pedagogically and conceptually in their discipline.
  3. Classroom quality management, the teacher must become a researcher in education, in order to innovate and assess the student learning process. These three pillars will form the basis for streamlining the work achieved by teachers individually and with their colleagues.

Today, Latin American teachers are immersed in educational change worldwide, because we have so much to contribute to 21st-century education. We need to keep abreast of the latest trends and propose educational innovation. The future of education also lies in our Latin American educational institutions; we are leaders of change and can make a significant contribution to education. I would like to invite you to become a bold, ground-breaking educator, creating innovative learning environments, generating disruptive activities, and aligning the curriculum with the aim of enhancing education in your classroom, your country and, consequently, the world.

About the Author:

Dr. Rodrigo Ponce Díaz is the Director of the Department of Science and Technology at Prepa Tec Monterrey and Professor of the Department of Physics at Campus Monterrey.

Social Responsability: More than Good Intentions

By José Carlos Vázquez Parra

Until recently, a very narrow view existed of corporate social responsibility or CSR. It was perceived as a practice that focused on two spheres of activity: 1) environmental protection and renewable energy development, and 2) primarily philanthropic social support. In 2000, the UN signed the Global Compact, defining the millennium goals and creating a watershed by determining that social responsibility should be considered as an obligation not only for governments and transnational firms, but also for organizations: in this way, non-governmental organizations, such as universities, municipalities, subdivisions, etc., are also included as part of this movement.

A socially responsible business channels its economic activity and organizational goals toward generating economic-financial, ethical, social and environmental shared value, with results that are relevant for all its stakeholders. Contemporary business activity cannot be understood as the attainment of gains in the short term, but as a service that organizations should render for the society to which they belong.  

From this perspective, social responsibility (SR) becomes a topic of general interest for everyone who forms part of one of these organizations. Thus, promoting sustainable development is an objective that calls for the joint action of all the members of society, at every level of action, from local to global arenas.

As a result, teaching SR in academic settings has become crucial, and is consolidated by the relationship existing between this topic and the profile of the millennials who have recently joined the workforce in organizations.

Diverse authors have conducted extensive research on profiling millennials and have found that the topic of SR in particular plays a decisive role when choosing a job. Millennials typically have a strong desire to serve in their communities, not only seeking to understand the issues that afflict the world and society, but also find out how they can support such causes.

Therefore, millennials’ first choice for employment will be companies that share their values, where they will do their utmost to participate in the causes supported by these organizations. The new generations demand that educational institutions address this subject matter, since their academic interests are different from those of past generations.

Millennials typically have a strong desire to serve in their communities, to understand the problems that afflict the world and society, and find out how they can support such causes.

Aware of the social requirements and expectations of the new generations, national and international academics are paying greater attention to the topic of corporate social responsibility. They recognize that universities play a decisive role in what future professionals will value as relevant when founding or forming part of an organization. The topics of social responsibility, professional ethics, and new business and company models are being taken very seriously in the preparation of future professionals.

Universities play a decisive role in what future professionals will value as relevant when founding or forming part of an organization.

In Fall 2016, I had the opportunity to attend the XXI International Congress on Accounting, Management and Information Technologies in Mexico City. In their presentations, the speakers made it quite clear that social responsibility does not refer to vague, nebulous or well-meaning philanthropic practices, but rather a commitment that affects everyone who forms part of industries and academia. Participating in this forum gave me a clearer picture of universities’ interest in the academic preparation of our country’s future citizens and entrepreneurs.

SR is no longer taught as a merely theoretical topic, but has become an opportunity for putting into practice knowledge of professional ethics. The course I teach, Professional Ethics and Citizenship, still includes a section on theory, but now mostly focuses on developing an ethical competence, by means of the acquisition of specific sub-competencies, such as moral judgement, autonomy and integrity. To achieve this, students learn to use tools that not only impact the proper development of their professional careers, but also offer them the opportunity to acquire elements to support companies in SR measurement and certification processes.

During this course, I use a variety of pedagogical approaches, such as multidisciplinary teamwork and ethical dilemma analysis, using the case method and project-based learning, taking into consideration that each group has its own characteristics and, as teachers, we need to be sufficiently versatile to reach the desired objectives.

SR, does not refer to vague, nebulous or well-meaning philanthropic practices, but rather a commitment that affects everyone who forms part of industries and academia.

Knowledge assessment is performed on the basis of two components: the formulation of a portfolio, in which students include the products generated during the semester, and a qualitative evaluation, that allows us to determine the level achieved in the proposed sub-competencies. The primordial aim of these assessment components is not only for students to gain sufficient knowledge of professional ethics concepts, but also to offer them the possibility of developing proposals to improve companies’ SR areas.

In addition, students learn about topics related to ISO 26000 (Social Responsibility), including human rights, gender equality, environmental integrity and labor practices. To complement the learning process, students write an individual essay on the topics being analyzed across this course, which enables us to determine the actual degree of reflection reached.

It is important to remember that the young people currently studying in our classrooms are the professionals who will be responsible for the societies of tomorrow, so the type of leaders who will be running the world depends on us. Society needs a new generation of leaders who are capable of defining concrete actions, policies and programs and who are clearly committed to its advancement. Nowadays, we cannot focus on the short-term consequences of our actions, since even though generations change, the world is still one and everyone must be held accountable for assuring that it is habitable and inclusive for all of us who live here.  


José Carlos Vázquez Parra has a Ph.D. in Humanistic Studies with an emphasis on Ethics. He is a teacher at the Humanistic and Citizen Training at Tecnológico de Monterrey, Campus Guadalajara. Member of the National System of Researchers.

Design and its Relationship to Emotions

By Juan Carlos Rojas

When we talk about design, we usually associate it with the visual attraction of an object. However, something truly fascinating lies beyond the aesthetic aspect: the relationship with the emotions that an object transmits or evokes in a person. Recently, the field of design has created innovative possibilities by capitalizing on knowledge from other sciences that were previously considered completely unrelated to this topic, such as computer science, psychology and medicine, among others. Nowadays, there is an endless sea of possibilities for generating new product design solutions.

Design education is also undergoing positive changes. It used to focus on a process that was limited solely around the designer’s profile, which, it was believed, should dominate all the areas in an extremely generic manner. A classic example is that, previously, students were taught that designers should sit down, contemplate a bit and be inspired by the environment surrounding them, and then embody their idea. Now, the design process is more complex, because the designer needs to know, understand, investigate and analyze the environment as such, look for areas of opportunity, a specific market niche as the target for their ideas, create a solution and obtain feedback on the same.

Design has evolved in fundamental disciplines, such as robotics, human-machine interaction, education, medicine, art, health and wellbeing, sustainability, entertainment, software and media interaction, among others.

The current trend is for design solutions to emerge from an in-depth knowledge of the area for which the designer is working. For example, for social solutions, designers must study and learn, and not just design as such. This change is positive because it turns designers into creative experts in that specific area of knowledge. History shows us that the most iconic designs can be found in the real-estate sector; nevertheless, design has evolved in fundamental disciplines, such as robotics, human-machine interaction, education, medicine, art, health and wellbeing, sustainability, entertainment, software and media interaction, etc. The types of products created at present are much more complex and, therefore, their design processes are too.

In Fall 2016, I had the opportunity to attend an event called the International Conference on Design & Emotion, held every two years and attended by designers, researchers, professors and businesspersons, in order to seek and learn about different types of proposals centered on design and human emotions. The 2016 edition of the conference addressed current trends, which highlight eight key elements and their relationship with emotions.

The concepts are, to a certain extent, abstract; however, the designers’ talent integrates and gives meaning in their creations to:

  1. Ambiguity, which refers to experiences that are rich, ironic and uncomfortable
  2. Provocation, which concerns activism, creation and speculation in social design
  3. Wellbeing, in reference to social behavior, ethics, happiness and personal values
  4. Beauty, in relation to aesthetics, materials and consolidation of the senses
  5. Embodiment, which comprises new channels or means of executing design, such as the internet and embedded computing
  6. Poetry, which is openness in drama, emotional durability and storytelling
  7. Empathy, which addresses inclusion, participation and co-design, and
  8. Spirituality, which is related to memories, trust experiences and awe

The use of biometric technologies stands out in several points within these key elements of design and emotions. I had the opportunity to present my research on this topic, regarding the implementation of eye tracking and galvanic skin response (GSR) tests.

The former is a technique used to quantify the length of time of a person’s gaze or the level of attention to determine whether the idea of what an advertisement, branding or TV commercial seeks to transmit is being understood. This is relevant for product design because you can learn objectively, without the person expressing subjectively, what he or she likes or prefers: his or her gaze will convey it quantitatively.

The latter technique, GSR, is based on measuring, analyzing and interpreting the heart rate and the amount of blood it pumps around our body. The heart rate is related to a person’s basic emotions. For example, we can measure the excitement of browsing through a new phone, running a search on a new video interface, entering a store and perceiving the atmosphere or aromas, etc. My research as a designer is based on these technologies and other techniques that are not quite so recent, but that have gradually been perfected over the past two decades, giving researchers the task of integrating them into the area of emotion-based design.

Together with this, and in order to gain greater insight into where this trend is going in design, it is worth getting to know the work being conducted in this area. At the conference, several experts presented a series of projects that are invaluable for integrating design and emotions:

International Conference on Design & Emotion

International Conference on Design & Emotion

Sydney One Central Park

Sydney One Central Park

Jodi Forlizzi: specializes in the area of Human- Computer Interaction. She is a professor in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. Her research focuses on the ranges of understanding and how products and services evoke social behavior.

Jonathan Chapman: is a professor of sustainable design and director of design and initiative research at the University of Brighton. His research has been used in brands such as Puma, Philips, The Body Shop, among others.

Maarten Baas: a Dutch designer whose works lie on the boundaries between art and design. Some of his them can be found in MoMA (Museum of Modern Art, in New York) and Rijksmuseum (The Museum of the Netherlands in Amsterdam). He has also collaborated with brands such as Louis Vuitton and Swarovski.

Sebastian Deterding: designer and researcher who works on gameful design. He is the founder of the behavioral design agency and an associate at HubBub, which have worked for companies such as BBC, BMW, Deutsche Telekom and KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines). Vanessa Evers: is a computer science professor at The University of Twente and forms part of the Human Media Interaction research group. Her research focuses on the interaction of intelligent, autonomous systems, such as robots.

I would like to invite the community of professionals, academics and people related to design to take a closer look at the aspects described here about emotions. I would also like to share with you my vision of contemporary product design, which must evolve toward more holistic objects and services that will foster positive elements in people’s daily lives.


Juan Carlos Rojas López is a PhD in Design and a professor at Tecnológico de Monterrey. He specializes in the area of emotional and affective evaluation of the design through subjective and objective methods / tools.

Imagen de encabezado por Pexels.

Cases for learning and renewing...


By Martha García Tenorio


The case method has long been a well-known teaching technique. However, I am convinced that in our teaching practice there is a wide space for exploring and innovating to capitalize on it in educational terms. For the past five years, I have been using the case method in my courses because this methodology makes it possible to address real issues that arise in a business setting, combining theory and practice. Integrating this teaching technique in the classroom offers many benefits, such as developing students’ critical thinking, proposing possible solutions to problems raised in a safe environment, working with diverse topics, and generating individual and group reflection, among others.

One of the main challenges teachers face when using the case method as a teaching technique lies in the competency assessment systems. Traditional assessment methods, which have been used for years in more rigid, formal educational models, are no longer efficient or functional. An example of this is the difficulty in evaluating creativity; measuring this competency using an inflexible assessment system, such as an exam, would not be easy. Current trends require rethinking and designing assessment systems that can be adapted to more flexible, innovative, challenging, interactive and dynamic educational models, through which we can observe whether students can communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing, have completed a prior analysis or investigation based on the available information, or possess synthesis skills, among other aspects.

Current trends require rethinking and designing assessment systems that can be adapted to more flexible, innovative, challenging, interactive and dynamic educational models. 

Regarding this matter, I had the opportunity to participate as a speaker on the topic Challenging Learning Experiences with the project “Ejemplos que arrastran” (Influential Examples) at the 11th Annual Meeting of the Latin American Case Association (ALAC) during the summer of 2016. My proposal was to bring students into contact with the real world through a Community Action project in a rural area. The focus of the project was to invite students to participate in Ethics and Citizenship activities, motivated by the example we set as teachers of becoming directly involved in proposals to bring about change in our community. This project was considered successful since students brought their skills to the fore, interacted with and learned from the environment, became involved in social transformation processes, and shared their talents. It is a way of teaching beyond the classroom, of inspiring our students from a variety of perspectives. It is also proof of the commitment teachers acquire to students’ education in ethics, with social responsibility and the sense of humanity that is vital in our society.

If leaving the classroom is not an option for the teacher or students, owing to time, transportation, cost, insecurity issues or any other factors, there is still the possibility of offering students the experience of seeing a live case first hand in which they can perceive the emotions, implications and consequences undergone by the real characters in a case when making decisions and addressing issues. Combining this experience with the use of technology or so-ware that enables students to participate during the presentation of a case would be extremely enriching, reaffirming their knowledge and sharing ideas and diverse points of view. There are many free apps that can be used to achieve this experience using mobile devices and the Internet, such as Socrative and Clicker.

At the ALAC meeting, I witnessed a live case consisting of entrepreneurs from a Chilean vineyard involved in a problem related to business ethics. The company was at risk of losing its competitive position in the international market owing to the impact on costs of the production of its current bottles, transportation and European carbon emission control environmental standards. Listening first-hand to the process undertaken by the organization’s executives was an extraordinary experience: they presented hard data, figures and facts that gave insight into and dimensioned the impact of decision-making on businesses. During the presentation, the speakers and the audience could interact through so-ware for measuring the spectator's’ perception and opinion of the case presented.

Researchers and professors have numerous opportunities to participate in writing and publishing cases in scientifically relevant international forums. This is not easy, since the cases need to be designed and tested in an academic framework to adjust them to the competencies to be developed by students. In Latin America, there are several interesting cases of high educational value, but very few have been documented and contextualized to our region.

Finally, I would like to highlight the importance of constantly renewing and innovating the teaching techniques we use in our educational practice, because every day we have the opportunity to test them in order to combine the diverse areas of knowledge through their use. In addition, I would like to emphasize that our students are satisfied with the use of the case method during classes, given their active participation and the collaborative work that take place during the learning process.  


Martha Garcia Tenorio is a Clinical Psychologist. Master in Ethics for Social Construction and Professor in the area of Human Development, Tutoring, Ethics and Psychology at the Tecnologico de Monterrey.

Interview report: Leonardo Garnier | Former Education Minister of Costa Rica

Interviewed by the Observatory of Educational Innovation


Leonardo Garnier Rímolo, Former Education Minister of Costa Rica, has several publications in journals and books on economic and social topics related to development. He promotes the theory of subversive education, defined as helping students become who they want to be.

Observatory: How can we develop skills in students based on emotional intelligence?

Leonardo Garnier: In many countries, education is based on subjects, which is one way of organization, with its advantages and disadvantages. One of the most interesting experiments in the world right now is being conducted in Finland. They are scrapping subjects and working only on projects, something that the Jesuits are also doing in Spain. However, an exceptionally mature educational system and an extremely highly-trained faculty are required to develop skills in our students on the basis of emotional intelligence.

For example, teachers who work only with projects, without subjects, they need to have a command of the subjects even though they are not being taught as such. They must have the highest pedagogical capacity, since it is so much easier to teach in the traditional way. I think you have to be very careful and consider educational reforms as part of a gradual process.

One of the most interesting experiments in the world right now is being conducted in Finland. They are scrapping subjects and working only on projects.

Copying a Finnish reform in Latin America wouldn´t be recommendable if you don’t have the organization or culture; I would opt for reforms that do have this more ambitious vision, but that take into account which stages need´s completed so an organization can gradually change and, above all, so that the culture can change.

Another way of responding would be to work with projects within the subjects. In Costa Rica, an interesting strategy was to mix soft subjects (music, art) with hard subjects (mathematics or science), and, all of a sudden, students are working on a joint project for both subjects. So, the teachers coordinate with each other, but keep their own subject. Why not scrap subjects? Because I don’t think we’re ready to scrap them, just yet, even though in theory it might seem the right thing to do.

Copying a Finnish reform in Latin America wouldn´t be recommendable if you don’t have the organization or culture. 

Observatory: Based on your experience in education in your country Costa Rica, and in other Latin American countries, what is the main obstacle to developing or implementing innovation?

Leonardo Garnier: There are two main obstacles that are tied in with each other. In the education area, a permanent battle has been between the conservatives and the liberals. The conservatives have understood education very much in the style of the inquisition: preparing obedient, well-behaved children whom follow instructions, they have to memorize all information. In Latin America, many people have tried to break up this paradigm. This conservative resistance is deeply set in not only in the education system, but also in parents who usually think: "I’ll send my child to school so they can teach him to be obedient ". It’s such an old-fashioned mentality: you should fulfill your role as a parent and the school should make the child creative, free, audacious, but not obedient, that’s another matter entirely.

Leonardo Garnier at CIIE 2015.

Leonardo Garnier at CIIE 2015.

In Latin America, we have two key issues: if the teaching profession is not well respected or well paid, we can’t attract the best people to this profession. That’s crazy.

The second challenge is that in order to achieve an education with freedom, well-trained teachers are required. In Latin America, we have two key issues: if the teaching profession is not well respected or well paid, we can’t attract the best people to this profession. That’s crazy. If you look at countries like Korea or Finland, among other countries that have been successful in education, the teachers are the most highly respected and valued profession in their societies. But it’s not enough just to recognize teachers or pay them well; the problem we have is on teacher training, including the institutions that produce teachers.

Observatory: In your conference, you mentioned that we have to learn to follow rules, but also change and challenge them. In your opinion, what is holding us back from this subversive education?

Leonardo Garnier: I tend to be rather liberal, open, flexible, but I don’t know what it means to be a high school teacher and stand up in front of forty teenagers. That can’t be easy. An example would be one of the reforms we implemented: in Costa Rica, if students got a bad conduct or behavior report, they failed their academic courses. So, there were many students who were failing academically, not because they hadn’t passed their classes, but because the teacher had given them a poor conduct report. So, the conduct report had replaced the ruler and chalkboard eraser that were used to keep us in check when we were at school.

Our responsibility is to educate, but they say: "No, students have to learn to obey rules.” If blue pants are part of the uniform, they have to come to school wearing blue plants. If they don’t like it, there’s a process for changing the uniform and they can participate, maybe successfully and the uniform is changed, maybe not and they will just have to put up with the uniform. However, I think it is a very important lesson that’s not black and white; there are also grey areas.

Teachers are afraid of the students.

Observatory: How do you think teachers see themselves in front of the students in the classroom?

Leonardo Garnier: Teachers are afraid of the students. I can understand it in some way, but I think we have to stop being afraid. Education is much richer when we remove fear from the equation.

Observatory: What should be the first change made to revolutionize education?

Leonardo Garnier: Teachers need to undergo a transformation. Here we are, thinking that when we train teachers at university, with critical thinking and the theories of Freire, Piaget, Vygotsky and others, they will go out to teach like that. But they leave college, get hired in educational institutions, and on the first day of classes they turn into their old high school teacher.

The new generations of teachers aren’t teaching as they were trained to do at university, but in the same way that they were taught at school 20 years beforehand. Shining away from this is extremely dificult, but that’s the challenge. There are many teachers who do manage it. Something that helped us to understand was that we weren’t inventing anything new, but there were already many teachers doing this in their classrooms.

Observatory: What recommendation would you give to our teachers?

Leonardo Garnier: That’s a tough one. To start with, I really like the way in which Tec de Monterrey is evolving, changing direction towards an education based more on projects and reviving the topic of citizenship, leadership, I think it’s fantastic. Moreover, the goal of increasing the percentage of students who come from socio-economic sectors that could not normally pay for a university like Tec de Monterrey, I think that’s being socially responsible.

The students’ experience will transform the institution, because they won’t just learn from the teachers, but also from their classmates. We can build a rose-colored bubble where everyone comes from well-o- families and the like, but we’ll gain a completely di-erent picture of the world if the kids all come from di-erent backgrounds. I think it’s a fine educational proposal. My congratulations to Tec de Monterrey because I think it’s moving in a direction I like and which is part of its objectives, to place the student at the core of the process.

Observatory: In your opinion, why is it important to hold events like the International Congress of Educational Innovation?

Leonardo Garnier: There are two reasons: first, education is an indispensable tool to turn each student into the person he or she wants to be. It is the most crucial tool for change. And second, activities like this congress are important because in general, our educational systems tend to be very conservative, resistant to changes and old-style ways of understanding learning, which, instead of driving education, holds it back.  

2nd International Congress on Educational Innovation (2015). Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/ciietec 2nd International Congress on Educational Innovation (2015). Retrieved from http://www.ciie.mx/en/httpciiemxspeakerdeb- masters/leonardogarnier/