How the University of Vassouras in Brazil Leaned Into Its Digital Transformation

It was through an agreement with SAGAH and Open LMS, two business partners of +A Educação, that the transformation took place. The market for higher educational content is huge, and buyers must filter through many similar solutions offering soon-outdated, ready-to-use material. Those that offer a competitive advantage stand out.

That is why the University of Vassouras in Rio de Janeiro chose SAGAH. “The platform is very user friendly and constantly updated, ready to use from the get-go,” says Professor Paulo Tong, coordinator of the digital education of the institution.

Fusve manages the following educational institutions: University of Vassouras (Campus Vassouras and Campus Maricá), the Miguel Pereira Faculty, Faculty of Medical Sciences of Maricá, and CAp Technical. It additionally manages a number of professional courses, variously located in the cities of Vassouras, Miguel Pereira, and Maricá, in Rio de Janeiro.

The foundation’s flagship institution is the University, which attracts a lot of interest from all over Brazil, especially in medicine. In 2019, the University of Vassouras reached a grade 4 General Index Courses (IGC) rating for the first time. IGC scores, assigned by the MEC (Ministério da Educação in Portuguese) on a five point scale, give a weighted average describing graduation quality.

Adopting a Strong Virtual Learning Environment

The pandemic inevitably increased the adoption curve of EaD resources. In a matter of days or weeks, educational institutions needed to create an infrastructure capable of closing the distance between students and professors.

The situation was no different for the University of Vassouras. The videoconferencing platform, for example, was implemented by IES (Instituição de Ensino Superior in Portuguese) one Monday in March 2020. By the end of the same week, all collaborators were able to use it.

In the case of the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), the University of Vassouras’ management committee began to study new options in the second half of 2020.

Open LMS was chosen for several reasons.

Based on the open source Moodle™ platform, Open LMS is a subscription-based implementation that offers various improvements and 24/7 services that aren’t available in the base VLE.

According to the EdTech market a VLE in this category may cost less than half the investment required for a totally free VLE. This is because, with the free VLE, the IES pays for hardware, cloud servers, and IT support equipment.

By providing these features as standard, Open LMS is more affordable. The solution is provided by Plataforma A, which is responsible for installation, upgrade, and maintenance support. “I really believe in reliability and partnerships, and that’s exactly what Plataforma A offers,” explains Tong. “From the signing of the agreement to its implementation for use by the academic community, the whole process took only 45 days”. Continuing, he remarked: “This was as a result of an intense synergy between the digital education coordination teams and those of Open LMS and SAGAH.”

After just 45 days, 7,000 students and 400 professors had access to the LMS and classes were resumed by February 2021.

Significantly, the team that supports the academic community has received practically no hesitations or complaints related to the VLE. “Open LMS is very user-friendly and has no history of unsteadiness,” says Professor Anrafel Fernandes, coordinator of digital courses at the University of Vassouras.

Digital Learning Is the Future of Education

With Open LMS implemented, the SAGAH catalog, which consists of 20,000 learning units and more than 1,000 subjects in 54 courses, is now in the early stages of implementation.

According to Professor Tong, it is necessary to create an organizational culture among professors. “Since the beginning we have used SAGAH for digital subjects, and at the same time, we are onboarding professors from other subjects to get acquainted with the solution and handle the material.”

According to Professor Tong, the digital education coordinator at the University of Vassouras, digital transformation is a means of survival for higher education institutions.

“We cannot teach the way we did before the pandemic. The future of education is hybrid, with a strong technological bias and a construction rather than a reconstruction of a new teaching model,” says Paulo Tong.

Before the pandemic, the digital transformation team of the University of Vassouras consisted of six people. Today, the team is already up to 14, drawing on the expertise of professors, analysts, and other collaborators. The university fully expects the number of collaborators to expand at the same right as technology solutions advance.

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