Professors Design Strategies for Transformative Learning

During the Faculty Resource Network National Symposium, Sagrado professors Iliana Ballester and Alba Brugueras talked about how they managed to incorporate technology in their course “From macroeconomics to personal branding.”

Alba Brugueras and Iliana Ballester

By Iliana Ballester Panelli
Professor at the Ferré Rangel School of Communication

Once again, I had the opportunity to give a presentation, along with my colleague Alba Brugueras Fabre from the Department of Business Administration, at New York University’s Faculty Resource Network National Symposium.

The main topic of the event, which was held virtually due to the pandemic, was innovations in teaching curricula to achieve transformative learning in students. During our presentation, we explained the changes in teaching strategies that we implemented in the course “From Macroeconomics to Personal Branding” (ADM 105) and some of the results of such transformations.

For the past two years, we have taught this course in a co-teaching mode (team teaching). At the end of each semester, the students evaluate the course, and these evaluations lead to a decision-making process between the two of us to optimize the course in a way that promotes student learning. This academic year, two additional elements also influenced decision-making: the modality in which the course is offered due to the closure of the campus because of the pandemic and who our students are.

The course was programmed to be taught in a hybrid virtual modality, that is, 50% videoconference (Zoom) and 50% entirely online through the portal. This required us to rethink some of the strategies that we had used previously, either to eliminate them or to redesign them so that they would work in this new reality. In addition, the fact that our students are members of Generation Z and some are millennials influenced our reflections.

Generation Z – born between 1996 and 2012 – have unique characteristics and expectations, especially since they were born alongside the technological and communication boom that shaped all aspects of learning. Some characteristics that appear in every search about Gen Z are that they are more social, visual, mobile device-oriented, and global, digital, entrepreneurial, and experience-minded.

Armed with this information, we have been applying, optimizing, and reflecting on the use of different teaching and learning strategies for this freshman year course. The same exposes students to explore the current economic situation in Puerto Rico and possible alternatives for the future. Likewise, this course provides tools for students’ personal finances and supports them in the development of a personal brand as a strategy for their professional development. ADM 105 is a requirement for students of the Business Development program, and as an elective for students of Music, Communication, Theater, and Biology, among other careers.

Between the two of us, we present the use of technology and the design of activities to:

  • active learning and collaborative work,
  • learning methodologies based on discussion and projects,
  • the creation of multimedia projects (videos, podcasts, a portfolio, among others),
  • the use of media and social networks as pedagogical tools, and
  • the use of mobile devices and applications in the classroom.

The presentation included examples and exercises on how to incorporate technology, activities, and design to foster transformative learning.

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