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Prof. Luis Armando Bedoya
Award-Winning Teacher in Colombia Employs Oracle Academy to Transform Students’ Lives
The area of Antioquia in northeastern Colombia extends from the Andes to the Caribbean coast. With seven million people in the region, Antioquia’s economy to date has been sustained by coffee, minerals and manufacturing. As a result of decades of nationwide armed conflict, the region has had socio-economic challenges. Now, the local government, based in Medellin, Colombia’s second largest city, is spearheading a drive to diversify, innovate and compete through technology.
Antioquia’s Board of Education is working to improve basic educational levels through knowledge testing, literacy campaigns, and online adult learning. Building on that, at the Institución Educativa Rural El Tablazo, a rural secondary school 27 kilometers to the north from Medellin, mathematics teacher Luis Armando Bedoya has introduced computer programming to his classroom. Professor Bedoya believes that the goal of a teacher is to develop better human beings for society and that technology makes the process smoother.
Oracle Academy: How did you come to incorporate programming into your math classes?
Prof. Bedoya: Technology is a vital tool for any classroom; it animates teaching, develops analytical thinking, and helps measure practical results. I use the Java courses provided by Oracle Academy. It’s my conviction that regardless of the subject matter, information technology contributes to improving the academic performance of students and teachers alike.
Studying the basic competencies of the two areas (mathematics and programming), I identified one thing in common: problem solving. This competence is essential for the two areas; then, they should be worked on simultaneously, not separately.
Oracle Academy: What was the motivator for using Oracle Academy curriculum, and how did you become involved?
Prof. Bedoya: Our school lies in an area affected by social conflicts and economic problems, where students frequently abandoned their studies in favor of illegal activities, such as drugs and violent crime. Introducing them to computer programming has been extremely beneficial. In 2016, the Antioquia Ministry of Education invited teachers to attend a training course in Java Fundamentals. I participated, and since then have introduced Oracle Academy’s Java technology learning into my classrooms. Additionally, I also saw how this program could give my students other opportunities for their lives to bring them closer to the current work world.
Oracle Academy: In what way has the Oracle Academy curriculum been beneficial?
Prof. Bedoya: I teach mathematics. Until recently, only 20% of the students had passing rates, mainly due to lack of motivation. By marrying math and calculus classes to courses such as Java Fundamentals, pass rates have soared to 80%. The result is astounding and gratifying. Kids love programming, the challenges, and the outcomes! It is important to highlight that they are motivated very much by the programming work.
By marrying math and calculus classes to courses such as Java Fundamentals, pass rates have soared to 80%.
Oracle Academy: To what do you attribute this success?
Prof. Bedoya: Professor Bedoya: It’s because math and computer science are tightly knitted. Both disciplines allow students to think in logical order and develop critical thinking. When we include Java programming in our classes, students are able to use tools that tangibly prove the logical order inherent in math. This has made the subject more ‘user friendly’ and has been the motivator for the massive surge in interest.
I emphasize what I have heard from several students: "Professor, when I program I can see where the error is, and I can correct it or another partner can identify how to correct the error. When I work in math, I only detect the error when you tell me, otherwise I do not realize." This is very true, in programming we can detect errors, and we can correct them.
Oracle Academy: So, math grades are improved by programming. In what other fields do you see computer science assisting learning?
Prof. Bedoya: Astronomy! Let me explain. Teaching math with Oracle Academy materials led me to create a project called Mathematics & Programming that we submitted as an entry to the InnovAntioquia contest last November—and we won a prize. InnovAntioquia is a government initiative aimed at promoting innovation and applied research to benefit economic development.
The prize was cash, and the students used it to purchase a telescope, to train on Jupiter initially, and this gave rise to an Astronomy Club in our school. I’m working out how to apply Oracle Academy resources to the teaching of that science.
But in general, whether it is used in mathematics or astronomy, computer science encourages pure thinking, develops analytical thought and opens doors to careers. I would like to see it applied to areas such as art and music—the humanities in general—to prove that programming is hugely useful and productive in empowering all areas of knowledge.
Oracle Academy: Can you tell us more about the project you submitted to the InnovAntioquia contest?
Prof. Bedoya: We called it “Problem solving with Scratch and Alice3, a Methodology for Motivating Students.” The paper showed the relationship between computer science skills and math, where programming is the point of greatest confluence.
We showed how animation programs and Oracle Academy Java courses can motivate kids to enjoy programming and increase superior cognitive skills such as critical analysis, logic, memory and problem solving. We also showed how math and programming combined leads directly to great opportunity in the Colombian job market.
One of the judges said: “You’ve got a gold mine in this project.”
We also showed how math and programming combined leads directly to great opportunity in the Colombian job market.
Oracle Academy: And are you also helping students prepare for the job market?
Prof. Bedoya: Indirectly, yes. One of the objectives is to encourage students to prepare for the Java Foundations Certified Junior Associate exam, which will enhance their CVs so they can strive to get jobs as junior programmers. Specifically, I’m coordinating with the Ruta N initiative of the Antioquia administration that promotes technology start-ups to increase the competitiveness of Medellin and the region. My students will apply for jobs with those start-ups.
Oracle Academy: What else are you involved with?
Prof. Bedoya: I’m working with students on a project to measure the energy produced by exercise bikes, which we will enter in the University of Antioquia National Programming Contest. Again, we are using Oracle Academy methodologies to solve problems such as limb articulation, chemical balance, and other variables involving logical thinking and analysis.
Previously we used the Alice introductory Java tools available through Oracle Academy to design the leg and hip movements of animated characters, programming them to walk, in effect!
Oracle Academy: All in all, you’ve successfully gotten young people away from lawlessness and into enjoying technology!
Prof. Bedoya:Yes, this young generation wants to make the world a better place; they have different aspirations and see technology a way to get ahead. Technology is a powerful tool for learning —in any discipline—and it can really change lives too.
Thank you, Professor Bedoya, for your dedication to making a strong and positive impact on your students!
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