On November 18th, the Ecuadorian city of Loja celebrated the anniversary of its Independence. To coincide with this celebration, one of the most prestigious universities in the country, the Technical University of Loja (UTPL for its initials in Spanish) is organizing the 1st Campus Congress to be held from November 25-27, 2009. This event organized with the Inter-American Organization for Higher Education (OUI-IOHE of its initials in Spanish) will feature various technological and educational events including iSummit Loxa and the regional meeting for Creative Commons.
One of the local leaders helping to make the event possible is Carlos Correa Loyola, who is the UTPL's Director of the Information Technology Department. However, he is also a blogger [es] and avid user of social media networks like Twitter (username @calu). Correa has already been featured on numerous occasions on Global Voices, including the articles on blogs in his homeland of Loja and when Creative Commons Ecuador was launched.
During a conversation via Skype, Correa said that the UTPL's ultimate goal is to “become the premier technology university in the country,” and for the institution to ultimately transform itself into being the “premier [technology university] in Latin America. To accomplish this, we are working with 20 PhD technology students, with 5 graduating in 2010, 10 graduating in 2011, and the rest will graduate later.”
He has met interesting people during his travels around the world, which has helped him outline the upcoming I Congress Campus with the theme “Building Common Spaces in Higher Education.” According to Correa, the work began as a small team or “four cats in a room,” a commonly used saying in Loja, and the event is becoming a reality thanks to the support of Luis Miguel Romero, PhD, the current President of UTPL and who is also the current President of the OUI-IOHE.
By following the 6 strategic goals set by the technical university, a larger team of 70 people along with the Centers for Research, Technology Transfer, Extension, and Services (CITTES for their initials in Spanish) have been organizing the Campus Connect. The entire university is taking a role in planning the event, and he feels strongly that this process should take into consideration the ideas of not just one person or small group, but all participants, which something that Correa prefers to call “universitology.”
The meeting scheduled to begin on November 25th has three components: The Congress Campus, the Latin American regional meeting of Creative Commons, and the iSummit 2009 and will take place while “respecting their identities at the same time,” said Correa. In addition, a BarCamp will follow the official events over the 3 days.
The 2nd gathering of the Creative Commons representatives from Latin American will take place in Loja, which follows the previous one held year in Santiago, Chile (.pdf format). The UTPL has had a large role in bringing the use of Creative Commons licenses in Ecuador. Correa says, “We [UTPL] are the counterpart of the organization in Ecuador. We focus on ccLearn in order to promote open content in education and higher education, especially.”
During this event, there will also be Loxa iSummit 09, which, according to Correa will be an “annual technology conference, the first in Loja and organized by the UTPL. It focuses on four areas: Software Architecture, Knowledge Management via a differentiated Semantic and Social Web, Advanced Networks, and IT Entrepreneurship called Technology Valley that the university has been supporting and is under the direction of Alvaro Castillo.” With the iSummit we seek to “establish a collaborative space, linking different views and approaches to the role of IT in higher education and business.”
BarCamp Loxa 09
“And to close the formal parts of the event, after Wednesday workshops and other events, comes Saturday's BarCamp Loxa 09, which is nothing but organized chaos, a cycle of “unconferences” on technology and other topics,” said Correa. The Barcamp Loxa 09 is eagerly awaited by the Ecuadorian blogger community and will feature musician Riccardo Perotti. There are also plans for an after-BarCamp, which will be a place to continue the celebration. The Barcamp has its own presence on Twitter with hashtag #barcamploxa09 and also a Faceboook group.
Correa concludes and reflects on Loja's role on promoting technology in the country and in the region:
It is said that the misuse of technology adds to the digital divide. That may be happening in the U.S. and Europe, and indeed in Latin America. But we want to change that, many have laid eyes here, during these three intense days. The small towns can also work closely with large cities, so Loja being a small city, not just the university, but people are betting on a democratization of participation, thereby achieving that technology does not accumulate just in the major poles of development.