Artificial Intelligence Article

Reimagining digital transformations


Participatory design (PD) is a powerful methodology that can be applied to re-imagining digitalization process, bringing ethical considerations to the foreground, and fostering the inclusion of multiple stakeholders and diverse people in all the phases of the process. Since its origins in the 1970s and the context of the workplace, PD aimed to democratize power and decision making, empowering workers, communities and people as designers. That is, empowering all people, independently of their background and expertise, as creative agents capable of ideating, planning, and prototyping services, objects, spaces, and tools. Sometimes called co-design, other times co-creation, PD is a radical approach to working with communities that radically embraces dialogue, cooperation, and horizontal relationships. In the midst of the multiple pressures for implementing ICT and data-driven systems across all dimensions of human life and society, PD offers a range of tools, protocols and techniques, that can facilitate more horizontal and participatory processes where diverse voices and perspectives can meet and work together in the implementation of new technological infrastructures, services and products.

Last year I facilitated two virtual workshops about PD for two groups of international graduate students from around the world and diverse disciplinary background. The workshops were included in two research clinics co-hosted by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society (AI Policy with the City of Helsinki) and the Digital Asia Hub (Cities, Digitalization, and Ethics) and supported by the Ethics of Digitalization initiative. This initiative consists of a series of educational programs (mainly research sprints and clinics) developed by the Global Network of Internet and Society Research Centers (NoC) to advance dialogue and action at the intersection of science, politics, digital economy, and civil society, and to help translate AI ethics and governance principles into practice. Embracing the values of openness, networking, interactivity, collaboration, dialogue, and participation, these transdisciplinary educational programs have proven to be innovative and transformative, assembling a diverse group of students from different backgrounds and connecting them with academics, entrepreneurs, policy makers, designers, and experts from multiple sectors.

The PD workshops mixed theory and practice providing the participants with basic methodological foundations, examples of PD in action, and a sample of tools and techniques they could apply right away through practical exercises. The workshops combined short presentations, discussions, and collaborative group exercises (e.g. ecosystem mapping, persona maps, speculative fiction). Aligned with the goals of experiential learning, the workshops allowed students to think and apply the PD methodology for solving real problems of governance and ethics that cities around the world are confronting nowadays or in the near future. For instance, in the AI Policy Research Clinic students tackled the problem of re-imagining the governance of an AI system aimed to support learning, student wellbeing, and retention in Helsinki’s vocational schools, and re-considered strategies and tools to make it more inclusive, transparent, trustable, and participatory.

As cities around the world increasingly become driven by digitalization and data, it is crucial to develop strategies to bring ethics into practice. That is, to go beyond the mere acknowledgement of ethical principles, and start applying them in the actual design and implementation of data-driven systems. PD methodology provides protocols, tools and techniques that can help to achieve that. Its major advantage compared to other methodologies, is that given its political and ethical foundations, PD fosters a radical inclusive approach in where all the phases of the design process (empathize/research/connect, define, ideate, prototype, play test) are not only doing for people, but doing with the people.

More exactly, PD is an approach in which all stakeholders and potential users of the service, product or object need to be included in the process. Of course, there are limitations and problems with such inclusive and democratic approach, mainly the one related to the orchestration of diverse crowds, and the need of time and space to plan, meet, and discuss. It is not the most efficient methodology in terms of speed, and goes in the opposite direction of many of the methodologies that are used by entrepreneurs and policy makers that want to do fast implementations, disrupt, and break things fast.

In preparation for the workshops, I shared the following short list of references:

A sample of PD tools and techniques

I also curated and shared a sample of participatory design tools and techniques available on the web. The range of tools can be overwhelming, but fortunately there are several projects and sites that have organized them and presented them as learning guides and tutorials.

From the Auckland Co-Lab

From the Community-led design wiki


Andres Lombana-Bermudez

Andres Lombana-Bermudez is a professor of communication at Universidad Javeriana, associate researcher at the Centro de Internet y Sociedad de la Universidad del Rosario (ISUR) and faculty associate at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. He is co-founder of ScienteLab and has co-directed the education division of Clubes de Ciencia Colombia since 2016, supporting curriculum development, learning resources design, and the impact evaluation of the different versions of the program.
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Artificial Intelligence Article

Ten Issues about Artificial Intelligence and Education


In the context of digital culture and its current development, Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be understood as the combination of different algorithms that, based on digital data, generate ways of communication and interaction emulating and enhancing characteristics of human learning so as to solve, more efficiently, simple and complex problems that can improve the quality of human life. Both as a hope and as an ethical dilemma, AI aims to create machines (automata, robots, cyborgs, androids, biorobots, for example) that can think and develop different levels of consciousness.

The educational field must consider at least the following issues:

AI is becoming a learning environment in different spheres of human life. As a consequence, the ways of understanding the uses and the ethical, moral and legal dimensions of this environment must permeate teaching practices.
Teaching with the goal of building criteria aimed at establishing the accuracy of what is produced and fed by AI is a challenge for education. That is why at present critical thinking gains importance as long as teachers and students can exercise ethical and moral discernment.
Teaching practices are affected by AI as much as the available teaching and learning resources do not produce teaching experiences beyond the instrumentalization of education and the mere transmission of information.
Consequently, the pedagogical designs and planning must be re-examined to configure curricula, didactics, and assessments that value human action in its ethical, moral, and political levels - dimensions that haven’t been colonized by AI yet.
In this way, the encouragement of soft skills, so far unknown by AI, becomes more relevant at the different teaching levels.
As a backup of the teaching work, AI can facilitate the educator’s operational work.
However, if teachers’ work continues to be only about teaching and developing disciplinary knowledge, the teaching profession will be easily replaced by AI through machines that can undertake such work. A teaching profession that is focused on educating values, developing soft skills, and on citizens, can be kept well beyond AI control for a longer time.
This requires the development of learning strategies involving AI in the classroom: the pedagogy of the question before AI; the possibility of “playing” in class with the apps, for example using the chat (making instructions that are increasingly more adjusted) or creating images; the creation of dynamics that reveal “disinformation” to debate in class.
The hyper-digitalization of schools and higher education centers makes us forget that everyday life is a source of formative experiences. Thus, the good pedagogical practices that have worked outside digital environments can also be used to learn.
It is important to remember that not every region in the world is connected or has real possibilities of interacting with digital culture. Therefore, AI can be more efficiently absorbed in societies with greater connectivity and technological development, leaving out those who can’t access. In this context, education must guarantee the principles of equality and defense against cultural hegemony.


Diego Fernando Barragán Giraldo

Dean of the Faculty of Education Sciences, University of La Salle, Bogotá, Colombia. Member of the research group Intersubjectivity in University Education (A). Peer Assessor from the Ministry of Science and Technology of Colombia, and at international entities from Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, and Spain. Researcher and consultant in curricular areas, methodologies of social research, philosophy of education, and public policies articulated to the field of digital culture. PhD in Education and Society from the University of Barcelona, Spain; MA in Educational and Social Development, from Universidad Pedagógica Nacional, Colombia. Specialist in University Pedagogy and Education, BA in Philosophy from the University of San Buenaventura, Colombia. He is the author of several books and has published a great number of renowned academic journals.
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Digital Inclusion Article

STEAM in vulnerability contexts


“En el semáforo se aprende” (Learning at the traffic lights) is an organization that provides education to children and youth living in the streets or other vulnerable contexts, and enables them to continue their studies. One of its volunteers, Anel Cruz Castillo, is a Chemistry and Mathematics teacher in Querétaro, Mexico, and coordinates the Science and Technology area. In this interview, Anel talks about the challenges of teaching in vulnerability contexts, the need to adapt contents, and the real-life impact and benefits of the teenagers who  develop digital skills and competences with the integration of technologies.

In order to adapt contents to vulnerability conditions, Anel’s recommendations are:

Choose carefully the applications you will be using, since the students may feel overwhelmed if introduced to many new apps.
Get to know their previous ideas.
Select tools that don't require the Internet.
First give the instructions of the games you are using; don´t take for granted they are known by the children.


Anel Cruz Castillo

Anel Cruz Castillo is a high school Chemistry and Mathematics teacher. She started working as a volunteer at “En el semáforo se aprende” in 2020 to help children with no access to online education due to their socio-economic situation. She is in charge of the Science and Technology area, helping adolescents revalidate and complete their studies.
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Citizen science Article

The plurality of citizen science


Although the term “citizen science” is increasingly used in the mainstream media around the world, has entered national and regional science policy discourses (particularly in the Global North), and has been fixed in the English language (entered the Oxford dictionary in 2014), there is no consensus about its definition. Citizen science, as Irwin (2015) has noticed, “is open to many definitions, and it contains more than one strand.” It is a label with a “polymorphous nature” (Strasser and Haklay 2018) that is being applied to a myriad of heterogeneous projects developed by universities, schools, government agencies, corporations, NGOs, and communities around the world.

The increasing popularity of citizen science and the rise of a plurality of practices associated to it, is directly related to contemporary questions and concerns about the proper place (power) of knowledge and expertise in society, democratic governance and participation, and the co-production of science and social order (Irwin 2015; Strasser and Haklay 2018; Strasser et al. 2018; Kenens et al. 2020).

Understanding citizen science as a heterogeneous phenomenon that includes range of research, making and knowledge production activities developed by all kinds of people (scientists, amateurs, citizens, experts, communities) requires that we acknowledge its multiple variants. The past decade, researchers developed typologies to conceptualize and to categorize the different initiatives that are labeled (by themselves or by others) as citizen science projects. Given that civic participation is at the core of citizen science practices, several typologies have focused on sorting projects according to how power is distributed among participants (Bonney et al. 2009, Shirk et al. 2012., Haklay 2013, Strasser et al. 2018). This kind of typology considers to what extent participants have control over their practices, including defining the goals (research questions and problem definition) and outcomes of the project (interventions in socio-ecological system, who leads the production of knowledge). Ranging from top-down initiatives started by universities to bottom-up projects initiated by grassroots communities, researchers (Bonney et al. 2009, Shirk et al. 2012., Haklay 2013, Strasser et al. 2018) have mapped a wide spectrum of citizen science projects that includes categories that go from low levels of lay people participation and autonomy to intermediate and high levels of non-experts engagement and control over the initiatives.

Another typology is based on categorizing citizen science initiatives according to the kind of activities developed by the participants, leaving out the questions of power and levels of participation. For instance, Wiggins and Crowston (2011) proposed classifying projects according to activities such as action-oriented, conservation, investigation, education and virtual projects.

More recently, a group of scholars have advanced a typology based on five epistemic activities that participants of citizen science pursue: “calculating”, “sensing”, “self-reporting”, “analyzing”, and “making” (Strasser and Haklay 2018; Strasser et al. 2018). By focusing on the epistemic practices, this kind of typology allows researchers to consider a more plural variety of projects and initiatives, even the ones that are not using the label of citizen science to describe themselves.

Regardless of the multiple approaches in which citizen science can be deployed, the majority of projects developed in the past decades around the world have a top-down approach, are leaded by professional scientists, and tend to focus on conservation, education, and crowdsourcing activities (Strasser and Haklay 2018; Irwin 2015; Haklay et al 2021; Haklay 2013). Top-down initiatives privilege professional scientific expertise and knowledge, and limit the capacity of lay people to address local problems and injustices.

In Latin America, for instance, the projects and initiatives that are gaining recognition and public visibility are the ones led by professional scientists and that are tied to academic and government institutions. University researchers have discussed the need to develop citizen science (“ciencia ciudadana” in Spanish) initiatives in their countries and the region, and several public and private organizations have supported meetings and international collaborations (Invernizzi 2004; Rodríguez, 2019). In 2020, universities from Argentina, Chile and Peru, in collaboration with multilateral organizations, hosted (virtual) the first Latin American Congress of Citizen Science. The Citizen Science Network for the Amazon, based in Lima, has connected diverse organizations and universities from Latin America and North America to generate and share knowledge, develop innovative solutions and maintain ecosystem integrity throughout the Amazon Basin. At the national level, universities and public science institutions from countries such as Colombia (e.g. Instituto Humboldt, BioDiversidad), Mexico (e.g. CONABIO) and Costa Rica (e.g. UCR) have promoted projects focused on conservationism and biodiversity, leveraging some of the digital platforms developed in the Global North (e.g. Cornell University Lab of Ornithology, Bioblitz, iNaturalist) for monitoring and counting the local flora and fauna.

Instituto Humboldt in Colombia – BIO expeditions

However, a number of bottom-up grassroots citizen science projects characterized by high levels of non-experts participation and oriented towards political action have started to catch the media and academic attention (e.g. The Nation 2018; Make Magazine 2018; Vice Magazine 2017; The Guardian 2016; Discover Magazine 2017, 2020; Razon Publica 2018; ImpactoTic 2018; Silla Vacia 2020, Semana 2020; El Espectador 2018). Citizens outside scientific and governmental institutions have started these initiatives with the goal of addressing specific local issues and injustices, particularly those related to the environment, and have sought political, cultural and technical changes. They are in control of the project research questions and objectives and develop the epistemic practices of citizen science with an activist approach that promotes political empowerment, and public inquiry and engagement.

For instance, local community initiatives that monitor water, air, and noise pollution using low-cost DIY instruments (e.g. lightweight buckets, kites, diffusion tubes, and sensors) have deployed the citizen science epistemic practices in struggles against governments and industries, and mobilized them towards political and environmental causes (e.g. Barreneche & Lombana-Bermudez, in press; O’Rourke and Macey, 2003; Ottinger, 2010:247; Berti Suman, 2018, 2019; Kullenberg, 2015; Ziva et al. 2012; Wylie et al. 2014; Pham et al., 2015; Kenens et al., 2020; Kimura, 2021; Van Oudheusden & Abe, 2021). In Bogota, the city where I live, a diverse group of activists and hackers started  CanAirIO, a Citizen Air Quality Monitoring Network, in 2017 with the goal of creating a low-cost sensing infrastructure that supports active citizen participation and democratic access to information about air pollution (Barreneche & Lombana-Bermudez, in press). As we have analyzed in a forthcoming article of a IJoC special issue on Data Justice, the concern for the transparency and quality of government-produced pollution data, its measurement standards, and the lack of coverage of its sensor infrastructure, motivated a group of citizens to leverage low-cost sensors, free software, mobile devices, open data, and social media platforms to create an alternative sensing and environmental “counter-infrastructure.”

Given the political commitment of their “calculating”, “sensing”, “self-reporting”, “analyzing”, and “making” activities, grassroots citizen science projects intersect with environmental and data activism (Barreneche & Lombana-Bermudez, in press ; Beraldo & Millan 2019; Walker et al. 2018; Dillon et al., 2017; Kullenberg 2015; Strasser & Haklay 2018). Kullenberg (2015) has conceptualized this kind of bottom-up initiatives as a form of resistance. According to him, citizen science as resistance has an emancipatory goal in which the outputs of the project could “include winning legal battles, influencing policy making, putting an issue on the political agenda or promoting human rights.” Citizen science as resistance reveals the capacity of lay citizens to use scientific practices and instruments to intervene in political struggles and participate in the co-production of socio-technical futures.


Andres Lombana-Bermudez

Andres Lombana-Bermudez is a professor of communication at Universidad Javeriana, associate researcher at the Centro de Internet y Sociedad de la Universidad del Rosario (ISUR) and faculty associate at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. He is co-founder of ScienteLab and has co-directed the education division of Clubes de Ciencia Colombia since 2016, supporting curriculum development, learning resources design, and the impact evaluation of the different versions of the program.
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Media Literacy Article

Changing Education Together at MWC: highlights and keynotes


In the framework of MWC Barcelona 2023 mSchools hosted a seminar for teachers, experts, disseminators and students to explore the future of education, taking into account new technology  such as Artificial Intelligence, metaverse, robotics, programming and other developments. 

Alex Beard and Dr. Karina Gibert, among others, participated in the seminar, where they shared their views on how teaching will look like in the future and how artificial intelligence will impact the way we teach and learn.  

Find below the full keynote speech by Alex Beard.

Alex Beard Senior Director, Global Learning Lab | The Learning Revolution, BBC | Author of Natural Born Learners.

You can also watch Karina Gibert’s full speech.

Karina Gibert Director at Intelligent Data Science & Artificial Intelligence Research Center (IDEAI-UPC), UPC.

Media Literacy Article

mSchools takes Media Education to MWC Barcelona 2023


MWC Barcelona 2023, one of the most important innovation and technology events in the world, hosted the Challenge for Media Education on March 1. This is an initiativethat promotes the integration of Media and Information Literacy (MIL) in formal education and is organized by mSchools in collaboration with the audiovisual regulatory authorities ENACOM, CAC, CRC, IFT, CONCORTV and ERC

The congress served as the culminating setting for the first part of the Challenge, where the Ibero-American participating teachers presented their MIL-related classroom experiences before an audience of experts, audiovisual regulatory authorities and other public entities. 

In this first stage, the initiative, which was launched in 2022 andinvolves several Ibero-American countries,  aims to identify and share media education-related experiences and learning methods.

The second stage, which will take place during the next months, will see groups of teachers training in the design and implementation of MIL-related didactic proposals.

Find below a summary of the most important moments of the event. 

Nereida Carrillo, LearnToCheck founder and moderator at MWC, introduces us to the MIL universe and tells us how to integrate it in the classroom. 

You can also watch the conversations we had with each of the teachers whose classroom experiences were presented at MWC Barcelona. 

Analía Moschini, from Argentina, presented her learning experience, which aims to help students analyze media through ICT tools.  


Watch the experience here.

Frank William Cayapur Delgado, from Colombia, accompanied his students in creating audiovisual materials to disseminate ancient knowledge and keep their land’s history alive.


Watch the experience here.

Enedina Mónica Velázquez Mendoza, a Mexican teacher, accompanied her students in producing podcasts where they question the radio contents from their country, fostering secondary students’ critical thinking. 


Watch the experience here.

Rui Abreu, From Portugal, presents an experience that proposes students to work with MIL-related issues by creating multimodal products.


Watch the experience here.

Margarita Gutiérrez, a Peruvian teacher, and her students created radio programs to disseminate Quechua culture to keep it alive. 


Watch the experience here.

Computational thinking Article

Three levels of computational thinking for the classroom


Rodney Rojas, expert in education and technology in Paraguay Educa (Organization that promotes educational technology and innovation), tells us about three open-access platforms that are free and have different levels of computational thinking for the classroom, associated with programming projects. 

Programming  involves establishing a sequence of instructions to make a specific product (a web page, an app, a robot movement, etc.). Rojas begins by claiming that programming is not meant for super geniuses nor is it learnt just to create these products, but it is used to get different concepts that cut across the school curriculum.  That is why it is crucial to understand programming as part of the students and teachers’ own thinking process, and it is essential to develop computational thinking in the classrooms. In this way, Rodney summarizes three platforms that grade the level of computational thinking acquired.


Rodney Rojas

Rodney Rojas is a mechanical engineer and an expert in Technology and education in Paraguay Educa, Paraguay.
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Digital Inclusion Article

Elisa Cristi: “As teachers we open opportunities”


Elisa Cristi is a kindergarten teacher and a facilitator in the public programme Ceibal, a set of projects, educational resources and teacher training that transforms the ways of teaching and learning in Uruguay. She is also a lead for LatAm in Micro:bit. She covers a great number of schools in a vulnerable neighborhood in Montevideo, Uruguay; and she joins mSchools to discuss the inclusion of educational technologies in vulnerable contexts.

Vulnerable contexts in technological education

Uruguay has a socio-educational public policy that involves a programme of Basic Computer Educational Connectivity for Online Learning (Ceibal), which allows for a wide access to devices in this country. Elisa works directly with schools from the “Aprender” category, as they are called in Uruguay, where the basic needs are often unsatisfied. Beyond the access to devices, she talks about the difficulties that arise in vulnerable contexts and the possible options to deal with them.

Robotics in vulnerable contexts

Focusing on her experiences as a teacher and facilitator, Elisa’s tips on how to suggest classroom proposals in these contexts are meant for teachers who have never worked with robotics as well as for those who have.


Elisa Cristi

Elisa Cristi is a kindergarten, primary education teacher, and facilitator in primary education. She has, among other degrees, a graduate diploma in Learning Difficulties and one in Technology Integration. She is a community lead for Latin America in Micro:bit Champions.
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Game-based Learning Article

GamiTools: tools to gamify


One: gamification

One of the most popular definitions of the term gamification is probably the one by Sebastian Deterding from 2011. According to Deterding, “gamification is the use of game design elements in non-game contexts”. There are other similar definitions but, in general, all of them refer to game elements, game design and to the fact that its use happens in non-game contexts. 

If we focus on gamification applied to teaching contexts, I like to define this as “the design of game-like learning experiences”. This definition includes the design of learning experiences because that is the teacher’s basic task: to make didactic proposals so that students can learn. And they are game-like experiences because it picks up the idea of using game elements at the time of designing these experiences. 

Two: gamification and technologies

Gamification is often related to technologies and it is believed that to design  gamification experiences it is essential to use applications, computers, tablets or other mobile devices.  

Though it is true that there can be many examples  using technological resources, the use of technology is not an essential condition to gamify. 

Even so, there are several applications and resources that can help us design learning gamification experiences.

Three: tools to gamify

To be precise, we shouldn’t talk about “tools to gamify” but about “tools that can help us gamify”, applications and resources we can resort to when designing our gamified learning experiences. But we have to consider that we should always be guided by the teaching goals of our proposal; technology will be incorporated at a post-design stage.

And, as we should always do when using technologies, we must really care about the impact that a specific tool or technological resource has in our learning design. Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR model can be very useful in these cases.

It is based on four levels of technology use:

Substitution: technology acts as a direct tool substitute, with no functional changes.
Augmentation: technology acts as a direct tool substitute, with functional improvement.
Modification: technology allows for significant task redesign.
Redefinition: technology allows for the creation of new tasks, which were previously inconceivable.

Substitution and augmentation correspond to an improvement of the teaching process, while modification and redefinition refer to educational transformation.

In this sense, it seems clear that the tendency is to achieve  the higher levels:modification and redefinition. Designing learning experiences that use technologies and that are in one of the two highest levels is usually the main goal. However, it is as or even more important to really know the level and use of the experience we are designing. We can´t make the mistake of, for example, thinking that our design is transforming when it is actually at the substitution level. It is also possible that at certain times we may need technology just to substitute or improve what we do through other channels. 

Four: GamiTools

In an attempt to bring together a set of tools and resources that can help us design gamified learning experiences, I created GamiTools. 

GamiTools is an application made with Glide (, a tool that turns any information from a Google Sheet into a mobile device app. Products created with Glide can be checked through a web environment, but they are more effective if checked from a mobile. Just as with a conventional app, you can  directly and easily access the app on the mobile device desktop to get a better experience.. 

At the moment of writing this article (April 2022) GamiTools is compiling about 90 tools and resources organized in different categories: 8 bit, AR/*VR, avatars, classifications, story creation, game creation, dynamics, desktop, icons, images, escape games, printable games, mazes, books, text messages, sound messages, platform, question-answer, sounds/music.

For each tool and resource there is a link to its official website and a brief description of its basic functionalities. All the proposals are intended to be access-free, or at least, to have a free functional version.

Finally, it should be added that it is a living application. That is to say, it is constantly adding new resources that can be useful for gamified designs. Similarly, other resources are eliminated from GamiTools once they are no longer of interest or functional.  

GamiTools can be found in this link: It can also be accessed by scanning the following QR code:

Do you think there are any interesting resources missing? If you get in touch with me, I’ll revise it and if it’s worth it, I’ll include it in GamiTools.


Pere Cornellà Canals

Teacher and educator. He works at the Institute of Education Sciences, UdG, as a technician in educational innovation and digital resources. Associate professor in the Degree in Primary School Education at UdG.
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Hybrid Education Article

Hybrid education as a contribution to educational quality and social equality


In this interview, Cecilia Sagol, Research manager at (Argentina), talks about the benefits of the extended classroom and how it has contributed to transforming education. . 

We specifically asked her about the context to  use educational platforms and about the importance of not quitting them once in-person  classes are back. To conclude the interview, she reveals how the extended classroom can be an innovative educational practice.

Moreover, Cecilia shares various resources for hybrid educational scenarios, taking into account the existing quality and reach of technological conditions.

Furthermore, the following infographic picks up part of the content from the book Escenarios combinados para enseñar y aprender: escuelas, hogares y pantallas (Combined Scenarios for Teaching and learning: schools, homes, and screens).  The chapter “An Overview of Tools” presents a variety of digital applications organized according to their functionalities in the different fields of teaching, each one with its corresponding fact sheet.

Read infographic
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