Virtual Education: The experience of the Bolivar Technological University (UTB) in Colombia
Since the last two decades of the twentieth century, educational models have been transformed by the rise in the use of information and communication technologies. That, in turn, has positioned virtual education as a form of distance education applicable in both formal education and job training.
These changes have marked milestones in education that "... have blurred geographic boundaries in order to bring us closer to a knowledge without borders and engage in a digital culture that is becoming essential to accessing information, knowledge and being competitive in the global world."
In this sense, the Technological University of Bolivar, (UTB), has been working since 1996 with the issue of virtual education; first, through the realization of projects with noted universities like the Technological Institute of Monterrey, Mexico, and later with the Oberta de Cataluna University of Spain, each in agreement with the Autonomous University of Bucaramanga, UNAB; and finally with national universities pioneering the implementation of this educational model.
This experience in UTB, led in 2001 to the transformation of its traditional educational model into a constructivist model, one that is flexible, open, innovative, global and inclusive, and changes the behavior of teachers, students, administrative and the educational community in general. It is a process of transformation and acculturation among the various actors, with strategies and monitoring of the actions implemented, which has become evident over time with visible results in autonomy, self-regulation and student participation through their active role in learning processes.
The pedagogical actions, the provision of technological and connectivity infrastructure and UTB’s bet on its Strategic Plan 2014, "Century XXI Educational Model,” which is based on the implementation of ICTs, have eased access to education, transformed learning into a process of self-knowledge and above all, from the social standpoint, has succeeded in taking Higher and Continuing educational programs to disadvantaged communities or communities with geographical restrictions, so that they may access them without having to move from their areas of origin; which enables us to give an account of the projects with the following achievements:
- Creation of 10 virtual programs in areas of Agroindustry, Accounting Management, Tourism, Software and Logistics Management, registered with the Ministry of National Education.
- Close to 700 students from levels 1, 2, and 3, enrolled in these programs, as part of an initiative developed in agreement with EDUPOL, a firm that supports satellite technology to facilitate access for people who live in regions with little connectivity access.
- 1420 officials from formal Educational Institutions for the job of 900 national institutions trained as Quality Managers.
- 2020 national Higher Education teachers trained as Virtual Tutors; a group of them in alliance with the Mutis University Network. 
- Access to Higher Education with quality and pertinence through Regional Centers of Higher Education (CERES), entities created by the initiative of the National Government, equipped with ICTs and connectivity. UTB operates 14 CERES in Cartagena and Bolivar.
- Implementation of ICTs in assistance-based UTB programs at different levels.
Similarly, UTB has led programs for state agencies such as the Ministry of National Education, Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications, and departmental and local governments with projects such as Computers to Educate, Compartel, Mipymes Digital Caribbean, and CERES.
These results show a significant actions towards building cultural awareness towards the digital world, in training for the use of technological and informational tools, UTB's commitment to the region and the country, conscious of the importance of its use in the educational process of a globalized world.
Dr. Elsa Ruiz Ariza
Business Administrator, Masters in Business Administration, Diploma in ICT, Virtual tutoring, Teaching skills and Organizational management (UNIANDES) Virtual Tutor Organization of American States - OAS-MEN. Currently, Director of Virtual Education, Technological University of Bolivar. Program Coordinator UNAB-ITESM and UNAB - UOC virtual agreements. Coordinator of programs and/or Local, Regional and National projects such as: Training in Notary Software for 80 Notaries of the Caribbean Region, a program of the Superintendency of Notaries and Registries, Programs of the Regional Centers of Higher Education Bolivar - MEN Program for Strengthening Management Capacity of Teaching Directives at 120 Educational Institutions of Bolivar and Sucre, MEN Program, Program for the Training of 1600 Virtual Tutors from Higher Education Institutions of Colombia, a program of MEN, Adviser, Ministry of Education Transformation National Distance Learning Virtual Programs. Adviser, Ministry of National Education in the creation of formal programs, through propaedeutic cycles and competencies. HEI advised: Universidad Industrial de Santander, FITEC Technology, Manuela Beltran University, the Polytechnic Institute Grancolombiano.
Links of Interest:
Technological University of Bolívar
 Mestre Gilma and Ruiz Elsa, Las TIC: componente del desarrallo en el Caribe Colombiano. ( ITC: Component to Development in Caribbean Colombia) Constraste Edition NO 23. ISSN 1794-7464
 University institution in Cartagena de Indias-Colombia
 An institution that joins 7 universities in the country.