Héctor Alejandro Barceló, who obtained his medical degree from the University of Buenos Aires School of Medicine in Argentina, is the creator of the H. A. Barceló Foundation for Developing Teaching Activities in Health Sciences and founder of the Instituto Universitario de Ciencias de la Salud, a leading private institution in the field of health sciences, accredited by the Argentinean Ministry of Education. Barceló is an innovator, who early in his career recognized the potential of pioneering distance education activities in the health sciences. One of his major accomplishments has been to establish branches of this Buenos Aires-based university in several geographically inaccessible cities in the interior, including La Rioja and Santo Tome, which cater to underserved populations, and to focus on regionally endemic diseases. As well as changing the face of medical studies within Argentina, Barceló also has been involved in international study programs and in promoting the spread of adult, distance, and continuing education both nationally and internationally.
One of his most notable achievements has been to sponsor the development of a methodology for training distance educators in the health fields, focusing on adults and especially on telemedicine. In this endeavor he has sought out experienced distance educators with whom his institution has been able to offer distance courses with a problem-based methodology to practitioners in many Latin American countries. These pioneering courses have been widely accepted and have proved to be very successful. Barceló’s belief in distance education is evidenced by his observation that “[d]istance education is one of the most useful delivery methods for teacher training, for professional continuing education, university education, and informal education. Its virtues lie in the potentiality of the tools that are available to it and in its educational impact on very diverse and heterogeneous groups because of its ability to adapt to different training needs.”
Always very active in international educational associations in which he has played a number of leadership roles, Barceló has served as chair of a consortium of universities in the Southern Cone of Latin America. In addition, he currently serves as President of CREAD, a significant inter-American nonprofit distance education consortium, with several hundred institutional members not only in North, Central, and South America but in Europe as well.
He has greatly contributed to and strongly championed all activities related to national educational policies in the areas of public health and primary health care. These have included extension courses and community training in health practices in underserved areas.Barceló became convinced that for those who work with adults in the health sciences it is extremely important to be trained in a methodology for teaching adults. Since the campuses of his university are located very far from one another, he made it mandatory for his faculty to take a purpose-built course on the teaching of adults in the health sciences, which was then offered in an online environment. Through this initiative he has developed a cadre of faculty who are trained in distance education for adults. This course is now being taught through CREAD to faculties throughout Latin America, one of the vital legacies that Barceló has established in the Americas and which has transformed so many lives.
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