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Medicina clínica y social

On-line version ISSN 2521-2281

Med. clín. soc. vol.4 no.1 Santa Rosa del Aguaray Apr. 2020 


How distant are humans from the accelerated technological advance?

Jorge Villalba -Arias1 

1Universidad Nacional de Asunción, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas, San Lorenzo, Paraguay.

Communication has been, from the beginning of civilizations, one of the main pillars that support them. To give a simple example, for centuries (and even millennia), the viable limits of expansion of the great empires were determined by the kilometers that the messengers could travel in two weeks. Hence, those empires that are prior to the domestication of the horse are much smaller than those after that event1. And, while it is true that a cardinal characteristic of our species is to judge the time in which it lives as the most revolutionary, there is vast evidence that certifies that the last 200 years far surpass any other era of man when speaking of innovation in communication. Let's simply remember that, before 1858, the messages sent from America and Europe (and vice versa) required (in the best of scenarios) at least 10 days to be delivered by the ships of that time. But, on August 16 of that year, the installation of the first transatlantic telegraph cable would be completed and, with this, the immense reduction of the response time to a few hours would be achieved (the first message would be the one sent by Queen Victoria to the President of the United States of America, James Buchanan. This message was sent in 17 hours). The sending speed with this first telegraph cable was 0.1 words per minute; by 1866, this transmission rate had already risen to 8 words per minute (80 times the initial speed)2.

In order not to dwell too much on the historical aspects, I consider it prudent and necessary to focus on the topic that concerns us: education. And one would think that distance education is typical of the Contemporary Age because of how revolutionary the idea is, but it dates back to the 19th century3. In Table 1 the dawn of this educational strategy is evident.

Table 1: Distance education through history 

Isaac Pitman (England) He developed a successful correspondence shorthand course consisting of cards, supported by postal exchange. 1840
Thomas Foster (USA) Originates international correspondence schools. 1840
Charles Toussaint - Gustav Langenscheidt (Germany) They teach the first language course with materials designed for self-study. Foundation of the first institute for the teaching of foreign languages by correspondence. 1856
London University (England) It grants degrees to external students who studied for correspondence. 1873
Queensland University (Australia) The offer of complete distance courses begins. 1891
Chicago University (USA) Creation of the first department for studies by correspondence. 1891
Hermonds Korrespondens Institut (Sweden) Start correspondence training activities. 1898

Note that, at that time, no discipline imparted higher level knowledge through the distance mode. 100 years would have to pass since that 1840 for the University of South Africa (UNISA) to be founded in order to offer non-contact careers3.

But, for better or for worse, science has as a constant the advance without correlation with the social advance and, even less with the biological advance of the species. Added to this, communication is not everything in the learning process, even when it is a support and con-duit for it. This lack of correlation is verified today precisely in the distance teaching schemes through videoconferences, where we observe that the brain must make a double effort to overcome the dissonance of seeing the face of the communicator while not having it in mind. in flesh and blood (the effects of this dissonance are expected to decrease with the use of these technologies, which, although they existed decades ago, did not have massive use)4.

Necessity has always been the mother of inventions and, the emergence of the COVID 19 Pandemic led this dynamic society of the digital age to have, more by obligation than by choice, to find ways not to stop while being quarantined. This led to the Universities are trying hard steps face-to-face strategies for their various careers. And it is here where we must slow down the pace at the Faculty of Medical Sciences of the National University of Asunción because, as well as being pioneers in teaching the classes of our careers in a clearly non-face-to-face way, we inevitably venture towards a destination in which the quality of academic excellence is compromised. We must carefully weigh the consequences of the loss of an academic year (or a semester) versus the product that we would be launching in such a competitive market.

I want to dedicate this last paragraph to my esteemed students: youth is characterized by greed for EVERYTHING in the NOW. Do not let such an impulse blind you from the consequences of hasty acts or half actions. Have enough maturity, patience and restraint to continue demanding what we (your teachers) have always strived to give you: a quality education. Vitam Impendere Vero.


1. Quesada Sanz F, Zamora Merchán M, editores. El caballo de la antigua Iberia: estudios sobre los équidos en la Edad del Hierro. Madrid: Real Academia de la Historia, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid; 2003. 253 p. [ Links ]

2. Fuentes MV. Innovar desde las tecnologías de la información y la comunicación. RIED Revista Iberoamericana de Educación a Distancia. 2012;15(1):37-47. 10.5944/ried.1.15.776 [ Links ]

3. Castillo ÉY, García NN, Corredor CM, Malaver CEC. Evolución de la educación superior a distancia: desafíos y oportunidades para su gestión. Rev virtual univ catol norte. 2017;(50):81-105. [ Links ]

4. Shuffler ML, Wiese CW, Salas E, Burke CS. Dirigiendo Uno a Otro en el Tiempo y el Espacio: Explorando las Funciones del Liderazgo Compartido en Equipos Virtuales. Rev psicol trab organ. 2010;26(1):3-17 [ Links ]

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