Collaborative Education Model

Group Members: Gina Giannosa (, Tara Kaveh (, Dina Saba (

Problem Statement: We believe that cross-cultural education programs like Guateca are valuable to development, but we feel that these programs lack an effective training program to equip students with the cultural understanding they need to be able to break cultural barriers, diminish stereotypes, and be able to identify the needs of the community they will be working with.

Our Approach: Our aim is to create an educational technology for service learning study abroad programs like Guateca where university students and the adjoining community can foster a collaborative educational environment and develop effective sustainable technologies that meet the needs specific to the community.

Our “Model of a Model”: GuatecaThe Tenets of Guateca’s “Mission Statement”
Goals of GuatecaMission Statement (from “The Co-Created Guatemalan Field School: Carbon Reduction with Appropriate Technology”, Schwartz)

  1. Builds cross-cultural community with the needs and interests of both communities in mind.
  2. Fosters technological and social development by encouraging curiosity and empowering innovation.
  3. Advances language and cultural fluency, while studying energy and innovation of sustainable enterprises.
  4. Develops sustainable technologies to meet the needs of San Pablo as well as generate income locally.
  5. Our intention is to work openly together, sharing resources and ideas, embracing new challenges, goals, and resources.

Benefits of GuatecaLive with the locals and build long-lasting relationshipsLearn about the culture and language of San PabloDevelop new technological knowledge“The education, relationships, and entrepreneurial spirit that the program inspired in the community – and in particular the students (both Guatemalan and American) – will have lasting effects on many lives.” -Rory Aronson, former Guateca participant
Problems with GuatecaCultural barriers and miscommunication“With respect to the projects: There was a strict policy of working on projects that were actually useful to the community. While this makes a LOT of sense, some students were frustrated by this because the projects that they wanted to work on were not applicable to the community. This might have been avoided by having the Cal Poly students work with their Guatemalan teammates before heading to San Pablo so that there was an understanding of what was needed beforehand.” -Cameron Zeller, former Guateca participant
“While language isn’t a limitation for communication and work involved in the program, it is very important for avoiding misunderstandings, advancing the work, and creating better final products.” -Wendy Velazquez, student from Guatemalan city of San Marcos / former Guateca participant
Ineffective Technologies“I don’t think any of the technologies had a huge effect on the livelihood of the community members.” -Rory Aronson, former Guateca participant
“The residents of San Pablo were and continue to be interested in improving the environment through with the right attitude and the completed projects.” -Wendy Velazquez, student from Guatemalan city of San Marcos / former Guateca participant
Different Ways of Learning“[Guateca’s] only weakness seemed to be in the ability to engage the locals in certain lessons and activities. Their incentives to learn were much different than ours and so at times it felt like a chore to discuss physics and energy while the Guatemalans had other things on their minds.” -Paul Scott, former Guateca participant
“The Energy class was the most in important part of the program for me and made an indispensable impact on my life. I am grateful to the program for providing the class but the differences in language and education for the US students vs. the Guatemalan students caused difficulties. I think this could be improved.” -Wendy Velazquez, student from Guatemalan city of San Marcos / former Guateca participant

Guateca, 2012 (“About Guateca”)

Our Thought Process
Originally, we were considering creating an entirely new collaborative education program, because we found that compared to many developing countries in other parts of the world such as Africa and Asia, Guatemala’s level of education is not that low. But we reconsidered when we realized that compared to other countries in Central America, Guatemala is on the lowest end when it comes to literacy and quality of education.

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We decided to stick to Guatemala because it is a developing country that could benefit from educational programs.

  • According to the CIA Fact Book, Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America
  • 75.9% of the general population in 2011 was literate, 81.2% of that number being male, and 71.1% being female
  • Guatemala allocated approximately 3% of its GDP to education in 2011
  • According to Cooperative for Education, 2 out of 3 Guatemalan children live in poverty
  • 9 out of 10 schools in rural Guatemala lack books
  • 60% of entry-level jobs in Guatemala require computer skills, but 79% of Guatemalan middle and high school students lacked the opportunity to learn to use a computer
  • Only 1 out of 10 rural Guatemalans attends middle school
  • The illiteracy rate in many rural areas of Guatemala is 75%


San Pablo is a community with one of the highest levels of education in Guatemala. Our version of Guateca could be implemented in any community in Guatemala. We would work with the Guatemalan NGO, FUNDAP, which backed Guateca 2010 and 2011, to identify which specific community in Guatemala would get the most out of the efforts of our program and whether it would be beneficial to reconsider the location of San Pablo and implement the program in a rural community with a greater need for educational advancements.
Cal Poly students would have to enroll in our course prior to participating in Guateca in order to gain a solid understanding of the community they would be working with in Guatemala.

san pablo.jpg

Selected Topics 470/471 Course: Cross-Cultural Practices in Guatemala Curriculum
4-unit course
2 lectures, 1 activity

  • Course Description and Overarching Goal
    1. Examination of the language, lifestyles, technology needs, and communication practices of the Guatemalan people.
    2. To effectively prepare students for a collaborative study abroad experience in Guatemala by focusing on language development, empathetic design, and cultural norms of the nation.
  • Course Objectives
    1. Understand the history, cultural norms, and current issues in Guatemala
    2. Practice the Spanish language and learn basic pronunciation and key words and phrases
    3. Research “empathy in design” and demonstrate an understanding to successfully implement necessary technologies in Guatemala
    4. Work collaboratively with other students and exhibit mutual respect for all student ideas
    5. Develop personal values and goals for time spent abroad
    6. Communicate to others how to approach cross-cultural situations
  • Skills Gained
    1. Language development
    2. Intercultural communication
    3. Thorough understanding of Guatemalan culture, historically and currently
    4. Creative design
    5. Technological development
  • Teaching Approach
    1. Lectures
      1. Main facilitator
      2. Guest speakers
    2. Discussions
    3. Hands-on group activities
  • Build an assessment component
    1. Pop-quiz type weekly quizzes (call on students randomly)
    2. Final presentation on what you learned/how you can utilize it
    3. Attendance and participation in class discussions

New Cal Poly courses must be proposed during a catalog review cycle (Cal Poly Catalog, 2013-2015). The next catalog review cycle will begin Fall of 2015 for the 2017-2019 Cal Poly Catalog. By following the timeline below, the course could be added to Cal Poly curriculum beginning Fall of 2017.
Fall 2014-Summer 2015:
Solidify Cross-Cultural Practices Course Curriculum

Fall 2015-Winter 2016:
Submit course proposal to Office of the Registrar

Winter 2016-Spring 2016:
Office of the Registrar reviews course proposal

July 1, 2016:
Proposal approved and sent to Academic Senate for review

Summer 2016:
Office of the Register prepares for catalog changes

Fall 2016:
Faculty reviews course and submits comments to Academic Senate
Academic Senate Curriculum Committee and the General Education Governance Board review 2017-2019 catalog proposals and make recommendations to the Academic Senate
Academic Senate forwards recommendations to Provost
Winter 2017:
Departments plan Summer 2017 and Fall 2017 courses
Office of the Registrar begins degree audit build for new catalog
Office of the Registrar sends catalog proof to departments for review and necessary updates
Office of the Registrar makes final edits and prepares for publication

Spring 2017: 2017-2019 catalog is published
Summer 2017 and Fall 2017 courses are published

*Timeline information based on “Curriculum Cycle for 2015-2017” (Cal Poly Office of the Registrar)

BudgetPossible costs to provide guest speakers Cost of materials students need for developing technologies (prototypes of technologies that would be implemented in Guatemala)Teacher salaryGeneral class material costs (books and supplies)

Stakeholder’s Analysis

Stakeholders Interests at Stake in Relation to the Project Degree of Influence of Stakeholder (1-5/Unknown)
Cal Poly Students Class creditCultural knowledgeLanguage knowledgeOpportunity to participate in Guateca Unknown
Guatemalan Students Less cultural and language barriersMore effective collaborationMore effective exchange of knowledge 3
Guatemalan Community Less cultural and language barriersLonger-lasting and more effective technology 5
Cal Poly Administration Added courseGain better multi-cultural reputation 5
Cal Poly Professors Spread of influenceOpportunity to participate in Guateca Unknown
Guateca Organizers Allows for re-implimentation of Guateca 3
NGO Interest in development of Guatemalan education 4


  1. “Catalog Home.” California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Web. 05 Dec. 2014.
  2. “Central America and the Caribbean.” Central Intelligence Agency. Central Intelligence Agency, Web. 05 Dec. 2014.
  3. “Curriculum Cycle for 2015-17 Catalog.” Office of the Registrar. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Web. 05 Dec. 2014.
  4. “E-Memorandum: GE Strategy to Implement Savings of Four (4) Units.” Message to Jeffrey Armstrong, Kathleen Enz Finken, Susan Olivas, Mary Pedersen, Steve Rein, Andrew Schaffner, and Katie Tool. 14 Oct. 13. E-mail.
  5. “Gapminder.” Gapminder. Web. 04 Dec. 2014.
  6. Schwartz, Peter V. “Guateca 2012.” Guateca 2012. WordPress, 2012. Web. 05 Dec. 2014.
  7. Schwartz, Peter V. “The Co-Created Guatemalan Field School: Carbon Reduction with Appropriate Technology.” California Polytechnic State U, San Luis Obispo, 2011. Abstract. Print.
  8. “Selected Topics Courses (“470s”).” Academic Programs and Planning. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Web. 05 Dec. 2014.
  9. Stakeholder Worksheet. University Studies 391, Appropriate Technologies for the World’s People: Development. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
  10. Poverty in Guatemala.