Apollo 21: Innovating in distance education

Apollo 21: Innovating in distance education

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers had to suddenly change how they impart their classes. Accustomed to face-to-face education, they have had to learn to make use of technological resources through distance learning.


The Vice President’s Office for Academic and Educational Innovation at the Universidad Panamericana (UP) is well aware of the challenges that this situation has imposed on its professors. In an effort to provide them with distance education skills and quality resources, the UP created a committee to analyze online platform models used in the twenty-first century, which brought about the launch of a project called Apollo 21.


A pedagogical mission


Before the pandemic, the UP did not have a central physical or virtual site with all of the UP’s available resources related to online teaching. The Apollo 21 interdisciplinary committee, made up of experts in pedagogical, technological and educational management issues, created this site so that every professor has access to this collection.  


Thus, through this platform, professors can read about best practices, educational resources and tools, such as manuals, tutorials, sites of interest, and training; these resources have helped them move to a remote educational model, maintaining academic excellence and high standards.


As part of Apollo 21, several missions have been completed, including new training sessions on topics ranging from didactic strategies on Moodle, academic integrity, instructional design and using the Webex platform.


Achievements by mission are detailed below:


Mission Moon, training university professors - 885 professors from the Mexico and Guadalajara campuses trained.

This training clearly paid off in professors’ final evaluations for the January-May semester; there, students rated professors at an overall institutional average of 9.34, an improvement over the prior year’s average of 9.22.


Mission Mars, Apollo 21 website development - 2,466 users.

This mission created a website for the UP Mexico campus that serves as a virtual space and centralizes available resources related to online teaching, so that each professor can access available materials: http://apolo21.up.edu.mx/.


 In addition, this mission came to an agreement with Coursera so that both professors and students can access the courses offered on this platform.


• Mission Jupiter, expansion to the Guadalajara and Aguascalientes campuses - 2,736 professors impacted.

This mission primarily aimed to expand the Mexico City project to the UP’s other two campuses, Aguascalientes and Guadalajara, with the following objectives


1) Integrate talent at the other two campuses to generate an educational proposal for personalized online teaching focused on each student at each of the three campuses.

2) Update the website with resources from the three campuses.

3) Train professors from the three campuses.

4) Make recommendations for going back to the classroom.


• Mission Saturn - Commitment mission.

This mission aimed to ensure continuity for the actions carried out in the previous missions, such as updating the website, evaluating Apollo 21 services, providing support to professors for online classes, analyzing proposals on systems and optimal online evaluation processes.


Because of the impact of the Apollo 21 missions, the Inter-American Award for Innovative Educational Models in Higher Education (MEIN Award) selected the project as one of the best meaningful experiences among the current panorama of innovation in higher education across the Americas.



Apollo 21 Team


Mexico City:

Dr. María Teresa Nicolás Gavilán

Dr. Claudia Fabiola Ortega Barba

Montserrat Armesto Camargo

Dr. Sara Elvira Galbán Lozano

Arturo E. Becerra Mariscal

Lorenzo Elguea Fernandez


General Rectory:

Iara Alcauter Rueda

Adolfo Juárez Briones

Yosahandy Terán Tovar



Ana Fabiola Mora López

Dr. Daniela Salgado Gutiérrez

Mariana De la Mora Figueroa



Maria Fernanda Flores Munguí

Luis Arturo Méndez Alba