Interview: Magisterio – 150 Υears Serving The Educational Community

Interview with Elena Casero, Director of Marketing of the Siena Group, about the history, the projects, and future plans of Magisterio paper journal.

Magisterio: 150 Υears Serving The Educational Community

The 150th anniversary of the oldest paper journal Magisterio (of the Siena Group), a publication aimed at teachers, was organized in 2016. Magisterio also organizes the Prizes for Work of all those professionals, organizations, and companies that with their work and example have contributed to the improvement of Education in Spain.

From LearningLovers.org we have contacted Elena Casero, Director of Marketing of the Siena Group, to tell us the history, projects, and future plans of this institution in depth, as well as its vision of innovation and new technologies applied to Education in Spain. This is the result:

The Origin

“The Siena Group is a publishing group where we are specialized in the communication of headlines for the education sector, specifically with the projects of Magisterio and Padres y Colegios, and the magazines Escuela InfantilMagislexMenos 20, and Menos 25. This is the origin of Siena; the generation of content through these publications, attending to what our 3 audiences -teachers, parents with children of school age, and students themselves- are demanding.”

Siena Communication

“Other lines of work have been put in place for some years, starting with our previous work, such as Siena Comunicación, which is another area of ​​work aimed at clients that come to us with a series of needs or objectives from their own projects and for whom we carry out consultancy work, accompany projects, or improve diffusion, to launch the ideas that customers set on the table.

Within this area of ​​work, the organization of events is also included: Workshops, days, inspiration to teachers, etc.. We take care of both: Our own projects, with the corporate communication for us, and others that we organize and execute for third parties.”

Siena Classroom

“The current closure of our work is Aula Siena: It covers the part of training that we have been offering to teachers through a training platform, a platform that has been dormant for some time, but we have been relaunching and redesigning it since February 2016.

We conducted a market survey for teachers from our database, asking them at a national level what did they need for training but did not find at a tailor-made training program. From there, the objectives to be reached were extracted with the results of that survey and we set up the skeleton of the current training offer of Aula Siena.

In the training area we also have other projects such as INAV, which is the first online secondary education center for adults, with an integrated training program which allows to take the second cycle of secondary education in a single academic year and it is designed for the adult population.

For the first time in Spain and through INAV it is possible to study and obtain the title of the secondary cycle in 100% online modality. It is a question of overcoming the difficulties that the adult training centers raised for people who are already in an active age and who have serious difficulties in going to a training center in the conventional way. For me, INAV in training is the ‘jewel of the crown’.

In summary: Siena is an Editorial Group; Communication agency through Siena Communication, and Training through Aula Siena.”

A Highly Qualified Database

“Above all these 3 areas of work there is one aspect that also sets us apart from other groups: Right now, we presume to have one of the most qualified databases in the sector of Education in Spain.

From all our work, we have already identified teachers, centers, and education professionals and we can reach them very easily, in a very comfortable way, because we get in touch with them through so many fronts we have open.”

Projects Linked To Innovation

“From the editorial side, we have the Eniac project, which in the Summer of 2016 was a year old. It is about Educational Thought and Innovation and is distributed in the last week of each month with Magisterio. There, one can talk about the main matters of our school Principals in an organized way, with information that each time is interesting and useful for our readers, and which we have been giving so far occasionally through the pages of Magisterio. Anything that has to do with educational innovation raises a growing interest by teachers and schools, and deserves a separate publication.”

Influence In The Education Sector

“How are we influencing the panorama in Spain? In our head it is not so much about influencing a teacher as about being useful. We informally make a great effort to attend the point of need that school Principals raise. Hence we have launched a space of communication as Eniac and we have made available to them a web space, because we know that all this content and training and information that arises from our pages is of enormous use to them.”

Vision Of The Education Sector In Spain

“What is our vision? I can give you my own, because I am convinced that every person in our company will have their own. What is my feeling? Much is being done in the centers. There are teachers and a brutal amount of schools that we could fit under the umbrella of innovation and then there are centers with very few resources, especially in the case public education; these have to be invented and renewed only from the good intention of the teachers for their students. In general, there is much to be done.

First and foremost, there is an army of professors with a little more depth, in terms of use, in technology and innovation; because not only innovation is related to technology. We tend to link innovation with technology; there are brother concepts. In all this there is a lack of training.

I think there is also a generational gap, although you would be surprised to see teachers at a certain age with a great creative and innovative ability in the classroom. I think there is a generational gap that is hardly salvageable; because, in the end, much of this is twinned with the use of technology and the methodological transformation of teaching and learning processes, which are linked to technology.

I believe that there is an active working population of teachers who are still properly trained in order to exploit the potential of all the new opportunities that new teaching and learning environments have opened up worldwide, which in many cases are still dormant.

In the field of education, as in so many others fields, we live in a country that goes at different speeds. Spain is one specific world on one side and a totally different world on another side. Apart from the problems of living in a country of different speeds means, there is usually much ground that has been covered. We are in a privileged situation as observers of everything that is being done, because here millions of good practices are received weekly from the centers in terms of innovation, success stories, things they want to tell us and share with other teachers… We try to collect them and spread them in the best way we can and we know. However, I think there is still a way. There are always things to be done for everything, but in this case, a little more.

We were collaborating in a study at a national level. Through a foundation, a journalist of Magisterio was visiting schools all over Spain, schools that were participating precisely in another project that the same foundation created for them at the time. What was intended was to establish a measurement system, if innovation can be measured in purely quantitative terms, through a representative sample of Spanish schools, both in number and geographically speaking, that allowed us to enter their centers, be with them, live with them, learn from them, and see the implementation of their projects within the innovation. That served us well to make a graph of the Spanish schools in innovation.

There is also a subjective part as to how we perceive that work we were seeing from the centers: There were schools located in certain places of Spain that were ahead, and light years away, from the opposite side, there were other schools; there is a great difference, a great distance between them. The summary can be this: Huge differences from one community to another, and huge differences between schools that are bouncing and are doing really nice things and those which cannot take off.”

Added Value

“Our added value is the vocation to offer the best service to the teaching staff in Spain, attending to these 3 great levels of our offer: We want to offer the best training, and also to maintain a specialized publication segment like ours. Today we are able to get directly to teachers, but within this category, we have publications specifically addressed to child teachers. If we think of parents, we have already identified more than half a million parents who currently have children at school ages in Spain.

The achievement of maintaining such specialized publications was difficult during years of contraction in advertising investment, since it has been the natural source of life of the Press. Here was a short road, if we had not been able to open to other services.

We knew that our training offer had to attend directly to what the teacher decided. We try to be aligned with the needs that we directly know and that teachers pose, and this is why we ask them and we are in contact with them in a thousand different ways; this is why we want to be always close to them through a thousand million things -activities, journeys, training…- which allow us to have a very real picture of the teaching staff.

Now we are digitizing the whole Library of Magisterio, so that the whole fund, the entire Library of Magisterio, will be accessible to all who are interested (researchers, archivists, etc.). That will be a jewel that will be finished shortly. We have about 60 years of publication history to digitize.”

Future Plans

“This editorial leap to the two new areas of work (communication and training) that are now the No1 source of revenue for the company, as well as new projects, is relatively recent. We now offer ourselves as a full service company. We are already offering a training service to clients: We are setting up training plans for third parties; same with the communication part. I understand that that is where we are going to continue growing and that is where we will focus our objectives: In offering more and more services.”

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