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RUSC (VOL. 11, No. 1, JANUARY 2014) Editorial [in English]  1-3 Josep M. Duart, Rosalind James

RESEARCH ARTICLES Open educational practices and technology appropriation: the case of the Regional Open Latin American Community for Social and Educational Research (CLARISE)  4-17 María del Carmen Betancourt Franco, Rosario Celaya Ramírez,

María Soledad Ramírez Montoya

Academic writing supported by digital templates in teacher training  18-31 Beatriz Figueroa Sandoval, Mariana Aillon Neumann, Andrés Fuentealba Urra Learning networks to enhance reflectivity: key elements for the design of a reflective network  32-48 David Garcia Cardenas Educational innovation through ICTs in the university setting. What do students think of these practices?  49-60 Fernando Gómez Gonzalvo Competency training in universities via projects and Web 2.0 tools. Analysis of an experience  61-75 Rosa García-Ruiz, Natalia González Fernández, Paloma Contreras Pulido Project-based learning in virtual environments: a case study of a university teaching experience  76-90 Esther Márquez Lepe, María Luisa Jiménez-Rodrigo Application and validation of a techno-pedagogical lecturer training model using a virtual learning environment  91-107 Mónica Inés Monsiváis Almada, Lewis McAnally Salas, Gilles Lavigne Creating and using educational resources to improve practical teaching in the Human Physiology subject on the bachelor’s degree course in Physical Activity and Sports Sciences. Assessment of results  108-127 Gemma Olmos, M. Piedad Ruiz-Torres, Laura Calleros, María Alicia Cortés, Sergio de Frutos, Rafael Ospina, Manuel Rodríguez-Puyol

Determination of writing styles to detect similarities in digital documents  128-141 Yohandri Ril Gil, Yuniet del Carmen Toll Palma, Eddy Fonseca Lahens

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DOSSIER “MOBILE LEARNING APPLICATIONS IN HIGHER EDUCATION” What is the future of mobile learning in education?  142-151 Dr Mohamed Ally, Dr Josep Prieto-Blázquez Mobile learning in the field of Architecture and Building Construction. A case study analysis  152-174 Ernest Redondo Domínguez, David Fonseca Escudero,

Albert Sánchez Riera, Isidro Navarro Delgado

Mobile learning: a collaborative experience using QR codes  175-191 Meritxell Monguillot Hernando, Carles González Arévalo,

Montse Guitert Catasús, Carles Zurita Mon

Student projects empowering mobile learning in higher education  192-207 Àngels Rius, David Masip, Robert Clarisó M-learning patterns in the virtual classroom  208-221 Fernando A. López Hernández, María Magdalena Silva Pérez A comparative study of computer and mobile phone-mediated collaboration: the case of university students in Japan  222-237 Gibran Alejandro Garcia Mendoza

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Editorial

Editorial Josep M. Duart Rosalind James Co-editors, RUSC. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal

It is a pleasure to present the first issue of Volume 11 of RUSC. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal, which includes important contributions to our field of knowledge: e-learning and universities in the network society. There are 9 articles in the Research Articles Section and 6 in the Special Section. The works are by authors from 20 educational institutions in 6 countries. Once again, the journal is making an open, global and integrative contribution by disseminating the results of research into education and technology that is being conducted in various parts of the world. The Special Section of this issue contains articles that analyse and evaluate the use of learning apps for mobile devices in higher education. It is a highly topical issue that, in recent years and months, has been the focus of numerous studies. The Special Section was coordinated by Professor Mohamed Ally, a renowned researcher in this field from the Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute (TEKRI) at Athabasca University, Canada, and Dr Josep Prieto, a researcher in the Mobility, Multimedia and Multidevice innovation group (mUOC) at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), Spain. Both are experts in the field of learning apps for mobile devices, and we are very grateful to them for their support and involvement in the Special Section. Mobile devices – tablets and smartphones – have become increasingly prominent in higher education over the past decade. We are in the era of mobility, of the ability to access information and learning anywhere thanks to mobile devices and learning apps designed specifically for them. This opens up an important field of research for education in general and for universities in particular. RUSC. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal has therefore sought to bring knowledge to the scientific community by disseminating the works presented in the Special Section. In their introductory article to it, Professor Ally and Dr Prieto give an overview of the state of the art of mobile learning, or m-learning. The Special Section contains contributions like the one by Rius, Clarisó and Masip that reports on the results of a study conducted at the UOC on the use of learning apps for mobile devices by students on bachelor’s degree courses. Their study explores the use of various m-learning technologies, the students’ involvement in the development and use of apps, and the institution’s views and exploitation of them thanks to open source code. Gibran Alejandro García, RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Editorial

from the International Christian University, Japan, presents a Japan-based case study about mobile device-mediated collaboration and interaction, which highlights the enormous potential of these devices for online collaboration among students. The contribution by Monguillot, González, Guitert and Zurita, also explores collaboration through the use of mobile devices in several schools in Barcelona, Spain. In this case, they provide results from the analysis of a collaborative experience using QR codes. López and Silva from the Technical University of Cartagena (UPCT), Spain, offer an insight into m-learning patterns in virtual classrooms, and show how a significant number of students access virtual classrooms from apps for mobile devices. Redondo, Fonseca, Sánchez and Navarro from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya-BarcelonaTech (UPC), Spain, and Ramon Llull University (URL), Spain, focus their study on m-learning in a field of teaching – Architecture and Building Construction – using 3D models and QR codes too. In the Research Articles Section, there is a range of contributions on the specific topics covered by RUSC. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal. On this occasion, we are publishing three articles from different Mexican universities, four from Spain and one each from Chile and Cuba. RUSC. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal is continuing to make progress and its impact is rising. This is confirmed by the citation indices in which the journal is included, and particularly by the analysis systems of Google Scholar and other specialist search engines. The goal that we are working hard to achieve is to make the journal highly relevant to researchers in the fields of learning and technology in higher education. The journal is an excellent platform for disseminating the results of research connected with its thematic areas. As such, the next target we have set ourselves is to concentrate on improving the service that we offer to authors; to the researchers who choose to have their research published in our journal. The key focus is to ensure a selection of academically significant, high-quality articles by applying a rigorous and reasoned peer-review process, which, from the authors’ point of view, is designed to guarantee objectivity and to improve the formal and academic approach to the articles submitted. We are seeking to offer a specialised dissemination and distribution service for each article via the Internet in general and via specific or author-selected networks in particular. We are also focusing on providing the journal’s authors and readers with a variety of metrics to track how each published article is performing. While we already offer this service to authors who specifically request it, we shall be rolling it out to everyone in the near future. In short, our aspiration is to provide authors with the best possible service to support them throughout the process of improving their articles and during the dissemination and distribution of their contributions. In the last 6 months, RUSC. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal had 32,383 visits, 22,947 of which were unique. By country, 27.23% of the visits were from Spain, 14.27% from Mexico, 14.12% from Colombia; 8.22% from Argentina, 3.74% from Peru, 3.15% from the United States and less than 3% (fewer than 1,000) from other countries; thus, we continue to have many followers in Spain and Latin America. Google Analytics was the source of these data. As usual, we shall continue to make ongoing improvements to the journal’s visibility and design, and to its academic rigour and quality assurance processes, and will keep you abreast of all new developments via our subscription service. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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As the journal’s editors, we are always open to your suggestions for improvement. Furthermore, we trust that your interest in the articles published in RUSC. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal will spur you to let others know about them. Thank you for your collaboration. Josep M. Duart Rosalind James Co-editors, RUSC. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal

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Open educational practices and technology appropriation: the case of the Regional Open Latin American Community for Social and Educational Research (CLARISE) María del Carmen Betancourt Franco betancourt_franco@hotmail.com Teacher and Advisor, Colegio Washington de Querétaro, A.C., Mexico

Rosario Celaya Ramírez

ceraro@hotmail.com Tutor/Lecturer, Graduate School of Education, Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Mexico

María Soledad Ramírez Montoya

solramirez@tecvirtual.mx Tenured Research Lecturer, Graduate School of Education, Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Mexico

Submitted in: March 2013 Accepted in: May 2013 Published in: January 2014

Recommended citation

Betancourt, M.C., Celaya, R. & Ramírez, M.S. (2014). Open educational practices and technology appropriation: the case of the Regional Open Latin American Community for Social and Educational Research (CLARISE). Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento (RUSC). Vol. 11, No 1. pp. 4-17. doi http://doi.dx.org/10.7238/rusc.v11i1.1794

RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Original title: Prácticas educativas abiertas y apropiación tecnológica: el caso de la Comunidad Latinoamericana Abierta y Regional de Investigación Social y Educativa (CLARISE)


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Abstract

A major challenge for the knowledge society is to narrow the education gap, hence the need for strategies that foster innovation and improvement in education. Thus, with the support of technology and the Internet, virtual academic communities have emerged in order to exchange and disseminate innovative educational practices. The objective of the study presented in this article was to analyse the state of open educational practices in the institutions forming part of the Regional Open Latin American Community for Social and Educational Research (CLARISE) in order to diagnose their level of positioning, strategies, implementation, promotion and dissemination. The main research question was: How do open educational practices (OEPs) and technology appropriation develop in teachers belonging to a virtual academic network? In order to answer this question, a case study research methodology was applied, using interviews, participant observation, document analysis and questionnaires as the data collection instruments. The findings indicate that an exchange network fosters open content production and OEP implementation by participating teachers and institutions, promotes the generation and dissemination of materials such as open e-books and scientific journals, encourages members to use open educational resources (OERs), facilitates open content sharing and promotes the development of OEPs, thus enabling teachers to learn how to properly communicate the licensing of their work. While the CLARISE network shares and disseminates cultural production all over the world, the participating institutions are placed in an early and developing state with regard to OEPs because such practices have yet to be institutionally incorporated into their educational models. The community’s members have only reached a second level of technology appropriation as no repurposing of OERs is done by them.

Keywords

technology appropriation, open educational practices, open educational resources, virtual academic networks, communities of practice, CLARISE network

Prácticas educativas abiertas y apropiación tecnológica: el caso de la Comunidad Latinoamericana Abierta y Regional de Investigación Social y Educativa (CLARISE) Resumen

Un gran reto en la sociedad del conocimiento es disminuir la brecha educativa, por lo que es necesario promover estrategias que impulsen la mejora e innovación en la educación. Así, con el apoyo de la tecnología y el internet, surgen las comunidades académicas a distancia para intercambiar y difundir las prácticas educativas innovadoras. El objetivo de esta investigación fue analizar el estado de las prácticas educativas abiertas en instituciones participantes de la Comunidad Latinoamericana Abierta Regional de Investigación Social y Educativa (CLARISE), para diagnosticar su nivel de posicionamiento, estrategias, implementaciones, promoción y difusión. A partir de la pregunta de investigación «¿De qué manera se desarrollan las prácticas educativas abiertas (PEA) y la apropiación tecnológica en docentes que pertenecen a una red académica a distancia?» se adoptó la metodología de investigación del estudio de casos, y en la recolección de datos se utilizaron instrumentos como la entrevista, la observación participante, el análisis de documentos y el cuestionario. Los hallazgos obtenidos indican que una red de intercambio impulsa la producción de contenido abierto y la implementación de PEA en los docentes e instituciones participantes, y promueve la generación y diseminación de materiales como artículos en revistas científicas y los ebook abiertos; también motiva a los integrantes a utilizar recursos educativos abiertos (REA), facilita la compartición de contenidos abiertos y fomenta el desarrollo de las PEA, lo que permite que los docentes aprendan a comunicar de manera apropiada el licenciamiento de su obra. La red CLARISE comparte y difunde producción cultural en todo el mundo, colocando a las instituciones participantes en un estado inicial y RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Original title: Prácticas educativas abiertas y apropiación tecnológica: el caso de la Comunidad Latinoamericana Abierta y Regional de Investigación Social y Educativa (CLARISE)


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Open educational practices and technology appropriation...

de desarrollo en relación con las PEA, debido a que institucionalmente todavía no han adoptado estas prácticas en sus modelos educativos. Los integrantes de la comunidad alcanzan solo un segundo nivel de apropiación tecnológica pues no realizan la modificación de REA.

Palabras clave

apropiación tecnológica, prácticas educativas abiertas, recursos educativos abiertos, redes académicas a distancia, comunidades de práctica, red CLARISE

Acknowledgment: This article was produced under the CLARA Communities 2011 (COMCLARA2011) programme funded by the Latin American Advanced Networks Cooperation (RedCLARA). Thanks are extended to the programme and to CLARISE collaborators for subscribing to the construction of open knowledge.

1. Introduction Virtual academic networks created using the Internet seek to innovate and improve education by generating cultural content and educational resources that contribute to the development of the educational practices of those belonging to them. Through such networks, communities have emerged in order to promote open access to knowledge, the production, selection and use of open educational resources (OERs), and open educational practices (OEPs) that foster innovation in teaching methods and strategies, all driven by the open education movement (OEM). Studies conducted by education institutions and organisation have shown that OEM initiatives have brought wide-ranging benefits to nations. The opportunities to extend educational coverage, the possibilities of promoting learning for all and the prospects of developing a new culture of knowledge sharing are some of the findings of these studies (OECD, 2007; UNESCO, 2005; The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, 2012). It was in this context that 2011 saw the creation of the Regional Open Latin American Community for Social and Educational Research (CLARISE, https://sites.google.com/site/redclarise/) on the OEM topic as part of the CLARA Communities 2011 (COMCLARA2011) programme funded by the Latin American Advanced Networks Cooperation (RedCLARA). CLARISE is formed by teachers and researchers whose aim is to jointly generate academic content that fosters the development of OEPs by participating institutions, and technology appropriation by teachers who are members of the community. This article analyses how the CLARISE community operates in order evaluate the members’ level of mobilisation, practices, network exchange, technology appropriation and contribution to the construction of OEPs..

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Open educational practices and technology appropriation...

2. Open educational resources (OERs) and open educational practices (OEPs) “OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use or re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge” (Atkins, Brown, & Hammond, 2007). In this respect, these resources enable educational processes to be enhanced by the possibilities of integration into learning environments. OEPs are practices that include the creation, use/reuse and repurposing of OEPs in order to innovate and improve education (OPAL, 2011a). Beyond the use of resources, OEPs encompass the overall idea of shaping open access educational experiences, such as training courses, workshops, seminars, networks, support anthologies and activities aimed at mobilising education in an accessible way for communities. Communities of practice are formed by people who interact with each other and exchange ideas on the same topic and, as mentioned by Wenger, McDermott, and Snyder (2002), besides the expertise (topic) and community (people), the third component is practice, which, in the case of open access networks, refers to the generation of open knowledge and the promotion of OEPs in participating institutions. Several studies have shown that, in education, OERs are important elements for innovation and improvement. In addition, they enable students to achieve learning that is more meaningful (Braun, Hernández, Santos, Talamante, & Yu, 2010; Garza, Hernández, & Santiago, 2010; Guerrero, Juárez, Sánchez, & Vázquez, 2010). Other authors have noted that academic networks or communities of practice promote mutual help and the development of processes of reflection among teachers who are members of them (Viscovick, 2006; Hew & Hara, 2007), and that technology appropriation by teachers using OERs does not reach the third level of technology appropriation (Celaya, Lozano, & Ramírez, 2009). However, besides the importance of continuing to foster projects to promote open access to, and the production, dissemination, use and reuse of OERs, it is important to identify how the knowledge generated by academic bodies impacts on the improvement of pedagogical processes within educational communities; in other words, to find out how the process of knowledge mobilisation occurs. According to Bennet and Bennet (2007), knowledge mobilisation is a process that extends from the creation and construction of knowledge by experts to the use and application of knowledge in the context of communities. In this respect, it is crucial to construct knowledge that provides information about the construction of open knowledge and its impact on the improvement of educational practices.

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Open educational practices and technology appropriation...

3. Method In this study, a case study research methodology (Yin, 2009) was applied to the CLARISE network to analyse the following: How do open educational practices (OEPs) and technology appropriation develop in teachers belonging to a virtual academic network? The constructs were: open educational practices (OEPs), technology appropriation, academic networks and open educational resources (OERs). 3.1 Population and sample. The study population consisted of 27 participants in the CLARISE formal group. The sample was selected by non-probability sampling, in which not every element of a population has the same probability – whether equal or zero – of being selected as part of the sample (Giroux & Tremblay, 2004). In addition, invitations to take part were sent by e-mail to CLARISE members, seven of whom agreed to do so; these formed the case study sample. 3.2 Topics, categories and indicators. The main research topics were OEPs and technology appropriation: the CLARISE community case, with the aim of analysing the state of OEPs in the community’s participating institutions to obtain a diagnosis of their level of positioning, strategies, implementation, promotion and dissemination. Based on the research question, the analysis categories were: knowledge mobilisation, OEP maturity, virtual academic networks, technology appropriation using OERs and identification data of the community’s participants. The indicators in each category were: (a) for the category Knowledge mobilisation, the indicators came from the movement’s stages as noted by Burgos and Ramírez (2011), sharing, selecting, disseminating and mobilising knowledge; (b) for the OEP maturity category, the indicators came from the OEP Guide (OPAL, 2011b), trajectory, strategies, implementation and promotion of OEPs; (c) for the Virtual academic networks category, the indicators came from the characteristics proposed by Wenger et al. (2002) to establish the level of participation of the community’s members, prior network experiences and exchange; and (d) for the Technology appropriation using OERs category, the indicators came from the levels of appropriation proposed by Colás, Rodríguez, and Jiménez (2005), knowledge, use and repurposing. In addition, identification data were collected, including age, gender, level of education, current job, school year taught and role within the community. 3.3 Data sources. Yin (2009) has stated that, when collecting data, it is essential to ensure that the evidence has been confirmed and that theories to be explained are included. Thus, the data sources used were: teachers, institution representatives, the CLARISE coordinator and organiser, and documents from websites such as minutes, recorded videoconferences and institutional documents. 3.4 Data collection techniques. Four data collection techniques were used: (a) observation of the participants at the community’s work meetings, where data on appropriation, networks and mobilisation events were collected and then classified in grids, including names, behaviours and situations (the meetings were recorded in streaming video format); (b) in-depth interviews, where data on OEPs, networks and appropriation were collected from key informants (Yin, 2009) and in RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Original title: Prácticas educativas abiertas y apropiación tecnológica: el caso de la Comunidad Latinoamericana Abierta y Regional de Investigación Social y Educativa (CLARISE)


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Open educational practices and technology appropriation...

accordance with the roles (Stake, 1999) of the participants, institutions representatives and the coordinator (the interviews were conducted via Skype); (c) the document analysis instrument collected data on the OEPs, networks and appropriation, where the indications given by Yin (2009) and Stake (1999) were taken into account; these allowed the data collected in the other instruments to be corroborated, and codes were allocated to identify the frequencies or contingencies in the data collected (sections of the community’s website https://sites.google.com/site/redclarise/ were analysed, including communication and press, technological tools, published works, training, funding), as was the educators’ virtual seminar on the topic of the OEM (only posts made by those in the study sample); and (d) the survey explored the trajectory, strategies, implementation and promotion of OEPs (administered on docs.google.com). 3.5 Data capture and analysis. Using the strategies proposed by Yin (2009), the data were recorded in tables and documents different from the interpretations. To determine the validity of the study, the strategy proposed by Stake (1999) of data source triangulation was used, creating a triple-entry table to triangulate the data for categories, sources used and instruments. In accordance with the proposal by Stake (1999), the following were performed in the content analysis: direct interpretation and categorical aggregation, which were transferred to tables whose column titles corresponded to the selected categories. Stake (1999) has stated that, to determine the validity and reliability of a study, some kind of triangulation strategy must be used, and he refers to data source triangulation, which occurs when what was observed or reported has the same meaning when we collect those data under other circumstances. Hence, a triple-entry table was created for this study in order to triangulate the data for categories, sources used and instruments.

4. Results and analysis Having applied the instruments and performed the categorical aggregations (Yin, 2009; Stake, 1999), the results obtained are presented below, contrasting them with conceptual data to give validity and reliability to the content of the findings. The availability of strategies for sharing open content helps a virtual academic community’s members to share the resources that they produce. This was evident in the strategies that the community used to attain the objective of uniting efforts to raise the visibility of and provide open access to the cultural, scientific and academic outputs of Latin American authors and institutions, which are freely available to everyone and focus on three main aspects: (1) producing journal articles for peer-reviewed journals, (2) producing a chapter for the e-book (Ramírez & Burgos, 2012) and (3) participating in forums and conferences to raise awareness of the community. Burgos and Ramírez (2011) have noted that the first stage of knowledge mobilisation is to share information generated in different formats by teachers, researchers and students on the Internet, which coincides with the perceptions of the CLARISE participants, who said that they felt confident with and supported by the community when it came to generating open content by producing articles for publications on RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Open educational practices and technology appropriation...

different websites, whether repositories, databases or peer-reviewed journals, to name but a few. This indicates that the act of belonging to a virtual academic network that shares open content helps to generate this type of content while sharing knowledge. The availability of catalogued, validated resources can provide a virtual academic community’s members with the opportunity to select and use them. This assertion was obtained from various sources: during the interviews, the participants indicated that when they looked for an OEP, they did so on TEMOA (an OEP indexing system: http://www.temoa.info/es); when analysing the community’s website containing links to OEPs; from the work meeting observations and through the seminar offered by the community. Burgos and Ramírez (2011) have stated that the second stage of the OEM occurs when OERs are selected through a variety of strategies, such as searching in specialist catalogues. This shows that a virtual academic network offers its members strategies that enable them to select catalogued, validated OERs for use in their teaching. A teacher’s membership of a virtual academic network for OEP exchange promotes the use/ reuse of OERs within educational practice. This was identified from the results of the questionnaire on OEPs and from the interviews, where the respondents said that OERs were used on some courses; some at least once a week and others less frequently, though they always included OERs in the courses that they taught. They implement OEPs even when doing so is not a generalised practice in their respective institutions. In accordance with Baumgartner’s approach (cited by OPAL, 2011b), an OEP best practice is one that contains a high degree of OER use and creation, and high degree of pedagogical model openness. This means that virtual academic networks help to embed an open vision of OEPs by fostering OER use in educational practice, thus creating pedagogical models that are more and more open. Teachers forming part of a virtual academic network that raises awareness of and shares OEPs transfer that awareness to the members of their respective institutions. In the OEP maturity questionnaire and the interviews, the participants answered that only some teachers in their respective institutions had the motivation to create and use OERs on some courses, although individually they had begun to use Web 2.0 tools such as blogs or Facebook and applied quality assurance controls to OEPs, despite not being fully conversant with technology use; likewise, in the interviews, the members said that they had shared the activities carried out by the CLARISE community with the teachers or thesis students with whom they worked. The OEP Guide (OPAL, 2011b) defines an OEP maturity state from “Early Stages – Awareness” to “Developing – Commitment” when teachers individually use Web 2.0 tools or blogs to share OEPs and create or use OERs. Consequently, belonging to a virtual academic network that promotes the OEM and OER use generates the teachers’ commitment to undertaking the academic network’s proposals, thus initiating the process of OEP maturity in their respective institutions. By sharing OERs in a virtual academic network, teachers are aware of, use and reuse available resources, and by doing so they promote technology appropriation. This finding was obtained from the interviews with the teachers, who mentioned that it was not always possible to repurpose an OER for several reasons, one of which was that they did not have the right software to do so, another was that they did not have the know-how, and yet another was that it was not always necessary to repurpose it. However, if it was necessary to do so, then they would rather look for another OER that RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Open educational practices and technology appropriation...

was better suited to their needs; in other words, they use and reuse OERs that have already been produced. Hooper and Rieber (1995) have noted that the technology utilisation phase is when the teacher tries out the innovation in the classroom; it is the second phase of technology appropriation, when software or a simulator is used, which in this study is an OER. Thus, it is affirmed that technology appropriation by the teachers participating in the virtual academic network reaches the second level, that is to say, the use/reuse of OERs, which leads to innovation in teaching practice. The inclusion of metadata to facilitate OER searches is one of the criteria that can be considered beneficial to the selection of an OER. In all the interviews, the members said that metadata fall within the criteria that they use to validate OERs. In addition, from the document analyses of seminar content, it became clear that one of the characteristics of OERs was that sufficient information about the resource should be included. In this respect, Sicilia (2005), Habler (2009) and DAR (2010) have noted that metadata help to do a quicker, simpler search; Sicilia adds that the reusability of resources depends largely on the metadata. Thus, it can be concluded that the members of communities of practice for OERs are becoming aware of the importance of generating OERs with proper metadata to ensure that they can be located and selected easily by other individuals. Teachers participating in a virtual academic network on the OEM topic use open licences to share OERs and protect copyright. This was observed when reviewing the articles shared on the community’s website and contained in the open access e-book, as all of them have a Creative Commons licence. From the interview with the coordinator and from the questionnaire results, it was also found that the institutions participating in the network used intellectual property and copyright licences to regulate the use and creation of OERs. It has been asserted (Castaño et al., 2008) that, besides protecting copyright, Creative Commons licences enable third parties to properly use content covered by them. This may be interpreted as affirming that a virtual academic network that raises awareness of the copyright topic enables the generation of content with the proper licences, which leads to the possibility of them being shared both inside and outside a network.

5. Conclusions and recommendations Having analysed the results, it is time to return the research question: How do open educational practices (OEPs) and technology appropriation develop in teachers belonging to a virtual academic network? According to the evidence, it is possible to state that: (a) OEPs are developed by mobilising knowledge and implementing strategies to make open content available, thus enabling the members of a virtual academic network to share the resources that they produce, and to use open licences to share them and protect copyright. (b) OEPs benefit from the teachers’ membership of a collaborative network that promotes the use/reuse of OERs in educational practices, with catalogued, validated resources that give them the opportunity to select and use them, and to contribute to the development, awareness and sharing of OEPs in the institutional sphere. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Original title: Prácticas educativas abiertas y apropiación tecnológica: el caso de la Comunidad Latinoamericana Abierta y Regional de Investigación Social y Educativa (CLARISE)


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(c) Technology appropriation using OERs in a virtual academic network gives teachers the opportunity to discover, use and reuse the resources available, to share strategies, to promote training on OER-related topics and bring its members together in order to select these topics, thus determining that the inclusion of metadata is one of the criteria that can be considered beneficial to the selection of these resources. These actions facilitate the first two stages of technology appropriation; however, in the case studied, even when there were signs of interest in repurposing OERs within the community, no evidence was found of a third level of appropriation, as the teachers preferred to use resources already available in repositories that, in addition, were selected according to the topic that they needed to support. It is concluded that the CLARISE community seeks OER transfer to or appropriation by the community’s members through various strategies, such as training and the inclusion of links for resource selection in order to accomplish the implementation of OEPs in the participating institutions. Furthermore, it can be said that OEPs in the institutions belonging to the community are at different levels of maturity; in other words, (a) some are just setting off on the path towards these practices, (b) some are developing them by including them in their curricular designs and policies, and (c) some have implemented them in some courses, whether face-to-face, blended or fully online. From the results, it is evident that, in order to make progress on the OEP topic through virtual communities, it is crucial to promote OEP and technology training processes to foster the repurposing of OERs. It is also crucial to foster and continue raising awareness of copyright and of the visibility of open licensing arrangements on the resources that the teachers find on specialist websites, such as institutional and thematic repositories. The same applies to the promotion of communication via social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter, because the community undeniably belongs within them too, and they could be good methods for disseminating the activities, works and actions that the community carries out, and for sharing knowledge. Finally, it should be noted that the OEM covers the stages of resource production, use and/ or selection by the academic community, dissemination by spreading open content via journals, training activities, repositories, networks and the mobilisation of practices, which include not only using OERs in learning environments, but also ensuring that strategies and connective actions – and even new knowledge – are developed in networks. This article extends an invitation to contribute to accessible knowledge for all.

References Atkins, D., Seely, J., & Hammond, A. (2007). Report to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.hewlett.org/uploads/files/Hewlett_OER_report.pdf Bennet, A., & Bennet, D. (2007). Knowledge Mobilization in the Social Sciences and Humanities. Frost, W.V.: MQI Press. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Braun, I., Hernández, S., Santos, E., Talamante, L., & Yu, Y. (2010). REA: aliados en el desarrollo de la comprensión lectora de estudiantes de inglés [OERs: Allies in the development of reading comprehension in students of English]. In M. S. Ramírez & J. V. Burgos (Eds.). Recursos Educativos Abiertos en ambientes enriquecidos con tecnología [Open Educational Resources in technologyenhanced environments] (pp. 242-257). Monterrey, México: Innov@TE. Burgos, J. V., & Ramírez, M. S. (2011). Innovative experiences of Open Educational Resources towards academic knowledge mobilization: Latin-American context. Proceedings of OpenCourseWare Consortium Global 2011: Celebrating 10 Years of OpenCourseWare. Cambridge, MA. Retrieved from http://www.ruv.itesm.mx/convenio/catedra/recursos/material/ci_34.pdf Castaño, C., Maiz, I., Palacio, G., & Villarroel, J. D. (2008). Prácticas Educativas en entornos Web 2.0 [Educational practices in Web 2.0 environments]. Madrid, Spain: Síntesis. Celaya, R., Lozano, F. L., & Ramírez, M. S. (2009). Apropiación Tecnológica en los profesores que incorporan recursos educativos abiertos (REA) en educación media superior [Technology appropriation by teachers who incorporate open educational resources (OERs) into higher middle education]. Revista Mexicana de Investigación Educativa, 15(45), 487-513. Retrieved from http://redalyc.uaemex.mx/pdf/140/14012507007.pdf Colás, P., Rodríguez, M., & Jiménez, R. (2005). Evaluación de e-learning. Indicadores de calidad desde el enfoque sociocultural [Assessment of e-learning. A sociocultural approach to quality indicators]. Revista electrónica Teoría de la educación y Cultura en la Sociedad de la Información Monográfico: Estado actual de los sistemas e-learning, 6(2). Retrieved from http://www.usal. es/~teoriaeducacion/rev_numero_06_2/n6_02_art_colas_rodriguez_jimenez.htm DAR (2010). Repositorio Digital. “DAR: Desarrolla, Aprende y Reutiliza”, Escuela de Graduados en Educación del Tecnológico de Monterrey [Digital Repository]. Retrieved from http://catedra.ruv.itesm.mx/ Erlandson, D. A., Harris, E. L., Skipper, B. L., & Allen, S. D. (1993). Doing naturalistic inquiry. A Guide to Methods. Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Garza, A., Hernández, I., & Santiago, X. (2010). Uso de REA para un mejor aprendizaje de las Ciencias Naturales [Use of OERs to improve learning in Natural Sciences]. In M. S. Ramírez & J. V. Burgos (Eds.), Recursos Educativos Abiertos en ambientes enriquecidos con tecnología [Open Educational Resources in technology-enhanced environments] (pp. 242-257). Monterrey, México: Innov@TE. Giroux, S., & Tremblay, G. (2004). Metodología de las Ciencias Humanas [Methodology for Social Sciences and Humanities]. México DF: Fondo de Cultura Económica. Guerrero, R., Juárez, L., Sánchez, L., & Vázquez, A. (2010). La motivación a través del uso de Recursos Educativos Abiertos como herramientas didácticas para el logro de aprendizajes significativos. Un estudio comparativo de cuatro prácticas docentes [Motivation through the use of Open Educational Resources as didactic tools to achieve meaningful learning. A comparative study of four teaching practices]. In Ramírez, M. S. & Burgos, J. V. (Eds.), Recursos Educativos Abiertos en ambientes enriquecidos con tecnología [Open Educational Resources in technology-enhanced environments] (pp. 489-509). Monterrey, México: Innov@TE. Habler, B. (2009). Access to Open Educational Resources. Report of UNESCO OER Community discussion. UNESCO. Retrieved from http://oerwiki.iiep.unesco.org/images/c/ca/Access2OER_final_report_2.pdf RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Hew, K., & Hara, N. (2007). Empirical study of motivators and barriers of teacher online knowledge sharing. Educational Technology Research & Development, 55(6), 573-595. doi:10.1007/s11423-0079049-2 Hooper, S., & Rieber, Ll. (1995). Teaching with Technology. Retrieved from http://www.nowhereroad. com/twt/ OECD (2007).Giving Knowledge for Free. The Emergence of Open Educational Resources. Paris, France: OECD Publishing. OPAL. (2011a). The OPAL Report 2011 Beyond OER: Shifting Focus to Open Educational Practices, The “Open Educational Quality Initiative”. Retrieved from http://portal.unesco.org/ci/en/ev.php-URL_ ID=31243&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html OPAL. (2011b). OEP Guide. Guidelines for Open Educational Practices in Organizations (Vs. 2011). Retrieved from http://oer-quality.org/ Ramírez, M. S., & Burgos, J. V. (Coords.) (2012). Movimiento educativo abierto: Acceso, colaboración y movilización de recursos educativos abiertos [Open educational movement: Access, collaboration and mobilisation of open educational resources]. Retrieved from http://catedra.ruv.itesm.mx/ handle/987654321/564 Sicilia, M. A. (2005). Reusabilidad y reutilización de objetos didácticos: mitos, realidades y posibilidades [Reusability and reuse of learning objects: Myths , realities and possibilities]. RED. Revista de Educación a Distancia, IV(0II). Retrieved from http://www.um.es/ead/red/M2/sicilia46.pdf Stake, R. E. (1999). Investigación con Estudio de casos [The Art of Case Study Research]. Madrid, Spain: Morata. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. (2011). Open Educational Resources Initiative. Retrieved from http://www.hewlett.org/uploads/files/OER_overview.pdf UNESCO (2005). Towards Knowledge Societies. Paris, France: UNESCO. Viskovic, A. (2006). Becoming a tertiary teacher: learning in communities of practice. Higher Education Research & Development, 25(4), 323-339. doi:10.1080/07294360600947285 Wenger, E., McDermott, R. A., & Snyder, W. (2002). Cultivating Communities of Practice: A Guide to Managing Knowledge. Boston, EE.UU: Harvard Business School Press. Yin, R. K. (2009). Case Study Research Design and Methods (4th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

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About the Authors María del Carmen Betancourt Franco betancourt_franco@hotmail.com Teacher and Advisor, Colegio Washington de Querétaro, A.C., Mexico María del Carmen Betancourt Franco holds a bachelor’s degree in Cybernetics and Computer Sciences (La Salle University, ULSA, Mexico) and a master’s degree in Educational Technology (Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Monterrey Tec, Mexico). She began teaching in the town of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico, and, since 1997, has been a pre-school, primary and secondary teacher in Technology (Robotics and Information Technology [IT]). She collaborated on the development of lessons as a content expert of learning objects for the Primary IT and Technology programme at the Grupo Educare International Research Centre located in Querétaro, Mexico. She is now an advisor for year three of secondary at the Colegio Washington de Querétaro, A.C., Mexico, a post that she has occupied for seven years, and collaborates as a secondary teacher in Technology, Theatre and Advice-Tutoring. Av. Huimilpan No 2000 Col: Monte Blanco Querétaro, Qro. Mexico

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Open educational practices and technology appropriation...

Rosario Celaya Ramírez ceraro@hotmail.com Tutor/Lecturer, Graduate School of Education, Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Mexico Rosario Celaya Ramírez holds a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering (Minatitlán Institute of Technology, ITM, Veracruz, Mexico). She holds specialist postgraduate qualifications in Environmental Engineering and a master’s degree in Education Sciences (University Institute of Studies, IEU, Campeche, Mexico). She holds a bachelor’s degree, with honours, in Educational Technology (ITESM Virtual University, Mexico), a diploma in Educational Software Design, a diploma in Science Teaching (Educational Technology and Communication Studies Centre, CECTE, at the Latin American Institute for Educational Communication, ILCE, Mexico) and a diploma in Higher Middle Education Teaching Competencies PROFORDEMS (National Polytechnic Institute, IPN, Mexico). She is now a tutor/lecturer in the Graduate School of Education at the Virtual University of Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (Monterrey Tec), Mexico, on master’s degree programmes in Education and Educational Technology. She was a reviewer of papers given at the global e-learning conference Online Educa 2011, and participated as a speaker in the 10th Mexican Conference on Educational Research held in Boca del Río, Veracruz, Mexico, in 2009, on the topic of Virtual Learning Environments in the session on Open Educational Resources (OERs). Escuela de Graduados en Educación Tecnológico de Monterrey Edificio CEDES, sótano 1 EGE Avda. Garza Sada 2501 sur; col. Tecnológico Monterrey, N. L.; CP64849 Mexico

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Open educational practices and technology appropriation...

María Soledad Ramírez Montoya

solramirez@tecvirtual.mx Tenured Research Lecturer, Graduate School of Education, Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Mexico María Soledad Ramírez Montoya holds a doctorate in Education (University of Salamanca, USAL, Spain). Her lines of research are teaching strategies, technological resources for education, and education researcher training. She is now a tenured research lecturer in the Graduate School of Education at Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (Monterrey Tec), Mexico. She is the director of the Research Chair in Innovation in Technology and Education, a researcher in the Education Research Centre at Monterrey Tec and a member of the Mexican National System of Researchers. She participates in the Network of Graduate Studies in Education, the Education Research and Innovation Network (REDIIE), the Education Research and Innovation Network of North-east Mexico (REDIIEN), the University Network for Educational Technology (RUTE), the Mexican National Council of Science and Technology-Information and Communication Technologies (ICT-CONACYT), the Strengthening Information Society Research Capacity Alliance (SIRCA) and the Corporation of Universities for Internet Development (CUDI). She is the general secretary of the Mexican Education Research Council (COMIE) and the main organiser of the Regional Open Latin American Community for Social and Educational Research (CLARISE). Escuela de Graduados en Educación Tecnológico de Monterrey Edificio CEDES, sótano 1 EGE, oficina CD-S1003-30 Avda. Garza Sada 2501 sur; col. Tecnológico Monterrey, N. L.; CP64849 Mexico

The texts published in this journal are – unless indicated otherwise – covered by the Creative Commons Spain Attribution 3.0 licence. You may copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the work, provided you attribute it (authorship, journal name, publisher) in the manner specified by the author(s) or licensor(s). The full text of the licence can be consulted here: <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/es/deed.en>

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ARTicle

Academic writing supported by digital templates in teacher training Beatriz Figueroa Sandoval

bfiguero@udec.cl Adjunct Lecturer, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Faculty of Education, University of Concepción, Chile

Mariana Aillon Neumann

maillon@udec.cl Collaborating Lecturer, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Faculty of Education, University of Concepción, Chile

Andrés Fuentealba Urra

ffuentealba@udec.cl Master’s Degree Student in Applied Linguistics, Faculty of Humanities and Arts, Universidad de Concepción, Chile

Submitted in: November 2012 Accepted in: July 2013 Published in: January 2014

Recommended citation

Figueroa, B., Aillon, M. y Fuentealba, A. (2014). Academic writing supported by digital templates in teacher training. Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento (RUSC). Vol. 11, No 1. pp. 18-31. doi http://doi.dx.org/10.7238/rusc.v11i1.1665

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Beatriz Figueroa, Mariana Aillon and Andrés Fuentealba 2014 by FUOC

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Original title: La escritura académica con soporte de esquemas digitales en la formación docente


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Academic writing supported by digital templates in teacher training

Abstract

This article describes the experience of creating and piloting a digital writing template in blended learning mode in order to optimise essay-writing strategies and to formalise hypertext use in academic literacy. The methodological intervention was applied to a sample of 32 students of General Elementary Education at the University of Concepción (UdeC), Chile. The results provide preliminary evidence to enable an understanding of the phenomenon of technology-supported academic production. This study forms part of Chilean National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development (FONDECYT) project number 1110909 entitled “Alfabetización Académica: el hipertexto una herramienta para mejorar los aprendizajes en la formación de profesores” (Academic Literacy: hypertext, a tool for improving learning in teacher training), funded by the Chilean National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT).

Keywords

academic writing, new technologies, digital template, teacher training

La escritura académica con soporte de esquemas digitales en la formación docente Resumen

El presente trabajo describe la experiencia de elaboración y aplicación piloto de una plantilla o esquema digital de escritura (EDE) en una modalidad b-learning, para optimizar las estrategias de escritura de un ensayo y formalizar el uso del hipertexto en la alfabetización académica. La intervención metodológica se llevó a cabo con una muestra de 32 estudiantes de Educación General Básica de la Universidad de Concepción, y sus resultados proporcionan antecedentes para comprender el fenómeno de la producción académica apoyada por la tecnología. Este estudio forma parte del proyecto Fondecyt Regular n° 1110909, “Alfabetización Académica: el hipertexto una herramienta para mejorar los aprendizajes en la formación de profesores”, financiado por la Comisión Nacional de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica (CONICYT) de Chile.

Palabras clave

escritura académica, nuevas tecnologías, esquema digital y formación de profesores

Background The aim of current policies in Chile is to achieve higher quality in education. In order to attain that objective, teacher training institutions must, among other measures, reformulate their curricula in order to comply with the new national standards in education. These standards were designed in accordance with regional needs and international advances in academic literacy. In this context, the line of research in which this article is anchored seeks to understand how hypertext use influences the quality of academic literacy in teacher training and, on the basis of that knowledge, to construct, execute and assess a didactic design that optimises the text comprehension and production RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Academic writing supported by digital templates in teacher training

processes of a group of Pedagogy students. The study therefore focuses on the dimension of writing, and specifically on the creation of a digital template to produce an essay.

Framing the problem Students on the Elementary Education bachelor’s degree course exhibit an urgent need to make progress on the development of reading and writing competencies in order to meet the requirements of the national graduation profile defined in the “Estándares de formación de profesores” (Teacher training standards) (Sotomayor et al., 2011), a document produced jointly by national universities and the Ministry of Education. As a complex linguistic process, academic writing requires systematic practice, especially in the teacher training curriculum. The results of the Inicia test (Ministerio de Educación de Chile, 2011) applied to Pedagogy graduates from Chilean universities showed that the country’s achievements were unsatisfactory in these subjects. In this scenario, the reading and writing competencies of future teachers are tools that determine two dimensions of teacher training. First, the communicative dimension, which is fundamental to pedagogical interaction, and second, the reflective, critical dimension. Both dimensions will allow teachers to develop the reading and writing competencies of their pupils in any discipline that they eventually teach, and they will only be trained to do that if they themselves have personally and professionally experienced the path of learning those practices. In the context of academic writing, it is also of interest to consider the temporospatial configurations that new information and communication technologies (ICTs) bring to this competency. The level of interaction that the Internet permits implies a value change with regard to traditionally used sources of information, as well as a change of connective and temporospatial configurations in the relationships and limits of the reader/writer who is the agent of ICT-supported writing. From this perspective, the type of architecture defined by hypertext is used. Hypertext operates with a metalanguage comprising multimodal codes (written, oral and audiovisual), which, connecting a series of discourses, give rise to a complex intertextuality (Colom, 2006).

Aims and objectives Aims: To understand, describe and analyse how students of Elementary Education at the University of Concepción (UdeC), Chile, make progress on essay writing using digital writing templates (DWTs) in blended learning mode. Objectives: –– To diagnose the command of language and ICT use in hypertext writing practices.

–– To design, pilot and implement the blended learning platform, based on DWT use. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Academic writing supported by digital templates in teacher training

–– To assess DWT implementation in the collaborative production of an essay, in accordance with the key components of language, ICT use and academic knowledge management.

Justification The need for this research is defined by three key components: 1. Language, focused on essay writing and paying attention to the text superstructure, macrostructure and microstructure. 2. ICT use, using a hypertext tool based on a digital medium – a DWT – to support writing an essay on an education-related topic. 3. Knowledge management, via support from a virtual tutor, an agent providing guidance and feedback on the writing progress made by the participants.

Theoretical framework a) Hypertext The concept of ‘hypertext’, a term coined by Theodor H. Nelson, was originally defined as a “a body of written or pictorial material interconnected in such a complex way that it could not conveniently be presented or represented on paper” (Nelson, 1965, p. 2). The prefix hyper- has two etymological meanings: on the one hand, it implies the idea of ‘to excess’ and, on the other, of ‘beyond’ (Lamarca, 2007). In the sense of ‘to excess’, a hypertext document is one that contains a vast amount of text; in the sense of ‘beyond’, it refers to the idea of interconnected documents, whose structure enables movement from one document to another – or from one text or unit of information to another – by ‘jumping’instead of performing a sequential reading (Figueroa et al., 2009). As we can see, the possibility of organising reading and writing in a multisequential way is one of the basic criteria for defining this concept (Lamarca, 2007; Rovira & Codina, 2003; Landow, 1995; Salinas, 1994; Nielsen, 1992; Nelson, 1965). b) Academic literacy The notion of ‘academic literacy’ comprises all the necessary concepts and strategies to participate not only in the discursive culture of academic disciplines, but also in activities to perform the kind of textrelated analyses required to learn at university. It therefore encompasses both reading and writing practices specific to higher education, and the cognitive dimension associated with them (Figueroa et al., 2009). The above assumes that each discipline constitutes a scientific community that deals with ways of reasoning and thinking that are materialised in discourse. The way in which the comprehension and management of this particular use of language is accessed forms part of the academic literacy process within that scientific community (Carlino, 2005). The strength of this concept resides in the fact that it stresses that ways of reading and writing, and of searching for, acquiring, creating and communicating knowledge are not the same for every knowledge area. In addition, it warns against the tendency to consider literacy as a basic skill that is acquired once and for all, and it questions the idea that learning to produce and interpret written language is a closed matter when students enter higher education. The diversity of topics, text types, purposes, RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Academic writing supported by digital templates in teacher training

audiences and implied reflections within contexts where people read and write always present new challenges and demand continuing development of reading and writing practices (Carlino, 2005). In this respect, reading and writing, which are constant demands in professional life, are not only ways of learning and of structuring thought, but also – and undeniably – of intellectual development and social integration. That is why we have taken it upon ourselves to study the characteristics that the abovementioned practices acquire in the specific context of working with hypertext (Figueroa et al., 2009). c) Curricular integration of ICTs In the specialised literature, there are different approaches to and definitions of ‘curricular integration of ICTs’. The recurrent traits that can be found in these definitions are: assembly, combination, use, infusion and influence of technologies within the context of a learning process for a specific purpose and with creative applications. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE, 2002) defines integration as the: …infusion of technology as a tool to enhance the learning in a content area or multidisciplinary setting… Effective integration of technology is achieved when students are able to select technology tools to help them obtain information in a timely manner, analyse and synthesise the information, and present it professionally.

In short, we ascribe to the idea that “The technology should become an integral part of how the classroom functions – as accessible as all other classroom tools” (http://cnets.iste.org/). Sánchez et al. (2011), who performed a complete and updated conceptual analysis of ICTs, has suggested a definition that stresses effectiveness in new technology-supported content learning within a specific curricular area. According to that author, curricular integration of ICTs is the process of making them entirely a part of the curriculum, as part of a whole, imbuing them with the educational principles and didactics that make up the apparatus of learning. That basically implies a functional, harmonious use for specific learning purposes in a curricular discipline or domain (p. 1).

Method The study hypothesis proposed that, by providing virtual multimodal support, DWT use in blended learning mode would allow the students in the third year of the Elementary Education bachelor’s degree course at the UdeC to make greater progress on writing an academic text. The sample comprised 32 students on the above-mentioned course, who took the Text Production subject in the 2011 academic year as part of the third year of teacher training. Among the subject requirements were the production of an essay in blended learning mode to get a more in-depth knowledge of a particular component of the course content. In this context, the intervention consisted in supporting the essay-writing process by means of a DWT. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Original title: La escritura académica con soporte de esquemas digitales en la formación docente


http://rusc.uoc.edu

Academic writing supported by digital templates in teacher training

The research was qualitative and followed the phenomenographic model created by Marton and Säljö (1976) for the purpose of a study on quality learning in the field of language. From a learning perspective, phenomenography seeks to reveal how change comes about in learners’ awareness when they experience the world around them (Marton & Booth, 1997). Phenomenography’s variation theory allowed aspects common to the interaction processes between the students and the DWTs to be described, thus enabling the essence of the phenomenon being studied to be configured. In addition, it enabled the variant or different aspects of the writing practices within that interaction to be identified. From this perspective, variation in the ways of experiencing phenomena of reality is seen as a natural condition of learning. Therefore, our concern was to establish the emergent categories of processes determined as ‘common’ in the sample, and then to describe the categories of ‘variation’ (Figueroa et al., 2009). Regarding the latter, we identified those elements related to quality learning in the essay-writing process with blended learning support by means of a DWT. These constituted basic resources for the articulation of methodological advances. The data were collected with the following instruments: –– A diagnosis of essay writing without technological support, performed at the beginning of

the intervention; and a post-test that assessed the text produced with DWT support. Both documents were assessed using an analytical rubric.

–– The blog that contained the DWT, questionnaires and surveys, all of which were used to obtain

information about the command of language specific to the discursive genre that had to be produced, ICT use and knowledge management. The same medium was used to administer the questionnaires, which gathered the students’ perceptions on completion of the experience. Both the blog and the rubric were validated by experts in the corresponding fields of research.

Description of the didactic implementation of the digital writing template The research team created a DWT, using a standard essay structure. The application consisted of a digital template containing blank spaces. The students had to complete these with the content required in each part of the text. Between the blank spaces, the following were presented as scaffolding (in different colours): text markers, sentence connectors, fragment functions, etc. Thus, the created template formed a minimal structure that served as scaffolding and a guide for the student in the nonfiction writing process, presenting the composition of a formal written text (Wray & Lewis, 2005, p. 135). The text markers were inserted in important places within the text: the beginning of paragraphs or sentences so that the reader could visualise them, even before starting to read, and get an idea of the organisation of the text (Cassany, 2002). The DWT included the review and study of linked sources on a topic, within the context of a discipline included in the Elementary Education bachelor’s degree programme. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Academic writing supported by digital templates in teacher training

The digital template focused on essay writing and, from a discursive perspective, took into account the superstructural parts that are characteristic of this type of text. In accordance with Van Dijk (2005), we understand a superstructure to be the overall template of a text, in this case an essay, and we identified three sections within it: premises, reasoning and conclusion. Regarding the macrostructure and microstructure, these are observed at a propositional level. From a semantic dimension, they clarify the relationships of meaning between adjacent clauses (microstructure) and the associations of meaning of a larger set of clauses (macrostructure). In addition, a blog was created as a digital support for the DWT. Blogs are tools for expression, communication and socialisation, offering publication services and interaction opportunities for a hypertext didactic design. The blog functioned as an architectural element for the publication of content. The page design was easy to navigate and allowed the instructions for independent and collaborative writing tasks to be delivered. The tasks were undertaken in the Google Docs digital text-processing tool, which allowed for feedback between the work team, formed by the students, and the virtual lecturer/tutor on their interaction with the content media (online digital documents, forms and presentations). The course was implemented in blended learning mode, and both face-to-face sessions and virtual sessions were held. In the face-to-face sessions, the students were provided with basic notions of the writing process, and in the virtual session, they independently produced an essay using the DWT. Throughout this process, the subject lecturer and virtual tutor monitored the students’ productions and provided synchronous and asynchronous feedback. The technological tools used enabled data for the three key components of the study to be gathered: language, ICT use and knowledge management. Then these were qualitatively processed. Figure 1 below shows the DWT for the production of an essay, containing the indications to support the writing (in different colours).

Figure 1: Digital writing template (DWT). RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Original title: La escritura académica con soporte de esquemas digitales en la formación docente


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Academic writing supported by digital templates in teacher training

Data analysis The data recorded on the blogging platform allowed the essays written with the DWT and those written without technological support to be compared. The comparison was organised into three categories or levels of performance. Each one described the development involved, expressed as a score that was translated into a grade. Figure 2 shows these descriptions, obtained from an analytical rubric that was applied by the lecturer/tutor and the peer co-assessors. This assessment instrument focused on the linguistic and discursive dimensions of the genre, based on the text superstructure, macrostructure and microstructure categories. Using the above-mentioned categories, the results of the comparison between the initial and final versions showed that, in the diagnostic stage, there were 17 beginner-level students, 10 intermediatelevel students and 5 advanced-level students. Then, after implementing the production experience, the results showed that, in the post-test (final essay) stage, most of the subjects had shifted from the beginner and intermediate-level categories to the advanced-level category. Consequently, there were 3 beginner-level students, 3 intermediate-level students and 26 advanced-level students. The writing progress observed as a result of using the digital template was identified: a) in the command of the text superstructure, where the template had allowed the students to get an overall grasp of the meaning of the document, coherently articulating the premises, the reasoning (arguments and counterarguments) and the conclusion; b) in the command of the macrostructure, where the DWT – as a visual template – had contributed to the organisation of paragraphs, to consistency and to cohesion, facilitating the progression of ideas in the text; c) in the microstructure, the template’s text markers helped to establish relationships of meaning at a local level. The suggestions for specific connectors enhanced the expressive possibilities of the discourse. Figure 2. Descriptors of performance levels in the written production of an academic essay.

Instrument Post-test Essay written with the DWT.

Performance levels Advanced

Intermediate

Beginner

Presents the superstructure of the argumentative text: premises, reasoning (arguments and counterarguments) and conclusion. Each part is identified by using text markers (initiators, connectors and modifiers) specific to argumentative discourse, to introduce, to indicate the function of paragraphs and to establish connections between statements and paragraphs, which mark the thematic progression.

There is an overall organisation (superstructure) containing the main parts of the essay: premises, reasoning and conclusion. Parts of this structure are distinguished by some connectors that relate the statements within a paragraph. However, cohesion between the paragraphs is achieved by initiators in the first argument and a function marker in the conclusion.

Presents an overall structure: premises, reasoning and conclusion. These parts are identified in particular by full stops, which divide up large paragraphs. An initiator is used in the premises, but the text lacks markers indicating the function of the paragraph in the discourse. Regarding cohesion within paragraphs, the use of connectors inconsistent with the content that they introduce and develop in the text was found.

RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Academic writing supported by digital templates in teacher training

Other aspects strengthened by the technology were the recording and monitoring of the writing process by using the history tool available on the blogging platform. On the one hand, this allowed the authors – the students – to access successive versions of the essays written with the DWT; it also allowed them to rearrange the path of written production, from tasks associated with the planning stages to those associated with the final text. On the other, the tutor’s feedback and suggestions were automatically saved in the history for each progressive stage and version of the text. Access to tracked changes, supported by online resources, fostered the authors’ individual and collective metacognitive reflection. It was therefore possible to systematically and entirely assess the most complex tasks and the scaffolding required in the didactic design to help the students overcome specific difficulties in certain parts of the text. This information was complemented with the perceptions of the participants in the process: the students and the virtual lecturer/tutor. These perceptions were gathered by means of questionnaires that had been designed and administered online, using the Google Docs form tool (cloud), which allowed the answers to be recorded, organised into tables and presented in graph form. The aim of the questions posed in this instrument was to collect data on: a) ICT use, as a prerequisite for digital literacy, and specifically the use of Google Docs to produce an essay using the DWT; b) the command of the discursive genre; c) the blended learning mode of the didactic design: face-to-face sessions and virtual sessions for essay production; d) synchronous and asynchronous feedback for each progressive stage of the production process. Regarding ICT use, before the intervention, only 4 students from the sample (32) said that they knew about Google Docs and the possibility of individually or collectively writing online, though they had only used it once. However, a significant number (20) were users of blogging platforms, and had even created their own blogs for recreational purposes. The remaining 7 subjects neither knew about nor used the mentioned technology. These data helped us create an online and face-to-face tutorial on how to use the above-mentioned application and platform, which was included in the didactic design. Regard the command of the discursive genre, most of the subjects from the sample (26) felt that the most significant progress they had made between the diagnostic stage and the post-test stage was in the use of the technology and the DWT because it presented an overall structure organised into paragraphs, and that each one contained indications about how to complete the content and what connectors to use to enable them to sort their ideas properly. They acknowledged that the template could not have been completed if they had not had a grasp of the topic. This idea was backed up by the virtual lecturer/tutor, who highlighted the fact that the DWT had provided a general structure for argumentative discourse, shifting the focus of attention of essay production away from the ‘how’ – the form – towards the ‘what’ – the content – and, in doing so, had lent a helping hand to the students who had only just started to grapple with academic writing. Regarding the blended learning mode of the didactic design, 24 subjects pointed out firstly that its organisation into face-to-face sessions gave them the opportunity to receive more detailed explanations about essay production and to share the collective revisions of their peers’ writing progress. Secondly, the students considered that the virtual work had been sufficiently flexible because, even though there had been a deadline for completing each task/progressive production RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Academic writing supported by digital templates in teacher training

stage, they had had the chance to develop and continue working on them at different times of the day and week. Timely feedback was also received digitally via the tool for comments recorded in the history, which allowed them to return to the suggestions for improving the text delivered by the tutor. On the issue of the mode used, the tutor highlighted the learners’ acquired awareness of the writing process and its reiterative nature, which demanded not only concentration and perseverance, but also the capacity to take the comments on board and improve their text (TV/6). Regarding feedback (knowledge management), 20 students expressed their agreement with the suggestions and comments received for each progressive stage, which had compelled them to improve the essay between one version and the next. A smaller group (5 subjects from the sample) expressed their preference for synchronous feedback from the virtual tutor because it favoured immediate correction while writing was taking place. However, 15 students scored asynchronous revision more highly. Among the reasons given were the need to start writing in an independent, uninterrupted manner, and only then to receive comments in order to avoid confusion. The tutor highlighted the potential of the blogging platform and the DWT for providing both types of feedback (synchronous and asynchronous), and said that the feedback’s usefulness in guiding the writing process was dependent on the students taking it on board to improve their texts (TV/8).

Results The results obtained from the ICT-supported re-writing were: 1. The DWT encouraged the students to stop using the information cut-and-paste method. Instead of that practice, the subjects made progress on the production of an academic text by adapting the modelled text structure to include specific thematic content. 2. The students reformulated their writing strategies, which were systematised through interactions with digital corrections. The virtual space, characterised by connectivity and speed, allowed the activities of writing, feedback, assessment by the lecturer and self-assessment to become a path towards metacognitive reflection on the students’ writing practices. 3. The use of the digital template to guide hypertext writing was the most important didactic advance according to the group’s perceptions. At the pre-test stage, only 4 out of the 32 students stated that they knew about and had used a digital template in their academic works. At the post-test stage, however, all of the research subjects had used the DWT to produce texts. 4. At the writing stage, the students were organised into groups, and team tasks also gave rise to significant progress from the perspective of collaborative learning supported by an online word processor, such as feedback and peer correction via the word processor’s comments tool. 5. The multimodality of codes boosted by the technology enabled greater reinforcement of the writing practice. Most of the students used the colour coding of the DWT to identify text elements of the superstructure, macrostructure and microstructure. In addition, the use of technological icons in the template helped to provide support for the verbal code. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Academic writing supported by digital templates in teacher training

6. From a pragmatic dimension, motivation for writing the text in question was increased by the acknowledgment of its functionality. The students became aware of the fact that the competency being developed was extrapolable to other writing works for other curricular subjects.

Conclusions a) For the students in the sample, DWT use in a blended learning didactic design for academic literacy improved writing production competencies, taking into account the integration of the three key components: language, ICT use and academic knowledge management. b) ICT use requires a didactic design that strengthens knowledge management on the basis of a specific learning need, articulated with available resources and the lecturer’s technology-user profile to support the implementation of the curriculum. c) The command of 2.0 ICTs is not necessarily apparent among digital natives. Virtual platforms must therefore consider this aspect, and must be simple and easy to use for those just being initiated into digital literacy for academic purposes. d) The blended learning mode is an effective option for the architecture of collaborative learning in a teacher training context. Lecturers have the opportunity to provide experiences using tools that make the process more flexible and give the students more independence and a chance to participate, as they are the ones who will need to use them in their professional lives. In this respect, blog design and administration options provide a significant learning environment. e) Besides qualitative analysis, the phenomenographic model allows pedagogical reflection to be investigated from the perspective of ‘variation’, which in turn constitutes a learning theory.

References Carlino, P. (2005). Escribir, leer y aprender en la universidad [Writing, reading and learning at university]. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Fondo de Cultura Económica. Cassany, D. (2002). La cocina de la escritura [The kitchen of writing]. Barcelona, Spain: Anagrama. Colom, A. (2006). Texto, multimedialidad y sociedad del conocimiento. Consecuencias para la nueva educación [Text, multimediality and knowledge society. Consequences for the new education]. In B. Escolano (Ed.). Currículum editado y sociedad del conocimiento [Published curriculum and knowledge society] (pp. 35-55). Valencia, Spain: Tirant Lo Blanch. Figueroa, B., Aillon, M., Yáñez, V., & Ajagán, L. (2009). Prácticas de lectura y escritura con apoyo del RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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hipertexto en la formación de profesores [Hypertext-supported reading and writing practices in teacher training]. Lectura y vida. Revista Latinoamericana de lectura, 4, 54-61. Sociedad Internacional para la Tecnología en la Educación (ISTE). (2002). Los estándares nacionales de tecnología educativa para los estudiantes [National Educational Technology Standards for Students]. Retrieved from http://cnets.iste.org/students/index.shtml Lamarca, M. J. (2007). Hipertexto: El nuevo concepto de documento en la cultura de la imagen [Hypertext: The new document concept in the image culture]. (Unpublished doctoral thesis, Universidad Complutense de Madrid). Retrieved from www.hipertexto.info Landow, G. (1995). Hipertexto: la convergencia de la teoría crítica contemporánea y la tecnología [Hypertext: the convergence of contemporary critical theory and technology]. Barcelona, Spain: Paidós. Marton, F., & Säljö, R. (1976). On qualitative differences in learning. Outcome and process. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 46, 4-11. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8279.1976.tb02980.x Marton, F., & Booth, Sh. (1997). Learning and awareness. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Ministerio de Educación Gobierno de Chile. Informe de resultados de Prueba Inicia [Report on the Inicia test results]. Santiago, Chile: Mineduc. Retrieved from http://www.mineduc.cl Muñoz, A. (2012, 13 May). Egresados de planteles de regiones destacaron en la evaluación docente [Regional faculty graduates excel in teaching assessment]. El Mercurio, pp. 10-11. Nelson, T. (1965). A file structure for the complex, the changing and the indeterminate. In L. Winner (Ed.) Proceedings of the 20th National ACM Conference of the Association for Computing Machinery (pp. 84-100). New York, NY: ACM. Nielsen, J. (1992). Hypertext and Hypermedia. Boston, MA: Academic Press. Rovira, C., & Codina, L. (2003). La orientación a objetos en el diseño de sedes web: hipertextos y representación de la información [Object-oriented website design: hypertext and information representation]. Revista Española de Documentación Científica, 26(3), 267-290. Salinas, J. (1994). Hipertexto e Hipermedia en la Enseñanza Universitaria [Hypertext and hypermedia in university education]. Pixel-Bit, 1, 15-29. Sánchez, J., Salinas, A., Harris, J. (2011). Education with ICT in South Korea and Chile. International Journal of Educational Development, 31, 126-148. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijedudev.2010.03.003 Sotomayor, C., Coloma, C., Concha, S., Figueroa, B., & Medina, L. (2011). Estándares de Lenguaje y Comunicación [Language and communication standards]. In P. Felmer (Coord.), Estándares Orientadores para Egresados de Carreras de Pedagogía en Educación Básica [Guideline standards for graduates from Elementary Education Pedagogy bachelor’s degrees courses] (pp. 4278). Santiago, Chile: Ministerio de Educación. Van Dijk, T. (2005). Estructuras y funciones del discurso. [The structures and functions of discourse]. México: Siglo Veintiuno Editores. Wray, D., & Lewis, M. (2005). Aprender a leer y escribir textos de información [Extending literacy: children reading and writing non-fiction]. Madrid, Spain: Ediciones Morata.

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About the Authors Beatriz Figueroa Sandoval bfiguero@udec.cl Adjunct Lecturer, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Faculty of Education, University of Concepción, Chile She is a qualified teacher of Spanish and holds a doctorate in Education. She undertakes her teaching and research work in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Faculty of Education, University of Concepción (UdeC), Chile. Her teaching and main line of research are in the field of Language and Literature Didactics, in the initial and continuing education of teachers on bachelor’s degree courses in Elementary Education and Pedagogy in Spanish. Since 2007, her studies have focused specifically on the construction of reading and writing practices supported by hypertext tools, in the academic context of teacher training. Her research has been funded by the Government of Chile through bodies such as the Research and Development in Education Fund (FONIDE) and the National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development (FONDECYT). She is currently a member of the Education Study Group, which assesses and selects research projects to be funded by FONDECYT.

Mariana Aillon Neumann maillon@udec.cl Collaborating Lecturer, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Faculty of Education, University of Concepción, Chile She is a qualified teacher of Spanish and holds a master’s degree in Hispanic Literature. She is currently a doctoral student in Linguistics at the University of Concepción (UdeC), Chile, as the holder of a grant from the National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT) of the Government of Chile. She also works as a lecturer in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction of the Faculty of Education at UdeC. Her experience includes teaching in the field of Language, in the initial and continuing education of teachers on Pedagogy bachelor’s degree courses for pre-school, elementary and middle levels. She has trained for eight years in the field of Language and Literature Didactics with Dr Beatriz Figueroa and, since 2007, has been a co-investigator on her team working on hypertext-supported academic literacy.

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Academic writing supported by digital templates in teacher training

Andrés Fuentealba Urra ffuentealba@udec.cl Master’s Degree Student in Applied Linguistics, Faculty of Humanities and Arts, Universidad de Concepción, Chile He is a qualified teacher of Spanish and holds a master’s degree in Knowledge Management. He collaborates on research into academic literacy through his master’s degree dissertation supervised by Dr Figueroa. He takes part in the design of educational platforms applied to competency development in the field of language for didactic purposes.

Universidad de Concepción Barrio Universitario - Facultad de Educación Edmundo Larenas, 335, Concepción Chile www.udec.cl

The texts published in this journal are – unless indicated otherwise – covered by the Creative Commons Spain Attribution 3.0 licence. You may copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the work, provided you attribute it (authorship, journal name, publisher) in the manner specified by the author(s) or licensor(s). The full text of the licence can be consulted here: <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/es/deed.en>

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ARTicle

Learning networks to enhance reflectivity: key elements for the design of a reflective network David Garcia Cardenas

buzondedavidgarcia@gmail.com Autonomous University of Mexico City

Submitted in: December 2012 Accepted in: May 2013 Published in: January 2014

Recommended citation

Garcia, D. (2014). Learning networks to enhance reflectivity: key elements for the design of a reflective network. Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento (RUSC). Vol. 11, No 1. pp. 32-48. doi http:// doi.dx.org/10.7238/rusc.v11i1.1736

Abstract

The benefits of reflective practice for professionals who deal with complex settings have been widely reported. Similarly, different types of learning networks (LNs) are emerging as a promising alternative to support lifelong learning. This article addresses the topic of how LNs can be used to support reflective professional practice and, furthermore, contribute to the development of reflectivity in individuals and groups of learners. As the starting point of an ongoing research study, a provisional model for the design of a reflective network (RN) is presented here. An RN is a type of LN that includes additional features to foster the development of reflective capabilities. This article includes a description of a reflective process model, a list of reflective capabilities, a group of key elements for the pedagogical support system for an RN, and some reflections on the challenges of implementing this model and investigating its effectiveness.

Keywords

reflective practice, reflectivity, learning networks, lifelong learning RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Redes de aprendizaje para mejorar la reflexión: elementos clave para el diseño de una red reflexiva Resumen

Los beneficios de la práctica reflexiva para profesionales que tratan con entornos complejos han sido ampliamente documentados. Al mismo tiempo, están surgiendo diferentes tipos de redes de aprendizaje (RA) como una prometedora alternativa para apoyar el aprendizaje a lo largo de la vida. Este artículo analiza cómo pueden utilizarse las RA para apoyar la práctica profesional reflexiva y al mismo tiempo contribuir al desarrollo de la reflexión en individuos y grupos de alumnos. Como punto de partida para un estudio de investigación en curso, se presenta aquí un modelo provisional para el diseño de una red reflexiva (RR). Una red reflexiva es un tipo de red de aprendizaje que incluye características adicionales a fin de promover el desarrollo de aptitudes de reflexión. Este artículo incluye la descripción de un modelo de proceso reflexivo, una lista de aptitudes reflexivas, un grupo de elementos clave para el sistema de apoyo pedagógico de una red reflexiva y algunas consideraciones sobre los retos que hay que afrontar para aplicar este modelo e investigar su eficacia.

Palabras clave

práctica reflexiva, reflexión, redes de aprendizaje, aprendizaje a lo largo de la vida

Introduction Lifelong learning has become an important activity for professionals who deal with complex practices. However, complex practices are unpredictable and difficult to standardize (Reinhardt, Schmidt, Sloep, & Drachsler, 2011). Such professionals have to perform flexibly in changing contexts where problems are ill-structured and can be framed from multiple perspectives, in and out of disciplinary borders. They must be capable of learning from their practice, from information resources and from others in an independent way. A promising approach for this purpose is learning networks (LNs) (Koper & Sloep, 2002; Sloep & Berlanga, 2010). They are aimed at enriching the learning experience in nonformal education contexts (Hsiao, Brouns, Kester, & Sloep, 2011; Van Der Klink, Drachsler, & Sloep, 2012). However, networked learning demands complex learning skills, attitudes and knowledge (Rajagopal, Joosten-ten Brinke, Van Bruggen, & Sloep, 2012; Reinhardt et al., 2011; Van Der Klink et al., 2012; Sie et al., 2012). Among these capabilities, one of the most complex yet promising is the capacity to perform deep reflection. Reflective capabilities are supported by the metacognitive skills, knowledge and attitudes that allow a person to build knowledge out of present and past experiences. Learners have different reflective capacities (Chang, Chen, & Chen, 2012), and there is evidence that such capacities can be developed with the proper support. Recently there have been some attempts to explore the possibilities of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for reflective practice, but they remain insufficient and there is RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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a need to explore this further (Hsieh, Jang, Hwang, & Chen, 2011; Sie et al., 2012; Uzunboylu, Bicen, & Cavus, 2011). Thus, in a review of 24 published articles, Sim and Heww (2010) identified six major uses of students’ and instructors’ blogs. Several of them reported findings indicating the suitability of blogs for reflective practice. Recent studies have indicated the positive effects of metacognitive reflection upon metacognitive skills and control of the learning process by the learner (Bran & Balas, 2011; C.-C. Glava & Glava, 2011), the positive effect of online learning communities on students’ performance for reflective and active learning styles (Zhan, Xu, & Ye, 2011) and the suitability of blogs for metacognitive reflection to foster learning and learning skills (Cazan, 2012; Clipa, Ignat, & Stanciu, 2012; C.-C. Glava & Glava, 2011; Harris, 2008; Häkkinen & Hämäläinen, 2012; Robertson, 2011; Wopereis, Sloep, & Poortman, 2010), and that this effect is strengthened when it is combined with peer support (Cacciamani, Cesareni, Martini, Ferrini, & Fujita, 2012). This article is the first report of a long-term research project that examines how to incorporate reflective capabilities for lifelong learning and complex professional practice into the design of any LN. In this report, a reflective process model is presented, including a list of reflective capabilities and some key elements that may be useful for designing and creating a reflective network (RN). These ideas were developed to direct the design of an ongoing experiment of an online learning community for professional health promoters, and it is influenced by the needs of their particular practice. However, the key elements presented here could be adapted and used in experiments involving other professionals dealing with practices that demand similar reflective capabilities. A group of studies will be carried out to test the suitability of the experimental model. It is hoped that this paper will contribute to a better understanding of what characteristics a collaborative online learning environment must have to enhance the development of reflectivity, how professionals can use LNs to develop their reflective capabilities, and how they can support each other to achieve this purpose.

Reflective process and reflective capabilities: a proposal Presented in this section is a reflective process model that can encompass reflection on action (Schön, 1987, 1983), reflection on reflection and reflection in reflection. It also articulates those reflective layers with reflection in action (idem). This model is based on the pedagogical approaches of Paulo Freire (1970) and the experiential learning tradition of Kolb (1984), Schön (1983, 1987), Boud (1993) and Raelin (2000). Its general purpose is to transform experience into knowledge. It divides the reflective process into three moments: learning object construction, reflective analysis and outcome synthesis. Although such moments are sequentially related, the reflective process is not linear and can take multiple paths. This implies that the other two can take place at any moment, and also that the reflective process may focus on a different object at any moment. Even if the moments occur simultaneously, they will lead to different outcomes. To perform the reflective process, it is necessary to use a set of capabilities that include skills, knowledge, and attitudes used to regulate learning processes known as ‘metacognition’ (Akyol & RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Garrison, 2011; Jausovec, 2011). Some of them are specific to the reflective process. The whole group of reflective capabilities is labeled here under the term ‘reflectivity’. As with other metacognitive skills (Jausovec, 2011), it is assumed that they develop through practice. Then a description of the moments of the reflective process and the reflective capabilities required at each moment is presented. The first moment consists of the construction of the object to be analyzed. According to Boud, Cohen, and Walker (1993), and Boud et al. (1993), experience is complex and every detail can be relevant for learning. It is impossible to analyze every detail, since part of experience is unconscious, although it is necessary to select what aspect of experience is to be analyzed. This aspect of experience may work as a learning object (LO) – a mind representation that is partially conscious – since much of its sense and meaning relies on hidden assumptions. It is important to identify an LO in order to frame the reflective process. During the reflective process, other LOs may be identified for further analysis. As the learner does not know what the learning outcome of the analysis of an LO is, he or she may select it intuitively. Not all the LOs selected are to be analyzed at once, but they are added to a list that the learner can retrieve later. Figure 1 shows the reflective capabilities needed at the first moment. The second moment is the reflective analysis of the LO. During this moment, the learner invokes internal voices (for example, affective, cognitive, etc.) and evokes external voices (other people’s reflections, theories, etc.) and performs an internal dialogue (Penn & Frankfurt, 2005). The LO under analysis (understood as a mind construction) is then transformed, complemented or rebuilt with new understandings and meaning, that is to say, new knowledge. Figure 2 shows the reflective capabilities that are used at this reflective moment. Once reflective analysis develops, it is necessary to announce and synthesize learning. It is also useful and necessary to identify the implications of the new findings in practice (Gore & Vazquez Manzini, 2004). These activities constitute the third moment, where the reflective process links to practice. This moment demands the use of other reflective capabilities (see Figure 3). Additionally, a set of reflective capabilities are used during the whole reflective process (see Figure 4). The reflective process is an experience in its own right, which can also be transformed into several LOs, such as the nature of the reflection or the performance of the learner during the reflective experience.

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Figure 1. Reflective capabilities during learning object construction (first moment). Reflective capabilities are used to achieve the reflective task.

Figure 2. Reflective capabilities during reflective analysis (second moment). Reflective capabilities are used to achieve the reflective task. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Figure 3. Reflective capabilities when drawing conclusions (third moment). Reflective capabilities are used to achieve the reflective task.

Figure 4. Reflective capabilities during the whole reflective process. Reflective capabilities are used to achieve the reflective task. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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I. General characteristics of a reflective network The purpose of an RN is to serve as a collaborative learning environment that fosters the development of the reflective capabilities of its inhabitants. Secondarily, an RN is guided by two complementary purposes, which are content-centered and serve as vehicles for achieving the main purpose: 1) to act as a collaborative network to support lifelong learning and practice improvement, and 2) to make collective and individual contributions to general knowledge in the subject field. Table 1 summarizes the general characteristics of an RN; many of them are taken from the literature and are common to other types of LNs â&#x20AC;&#x201C; especially e-learning communities of practice (Chikh & Berkani, 2010) â&#x20AC;&#x201C;-while others are specific to an RN. Table 1. General characteristics of a reflective network. Most of these characteristics are shared with other types of learning networks

Characteristics Common identity Free networking Open curriculum, practice-driven Self-directed Metacognitive curriculum Heterogeneity Peer regulation and support

II. Support system The support system is divided into three basic elements. These elements address the cognitive, social and teaching presences described for a successful learning community (Zydney, deNoyelles, & Kyeong-Ju Seo, 2012), although teaching presence should only be an early element of an RN, as it should eventually be replaced by peer support.

1. Support for written reflection Written reflection facilitates the creation of an external semantic representation of many of the thoughts produced during the reflective process (Chang, Chen, & Chen, 2012; Harris, 2008). Written reflection demands and develops metacognitive skills to describe internal processes; therefore, it can act as the mediator between an internal individual process and collaborative reflection (Akyol & Garrison, 2011). According to the reflective process model presented previously, these representations may be transformed into LOs in subsequent reflective processes by the learner and others. ICTs offer advantages for reflective writing, such as the plasticity of the registers, the possibility of organizing RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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files and the facilities to enhance communication and interaction with peers by using different levels of privacy (Wopereis et al., 2010; Robertson, 2011; Cazan, 2012).

2. Scaffolding for reflection Scaffolding aims to support deep reflection while reducing the counterproductive risks of high cognitive-load tasks (Glava & Glava, 2011; Hsiao et al., 2011). As users develop their reflectivity, they may participate in the scaffolding process for newer users. Four modalities of scaffolding are described below. These modalities are related to each other and may coexist in the same virtual learning environment.

a) Track-oriented reflection There is evidence that adding metacognitive reflection to reflection on content has a positive effect on metacognitive skills (Bran & Balas, 2011; Cacciamani et al., 2012; Cazan, 2012; C.-C. Glava & Glava, 2011; Robertson, 2011). In this model, reflection and metacognitive reflection are split into eight reflective tracks. Track-oriented reflection is meant to help users direct the focus of reflective analysis towards different layers of experience, and the experience of reflecting on experience. Each of these layers is presented as a different track of reflection. Escalating reflection to more metacognitive tracks may lead to higher control of the reflective process. Indeed, the studies by Wopereis (2010) and Rajagopal et al. (2012) suggest including a track to monitor affects during cognition (Robertson, 2011). Figure 5 shows the eight tracks considered in the model.

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Figure 5. Reflective levels and tracks. The RN environment may provide the opportunity to split the reflective experience into eight different tracks. Each track focuses on a different aspect of the reflective experience and yields a different learning outcome. Users should decide which tracks to follow and when. The ability to do this is in a fact a reflective capability to develop that requires the learner to keep a level of consciousness of the processes that take place implicity, in order to detect reflecting paths to follow on a different track.

b) Reflective exercise Reflective exercises (REs) are pre-designed tasks to scaffold the analysis of a given LO constructed from a case. Some exercises may be designed to help learners select certain episodes from their practice in order to construct LOs. Advanced learners may develop the capability to design REs for themselves and for other users in the community. REs may include several of the reflective tracks RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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mentioned previously. Some of the tracks in an RE may be public, while others may be registered privately. This is especially important for exercises that demand analysis of affective aspects and personal episodes of practice. REs are meant to offer reflective experiences for users. Similar REs have been used as alternative assessment and formative tools (Sarivan, 2011). An RE is expected to have a positive influence on their attitudes towards reflection, and also to develop reflective capabilities in an environment that reduces the cognitive load of the learner, since he or she does not have to design his or her learning strategies. Metacognitive tracks may give the learner the opportunity to learn how to design his or her own RE in the future. This is important, since REs are a provisional scaffolding, not a set of rules to follow, as they may negatively affect motivation and learning (Wopereis et al., 2010).

c) Reflective tools Reflective tools (RTs) are generic techniques to support reflective analysis of different LOs. Portfolios and journals have been widely used as RTs (see, for example, Chang, Chen, & Chen, 2012; Raelin, 2000; Bran & Balas, 2011).They vary in their independence of the LO, since some of them may be very specific or general. RTs may include several of the reflective tracks described above. Advanced users are expected to develop the capability to adapt existing and even create new reflective tools for their needs.

d) Blended learning: simulations For those users who have no professional practice, such as undergraduate students, simulations of professional practice may be provided (Van Der Klink et al., 2012). Such simulations may be simplified or complex versions of professional problems similar to the remote internships described by Lansu et al. (2010) or the community-of-practice experiment reported by Chang, Chen, and Li (2008). Simulations may be integrated into blended learning, adding the development of reflective capabilities to a conventional curriculum.

3. Peer support Peer support is one of the most important elements that contribute to successful networked learning (Berlanga et al., 2008). The availability of learning technology is no guarantee that it will be sufficient to support learning (Van Der Klink et al., 2012), especially with complex cognitive tasks (Hsiao et al., 2011) such as deep reflection and the development of metacognitive skills (Cacciamani et al., 2012). Peer support may be voluntary or involuntary and can work in several ways, as shown below. Most of the learning activities and tools described above can be performed individually; however, as some of them may be too complex for a single learner, they are expected to serve as a stimulus for collaboration. The participation of one learner leaves a track that may help future learners and contributes to their gradual integration into what is known as ‘legitimate peripheral participation’ (Cacciamani et al., 2012; Chang, Chen, & Li, 2008). Users are also expected to share unsolved problems that could trigger flexible collaboration adapted to learners’ needs (Hsiao et al., 2011) as in ad-hoc RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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transient communities (Berlanga et al., 2008). Table 2 describes the different roles of peer interaction as part of the support system: Table 2. Peer support roles in a reflective network

Role

Description

Rationale

As a reflective cognitive model

Users provide examples of the use of REs, tools and analysis in the different reflective tracks.

Registers of reflection may show a diversity of possibilities from which the users may learn. These models may also guide users regarding which learning activities they may get involved in at each stage of their career, and adapt the platform and their internal and external relations accordingly (Rajagopal, Joosten-ten Brinke et al., 2012).

As a cocreator of a reflective identity

Modeling to build an identity as reflective practitioners.

To build a collaborative, safe, and caring environment that stimulates a positive attitude towards reflection (Rajagopal, Joosten-ten Brinke et al., 2012; Sie et al., 2012; Wopereis et al., 2010).

As a catalyst of deeper reflections

The result of this interaction is a more complex understanding in learners (Freire, 1970; Lansu et al., 2010; Lin, Hong, & Lawrenz, 2012; Wopereis et al., 2010).

Mutual influence among learnersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; reflections in LNs (Rajagopal, Joosten-ten Brinke et al., 2012) is a powerful possibility for the learner to interact for a long time with others in ways that would be impossible or impractical without the support of technology. Collaboration in learner networks has the potential to go far beyond sharing knowledge and into the realm of metacognitive regulation (Akyol & Garrison, 2011) to encourage participants to become more reflective people. One way of doing this is for learners to act as mirrors of a reflective process in different learning tracks. Another example of support is the Socratic questioning method (Harris, 2008).

As support for cognitive load

Reduce the intrinsic cognitive load of the task and increase the germane load, as described by Hsiao et al. (2011) for knowledge sharing processes in LNs and by Cacciamani et al. (2012) for epistemic agency.

The important differences in reflective capabilities and strategies among learners may contribute to the formation of a more complex reflective system by adding multiple perspectives and possibilities (Rajagopal, Joosten-ten Brinke et al., 2012). As reflective capabilities develop in a learner, the cognitive load may be reduced, thus allowing the learner to increase his or her efficacy, as reported for other metacognitive skills (Jausovec, 2011). Expert reflective professionals may also benefit from peer support, since the kind of support just described can take place at a deeper level.

As regular support for networked learning

Peer support to create, grow and manage an LN, as part of an RN.

Peer support may also serve for the purposes described in LNs (Berlanga et al., 2008; Hsiao et al., 2011).

III. General architecture of a reflective network The key elements of the type of RN presented above can be integrated into different types of existing LNs. Every case may demand different procedures and decisions to integrate a functional architecture. These elements may also be included in the design of a new LN and may actually result in different designs. Figure 6 shows an example of the general architecture of a learning community for undergraduate and in-service health promoters. Such a prototype is currently being built and studied as an experiment. Results of the studies will be reported in the future. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Figure 6. Technological platform for a RN. The case of manantialdenubes.org. The platform has three connected elements: 1) a repository for learning objects and relevant information, 2) social networking services and 3) a reflective environment. Arrows show the main relations between the three elements and to professional practice. Most of the reflective process takes place in the reflective platform were reflective scaffolding can be best suported by environments designed ad hoc.

From idea to reality: multiple obstacles Implementing a prototype based upon the keynotes presented here is a path strewn with difficulties. Like any LN, it must have a set of characteristics for effective collaborative learning (see Rajagopal, Joosten-ten Brinke et al., 2012) in addition to those that are specifically designed for the development of reflectivity. An RN is subject to a number of risks, and it is important to consider the sociocultural aspects of its members and the nature of the knowledge being built, among other factors (Joubert RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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& Wishart, 2012). Learners may have to do more than develop networking capabilities such as those described by Rajagopal, Joosten-ten Brinke et al. (2012). This may imply that, before any evidence on the results of an RN on reflective capabilities emerges, it will be necessary for a critical mass of users to reach the adequate level of involvement (Koper & Sloep, 2002), and for them to master basic networking capabilities first. This will be necessary not only to test the features of the prototype, but also to create the environment for new users to reach this stage. It is likely that a founder network – a group of advanced learners to support other learners (Robertson, 2011) – will be needed. It is possible that such a group will not develop spontaneously, so it may be necessary for them to receive support in blended environments, and for them to train as future peers-tutors (Hsiao et al., 2011) of other professionals. Special tutor support like the coaching and feedback described by Stein, Wanstreet, Slagle, Trinko, and Lutz (2012) may be necessary. However, founders should not be trained as expert tutors, but as expert learners. It is very important for users to be heterogeneous not only in their levels of expertise in the subject matter, but also in the level of development of their reflective capabilities, and even in characteristics like the profiles for metacognitive reflection (A.-E. Glava & Glava, 2011) and learning styles (Zhan et al., 2011), in order to provide a proper match with the heterogeneity of new users and improve reflectivity (Hsieh et al., 2011). An RN may not be attractive to users unless it effectively responds to their practice-related problems and interests, adequately adapts to their current level of expertise and enables everyone to visualize the benefits of joining and participating in it (Sloep & Kester, 2009). It is therefore very important to conduct an analysis of potential users (Sloep & Berlanga, 2010, 2011). The problems users face in their practice are rarely framed as ‘I need to be more reflective’. It is quite important to demonstrate to users that an RN is as useful for solving problems as it is for becoming more reflective, and that the latter has an effective and positive influence on practice improvement, though this may take time (Harris, 2008). Although an RN is designed for users to share a common reflective environment to improve distinct practices, it may also be adapted for teamwork to reflect on common projects and develop common reflectivity with the beneficial effects described by Nederveen Pieterse, Van Knippenberg, & Van Ginkel (2011). Some of the features of the model proposed here cannot be properly envisioned unless specific software is developed for the reflective platform. It goes beyond the scope of this paper to present a research plan to evaluate the effectiveness of the keynotes presented here. A series of studies evaluating some of the features of the model may be necessary before attempting to evaluate the whole. It is also clear that a long period of time will be required to follow up on the progress of learners, as suggested by (Wopereis et al., 2010). This includes not only the development of individual reflective capabilities in the members, but also of the network, which implies creating a long-term experience of reflective collaboration. Many issues emerge as research questions, some of which can be investigated in the short term, while others may have to wait until an RN, as presented here, becomes a reality. Some of these issues are: How can an RN be optimally integrated into daily professional practices? What are the RN’s contributions to the actual development of reflective capabilities for novices, intermediate and advanced users? What are the differences in use and needs of users at different levels of reflective expertise? What potential RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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does an RN have to develop new methodologies of knowledge creation? What potential does an RN have to combine individual reflective capabilities and styles in collaborative tasks and projects?

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Rajagopal, K., Joosten-ten Brinke, D., Van Bruggen, J., & Sloep, P. B. (2012). Understanding personal learning networks: their structure, content and the networking skills needed to optimally use them. First Monday, 17(1), 1-12. Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/ index.php/fm/article/view/3559/3131 Rajagopal, K., Verjans, S., Sloep, P. B., & Costa, C. (2012). People in Personal Learning Networks: Analysing their Characteristics and Identifying Suitable Tools. In V. Hodgson, C. Jones, M. De Laat, D. McConnell, T. Ryberg, & P. Sloep (Eds.), Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Networked Learning 2012 (pp. 252-259). Retrieved from: http://hdl.handle.net/1820/4224 Reinhardt, W., Schmidt, B., Sloep, P., & Drachsler, H. (2011). Knowledge Worker Roles and Actions – Results of Two Empirical Studies. Knowledge and Process Management, 18(3), 150-174. doi http:// dx.doi.org/10.1002/kpm Robertson, J. (2011). The educational affordances of blogs for self-directed learning. Computers & Education, 57(2), 1628-1644. doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2011.03.003 Sarivan, L. (2011). The Reflective Teacher. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 11, 195-199. doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.01.060 Schön, D. A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: how professionals think in action. New York, NY: Basic Books. Schön, D. A. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Inc. Sie, R. L. L., Berlanga, A. J., Rajagopal, K., Pannekeet, K., Fazeli, S., Sloep, P. B., & Heerlen, A. T. (2012). Social Tools for Networked Learning: Current and Future Research Directions. In V. Hodgson, C. Jones, M. De Laat, D. McConnell, T. Ryberg, & P. Sloep (Eds.), Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Networked Learning 2012 (pp. 312-319). Retrieved from: http://hdl.handle.net/1820/4218 Sloep, P. B., & Berlanga Flores, A. J. (2011). Redes de aprendizaje, aprendizaje en red [Learning networks, networked learning]. Comunicar Revista científica iberoamericana de comunicación y educación, (37), 55-63. Retrieved from http://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/extart?codigo=3733909 Sloep, Peter, & Kester, L. (2009). From Lurker to Active Participant. In R. Koper (Ed.), Learning, 17-27. Retrieved from http://dspace.ou.nl/handle/1820/1938 Stein, D. S., Wanstreet, C. E., Slagle, P., Trinko, L. A., & Lutz, M. (2012). From “hello” to higher-order thinking: The effect of coaching and feedback on online chats. The Internet and Higher Education, 1-7. doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2012.03.001 Uzunboylu, H., Bicen, H., & Cavus, N. (2011). The efficient virtual learning environment: A case study of web 2.0 tools and Windows live spaces. Computers & Education, 56(3), 720-726. doi http://dx.doi. org/10.1016/j.compedu.2010.10.014 Van Der Klink, M., Drachsler, H., & Sloep, P. B. (2012). Technology-enhanced learning in the workplace. In D. Derks & A. B. Bakker (Eds.), The psychology of digital media work. Hove, England: Psychology Press. Wopereis, I., Sloep, P., & Poortman, S. (2010). Weblogs as instruments for reflection on action in teacher education. In J. Aebersold (Ed.), Interactive Learning Environments, 18(3), 245-261. doi http:// dx.doi.org/10.1080/10494820.2010.500530 Zhan, Z., Xu, F., & Ye, H. (2011). Effects of an online learning community on active and reflective learners’ learning performance and attitudes in a face-to-face undergraduate course. Computers & Education, 56(4), 961-968. doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2010.11.012 RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Zydney, J. M., deNoyelles, A., & Kyeong-Ju Seo, K. (2012). Creating a community of inquiry in online environments: An exploratory study on the effect of a protocol on interactions within asynchronous discussions. Computers & Education, 58(1), 77-87. doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2011.07.009

About the Author David Garcia Cardenas buzondedavidgarcia@gmail.com Autonomous University of Mexico City David Garcia Cardenas holds a master’s degree in Health Professions Education (Maastricht University, Netherlands). He is a full time lecturer-researcher in the Academy of Health Promotion at the Autonomous University of Mexico City (UACM). He has a bachelor’s degree in Medicine and a diploma in Health Promotion (Autonomous Metropolitan University- Xochimilco, UAM-X). He is interested in collaborative practices to create reflective-learning environments, and reflectivity as a learnable capability. He is also interested in critical health promotion, and the foundation of health promoters as a new professional identity. Fray Servando Teresa de Mier 99 Centro, Cuauhtémoc Ciudad de México, Distrito Federal Mexico

The texts published in this journal are – unless indicated otherwise – covered by the Creative Commons Spain Attribution 3.0 licence. You may copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the work, provided you attribute it (authorship, journal name, publisher) in the manner specified by the author(s) or licensor(s). The full text of the licence can be consulted here: <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/es/deed.en>

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ARTicle

Educational innovation through ICTs in the university setting. What do students think of these practices? Fernando Gómez Gonzalvo

fergogon@alumni.uv.es UTPAFIDE Research Unit, Department of Physical and Sports Education, University of Valencia, Spain

Submitted in: November 2012 Accepted in: April 2013 Published in: January 2014

Recommended citation

Gómez, F. (2014). Educational innovation through ICTs in the university setting. What do students think of these practices? Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento (RUSC). Vol.  11, No  1. pp. 49-60. doi http://doi.dx.org/10.7238/rusc.v11i1.1657

Abstract

The aim of this article is to report on an experience undertaken by a group of students during the implementation of a programme targeting innovative students at the University of Valencia (UV), Spain. The current spread of technologies to all areas of society in general, and to education in particular, poses many unknowns about how these educational experiences are actually conducted. The aim of the project presented in the article was to get the students to do an assignment that would relate information and communication technologies (ICTs) to university learning contexts. The article therefore presents the experiences, the exchanges and, finally, the conclusions drawn on completion of the project.

Keywords

information technologies, active learning, cooperative learning, educational innovation RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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La innovación educativa en la universidad a través de las TIC. ¿Qué ven los alumnos con estas prácticas? Resumen

Este documento pretende dar a conocer la experiencia llevada a cabo por un grupo de estudiantes durante el desarrollo de un programa destinado a alumnos innovadores de la Universidad de Valencia. La actual inmersión de las tecnologías en todos los ámbitos de la sociedad y en la educación plantea nuevas incógnitas sobre cómo se desarrollan estas experiencias educativas. El proyecto presentado estaba enfocado a los alumnos con vistas a desarrollar un trabajo que relacionara las tecnologías de la información y la comunicación (TIC) con los contextos de aprendizaje universitarios. De este modo, en el artículo se presentan las experiencias, vivencias y conclusiones a las que se ha llegado una vez terminado el proyecto.

Palabras clave

tecnologías de la información, aprendizaje activo, aprendizaje cooperativo, innovación educativa

Introduction The following experience came about as a result of a University of Valencia (UV) programme aimed at fostering groups of innovative students through the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). Since technologies were first integrated into education in the late 1990s/early 2000s, the academic world has been wondering what role such integration plays in the classroom. This article examines the students’ points of view and feelings when it comes to dealing with this kind of educational innovation, when they are the ones who have to take an active attitude towards learning. By becoming aware of their interests and points of view, we can adjust class content to suit their realities as well as learn how to understand such experiences. The aim of this article is to report on what the students perceive, what they think about these methods, and how they consider that the educational applications of these technological tools might be improved.

Educational innovation and ICTs Human beings do not learn naturally, but instead need a reference framework as a basis for learning. Sociocultural theory (Vygotsky, 2000) emphasises the fact that social relationships between human beings, especially language and communication, help children learn through interaction with their peers, with their surrounding culture and with the physical objects that they possess in order to create learning. We therefore need a sociocultural framework that is capable of providing us with significant tools to help us create learning. Technological development and the advent of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in recent years has helped to construct learning based on these tools, which has generated a degree RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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of interest within the academic world in integrating such technologies into teaching and learning processes. Thus, the direction that educational innovation has taken has been clearly influenced by ICTs. Many experiences in which technologies have played a fundamental role as an educational tool can be found in the current scientific literature. However, simply applying such technologies as tools is no guarantee that they will improve or offer anything new to the teaching-learning process (Suarez, 2010). Rather, their use must be based on a scientific corpus that supports their application. Thus, as Epper (2004) has suggested, technologies at the service of education must endeavour to shift the centre of attention towards students so that they can learn by doing, by talking to others and by sharing their experiences and information, and not simply be spectators of a reality unfurling before their eyes. In other words, the development that students experience should be more important than the results they are able to achieve. In addition, it should be done in a way that enables students to interact with each other in order to construct shared knowledge. However, students alone can do very little if their lecturers do not adapt their educational practices by introducing ICTs into the classroom. To facilitate greater student participation in class, lecturers must integrate not only the different uses of technologies, but also methods that help to establish a continuous, multidirectional education and allow for the hybridisation of face-to-face and distance learning (Duart, 2011). Some authors have even suggested that the application of ICTs to teaching processes has been an educational paradigm shift, firstly because it means that students have gained responsibility for their own educational processes, and secondly because it has broken down the highly hierarchical structure in which lecturers were the protagonists (López-Meneses & Martín Sánchez, 2009). However, the processes of innovation through ICTs that have been implemented in university institutions have tended to focus on the translation of materials and tools into digital formats. That is to say, most curricular materials have been digitised without transforming the foundations of the dominant educational paradigm (Bates, 2009; Bates & Poole, 2003). Most of the studies published on student-centred educational innovation through ICTs have tried to quantify the time, types of use or changes observed through academic results (Coutinho, 2007; Valerio-Ureña & Valenzuela-González, 2011; Papastergiou, Gerodimos & Antoniou, 2011; Antolín, Molina, Villamón, Devís-Devís & Pérez-Samaniego, 2011). The majority of the studies have concluded that students acquire more and better usage and processing skills with regard to both the tools and the information that they handle (Sim & Hew, 2010). In contrast, other authors have asserted that there are no differences in learning between the use and non-use of technological tools in formal educational contexts (Papastergiou et al., 2011) owing to the fact that virtual learning environments (VLEs) have been applied without changing the traditional method, and that they are being used as a tool at the service of traditional education without changing the logic of education (Bates, 2009). In short, depending on how such tools are used and what orientation lecturers give to them, we find that there is a continuum of possibilities insofar as educational practices are concerned. On the one hand, we find practices that promote the students’ active learning, with information multidirectionality and lecturers as knowledge guides. On the other, we find more traditional learning based on observation and repetition, with lecturers as knowledge custodians. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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To sum up, ICTs can facilitate the adoption of strategies that are more in keeping with the paradigm shift and innovation, but they alone will never be a reason for change. In other words, their use does not guarantee that a change will take place, but the way we use them will indeed foster that change. This article therefore aims to give an insight into how to integrate ICTs into university learning environments through an educational experience designed to seek that integration through innovative methods and models. To that end, we shall give an account of the experience undertaken by one of the innovation groups.

The ESTIC programme We students rarely have the opportunity to express our views in the scientific sphere about our feelings and experiences through the educational innovation that is centred on us. The few occasions in which we have been the protagonists are usually recounted by others; we students have never given an account of our own experiences. We therefore propose to recount our experience of educational innovation through ICTs by means of a student immersion programme in this field implemented by the Educational Innovation Unit (UdIE) at the UV. This educational innovation programme aims to foster educational innovation through the students’ active participation, and it is called the ESTIC Programme for innovative students. The first programme was implemented in the 2009/2010 academic year. At the time of writing, there had been four editions of it. The experience we are presenting here corresponds to the 2011/2012 academic year. Since then, new editions of the programme have continued to be implemented. The programme aims to integrate methods based on cooperative learning, educational innovation and ICTs so that we students can get a feel for these practices and propose our own way of learning. Thus, the students had to form groups of between five and eight people (male and female) and develop an innovative idea in relation to the content of any course subject. The project that had to be developed could expand on or enable a better understanding of the subjects so that our fellow students and we would be able to develop our own knowledge of the subject covered. The programme was for students enrolled in the 2011/2012 academic year on any of the degree courses offered at the university. The call for applications was therefore open to students on bachelor’s and master’s degree courses. The only ones excluded were those enrolled on the research phase of the doctoral programme. There were two options for this project. One was cross-disciplinary, that is to say, focusing on several subjects with objectives or content that, because of their topics, could be interlinked. The other was to focus on a single topic. The lecturers’ involvement was not compulsory, but it was necessary to inform the tutors of the respective subjects that an ESTIC project was going to be undertaken. The lecturers could take part voluntarily in those projects, though because of the way they were run, neither their participation nor supervision was required. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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The programme offered by the UdIE was divided into two calls for applications: one for the first semester and one for the second. However, the subjects could be either annual or semestral, and the project period was linked to the duration of those subjects. The ultimate goal of the programme was to get the students to create a blog, a website, a social network profile or a wiki with the aim of sharing it with their fellow students and creating a common space for interaction between them so that they could get a better understanding of the subject content and cooperatively create new content (Vicerrectorado de Cultura, Igualdad y Planificación, 2011). The subjects chosen belonged to the master’s degree in Research and Intervention in Physical Activity and Sports Sciences at the university. This master’s degree course is part of the training that works towards gaining a doctorate. The subjects chosen were Applied Research I and Applied Research II. For both subjects, the intention was to provide the students with training on practical research examples from each of the relevant physical activity and sport areas. These subjects belonged to the second academic semester, though it should be noted that the master’s degree course we were taking was organised into modules, and that these were organised differently from the subject-related academic planning on the bachelor’s degree courses, as the start and end dates corresponded to a different period. Finally, the project that we undertook was for a competition involving all the projects submitted by the students, where the best ones received an award. Thus, a reward in kind was given to the best assignment in each knowledge area of the respective course branches. These were Social and Legal Sciences, Health Sciences, Arts and Humanities, and Engineering.

Method A case study and autoethnography method was used in this project. The case was the group in which the experience was undertaken, and the autoethnography was that of one of the participants, specifically the innovation group coordinator. This method was chosen for several reasons. The first was the minimal validity that a quantitative study would have provided us with, as the sample was very small and the data obtained and analysed would have lacked validity. The second was the greater precision that this method offers when it is a matter of presenting the exchanges and experiences of a student innovation group, that is to say, the students’ feelings and opinions regarding the learning process. The choice of ethnography as a research method has a methodological limitation in that it does not anticipate going beyond simply describing the experience and presenting the ESTIC programme; sessions are usually recorded and transcribed when using this method, but neither were done in this case. Our group was formed by six students, all of whom were male. We tried to get some of our female classmates involved, but they did not want to take part. All of the group members were graduates in Physical Activity and Sports Sciences, as that was a requirement to take the master’s degree course. The members’ ages ranged from 24 to 31 years. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Three of the members were from Valencia, and the three remaining members had come from different places in Spain to do their postgraduate studies: Zamora, Alicante and Murcia. The meeting minutes were used as a data collection instrument. At the meetings, the members were asked about the personal perceptions and feelings they had had throughout the project, and particularly in the last self-assessment session held on completion of the project. The focus groups created were completely open in all sessions apart from the self-assessment one, which had a semi-directed structure, for which a series of key questions for the assessment had been put together. The discussions that arose in these focus groups were not recorded on any medium because the initial idea only anticipated creating the innovation project and not writing up and communicating our experience in scientific circles. It was only later, when the group decided to give visibility to the project by disseminating it, that the collected data were used. Despite not having recorded the group discussions, the data contained in the meeting minutes were collected and subsequently analysed. In addition, the final report that we had planned to deliver to explain the rationale for our project was used and analysed. To assess and analyse the results obtained in the course of our project, we used the last planned session as a self-assessment session to capture the feelings and perceptions that each of the group members had had. This session had a semi-directed structure and, for discussion purposes, questions were posed about the group’s operation, the group members’ perceptions of the cooperative work carried out, the learning attained through this method, and the strengths and weaknesses found. This was a group session, and it was held on completion of the project, prior to the submission of the final report to the body that had issued the programme’s call for applications.

Our educational experience through ICTs Firstly, we should point out that we students used different technological media to develop our project. Our main objective from the start was to create an educational blog enabling students, like us, taking the master’s degree course to have a common space for interaction outside of the classroom. This blog was designed using the Google® Blogger system. We also aimed to create concept maps from the knowledge acquired in class to help us get a clear, simple understanding of the concepts learnt. To create and develop the concept maps, we used Visual Understanding Environment (VUE), which is a free, open source application that allowed us to produce and share our concept maps. The idea behind the project was to enable all students to take part, and not just the members of the innovation group. When we told our fellow students about our project and what we intended to achieve by doing it, their response was one of indifference because this assignment and the time invested in it would not improve their grades. We also used other technologies to organise, manage and internally communicate within the group. Besides the blog, these media included instant messaging applications on mobile phones (WhatsApp), a cloud storage and file exchange system (Dropbox) and e-mail. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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This use of multiple technologies served to make us aware of and use all of the tools as effectively as possible, and enabled us to apply them to an educational context. However, it should be noted that, with the exception of the blog and Dropbox, the tools were used as means of management and communication but were not an active part of our formal learning within the context of the Research master’s degree course. In terms of the blog and Dropbox, the feeling perceived by the students was different. Regarding the blog, it helped us think about and discuss issues concerning the content of the master’s degree course that could not otherwise have been covered in a face-to-face context. Regarding Dropbox, it allowed us to revise and expand the concept maps that we had cooperatively created, as we were able to review and assess both our own work and that of our fellow students through this tool. Finally, and in a context not unlike that of an open access journal, the project led to a situation where the concept maps were the materials that had to be reviewed and the group members were the reviewers. A deadline of 15 days was set for the review, which could be either anonymous or signed. The review was done on the original document, and changes and comments were added at the end of the document for it to be revised. Social networks were also used to give visibility to the project and to try and disseminate it and our results as widely as possible. This tool allowed us to disseminate our work, but did not involve the use of the networks themselves as content. When it came to creating the concept maps for the content and topics covered in class, the group functioned via an ‘expert group’. In this type of organisation, those members with the greatest affinity to the topic covered in class constructed an initial concept map that was then shared with the other members. After being reviewed, the map was revised and then submitted to the other fellow students for assessment. Regarding the materials and resources used to undertake the project, it should be pointed out that we exclusively resorted to our own personal computers and to everything that could be downloaded to them. We used free software to create the concept maps and the blog, and to exchange files. Our project was also developed under the Creative Commons 3.0 licence, as the ESTIC programme demands that participants share the created content freely while retaining basic attribution, sharing and remixing rights (for non-commercial purposes). Regarding the infrastructure used by the group, it was limited to the faculty’s lending of classrooms. This lending of classrooms allowed us to have a physical space to hold coordination meetings, especially at the beginning of the project, to organise the group’s operation and run training sessions on the Web tools with which the members were unfamiliar.

Results Firstly, the topics that arose during the assessment session were as follows (as contained in the minutes):

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•• Data use and processing

•• Use of different digital tools

•• Interactions in the group’s communication process •• Writing and reflection process

•• Objectives of the master’s degree course •• Project duration

•• Engagement of fellow students on the master’s degree course •• Cooperative learning

In this discussion process, the skills acquired in the course of the project, referring to data processing and the use of different technological tools, were rated very positively by the group, as some of the participants had been unaware of the programmes used and had discovered new applications that might be of help to them in other aspects of their lives. For example, Juan1 commented that he would use concept maps with his football team players to explain techniques and tactics because, as contained in the minutes, he felt that it was a more visual way of doing so. The skills acquired in terms of the social communication achieved within the group were rated positively by the group, though Juan considered that Alex (the group coordinator) should have done more to improve communication and the atmosphere within the group. The writing, reflection and review process that we implemented to create the concept maps was very useful according to Esteban, as he had enjoyed the revision process applied to the maps. The fact that some of the objectives set in the master’s degree teaching programme had been attained by using these tools was rated positively by the group. The technological tools used, together with an organisation that was oriented towards things of interest to us had helped us attain the objectives set in the project. According to the comment made by Luis, the simulation of the review and publication process that we applied to the maps tied in with the knowledge creation and dissemination objectives. Both Alex and Luis felt that the other fellow students on the master’s degree course had less grasp of these types of content than the members of our group. In contrast, the whole group agreed that the shortness of the project had turned out to be a limitation, and it was commented that a longer project would have allowed the knowledge and skills acquired to be consolidated and a better understanding to be had of the content and objectives set. Alfredo commented that he had perceived a lack of engagement of fellow students on the master’s degree course in the project content, because nobody had taken an interest in it and because the group members were the only ones that had used it. Juan pointed out that up until exam time, none of the fellow students had asked anything, but afterwards nearly all of them had begun to download the concept maps that we had created. Thus, a substantial increase in the number of downloads and in our fellow students’ level of interest was found at that time. Their interest was expressed in the form of direct questions about the project and its goals.

1. Pseudonym. All the names appearing in this article from this point onwards are fictitious, thus safeguarding anonymity. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Alex also commented that little advantage had been taken of the virtues of cooperative learning, despite the fact that it had been set as an objective within the ESTIC. The reasons for this were a lack of experience in projects of this type, the minimal sense of group that had been generated, and the impossibility of transferring this method outside the group because of the scant participation of both the teaching staff and fellow students. Nevertheless, Juan and Esteban commented that they felt that the project had been more of an introduction to this type of proposal, and considered that a better understanding of certain aspects of this type of learning had been gained.

Discussion The skills that the group members said they had acquired are in keeping with those noted by other authors (Bates, 2009; Papastergiou et al. 2011; Top, 2012), namely social skills and information processing skills that students develop in technology-mediated educational contexts. Therefore, we can assert that when integrated into a formative context, these tools enable students to interact with each other in order to construct shared knowledge (Vygotsky, 1978). As explained by educational theories, when students are actively engaged in their own learning, better teaching results are achieved, with greater intensity and depth, thus allowing them to use the knowledge learnt in areas beyond their academic exams (Epper, 2004). This is evident from the comments referring to the assimilated objectives of the master’s degree course. As explained by Sim and Hew (2010), the fact that many of these tools’ applications only tend to exist for short periods of time in educational contexts makes it impossible to develop their full potential, thus limiting the benefits that can be had from these practices. Thus, the group’s comments suggest that there appears to be a need to develop programs that enable educational projects of this type to be extended so that the results can be maximised. In the published works by Brown (2005), and Ching and Hsu (2011) on student assessment, it was concluded that for students to engage in activities or tasks connected with their education, such tasks had to be assessed and counted as class content because participation otherwise tended to be very low. That is what happened in our project. As the concept maps that we created did not have any impact on the master’s degree grade, it was not until the arrival of the exam period that our fellow students became interested in our work. According to the students’ comments, the project was valued as an introduction to cooperative learning, as proposed by Velázquez (2010), Slavin (1990) and Coutinho (2007). However, as already mentioned, the lack of time and the little amount of experience of these methods represented a limitation in terms of wholly applying them so as to take advantage of their full potential. We therefore consider it expedient to foster a formal educational practice that integrates these methods in order to ensure that, in the future, students become capable of using these mechanisms to solve comprehensive, complex problems.

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Conclusions From our findings, we drew the following conclusions: •• Projects of this type foster the students’ active participation and engagement in their own learning; assignments of this type should therefore be implemented in a planned manner in the curricular programme. •• Project duration should be much longer and allow the potential benefits that ICTs offer – as the methods employed – to emerge and develop.

•• Initiatives of this type should be assessed and rewarded so that the students feel compensated for the effort put into these self-directed practices and become interested in them.

•• The development of these programmes and projects must have the backing of the educational

institutions that the students attend, with the aim of valuing the work they do outside the classroom.

•• The skills and abilities acquired by the students are crucial to their development in technology-

mediated contexts that are an integral part of the information era; they are therefore crucial to their future competencies.

Note: The project blog address is http://masterinv2012.blogspot.com.es.

References Antolín, L., Molina, J. P., Villamón, M., Devís-Devís, J., & Pérez-Samaniego, V. (2011). Uso de blogs en Ciencias de la Actividad Física y el Deporte [Use of blogs in Physical Activity and Sports Sciences]. @tic. Revista d’innovació educativa, 7, 12-18. Bates, T. (2009). Promesas y mitos del aprendizaje virtual en la educación post-secundaria [The promise and myths of e-learning in post-secondary education. In M. Castells (Ed.). La sociedad red: una visión global [Network society: a cross-cultural perspective] (pp. 335-359). Madrid, Spain: Alianza Editorial. Bates, T., & Poole, G. (2003). Effective teaching with technology in higher education: foundations for success. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Brown, S. (2005). Assessments for learning. Learning and teaching in higher education, 1, 81-89. Ching, Y. H., & Hsu, Y. C. (2011). Design-grounded assessment: A framework and a case study of Web 2.0 practices in higher education. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 27(5), 781-797. Coutinho, C. (2007). Cooperative learning in higher education using weblogs: a study with undergraduate students of education in Portugal. World multi-conference on systemics, cybernetic and informatics, 11(1), 60-64. Epper, R. (2004). La torre de marfil de la nueva economía [The new economy meets the Ivory Tower]. In R. Epper & T. Bates (Coords.). Enseñar al profesorado cómo utilizar la tecnología. Buenas prácticas RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Educational innovation through ICTs in the university setting...

de instituciones líderes [Teaching faculty how to use technology: best practices from leading institutions] (pp. 11-31). Barcelona, Spain: Editorial UOC. Duart, J. M. (2011). La red en los procesos de enseñanza de la universidad [The Net on Teaching Processes at the University]. Revista comunicar, 37, 0-13. López-Meneses, E., & Martín Sánchez, M. A. (2009). Experiencias universitarias de innovación para la mejora de la práctica educativa en el contexto europeo [University experiences of innovation to improve educational practice in the European context]. @tic. Revista d’innovació educativa, 2. Papastergiou, M., Gerodimos, V., & Antoniou, P. (2011). Multimedia blogging in physical education: Effects on student knowledge and ICT self-efficacy. Computers & Education, 57, 1998-2010. doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2011.05.006 Sim, J., Wee S., & Hew, K. (2010). The use of weblogs in higher education settings: A review of empirical research. Educational Research Review, 5, 151-163. doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j. edurev.2010.01.001 Suárez, C. (2010). Aprendizaje cooperativo e interacción asíncrona textual en contextos educativos virtuales [Cooperative learrning and asynchronous textual interaction in virtual education contexts]. Pixel-Bit. Revista de medios y educación, 36, 53-67. Top, E. (2012). Blogging as a social medium in undergraduate courses: sense of community best predictor of perceived learning. Internet and higher education, 15(1), 24-28. doi http://dx.doi. org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2011.02.001 Valerio-Ureña, G., & Valenzuela-González, R. (2011). Redes sociales y estudiantes universitarios: del nativo digital al informívoro saludable [Social networks and university students. From digital native to healthy informivore]. El profesional de la información. 20(6), 667-670. doi http://dx.doi. org/10.3145/epi.2011.nov.10 Velázquez, C. (2010). Aprendizaje cooperativo en educación física. Fundamentos y aplicaciones prácticas [Cooperative learning in physical education. Foundations and practical applications]. Zaragoza, Spain: INDE. Vicerrectorado de cultura, igualdad y planificación (2011). Bases de la convocatoria de ayudas para estudiantes innovadores de la universidad de valencia de, 9 de septiembre de 2011, programa ESTIC [Conditions – Call for applications for grants to innovative students at the University of Valencia, 9 September 2011, ESTIC programme]. Universidad de Valencia. Vygotsky, L. (2000). El desarrollo de los procesos psicológicos superiores [Mind in society. The development of higher psychological processes]. Barcelona: Crítica.

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About the Author Fernando Gómez Gonzalvo fergogon@alumni.uv.es UTPAFIDE Research Unit, Department of Physical and Sports Education, University of Valencia, Spain He holds a bachelor’s degree in Physical Activity and Sports Sciences (University of Valencia, UV, Spain, awarded in 2011). He has completed a master’s degree in Research in the same knowledge area and, at the time of writing, was taking the doctoral programme in Physical Education and Sport at the UV. His lines of research include the application of technologies to university education contexts. Facultad de Ciencias de la Actividad Física y el Deporte C/ Gascó Oliag, 3 46010 Valencia Spain

The texts published in this journal are – unless indicated otherwise – covered by the Creative Commons Spain Attribution 3.0 licence. You may copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the work, provided you attribute it (authorship, journal name, publisher) in the manner specified by the author(s) or licensor(s). The full text of the licence can be consulted here: <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/es/deed.en>

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ARTicle

Competency training in universities via projects and Web 2.0 tools. Analysis of an experience Rosa García-Ruiz

rosa.garcia@unican.es Lecturer of Didactics and School Organisation University of Cantabria

Natalia González Fernández

gonzalen@unican.es Lecturer in Diagnostic and Research Methods in Education University of Cantabria

Paloma Contreras Pulido

paloma.contreras@uhu.es Doctoral Student in Communication Education University of Huelva

Submitted in: December 2012 Accepted in: April 2013 Published in: January 2014

Recommended citation

García-Ruiz, R., González, N. & Contreras, P. (2014). Competency training in universities via projects and Web 2.0 tools. Analysis of an experience. Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento (RUSC). Vol. 11, No 1. pp. 61-75. doi http://doi.dx.org/10.7238/rusc.v11i1.1713

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Abstract

This article presents a university-context teaching innovation proposal that combines various ICTsupported active methodologies to undertake a project. The experience’s feature is the design of a blended learning context based on a constructivist learning approach, in which the participating students – divided into three different groups – work on the same project and play an active role, and whose learning is fostered by the use Google+, Google Docs, Twitter and a blog. To present the experience, a description is given of how the project was designed and undertaken, followed by a presentation of the results obtained from the opinions of the students themselves, who were the protagonists of their own learning. The results show how the students rated competency acquisition in this and earlier experiences, and enabled the acquired competencies to be identified for each methodological proposal applied. The conclusions highlight the fact that project work has many benefits; it improves the students’ active participation, motivation and engagement, and enhances competency development and meaningful learning. Especially noteworthy are the high ratings given to peer tutoring as a work modality for strengthening competency development, and the fact that the students perceived that taking part in this project allowed them to work and acquire the proposed competencies more effectively than in other educational experiences that they had undertaken in the course of their university studies. .

Keywords

competencies; projects; active methodologies; Web 2.0 tools

La formación en competencias en la universidad a través de proyectos de trabajo y herramientas 2.0. Análisis de una experiencia Resumen

En este trabajo se presenta una propuesta de innovación docente en el contexto universitario, en la que se ha optado por la combinación de diferentes metodologías activas con el apoyo de las TIC para desarrollar un proyecto de trabajo. La peculiaridad de la experiencia es el diseño de un contexto de aprendizaje blended e-learning, bajo un enfoque constructivista del aprendizaje, en el que tres grupos de estudiantes diferentes participan en un mismo proyecto, mostrando un papel activo y cuyo aprendizaje se ve favorecido por el uso de Google +, Google Docs, Twitter y un blog. Para presentar la experiencia, se muestra el diseño y desarrollo del proyecto, y los resultados, a partir de la opinión de los estudiantes, como protagonistas de su propio aprendizaje. Los resultados nos permiten conocer la valoración del alumnado respecto a la adquisición de competencias en esta experiencia y en otras previas, además de identificar las competencias adquiridas en relación con las diferentes propuestas metodológicas aplicadas. De las conclusiones de la experiencia destacamos que el trabajo por proyectos aporta múltiples beneficios al mejorar la participación activa de los estudiantes, su motivación e implicación, el desarrollo de competencias y el aprendizaje significativo. Es destacable la alta valoración que recibe la tutoría entre iguales como modalidad de trabajo para potenciar el desarrollo de competencias, y cómo los estudiantes perciben que la participación en este proyecto ha permitido trabajar o adquirir las competencias planteadas de una manera más eficaz que en otras experiencias educativas que han vivido en su trayectoria universitaria..

Palabras clave

competencias, proyectos de trabajo, metodologías activas, herramientas 2.0

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Introduction Never before has there been so much scientific output on university teaching methodologies, comprising a multitude of works, experiences and good practices shared by the teaching community. It makes sense, therefore, to take advantage of these resources to innovate and align them with new ways of learning in the digital era. This article presents an experience undertaken in the Faculty of Education at the University of Cantabria (UC), Spain, in the 2011/2012 academic year, which was the result of reflection on and a commitment to understanding the roles of lecturers and students (Filene, 2005). The objectives were to find out how our students rated the experience, to offer resources to enable lecturers to experiment in their classrooms, and to disseminate the results in order to nurture teaching, as advocated by Hernando and Aguaded (2012).

An eclectic view of the teaching-learning proposal In this experience, various methodological proposals were combined, each of them having unique characteristics, potential and constraints, while sharing one core principle: the active role of the students and the development of competencies instead of simply learning about the content. All of these aspects were organised and assembled in a project. An eclectic view of the teaching-learning process was the starting point for this innovative project. It was based on a constructivist learning approach in a blended learning environment, taking the role of the lecturer and his/her disposition towards and self-perception of digital competencies – in relation to the use of digital materials – as a key factor of educational innovation (Tirado, Pérez, & Aguaded, 2011).

Project work Constructivist approach

Peer tutoring, collaborative learning, problem-based learning, seminars, focus groups

Students Blended learning environment

ICTs: Google +, Google Docs, Twitter and a blog

Figure 1: Context in which the experience was undertaken

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In this learning approach, the idea is to learn actively and to develop competencies in a constructivist environment, which implies strengthening the students’ actions, taking as the premise that students must learn by doing. Instead of reproducing knowledge or learning something off by heart, this means strengthening knowledge construction; boosting reflection on actions and experiences undertaken; fostering collaborative learning or collaborative knowledge construction; proposing research activities in order to solve problems; and fostering meaningful resources, contexts and situations for students. Figure 1 shows the design of the context in which the experience was undertaken. After designing the context of action in which the experience would be undertaken, several determinant elements were taken into account. First, an ambitious yet attainable objective was set to improve university students’ competency training, to consolidate their active learning, to secure their participation and engagement, and to maintain motivation throughout the experience.

Project work: a multidisciplinary view of active learning In order to undertake this proposal, project-oriented learning was selected as the competency-centred learning methodology or modality, as proposed by De Miguel (2006). In accordance with this author, project-oriented learning can be defined as a methodology in which students undertake an assignment proposed by a lecturer in order to perform a series of research activities, applying appropriate resources and know-how and completing them within established deadlines, usually to solve a problem. There are similarities between this methodology and the so-called ‘project method’, ‘project work’ or ‘projects’, the origin of which is unclear according to Knoll (1997). They are very popular in preschool education and the initial cycles of primary education, and have been successfully employed in subsequent stages because, as Parra (2005) has pointed out, these projects are an integrated way of presenting didactic content and activities that is much more motivating for students. Project work means that students are the true protagonists of their execution and planning because their decisions pervade every stage of the whole process (De Miguel, 2006; Parra, 2005) (Figure 2). Students take part in selecting the activity that they are going to execute, in searching for information, in planning or preparing the activity, in deciding on the work tools, in arriving at the possible solutions or options to solve a problem, etc.; they take part in the implementation or execution of the designed work plan and the assessment phase. Donoso, Carrasco, López, Hernández, Duarte, and Núñez (2009) consider that using this methodology can help students to learn new concepts and apply existing ones, and to develop cross-disciplinary competencies or skills; it can also improve the students’ motivation. Rodríguez et al. (2008) advocate its use to strengthen active participatory learning, the students’ motivation, the wholeness of learning, the cross-disciplinarity of content and the relationship to the social context in which learning occurs. In order to ensure that it is successfully applied, the basic principles of project design for learning need to be met, which, in keeping with Hernández and Ventura (1997), we could specify as follows: learning must be meaningful; in students, learning must foster a favourable attitude towards knowledge; a logical, sequential content structure must be planned; functional learning must occur; rote learning should only be strengthened when it is comprehensive; and the whole process – not just the final results – must be assessed. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Phase 1

• Choice or purpose • What are we going to research? Why?

Phase 2

• Preparation or planning • How are we going to do it? How are we going to solve it?

Phase 3

• Execution phase • We follow the established steps

Phase 4

• Assessment phase • How far have we come? Did we do it well?

Figure 2: Project phases

Competency development via project work Working on competencies – considering them as a means rather than an end (Gairín, 2011) – offers many advantages, such as securing the students’ active learning and providing them with the opportunity to interrelate disciplines and to efficiently apply what they have learned to a specific context. According to Zabala and Arnau (2007), it allows real problems and situations to be taken as the basis. In addition, competency-based work implies shaping the students’ professionalism and promotes change towards them becoming trained and qualified (Hernández, Martínez, Da Fonseca, & Rubio, 2005). In this experience, the proposed aim was to work on a series of cross-disciplinary competencies that, based on Lobato (2006), were specified as follows: meaningful learning; intrinsic motivation to take part in the experience by playing an active role; responsibility for one’s own learning; social skills; written and oral communication skills; the students’ self-directed learning, which had to have a significant research component; self-regulation of time; skills to work in a diverse group, aimed at group work and conflict solving to achieve a common goal; reflective thinking to enhance the learning process and seek continuing improvement; constructive criticism through reasoning, challenge and debate; respect for fellow students; and finally, digital competency based on interaction with audiovisual media, receiving, analysing and producing messages.

Teaching modalities and methods to facilitate competency development. A shared strategy It is possible to develop these competencies via project work. However, given the complexity of each competency, the relevance of applying other didactic tools was considered in order to structure RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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a complete methodological framework that would enable a subsequent analysis of its suitability. The didactic proposals that we came up with combined various teaching modalities and methods: Teaching along more tradition lines based on lectures to convey content directly from the lecturer to the students; seminars for analysing and assessing the process and the results by means of focus groups; or collaborative work among students by means of peer tutoring or problem-based learning as a driver of the students’ work. Presented below is a summary of the features of the didactic resources used – and rated by the students – to develop competencies: Peer tutoring, considered as a work modality based on the formation of pairs or small work groups with an asymmetric relationship between or among the members, in that one member takes on the role of tutor and the other(s) the role of tutee(s); it is centred on collaboration and has many advantages (Durán & Vidal, 2004). Cooperative learning, as a teaching method in which the lecturer takes on the role as organiser of tasks that the students will subsequently do, always interacting with a small group of fellow students, the purpose of which is to cooperatively develop meaningful, active learning (De Miguel, 2006). It is necessary to create a learning network in which so-called ‘positive interdependence’ is created, that is to say, where an individual student cannot consider a task complete until the others have finished it. Work seminars, conceived as an organisational modality in which meeting moments are established, in groups of between 5 and 12 students, where debate, reflection and an exchange of ideas are fostered around a new topic. While there may be several modalities, there is only one goal: to construct knowledge based on the students’ activity and interaction (De Miguel, 2006).

Web 2.0 tools and their crucial role in this project Four Web 2.0 technologies were applied to this project: Google Docs, Google+, Twitter and a blog created for the project. Owing to space constraints, we have not given an in-depth explanation of their characteristics, though further below we have considered the function that they had as facilitators of learning and drivers of the whole process. Using these Web 2.0 tools demands that lecturers have a positive attitude towards technology use, as well as digital competencies that favour their application to the development of the teachinglearning process and, above all, a change of attitude with regard to interiorising the idea that knowledge should be produced and shared by multiple actors. They also demand a considerable change in the role of students because the competencies that they need to develop to use the technologies go beyond the straightforward use of digital tools to become enriched with a command of media competency. This competency, which is crucial for the society in which we live, requires a change in the way all things technological or digital are viewed, surpassing the reception of information and messages via technological devices and screens to become the interpretation, critical analysis, reformulation and broadcasting of messages. This media competency guarantees the citizens’ full incorporation into the information and communication society, with a role that is fundamentally active and critical of the media (Aguaded, 2012)

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Description of the experience The practical application of this proposal required a balance to be struck between the diversity of teaching modalities or methods and the didactic planning that a lecturer had to do for the intended purpose. The objectives that this project aimed to attain – shifting from a teaching-centred model to a learning-centred model – were to develop the active role of the students and to find out how the students rated the teaching modalities or methods for the development of competencies. After setting the objectives to be attained, the competencies to be developed and teaching methods or modalities to be implemented, attention then focused on which students to work with, bearing in mind that they would be the true protagonists of the process. Thus, a decision was taken to work with a diverse group made up of students taking different courses who did not know each other. To that end, an invitation was extended to students of three different subjects to voluntarily take part in the experience. The result was a group formed by three master’s degree students, three third-year Pre-School Education teacher training qualification students and three third-year Physical Education teacher training qualification students, all attending the UC. The teaching team comprised three lecturers who taught the subjects that the students were taking on their respective courses. The students’ had a personal interest in taking part in the experience because it allowed them to find out about other methodologies, to meet other students and lecturers, and to acquire learning about a different activity. Their participation in this experience would not affect the grades of the subjects they were taking, and was instead proposed as a parallel activity. The project was undertaken in four phases. In the choice or purpose phase, an initial seminar was held so that the students could meet each other and consider the project that would be executed. In this first meeting, the teaching modalities or methods that would be applied were presented, as were the Web 2.0 tools that they would work with in the virtual environment. In addition, the topic or purpose of the project was considered, and an agreement was reached to conduct research on the importance of involving families in their children’s education, specifically in the region’s rural areas. In this seminar, the work groups were also established, as was the definition of the activities to be executed in applying peer tutoring, as regards the tutor and the tutees. The necessary agreements and rules for working as cooperative groups were made, and the competencies that could be developed in the course of the project were considered. In this phase, an agreement was reached on the objectives that had to be attained and on the importance of the chosen topic to their university education and future professional development. In the preparation or planning phase, agreements had to be reached on the resources required to attain the objectives and on the various modalities or methods that had to be applied. In this phase, the roles for implementing peer tutoring were defined, as were its likely advantages and disadvantages. Thus, the tasks that the tutors and tutees had to do were established in accordance with their prior training and experience. The outcome was that the Pre-School Education teacher training qualification students would tutor the other two groups in the design of proposals to foster the involvement of families, such as workshops. The Primary Education teacher training qualification RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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students would tutor their fellow students in the design of a blog for families and teachers to share, bearing in mind the warnings issued by Álvarez (2012) about the fact that full use of all the advantages is not properly made. Finally, the group of master’s degree students took charge of the task of tutoring the rest of the group in producing the final document that they had to deliver, which would contain an account of the work done and present a solution to the problem posed. The group’s planning of research work was fundamental because, on the basis of the established work situation, the students would have to search for information and select, organise and relate it to the problem until the problem posed had been solved. The project work would thus cause questions to be posed and answers to be sought. Subsequent face-to-face meetings in the form of monographic and virtual seminars were planned in this phase. In the execution phase lasting for around seven months, the planned activities were carried out. Work was done in groups of three in accordance with the allocated tasks, and the results were shared with the whole group. The lecturers performed continuous monitoring of the whole process. In this phase, another two seminars were held to share thoughts and opinions, to answer queries and to check on the progress of the whole group in terms of attaining the proposed objectives. In this phase, Web 2.0 tools were systematically used, opinions and information were shared via Twitter and the blog, and group meetings were held via Google+ (‘Hangouts’). The students created documents with Google Docs in a shared, virtual manner. Finally, in the assessment phase, the solution to the problem posed was checked to ensure that it was correct, and the project execution and competencies acquired were assessed. The assessment of the project required a view from a number of perspectives, so an attempt was made to assess the project by getting the students’ and lecturers’ opinions in a focus group held specifically for the purpose of ascertaining whether the proposed objectives had been attained. Owing to space constraints, the outcomes of the focus group will be detailed in another article. We can nevertheless report that the students’ opinions confirmed that the project work had facilitated their responsible, active learning, and that the proposed competencies had been developed by means of the various organisational modalities and methodologies implemented, while maintaining intrinsic motivation. When assessing the competencies acquired in the project, and in keeping with the recommendations made by Villa and Poblete (2011), we made an overall assessment of them without analysing each of their respective elements. Thus, the assessment process was defined a priori; the students were monitored throughout the project; the student’s perspective was integrated by means of individual self-assessment; and an instrument suited to the project-oriented learning methodology was applied, meaning that the students produced a final report containing the solution to the problem posed, which was graded as ‘excellent’. Bearing in mind that the students are the true protagonists, their opinions were gathered about competency acquisition regarding the various methodological tools or resources used. To do that, a questionnaire was produced, using a Likert-type scale from 1 to 4 (lowest to highest) to rate the level of attainment of each competency by means of cooperative learning, seminars, Web 2.0 tools RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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and peer tutoring. The level of competency acquisition in this project and in other experiences or subjects taken previously was also rated in another questionnaire. Table 1 shows the results obtained for the relationship existing between each pair of variables, as well as the total for the level of acquisition of each competency in relation to the modality, method or technique used. It should be noted that the highest rated competencies were ‘respect for fellow students’ and ‘responsibility for one’s own learning’, followed by ‘meaningful acquisition of content’ and ‘intrinsic motivation’. The table also shows that cooperative learning and peer tutoring were the most suitable methods for developing competencies, and the support provided by the Web 2.0 tools used was also rated positively. Table 1. Rating of competency acquisition in relation to the modality or method applied

 

Seminars

Web 2.0 tools

Collaborative learning

Peer tutoring

TOTALS

Meaningful acquisition of content

2

3.5

3.5

4

13

Intrinsic motivation to take part

3

2.75

3.5

3.75

13

Responsibility for one’s own learning

3.5

3.5

3.25

3.5

13.75

Social skills

2.5

2.25

3

3.5

11.25

Oral communication skills

3

2.75

3.5

3.75

13

Written communication skills

2

3

2.75

2.75

10.5

Self-directed learning

2.5

3.25

3.25

3.75

12.75

Self-regulation of time

2.5

2.5

3.25

3

11.25

Group work skills

2.25

2.25

3.25

3.25

11

Reflective thinking

2.75

2.5

2.75

3.5

11.5

Constructive criticism

3

3

2.75

3.3

12.05

Respect for fellow students

3.5

3.75

3.5

4

14.75

TOTALS

32.5

35

38.25

42.08

In short, we would underscore that the students considered that they had developed the proposed competencies during the project, and that the various methodological proposals had helped to enrich competency-development project work and to secure the students’ active learning. Finally, Chart 1 below shows the students’ ratings for competency acquisition in this project and in previous experiences in other subjects. The results show that this project clearly helped to improve RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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their acquisition of all the competencies apart from reflective thinking, which appeared to have been strengthened in subjects that the students had already taken in their curricula.

Curriculum

Respect for fellow students

Constructive criticism

Reflective thinking

Group work

Self-regulation of time

Self-directed learning

Written communication

Oral communication

Social skills

Responsability

Intrinsic motivation

Content acquisition

4,5 4 3,5 3 2,5 2 1,5 1 0,5 0

Innovation project

Chart 1. Competency acquisition comparison between the project and the curriculum

These results have informed our decision to continue with this line of work because they confirmed that it really is possible to secure the students’ active engagement and to improve learning.

Thoughts and Conclusions In the university context, lecturers play a fundamental role in seeking out new ways to improve the teaching-learning process, using all the tools within their reach. This article presented an innovative proposal combining various teaching methods or modalities to facilitate the students’ active learning, supported by Web 2.0 tools, to undertake a project in a blended learning environment. The feature that distinguished it from previous works was the execution of a project, in a constructivist environment, by a diverse group made up of students taking different courses. The results obtained and presented in this article showed that working on projects in a university context was possible, thus demonstrating that the objectives set had been attained. The results showed that the various teaching modalities and methods used had fostered active learning, thus coinciding with the findings of De Miguel (2006). The students rated the project positively in terms of competency acquisition, as they considered that all the proposed competencies had been suitably developed. At the same time, they considered that these competencies had been developed more successfully than in previous university experiences. The lecturers also rated the project positively, in that it had allowed them to find out about a new way of motivating the students, which fostered their participation in a constructivist learning environment situated within a blended learning model in which Web 2.0 tools played a RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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fundamental role, in the same sense as that described by Osorio (2010), and Flores and Del Arco (2012). Notwithstanding, we also agree with Bender (2003), in that their initial use might cause the students to become frustrated. These conclusions coincide with those of Donoso et al. (2009) with regard to improved meaningful learning, competency development and securing greater student motivation. By undertaking this project, we enjoyed a unique experience with the students and the lecturers, sharing and learning from one another, and conducting research together on real, motivating problems or situations. We agree with Sales (2004) on the benefits of project work for the training of future teachers, in that it introduces them to a methodology that is suited to working in the kind of inclusive educational model towards which we are now inclined, which allows them to learn in a collaborative environment. We believe that this project is an interesting contribution that will partly help to overcome the lack of proposals, as mentioned by Del Moral and Vilaluste (2012), in terms of the promotion of collaborative learning. Indeed, it should continue to be implemented in order to reach its full potential.

References Aguaded, J. I. (2012). Media proficiency, an educational initiative that cannot wait. Comunicar, 39, 7-8. doi: 10.3916/C39-2012-01-01 Álvarez, G. (2012). New Technologies in the University Context: The Use of Blogs for Developing Students’ Reading and Writing Skills. RUSC. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal, 9(2), 3-17. doi: 10.7238/rusc.v9i2.1160 Bender, T. (2003). Discussion-based online teaching to enhance student learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing. De Miguel. M. (Coord.) (2006). Modalidades de enseñanza centradas en el desarrollo de competencias. Orientaciones para promover el cambio metodológico en el EEES [Teaching modalities centred on competency development. Guidelines for promoting methodological change in the EHEA]. Oviedo, Spain: Universidad de Oviedo. Del Moral, M. E., & Vilalustre, L. (2012). University teaching in the 2.0 era: virtual campus teaching competencies. RUSC. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal, 9(1), 36-50. doi: 10.7238/rusc.v9i1.1127 Donoso, J. A., Carrasco, A., López, R., Hernández, J. J., Duarte, T., & Núñez, C. (2009). Aprendizaje Basado en Proyectos versus Aprendizaje Basado en Actividades: una experiencia en la elaboración y análisis de estados financieros [Project-based learning vs Activity-based learning: an experience in the production and analysis of financial statements]. In ASEPUC, VI Jornada de Docencia en Contabilidad. Seville, Spain: Universidad de Sevilla. Durán, D., & Vidal, V. (2004). Tutoría entre iguales: de la teoría a la práctica. Un método de aprendizaje cooperativo para la diversidad en secundaria [Peer tutoring: from theory to practice. A cooperative learning method for diversity in secondary education]. Barcelona, Spain: Graó. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Flores, O., & Del Arco, I. (2012). The Impact of ICTs on Lecturer and Student Interaction in University Education Processes. RUSC. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal, 9(2), 31-47. doi: 10.7238/ rusc.v9i2.1243 Filene, P. (2005). The joy of teaching. A practical guide for new college instructors. Raleigh, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. Gairín, J. (2011). Formación de profesores basada en competencias [Competency-based teacher training]. Bordón, 63(1). Hernández, F., & Ventura, M. (1997): La organización del currículum por proyectos de trabajo. El conocimiento es un calidoscopio [Project-based curriculum organisation. Knowledge is a kaleidoscope]. Barcelona, Spain: Graó-ICE. Hernández, F., Martínez, P., Da Fonseca, P., & Rubio, M. (2005). Aprendizaje, competencias y rendimiento en Educación Superior [Learning, competencies and performance in Higher Education]. Madrid, Spain: l La Muralla. Hernando, A., & Aguaded, J. I. (2012). Publicar la experiencia profesional. Una necesidad para la educomunicación [Publishing professional experience. A necessity for communication education]. Aularia. Revista digital de comunicación, 1(1), 23-26. Retrieved from http://www.uhu.es/angel.hernando/documentos/2012_Aularia_1.pdf Knoll, M. (1997). The project method: Its vocational education origin and international development. Journal of Industrial Teacher Education, 34(3), 59-80. Retrieved from http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/JITE/v34n3/Knoll.html Lobato, C. (2006). Estudio y trabajo autónomos del estudiante [The student’s independent study and work]. In M. de Miguel (Coord.), Metodologías de enseñanza y aprendizaje para el desarrollo de competencias. Orientaciones para el profesorado universitario ante el EEES [Teaching and learning methodologies for competency development. Guidelines for university teaching staff in the light of the EHEA] (pp. 191-223). Madrid, Spain: Alianza Editorial. Osorio, L. A. (2010). Características de los ambientes híbridos de aprendizaje: estudio de caso de un programa de posgrado de la Universidad de los Andes [Characteristics of Blended Learning Environments: Case Study of a Postgraduate Programme in Los Andes University. RUSC. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal, 7(1). Retrieved from http://rusc.uoc.edu/ojs/index.php/rusc/ article/view/v7n1_osorio/v7n1_osorio Parra, J. M. (2005). La educación infantil. Su dimensión didáctica y organizativa [Pre-school education. Its didactic and organisational dimension]. Granada, Spain: Grupo Editorial Universitario. Rodríguez, C. (Ed). (2008). La lengua escrita y los proyectos de trabajo. Propuestas para el aula [Written language and work projects. Proposals for the classroom]. Valencia, Spain: Periféric edicions. Sales, A. (2004). Hacia una escuela inclusiva e intercultural: los proyectos de trabajo como propuesta curricular y formativa [Towards an inclusive, intercultural school: work projects as formative curricular proposal]. XXI. Revista de Educación, 6, 139-153. Tirado, R., Pérez, M. A., & Aguaded, J. I. (2011). Blended e-learning en universidades andaluzas [Blended e-learning in Andalusian universities]. Aula Abierta, 39(2), 47-58. Villa, A., & Poblete, M. (2011). Evaluación de competencias genéricas: principios, oportunidades y limiRUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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taciones [Evaluation of generic competencies: principles, opportunities and limitations]. Bordón, 63(1), 147-170. Zabala, A., & Arnau, L. (2008). 11 ideas clave. Cómo aprender y enseñar competencias [Eleven key ideas. How to learn and teach competencies]. Barcelona, Spain: Graó.

About the Authors Rosa García-Ruiz rosa.garcia@unican.es Lecturer of Didactics and School Organisation She is a contracted doctor lecturer at the University of Cantabria (UC), Spain. She holds a doctorate in Education Sciences (National University of Distance Education, UNED, Spain), a bachelor’s degree in Psychopedagogy (University of Salamanca, USAL, Spain) and teacher training diploma (UC). She has had numerous articles on university teaching published in renowned journals, such as Comunicar, Educación XXI, Revista Iberoamericana de Educación o Revista Interuniversitaria de Formación del Profesorado. She has given lectures at several Peruvian universities and at Utah Valley University on university teaching in the European Higher Education Area, and has also taken part in numerous international conferences. Her lines of research focus mainly on improved continuing education, particularly for teaching staff, and on media competency. Regarding the latter, she is currently taking part in a competitive research project involving nine other Spanish universities. Universidad de Cantabria Facultad de Educación Departamento de Educación Avd. Los Castros s/n 39005 Santander Spain

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Natalia González Fernández gonzalen@unican.es Lecturer in Diagnostic and Research Methods in Education She is a contracted doctor lecturer in the Faculty of Education at the University of Cantabria (UC), Spain. Her main lines of research are formative self-assessment in the context of higher education, reflective-active teaching methodologies (portfolios, cooperative learning, problem-based learning) and practicum in higher education. She is an expert in the assessment of educational programmes and the design of assessment tools and instruments for education. Universidad de Cantabria Facultad de Educación Departamento de Educación Avd. Los Castros s/n 39005 Santander Spain

Paloma Contreras Pulido paloma.contreras@uhu.es Doctoral Student in Communication Education She is a grant-holder on the Research Staff Training Programme of the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (Science and Innovation). She holds a master’s degree in Audiovisual Education, a bachelor’s degree in Journalism (University of Seville, Spain) and a diploma in Social Education (University of Huelva, Spain). She is currently writing her doctoral thesis on media literacy in contexts of social exclusion. Her lines of research focus mainly on Communication Education in formal, informal and non-formal education. She is a member of the respective research teams working on: the R&D project “La competencia en comunicación audiovisual en un entorno digital. Diagnóstico de necesidades en tres ámbitos sociales” (Audiovisual communication competency in a digital environment. Diagnosis of needs in three social contexts); the project “e-investigación de la comunicación en Iberoamérica” (e-Research on communication in Ibero-America); and the excellence project “Alfamed: la competencia audiovisual de la ciudadanía andaluza. Estrategias de alfabetización mediática en la sociedad del ocio digital” (Alfamed: audiovisual competency of Andalusian citizens. Media literacy strategies in the digital leisure society). Universidad de Huelva Facultad de Educación Departamento de Educación Avda. 3 de Marzo, s/n 21071 Huelva Spain

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The texts published in this journal are – unless indicated otherwise – covered by the Creative Commons Spain Attribution 3.0 licence. You may copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the work, provided you attribute it (authorship, journal name, publisher) in the manner specified by the author(s) or licensor(s). The full text of the licence can be consulted here: <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/es/deed.en>

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ARTicle

Project-based learning in virtual environments: a case study of a university teaching experience Esther Márquez Lepe

esthermarquez@us.es Contracted Doctor Lecturer, Department of Sociology, University of Seville, Spain

María Luisa Jiménez-Rodrigo

mljimenez@us.es Contracted Doctor Lecturer, Department of Sociology, University of Seville, Spain

Submitted in: January 2013 Accepted in: May 2013 Published in: January 2014

Recommended citation

Márquez, E. & Jiménez-Rodrigo, M.L. (2014). Project-based learning in virtual environments: a case study of a university teaching experience. Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento (RUSC). Vol. 11, No 1. pp. 76-90. doi http://doi.dx.org/10.7238/rusc.v11i1.1762

Abstract

This article presents a case study about the implementation of a teaching innovation project aimed at applying the project-based learning technique through the use of new technologies, and specifically through the resources available in the virtual learning environment at the University of Seville (US), Spain. This project was carried out in the 2010/2011 academic year on two Sociology subjects forming part of the curricula of the Management & Public Administration and Nursing short degree courses. The objectives of this project were: 1) To apply and assess the use of a new teaching methodology for improving the teaching and learning process on socio-health subjects, and 2) To foster the students’ active, participatory and collaborative learning by doing projects and using various virtual-learning didactic instruments. Besides the project rationale and objectives, the article will describe the resources used and the main results obtained. Finally, it will discuss the limitations and potential associated with the use of these new teaching techniques in university teaching.

Keywords

teaching innovation, project-based learning, new technologies RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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El aprendizaje por proyectos en espacios virtuales: estudio de caso de una experiencia docente universitaria Resumen

En este artículo se presenta un estudio de caso sobre la puesta en práctica de un proyecto de innovación docente dirigido a la aplicación de la técnica del aprendizaje basado en proyectos (ABP) mediante la utilización de nuevas tecnologías. Concretamente, a través de los recursos disponibles dentro de la Plataforma de Enseñanza Virtual de la Universidad de Sevilla. Este proyecto se ha llevado a cabo durante el curso 20102011 en dos asignaturas del Área de Sociología recogidas dentro de los planes de estudio de la diplomatura de Gestión y Administración Pública y la diplomatura de Enfermería. Los objetivos de este proyecto han sido: 1) aplicar y evaluar el uso de una nueva metodología docente para la mejora de los procesos de enseñanza y aprendizaje en asignaturas socio-sanitarias, y 2) fomentar en el alumnado un aprendizaje activo, participativo y colaborativo a partir de la realización de proyectos y el uso de diferentes instrumentos didácticos de la enseñanza virtual. Junto al marco de justificación del proyecto y los objetivos se expondrán los recursos utilizados, sus principales resultados y, finalmente, se discutirán las limitaciones y las potencialidades asociadas a la utilización de estas nuevas técnicas docentes en la enseñanza universitaria.

Palabras clave

innovación docente, aprendizaje basado en proyectos, nuevas tecnologías

1. Introduction The incorporation of Spanish universities into the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) is creating new teaching challenges that contemplate methodological and pedagogical elements unlike those used previously. This has led to a process of profound, rapid change affecting both the university teaching structure and its social meaning and position (Zabalza, 2007). In contrast to the traditional model where teaching staff acted as the only knowledge-bearing agent, the new teaching model is more open and student centred, fostering self-directed, participatory, active, group-oriented and engaged learning. This represents a radical change in the role of lecturers, who become designers of mediated learning scenarios and situations, and of students, who become actors in – and not spectators of – their learning (Cabero et al., 2006). In addition, there are increasing demands for university work to have a direct relationship with the students’ future inclusion in the labour market (Michavila, 2000). Together with the above, knowledge society transformations situate the Internet and new technologies as key means of communication, access and knowledge construction in university classrooms (Cebrián de la Serna, 2003). Some of the measures to promote this process of change and innovation involve fostering active, participatory learning methodologies, which are acquiring ever-greater protagonism in new curricular designs and educational practices (Huber, 2008; Kolmos, 2004). In this article, we describe a teaching innovation project1 in which one of these methodologies

1. Project funded through the call for teaching innovation projects of the University of Seville’s First Teaching Plan for the 2010/2011 Academic Year. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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was implemented: information and communication technology-mediated (ICT-mediated) projectbased learning (PBL). In this article, we set out the experience undertaken over one academic year on two Sociology subjects and describe the use and evaluation of the didactic and assessment tools used, as well as the results obtained.

2. Project-based Learning PBL is about getting the students collaboratively and actively to plan, develop and assess a project that has a practical application. According to Badía and García (2006), this means asking a group of students to solve problems or find answers to complex issues, and to do that they must design an action plan, make decisions as it is being applied and solve any problems that arise. According to Huber (2008) this method: 1) is based on an interest or a real initiative; 2) the students discuss their interests in and views on the topic (giving each other advice); 3) the students develop their own activity scope (planning and decision-making), and 4) the students reflect on their own learning processes. Thus, by involving the students in their learning and assessment processes, they become the protagonists of the organisation of their own curricula and educational itineraries (Boud, 1995; Boud & Falchikov, 2007; Falchikov, 2005; López Pastor, 2005). The PBL format has been widely applied to disciplines such as Engineering, Information Technology (IT) and Architecture for many years (Calvo, López, & Zulueta, 2010; Casasola, Pérez, & García, 2012; Mesa, Álvarez, Villanueva, & De Cos, 2008), and has proven to be of practical utility outside academic contexts (Badía & García, 2006). In contrast, in the Social Sciences in general and in Sociology in particular, very few experiences of teaching innovation based on PBL have been published (La Parra, Muñoz-Baell, Ortiz, Davó, & Álvarez, 2011) despite the fact that a greater penetration of methodologies like PBL has been observed (Kolmos, 2004).

3. Case Study: Ict-Mediated Project-based Learning on Sociology Subjects 3.1. Objectives and method The objectives of this teaching innovation project were as follows: 1. To foster the students’ active, participatory and collaborative learning by doing projects and using virtual learning. 2. To apply, examine and evaluate the use of ICT-mediated PBL. To that end, we conducted a case study on two Sociology subjects taught on different degree courses at the University of Seville (US), Spain. It was an instrumental case study (Stake, 1998), as priority was RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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given to the topic being studied, whereas the selection of the case was secondary. The aim of the study was to examine an example in action in order to interpret the meaning and the evaluation that the students made of the experience. This case study comprised three stages: preparation, design and creation of the social research project, and assessment, the main elements of which are summarised in Figure 1 below.

FIRST STAGE: PREPARATION • Defining objectives, activities and resources • Forming work groups and selecting the research topic

 SECOND STAGE: DESIGN AND CREATION OF THE SOCIAL RESEARCH PROJECT • Stages, assignments and deliverables • Doing practicals: Activity sheets and guides. Using didactic tools • Monitoring and supervision: Tutorial action

THIRD STAGE: ASSESSMENT • Assessment of learning: Process and final • Experiences and evaluations of the innovative teaching methodology

Figure 1. Case study development stages

3.2. Criteria for applying project-based learning in virtual environments In order to attain the ICT-mediated PBL objectives, three criteria were considered: 1. The development of a greater communicative capacity towards and among the students by using new teaching strategies, especially in the virtual learning environment (VLE). 2. A continuous assessment system in which the students feel jointly responsible for both their individual and group achievements and efforts. 3. The creation of open-content activities with more than one solution and sharing them in the virtual environment and in the classroom so that the different groups could compare and discuss the work done, learn from it and contribute.

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In order to try and meet these three criteria, virtual communication and interaction tools in the VLE at the US were used in conjunction with educational resources containing attractive, open content that promoted critical, complex, divergent and creative thinking. Attempts were made to foster a continuous learning process by intensifying the guidance and tutoring work, and by implementing an assessment system that was not exclusively linked to the content, but instead to the acquisition of general and specific competencies. Finally, every endeavour was made to develop a collaborative approach by setting group objectives that would surpass the individual dimension, and to foster intersubjectivity and joint responsibility through group-work structures (Badía & García, 2006).

3.3. Participating group characteristics Two groups of students took part in the teaching innovation project, corresponding to two Sociology subjects taught at the US: the Sociology of Health and Healthcare Systems (semestral) on the Nursing short degree course (third year, Faculty of Nursing), with 46 students, and Social Theory (annual) on the Management & Public Administration short degree course (third year, Faculty of Law), with 98 students. Although the subjects are oriented towards different knowledge areas, they both share the sociological link that is characteristic of the area in which they are located. In both cases, work is done on learning competencies connected with the design and development of applied social research projects. However, the project’s methodology and implementation were adapted to the curricular particularities and needs of each group. Thus, we found that the sociodemographic profile was diverse. The profile on the Sociology of Health and Healthcare Systems subject was more uniform, relatively young and mostly female (80% of the students were female). The profile on the Social Theory subject was much more diverse, with a smaller difference between genders (70% were female) and a significant proportion of older students, many of whom had family and work responsibilities. While this profile may be considered atypical, it is becoming more and more commonplace in university classrooms. This supports the relevance of applying new, more flexible teaching methodologies to respond to the diversity of university classrooms and the goals of higher education (Jiménez-Rodrigo & Márquez Lepe, 2011).

3.4. Activities undertaken Defining objectives, stages and resources At the start of the academic year, the lecturers offered an introductory session about the project objectives and development stages, and the didactic and methodological strategies to carry it out. For that purpose, a work script was provided, containing specific instructions for participation in the subject practicals. Several examples of calls for research projects were given so that the practicals would be as much like real-life professional situations as possible. Then an expert in the design and management of projects in Public Administration was invited to give a talk about the professional utility of social research competencies and their potential application to socio-health and social-legal areas. After putting the project into context, the various stages relating to the creation of the project were explained, in line with the process logic for research project (Figure 2). RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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1. RATIONALE AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK Assignment 1. Searching for sources of information and reviewing the literature [ACTIVITY SHEET 1]

2. DEFINING OBJECTIVES AND HYPOTHESES Assignment 2. Defining general and specific objectives and hypotheses [ACTIVITY SHEET 2]

 4. CREATING THE FINAL PROJECT Assignment 4. Drafting the final project and specifying the resources and timelines [FINAL REPORT]

3. SELECTING RESEARCH TECHNIQUES Assignment 3. Searching for sources of information and reviewing the literature [ACTIVITY SHEET 3]

Figure 2. Stages, assignments to be undertaken and resultant deliverables

Then an explanation was given of the tools that were going to be used during the process, paying special attention to virtual tools, and finally, of the rules for drafting and presenting the research work, together with the criteria and resources for assessing it. Distribution of work teams The work teams were formed freely, in accordance with the students’ affinities. On the Social Theory subject, 16 teams were formed, each with between 4 and 6 members, encompassing a total of 78 students (85% of the students enrolled). Given the considerably smaller number of students signed up to the Sociology of Health and Healthcare Systems subject, 8 teams were formed, each with 4 or 5 members, accounting for 76% of the total number of students enrolled. Each group chose a subjectrelated topic on which to develop its research project during the academic year. Didactic tools and virtual environment use In an attempt to improve the communicative capacity between teaching staff and students, educational strategies linked to the use of new technologies were applied: assignments, chats, forums and e-mail. The assignments structured the work that had to be done at the different stages of the project. Four assignments were designed, with four activity sheets that had to be submitted via the VLE by the agreed deadline. After receiving an assignment, the lecturer corrected and returned it with suggestions for improvement, thus getting the students involved in both their own learning processes RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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and their subsequent assessments. Finally, each team had to submit a final report incorporating everything they had learned from the previous assignments (Figure 2). The forums and chats were designed to be spaces for discussion and debate to enable cooperative learning, and they were of particular importance to tutorial action. Tutorial action Tutorial action, the fundamental pillar of this project, aimed to foster continuous learning, where the lecturer would serve as a support, supervisor and guide in the students’ learning processes. To achieve that, face-to-face group tutorials were held before and after the students had submitted each assignment in order to answer any queries, to stimulate their capacity for critical analysis and personal reflection, and to encourage the group members to get involved in the project. The forums, chats and e-mail fostered interaction among the students, and communication and continuous advice between the students and the teaching staff.

3.5. Assessment Assessment of the innovation project was firstly oriented towards assessing the effectiveness of PBL with regard to the students’ acquisition and development of the competencies specified in the subjects, and secondly towards the evaluation of the students’ and teaching staff experiences of the project itself, and of the use of new technologies in the teaching-learning process.. Assessment of competencies developed The system put in place to evaluate the level of competency attainment and development through PBL combined a process assessment and a final assessment in an attempt to make the students feel responsible for both their achievements and their efforts. To that end, different assessment techniques and instruments were used as shown in Table 1. Table 1. PBL assessment techniques and instruments

Assessment Point

Process

Final

Assessment Techniques

Instruments

Review of the activity sheets for the practicals

Rubric

Participation in classroom activities Participation in virtual learning (assignments, forums and chats)

Registers/Logs

Tutorial attendance

Evaluation

Research project (written)

Rubric

Oral presentation of the project

Rubric Peer evaluation matrices

The process assessment shows that there was a sustained majority participation in activities in both the classroom and the VLE. The tutorials also produced highly satisfactory results with regard RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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to understanding and doing the practicals. In order to assess the practical activities, the level of development of a series of competencies shown in Table 2 was taken into consideration. In both subjects, the scores obtained gradually got better as the students improved their work by reviewing the different assignments. The scores in both subjects reached a mean of 3 on a scale of 0 to 4. Table 2. Evaluation matrix for the specific competencies worked on in the practicals

Performance Level

Competencies

0

1

2

3

4

Has searched for and selected relevant scientific references and information. Has satisfactorily defined the research objectives and hypotheses. Has planned and designed the research in accordance with the objectives and available resources. Has satisfactorily selected the data collection/production techniques. Has satisfactorily designed the data production instruments. Has organised and planned the resources, together with satisfactory management of the group work and conflict resolution. Has drafted and organised the contents according to academic standards. Performance levels: 0 = Did not do the assignment /Plagiarism; 1= Unsatisfactory; 2=Good; 3=Very good; 4=Excellent.

For the final assessment of the project submitted at the end of the academic year and presented in the classroom, an evaluation rubric for specific competencies (Table 3) was applied in conjunction with the peer evaluation of the presentation by their fellow students. The latter activity was an element of motivation and involvement in the processes of (self-)assessment and (self-)criticism. The final assessment also produced good results with regard to the acquisition of the initially anticipated competencies, with a final score in both subjects of 3. Experiences and evaluations of the teaching innovation project Considering the novel nature of this teaching technique for students and teaching staff alike, an assessment of its implementation was done by integrating their evaluations, experiences and perceptions of the following aspects: •• Project participation and monitoring, as well as any related difficulties or facilitating factors.

Class diaries were used, where the lecturers noted down any observations and incidents that had occurred in either the classroom or the VLE, as well as an analysis of any other evidence of participation.

•• The students’ experiences and perceptions of the innovative experience, both in terms of the

way it was carried out and of its effects on the teaching-learning process. The forums and the field diaries kept by the students were the main tools for strengthening reflectiveness in the learning process.

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Table 3. Rubric for the evaluation of the final report and its presentation in the classroom

Performance Level

Assessment Criteria

0

1

2

3

4

It is drafted in a scientific style, and the spelling and grammar are correct. Formal elements

Tables, figures and citations are satisfactorily presented. Citations comply with academic standards. There is a clear, concise summary of the work. There is a relevant rationale for the work, based on scientific data and literature. Sources of academic data are used. There is a literature review relevant to the research topic.

Contents

There is a description of the research objectives and a rationale for the most suitable methodology to attain them. The research techniques are satisfactorily and thoroughly presented. A description of the anticipated results is included. There is a detailed work plan and budgetary rationale for the project, as well as a plan for the dissemination and exploitation of the results. The project is presented in a proper, clear and organised manner.

Oral presentation and public defence of the project

The time allocated to its presentation and public defence is observed. It captures and retains the group’s attention. Audiovisual supports are satisfactorily used. It is capable of sparking debate and answering the questions posed.

Performance levels: 0 = Did not do the assignment /Plagiarism; 1= Unsatisfactory; 2=Good; 3=Very good; 4=Excellent.

Regarding project participation and monitoring, a growing interest in the creation of the research work was observed. According to the teaching staff diary, at the beginning the students had considered it something strange, as yet another imposition by the teaching staff, but later on they began to interiorise it as a useful resource within their learning processes. Likewise, through the tutorial action, different levels of the team members’ involvement in and reasoning for the project were noted. The forums were frequently used, and this increased throughout the academic year. The opportunity afforded by the forums to share information strengthened cooperative work both intra-group and inter-group. In contrast, the chats were not very popular for a variety of reasons: Internet access limitations, difficulties (mainly work and family-related) in connecting to the Internet at the times scheduled for the activity and the voluntary nature of it, which ended up discouraging participation. In contrast, and together with the forums, the field diaries were very useful for gathering the experiences and perceptions of strengths and weaknesses as the project was being implemented (Table 4).

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Table 4. Students’ perceived strengths and weaknesses of PBL and of VLE use

Strengths

Weaknesses

Ease of communicating with other members of the group via the VLE. Possibility to work independently in a team. Flexibility of working times and group meetings via the VLE. Ease of combining work and family life. Ability to look up resources required to do the project at anytime via the VLE. Tutorial action as an indispensable resource in the orientation and guidance of the students’ work. Ability to consult with other groups on similar queries via the VLE (forums and chats).

Need for face-to-face meetings to reflect jointly on the project. Diversity of levels of involvement and work within the team. Need to coordinate the group through the criterion of one person who unifies drafting styles and practices. Lack of similar educational experiences. Demand for a high level of commitment to the project and to the communication channels. Difficulties in accessing the Internet and lack of technology skills.

Regarding the potential of PBL, the students pointed out that this methodology gave them greater protagonism within their teaching-learning processes. However, the novelty of the proposal and the students’ limited prior practice of using new teaching techniques and inexperience of working in small groups gave rise to a number of difficulties connected with the distribution and assumption of responsibilities within the group, and the translation of this work into an assessment that was not done individually. According to the student diaries, one student commented that the new approach was very participatory and interactive – something rather unusual in their curriculum – and that was why they had initially felt a little disconcerted about the real dimensions of the work. Another student noted that because there was less direct, face-to-face interaction, a high level of commitment to the project was required, as were smooth communications among group members to prevent a lack of coordination as regards contents. Despite these drawbacks, the final evaluation of the project was very positive, with the strengths far outweighing the weaknesses. Like Ovejero (1988), we believe that, in this type of collaborative methodology, the students have the opportunity to develop higher levels of tolerance, respect and cooperation because they have to reach consensus on different viewpoints and create a climate of progress and cohesion to undertake actions and attain common goals. Likewise, our students underscored that PBL promoted a better professional orientation of the practicals, as they had made use of problems and instruments that could be transferred directly to their future working environment. This observation fits in with a reorientation of teaching activity, where learning to learn is given priority and every effort is made to ensure that both the resources and the methodology help to lay the basic foundations and develop the competencies and aptitudes required for professional practice (Martín & Roldán, 2011). The use of the VLE led to more flexible ways of working and communicating, which were evaluated especially positively. According to the student diaries, one student said that the VLE had enabled him/her to get in touch with fellow students to try and answer any joint queries that arose. Another student stated that anyone could contribute whenever they wanted, and yet another mentioned the ability to work from home. An added strength was the ease of combining work, family and personal life, as the VLE offered greater adaptability and better time-planning opportunities.

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Among the weaknesses, the students pointed out the necessary change in mentality, as these new methodologies required more effort and dedication. Likewise, they underscored the (enduring) difficulties in accessing new technologies and in developing skills to use them properly.

4. Conclusions Although specialised and technical literature on PBL exists, we consider that both the systematisation of the particular experience detailed in this article and the specification of the main instruments used to monitor and assess it could be useful to other similar initiatives. As lecturers immersed in a process whereby the role of university teaching is changing, we consider it crucial to continue working on strengthening the use of these new methodologies and technologies, and on taking advantage of the strengths they offer for teaching and learning. The diversification of teaching strategies, and above all moving away from those that see teaching as a series of unidirectional expository sessions originating from the teaching staff and directed at the class/group, can help to give greater protagonism to students and reinforce a change in mentality and attitudes towards learning that is more active, independent and creative, as several other studies have also noted (Calvo et al., 2010; Casasola et al., 2012; La Parra et al., 2011). Thus, ICTs are not only a fundamental instrument for communication between teaching staff and students, but also a means of strengthening collaborative work, as one of the keys to working in virtual environments is the development of interaction as a central component of the educational process (Flores & Arco, 2012). Promoting communication tools is therefore a necessary undertaking in order to turn these environments – now used more and more often – into networking spaces instead of just information repositories and, by so doing, to contribute to the development of new ways of approaching reality, where knowledge is understood as a social construct, which students arrive at on their own and through their own means (González & Díaz, 2005). The challenges posed by designing and doing a project with a real application facilitated the development of skills and competencies that are better oriented towards the students’ future working lives. In addition, it enabled progress to be made on competencies relating to collaborative work, conflict resolution and independent decision-making. The aim of this project was to provide a flexible teaching scheme, placing considerable emphasis on tutoring and monitoring throughout the process, and designing a space for interaction capable of combining individual and collaborative learning processes. Likewise, the virtual environment enabled a greater adaptation of the teaching-learning process as it gave the students the opportunity to undertake self-directed learning according to their circumstances. In this respect, a future line of research and teaching innovation is the use of new methodologies adapted to student characteristics, such as gender, life-cycle stage and socioeconomic circumstances, as these are issues that remain relatively unexplored

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References Badía, A., & García, C. (2006). Incorporación de las TIC en la enseñanza y el aprendizaje basados en la elaboración colaborativa de proyectos [The incorporation of information and communication technologies into teaching and learning based on collaborative project work]. RUSC. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal, 3(2), 42-54. Retrieved from http://www.uoc.edu/rusc/3/2/dt/esp/ badia_garcia.pdf Boud, D. (Ed.) (1995). Enhancing Learning through Self-Assessment. London, England: Kogan Page. Boud, D., & Falchikov, N. (Eds.) (2007). Rethinking Assessment in Higher Education. Learning for the long term. Oxon, England: Routledge. Cabero, J., Morales Lozano, J. A., Martínez Sánchez, F., Ballesteros Regaña, C., Romero Tena, R., Barroso Osuna, J. ... Salinas Ibáñez, J. (2006). Formación del profesorado universitario en estrategias metodológicas para la incorporación del aprendizaje en red en el Espacio de Educación Superior [Formation of the university faculty in methodological strategies to incorporation of e-learning in European Space of Higher Education]. Revista Pixel-Bit, 27, 11-29. Retrieved from http://www.sav. us.es/pixelbit/pixelbit/articulos/n27/n27art/art2702.htm Calvo, I., López Guede, J. M., & Zulueta, E. (2010). Aplicando la metodología Project Based Learning en la docencia de Ingeniería Técnica Informática de Gestión [Applying the PBL methodology in Computer Engineering]. Revista de Formación e Innovación Educativa Universitaria, 3(4), 166-181. Retrieved from http://webs.uvigo.es/refiedu/Refiedu/Vol3_4/REFIEDU_3_4_1.pdf Casasola, M. A., Pérez Chamorro, V. A., & García Álvarez de Perea, J. (2012). Aprendizaje basado en proyectos y trabajo en equipo: innovando en la docencia de la asignatura Sistemas Contables Informatizados [Project-based learning and teamwork: innovating in the teaching of the Computerised Accounting Systems subject]. UPO INNOVA. Revista de Innovación Docente, 1, 107122. Retrieved from http://www.upo.es/revistas/index.php/upoinnova/article/view/89 Cebrián de la Serna, M. (2003). Enseñanza virtual para la innovación universitaria [Virtual teaching for university innovation]. Madrid, Spain: Narcea. Falchikov, N. (2005). Improving Assessment through Student Involvement. Practical Solutions for Aiding Learning in Higher and Further Education. Oxon, England: Routledge. Flores, Ò., & De Arco, I. (2012). La influencia de las TIC en la interacción docente y discente en los procesos formativos universitarios [The Impact of ICTs on Lecturer and Student Interaction in University Education Processes]. RUSC. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal, 9(2), 31-47. doi: 10.7238/rusc.v9i2.1243 González, G., & Díaz, L. (2005). Aprendizaje colaborativo: una experiencia desde las aulas universitarias [Collaborative learning: a university classroom experience]. Educación y Educadores, 8, 21-44. Retrieved from http://educacionyeducadores.unisabana.edu.co/index.php/eye/article/ view/564 Huber, G. L. (2008). Aprendizaje activo y metodologías educativas [Active learning and educational methodologies]. Revista de Educación, Special Issue, 59-81. Retrieved from http://www.duoc.cl/ cfd/docs/aprendizaje-activo-metodologias-ducativas.pdf RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Jiménez-Rodrigo, M. L., & Márquez Lepe, E. (2011). Estudiar después de los 30: Interacción entre desigualdades de género y edad en los estudios universitarios [Studying after 30: Interaction between gender inequalities and age in university studies]. In I. Vázquez (Coord.), Investigación y género: logros y retos [Research and gender: achievements and challenges] (pp. 961-974). Seville, Spain: Universidad de Sevilla. Kolmos, A. (2004). Estrategias para desarrollar currículos basados en la formulación de problemas y organizados en base a proyectos [Strategies for developing problem-based learning curricula]. Educar, 33, 77-96. Retrieved from http://www.raco.cat/index.php/Educar/article/ download/20789/20629 La Parra, D., Muñoz-Baell, I. M., Ortiz, R., Davó, M. C., & Álvarez García, J. S. (2011). Aprendizaje basado en proyectos y resolución de problemas en Socioestadística II, asignatura de Grado en Sociología [Problem-based learning and problem-solving in Social Statistics II, a Sociology degree subject]. In M. T. Tortosa, J. D. Álvarez Teruel, & N. Pellín (Coords.), Jornadas de Redes de Investigación en Docencia Universitaria: Diseño de buenas prácticas docentes en el contexto actual [University Teaching Research Networks Conference: Design of best teaching practices in the current context] (pp. 40-50) Alicante, Spain: Universidad de Alicante. Retrieved from http://web.ua.es/es/ice/jornadasredes-2011/documentos/posters/183834.pdf López Pastor, V. (2005). Evaluación, aprendizaje y docencia universitaria. Su relación con el espacio europeo de educación superior [Assessment, Learning and Teaching in Higher Education And Their Relation With Higher Education European Area]. Revista Electrónica Interuniversitaria de Formación de Profesorado, 8(4), 1-4. Retrieved from http://www.aufop.com/aufop/uploaded_files/ articulos/1229705605.pdf Martín López, M., Roldán Márquez, A. (Coords.) (2011). EES y cambios en las metodologías docentes [EHEA and changes in teaching methodologies]. Seville, Spain: Tirant Lo Blanch. Mesa, J. A., Álvarez, J. V., Villanueva, J. M. y De Cos, F. (2008). Actualización de métodos de enseñanzaaprendizaje en asignaturas de dirección de proyectos de ingeniería [An Update of Teaching/ Learning Methods in Project Management Courses]. Formación Universitaria, 1(4), 23-28. Retrieved from http://www.scielo.cl/scielo.php?pid=S0718-50062008000400004&script=sci_arttext. doi http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0718-50062008000400004 Michavila, F. (2000). ¿Soplan vientos de cambios universitarios? [Are winds of change blowing in universities?] Boletín de la Red Estatal de Docencia Universitaria, 1(1), 4-7. Retrieved from http:// revistas.um.es/redu/article/view/11441 Ovejero, A. (1988). Psicología Social de la Educación [Social psychology of education]. Barcelona, Spain: Herder. Stake, R. E. (1998). Investigación con estudios de caso [The art of case study research]. Madrid, Spain: Morata. Zabalza, M. A. (2007). La enseñanza universitaria. El escenario y sus protagonistas [University teaching. The stage and its protagonists]. Madrid, Spain: Narcea.

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About the Authors Esther Márquez Lepe esthermarquez@us.es Contracted Doctor Lecturer, Department of Sociology, University of Seville, Spain Esther Márquez is a lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Seville (US), Spain, and holds a doctorate awarded by the University of Granada (UGR), Spain. Her main lines of research include multiculturalism, citizenship, intercultural education and dealing with diversity in educational spaces from a qualitative perspective. Her recent studies have focused on furthering knowledge of intercultural education discourse and praxis in transformative educational experiences that establish relationships of a more hybrid nature between the school and the community. Her latest work entitled Educación Intercultural y Comunidades de Aprendizaje: alianzas, compromisos y resistencias en el escenario educativo andaluz [Intercultural education and communities of learning: alliances, commitments and resistance in the Andalusian educational setting] was published in 2012 by Los libros de la Catarata.

María Luisa Jiménez-Rodrigo mljimenez@us.es Contracted Doctor Lecturer, Department of Sociology, University of Seville, Spain María Luisa Jiménez-Rodrigo is a lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Seville (US), Spain, and holds a doctorate awarded by the University of Granada (UGR), Spain. Her main lines of research include the analysis of gender inequalities in health, gender and social participation, and social-labour and education policies. She has participated in various RD&I research projects funded by the Spanish Ministry of Education and the Government of Andalusia, and in several teaching innovation and research projects. Her latest published works are on gender and drug use, the analysis of social indicators, the associative movement among women in the rural environment and the effects of grant policy reforms.

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Departamento de Sociología Universidad de Sevilla C/ Enramadilla, s/n Campus Ramón y Cajal, s/n 41018 Seville Spain

The texts published in this journal are – unless indicated otherwise – covered by the Creative Commons Spain Attribution 3.0 licence. You may copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the work, provided you attribute it (authorship, journal name, publisher) in the manner specified by the author(s) or licensor(s). The full text of the licence can be consulted here: <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/es/deed.en>

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ARTicle

Application and validation of a techno-pedagogical lecturer training model using a virtual learning environment Mónica Inés Monsiváis Almada monsivaismonica@hotmail.com Coordinator of Curricular Development, Xochicalco University, Mexico

Lewis McAnally Salas

mcanally@uabc.edu.mx Full-time Senior Researcher, Educational Development and Research Institute, Autonomous University of Baja California, Mexico

Gilles Lavigne

gilles@uabc.edu.mx Full-time Senior Researcher, Educational Development and Research Institute, Autonomous University of Baja California, Mexico

Submitted in: December 2012 Accepted in: May 2013 Published in: January 2014

Recommended citation

Monsiváis, M.I., McAnally, L. & Lavigne, G. (2014). Application and validation of a techno-pedagogical lecturer training model using a virtual learning environment. Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento (RUSC). Vol. 11, No 1. pp. 91-107. doi http://doi.dx.org/10.7238/rusc.v11i1.1743

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Abstract

This article presents a techno-pedagogical lecturer training model that was validated in an intensive hybrid-mode workshop/course for lecturers. The aim of the course was to train lecturers how to use the Moodle virtual learning environment (VLE) as a didactic support in their classrooms. A researchaction method was applied to the study, and the instruments used were interviews, questionnaires, blogs and opinion surveys, together with the planning and development of an online course by each participant as the end-product. The course was then analysed to see how each of the 16 participants had gradually appropriated the technology, without overlooking the pedagogical aspects. Some progressed from beginner to intermediate level, and others from intermediate to advanced level, while those already at advanced level developed sophisticated courses and sought ways of improving them on their own. In addition, the researchers found that the role of the university institution had been fundamental to the proper running of the course, and that constant communication between the facilitator and the lecturers/learners had been important.

Keywords

higher education, lecturer training, educational technology, technology appropriation, hybrid mode, virtual learning environments

Aplicación y validación de un modelo tecnopedagógico de formación docente mediante una plataforma educativa virtual Resumen

El artículo presenta un modelo de formación docente tecnopedagógico, validado dentro de un curso-taller intensivo en la modalidad híbrida, dirigido a docentes de educación superior. Este curso tiene como objetivo capacitar en el uso de la plataforma Moodle como apoyo didáctico en sus clases. El método utilizado en la investigación es de investigación-acción, los instrumentos usados fueron la entrevista, cuestionarios, bitácoras y sondeos de opinión, conjuntamente con la planeación y desarrollo de un curso en línea elaborado por cada uno de los participantes como producto final. El curso fue analizado después, para ver cómo cada uno de los dieciséis participantes se apropiaba gradualmente de la tecnología, sin descuidar el referente pedagógico. Algunos de ellos pasaron de ser principiantes a intermedios y algunos de estos a avanzados, mientras que los avanzados desarrollaron cursos más sofisticados y buscaron la forma de mejorarlos por sí solos. Además, los investigadores se percataron de que la institución universitaria desempeña un papel primordial para el buen desarrollo del curso, así como la importancia de una constante comunicación entre el facilitador con los docentes-aprendientes.

Palabras clave

educación superior, formación docente, tecnología educativa, apropiación tecnológica, modalidad híbrida, plataformas tecnológicas de aprendizaje

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Application and validation of a techno-pedagogical lecturer training model...

1. Introduction The world’s educational systems are currently faced with the challenge of using information and communication technologies (ICTs) to provide their students with the necessary tools and knowledge for the 21st century. Consequently, the learning process is undergoing a number of substantial changes, the most important one being the role that teachers play (Álvarez, 2006). Various researchers (Castellano, 2010; Cebrián, 2003) have found that ICT use in the teaching-learning process is advantageous and, when training teachers to use ICTs, that it is possible to get them to use them as a support both inside and outside their classrooms. Previous studies have underscored the problem of training university lecturers to use ICTs. Despite the fact that ICTs are used in education, there are concerns to find out why, if there are so many technological resources available to support the educational process, not all lecturers are using them. A lack of knowing how to incorporate them into the classroom is a possible explanation, and another is the scarce or non-existent training that institutions offer their lecturers in the pedagogical use of these technologies. The integration of ICTs in the classroom depends on the teachers’ ability to scaffold the learning environment by using effective ICT-based pedagogies (Shawki et al., 2008). However, numerous research reports have indicated a lack of technical and pedagogical training among teachers, which prevents them from setting criteria with regard to when and how to start using this technology (Kaput, 1992; García, Martínez, & Miraño, 2000; Adell, 2002; Veen, 1993; Jones, Cox, & Scrimshaw, 2004, cited in BECTA, 2004; Bautista, Borges, & Forés, 2012). It is for these reasons that institutions should train their lecturers not only to use technology, but also to make them understand why using technology is important and, above all, to ensure that they understand the different roles that technology plays in the teaching-learning process (Bates, 1997). With the support of the Educational Development and Research Institute (IIDE) at the Autonomous University of Baja California (UABC), Mexico, the study was conducted at Xochicalco University, Mexico.1 A techno-pedagogical lecturer training model was developed to meet the needs of training lecturers to use ICTs with pedagogical support and to get them to implement it in their own classrooms. The aim of this article is to present a techno-pedagogical lecturer training model and its validation through the participation of lecturers from a private Mexican university. Combining pedagogy with technology is quite unusual and often non-existent in lecturer training. The results obtained from the research-action process used to develop and validate the model are described below.

1. A private institution established over 30 years ago in the city of Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, offering twelve bachelor’s degree programmes and five master’s degree programmes. It also has schools in Mexicali and Tijuana. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Original title: Aplicación y validación de un modelo tecnopedagógico de formación docente mediante una plataforma educativa virtual


http://rusc.uoc.edu

Application and validation of a techno-pedagogical lecturer training model...

2. Method The research-action method served to guide most of the intervention, as the task implied a simultaneous need to find things out and intervene, as well as the participation of those involved (lecturers and researchers). Every aspect was guided by the spiral form of the research-action process, that is to say, taking practice as the basis to detect, clarify and diagnose the problem, to formulate a plan to solve the problem or introduce change, to implement the plan and evaluate the results, and to give feedback, which then leads to a new diagnosis and a new spiral of reflection and action (Sandín, 2003). In this respect, the study was conducted in the four stages described below. The first stage was fieldwork, which involved developing the techno-pedagogical model. In order to do that, the opinions of the university’s lecturers and directors were collected by means of a questionnaire for lecturers and three interviews with lecturers. In addition, a review of the literature on existing models was performed; all the information was analysed and a model was created. The second stage involved expressing the model as a didactic plan for face-to-face and online sessions in the Moodle virtual learning environment (VLE). In order to document the learning process, didactic material was created, as were instruments such as questionnaires, reading records, diagnostic tests, self-evaluation tests and blogs to foster reflection. The third stage involved running the six-week course in September-October 2012 at the university. There were 16 lecturers/learners left at the end of the course. The final stage involved analysing all the data collected from the activities undertaken by the participants throughout the training course, such as exercises, questionnaires, comments in forums and chats, blogs, e-mails and evaluations of the course and the facilitator.

3. Results Model The creation of the techno-pedagogical model was based on a study by Murillo et al. (2006) that examined seven Latin-American and European institutional teacher training models and identified five general features: innovative culture, contextualisation, innovative pedagogical proposal, theoretical framework and bottom-up approach. In addition, the study described innovative contributions to teacher training: competency development, theory-practice interrelation, research as a key factor, universities as learning organisations, and open offerings based on IT use (Murillo et al., 2006). Likewise, recommendations contained in studies on the topic were analysed. Some of these were: teacher training should be supervised and considered as lifelong learning; the advantages of ICT use should be made explicit (Cox et al., 1999, cited in BECTA, 2004); both technical and pedagogical aspects should be included (Veen, 1993, cited in BECTA, 2004); it should explicitly meet the teachers’ needs (Levy, 2000, cited in BECTA, 2003); and it should provide teachers with innovation and improvement opportunities in their teaching (Bautista et al., 2012). RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Original title: Aplicación y validación de un modelo tecnopedagógico de formación docente mediante una plataforma educativa virtual


http://rusc.uoc.edu

Application and validation of a techno-pedagogical lecturer training model...

The techno-pedagogical lecturer training model is shown in Figure 1 below:

Figure 1. Techno-pedagogical lecturer training model

The hybrid mode, which combines face-to-face with online sessions (Figure 2) was selected because of the quality of communication, both face-to-face and indirect, using communication media in the case of the latter (Lavigne et al., 2009). Another advantage of the hybrid mode is that it converges with the classification of explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge; explicit knowledge can be added at a specific location, storing objective forms, and be appropriated without the participation of the knowledgeable subject; tacit knowledge is contextual and personal, and cannot be added easily – taking full advantage of it requires the involvement and cooperation of the knowledgeable subject (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995). Taking into account the training objective, convergence warranted the use of the hybrid mode. In addition to the hybrid mode, the ‘Castle Top’ model proposed by Fink (2003) was selected.

RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Original title: Aplicación y validación de un modelo tecnopedagógico de formación docente mediante una plataforma educativa virtual


http://rusc.uoc.edu

Application and validation of a techno-pedagogical lecturer training model...

Figure 2. Hybrid mode according to the ‘Castle Top’ model

Workshop/course The university was asked for support to run the techno-pedagogical lecturer training course for those teaching on various undergraduate and graduate programmes. It should be noted that institutional support (Salinas, 2004) is an important factor that enables teachers to have the right training, the necessary infrastructure, and technical and human support (Murillo et al., 2006). The course was designed with the idea of combining pedagogy with technology. To that end, short lectures, tasks and simple exercises were prepared on the one hand, and on the other, examples were given of how the lecturers could incorporate Moodle into their own courses in line with the strategy of learning-by-doing, the participation of experts in the topic area, and the use of various media such as chats, forums and e-mail to ensure a constant flow of communication with the lecturers/learners. Feedback was also given on each comment made. Thirteen sessions were held; seven face-to-face and six online, using Moodle for the latter.The activities that had to be done for each session, including the face-to-face sessions, were put on Moodle. There was a selection of fundamental and practical content for the development of the lecturers’teaching and technological skills: didactic planning, teaching and learning strategies, Moodle use, and evaluation. At the start of the course, a questionnaire was applied to ascertain the lecturers’ levels of pedagogical and technological knowledge, which was divided into three sections: general data, Moodle use, and teaching and learning strategies. There were 14 questions, six multiple choice and eight open. Some of the results are detailed below.

Moodle use Participating in the first session were 19 lecturers, 53% of whom taught in the School of Medicine and 32% in other schools or work areas. Of the lecturers, 53% said that they had used Moodle already, but, as shown in Figures 3 and 4, the use was not very widespread or diverse. Regarding the activities/modules that Moodle offers, all the lecturers said that they always used online text, while 33% used upload a single file, offline activity, lesson, questionnaire and dialogue. As shown in Figure 3, very few ever used any of the other activities/modules. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Original title: Aplicación y validación de un modelo tecnopedagógico de formación docente mediante una plataforma educativa virtual


http://rusc.uoc.edu

Application and validation of a techno-pedagogical lecturer training model...

Wiki

6.7%

87%

Offline activity

33%

Upload a single file

33%

Online text

6.7%

53%

13%

47%

53%

SCORM

33%

6.7%

87%

Lesson

33%

Glossary

13%

20%

Forum

20%

27%

Survey Questionnaire

33%

Dialogue

33%

Databasc

6.7%

53%

13%

53%

20%

13%

Always Sometimes Never

53%

60% 27%

33%

13%

47%

20%

60%

Figure 3. Moodle activities/modules that lecturers used in their courses

Regarding the resources that Moodle offers, Figure 4 shows that 27% of the lecturers used adding a label, while 27% sometimes used URL resource and very few ever used any of the other resources. In the course, the lecturers said that they had been unaware of them.

47% 47%

Never

6.7% 6.7%

Sometimes

80% 73% 67%

33% 27%

Displaying a folder URL resource Creating an html page Creating a text file Adding a label

6.7%

20% 6.7% 13% 27%

Always

0

5

10

15

Figure 4. Moodle resources that lecturers used in their courses

It is important to point out that while 53% of the lecturers said that they had used Moodle, very few or none of them ever used any of the activities/modules or resources. When asked about RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Original title: Aplicación y validación de un modelo tecnopedagógico de formación docente mediante una plataforma educativa virtual


http://rusc.uoc.edu

Application and validation of a techno-pedagogical lecturer training model...

the advantages and disadvantages of using Moodle, they said that the advantages were access to information 24/7 and a classroom complement, and the disadvantages were not knowing how to use it, which highlighted the lecturers’ lack of preparation and dedication.

Teaching and learning strategies In order to determine the participants’ learning styles, they were asked to describe a day in the life of a class. They replied as follows: Table 1. Description of a day in the life of a class.

Lecturer 1: Presenting a case/problem, assigning roles to the members and giving team answers to the different questions posed by the case/problem. Lecturer 2: The topic is broached by performing a diagnosis of prior reading, I explain the topic to the students, and exercises are done. Lecturer 3: I give a visual presentation of the topic and explain the issues that will be addressed, I encourage dialogue and reasoning among the students. Lecturer 4: I present the idea, pose the problem, group solution, feedback. Lecturer 5: I ask the students to do prior reading, a concept map of the topic is created, it is reviewed in PowerPoint, a summary is made. Lecturer 6: 20% is theory coming from me; 60% teamwork, practicals, fieldwork; 20% questionnaires. Lecturer 7: We can start with a presentation by the students, or a question that arouses their interest, or even a topic that introduces the importance of the issue to be addressed. Lecturer 8: Lecture, slides, presentations, questions.

It should be noted that, when asked during the session, most of them said that the technique they most commonly used was expository; this can be considered a traditional teaching practice. In addition, they were asked to give their own definitions of teaching strategies. Some examples of their answers are shown below. Table 2. Definitions of teaching strategies

The various procedures available to make the teaching and learning process more active. The forms and ways that lecturers select to enable their students to gain competencies. The various ways of effectively transmitting information to students, which facilitate understanding and learning. Means that enable lecturers to provide students with knowledge. Proven tools for conveying information to students and getting them to learn. Strategies that facilitators can use to support the teaching process. Tools that facilitate the transfer of knowledge to students. Tools that enable learning-to-learn, or classes that are innovative, creative and interesting to students. Mechanisms I use to make knowledge accessible. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Original title: Aplicación y validación de un modelo tecnopedagógico de formación docente mediante una plataforma educativa virtual


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Application and validation of a techno-pedagogical lecturer training model...

They were asked to give their own definitions of learning strategies. As shown in Table 3, some of the lecturers did not have a clear idea of what they were, and that is why examples of them were given on the course. Table 3. Definitions of learning strategies

Methods that the students use to learn. The conceptualisation of the issue. For me, it is a teaching and learning strategy. Means that enable students to construct concepts, skills and attitudes. Tools that help us lecturers get students to learn. Various strategies that anyone doing learning activities can use. Behaviours that students adopt in order to learn. What I am going to use to ensure that what I teach is learnt. Mechanisms to fix knowledge in the students’ minds. Necessary tools that facilitate the acquisition of knowledge. Tools that are used in accordance with the students’ learning styles, though any tools that students are lacking can be acquired. The specific way of how to guide students in order to strengthen their learning.

After going over the answers to the questionnaire, the sessions were restructured, the tasks were simplified, the teaching-learning strategies were reviewed and exercises were done on Moodle following the spiral structure of the research-action process.

Level of progress in technology use and appropriation This section emerged from the data collected in the fieldwork and from the theory proposed by Hooper and Rieber (1995), who presented a model of the phases of technology appropriation (or ‘adoption’ in their words): familiarisation, utilisation, integration, reorientation and evolution. Thus, by compiling and analysing the blogs, questionnaires, each of the participants’ courses, observations, session questions and e-mails sent to the facilitator, different types of lecturer/learner were identified. These were classified into three groups: beginner level (7), intermediate level (6) and advanced level (3).

Beginner level Beginner-level lecturers were those that had never used Moodle and those that, by the third session, had not managed to get a basic grasp of Moodle. For this group, the familiarisation phase of the model by Hooper and Rieber (1995) was considered. These authors defined it as a phase concerned with a teacher’s “initial exposure to and experience with a technology.” RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Original title: Aplicación y validación de un modelo tecnopedagógico de formación docente mediante una plataforma educativa virtual


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Application and validation of a techno-pedagogical lecturer training model...

Two beginner-level participants’ comments are given below: •• I still don’t think I understand how and when the activities are done. •• For me, using the resources is always a challenge.

It should be noted that one of the beginner-level lecturers asked for support to understand how Moodle worked and was given individual advice. This lecturer was a little afraid of pressing a button, though this was something that tended to ease off as Moodle was explained: •• Today I tried to use Moodle, but I’m at a loss as to what we have to do, or rather how we are supposed to do it.

Intermediate level Intermediate-level lecturers were defined by the level of VLE-use knowledge and by taking into consideration the utilisation phase proposed by Hooper and Rieber (1995). According to these authors, this phase “occurs when the teacher tries out the technology or innovation in the classroom,” although “the attitude of ‘At least I gave it a try’ will likely interfere with any enduring and long-term appropriation of the technology. Teachers who progress only to this phase will probably discard the technology at the first sign of trouble […]” Intermediate-level lecturers were those that had used some type of VLE, whether Moodle or another (Blackboard, for example). Three intermediate-level participants’ comments are given below: •• I felt comfortable, in an environment that fostered learning about new aspects of Moodle that I hadn’t used.

•• The first time I used Moodle was a terrifying experience, as it was the first time I’d ever used it. •• I felt very good because I’d already used a similar program: Blackboard.

Many of the intermediate-level lecturers managed to overcome some of the difficulties. Indeed, they commented on this in the blog specifically created for problems arising in the online sessions: •• As far as the online session is concerned, I’m going to ask for more advice.

•• The only difficulty was finding the functions, but in general I think it gets easier as you become more familiar with the VLE.

Advanced level Advanced-level lecturers were those that already had one or more courses on Moodle. According to Hooper and Rieber (1995), the integration phase “occurs when a teacher consciously decides to designate certain tasks and responsibilities to the technology, so, if the technology is suddenly RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Application and validation of a techno-pedagogical lecturer training model...

removed or is unavailable, the teacher cannot proceed with the instruction as planned.” Many lecturers would find it hard to give a lecture without a projector, for example. Hooper and Rieber (1995) went on to say that “For some teachers, the Integration phase marks the beginning of a professional ‘metamorphosis’ […]” Four examples of advanced-level lecturers and their comments in the blogs are given below: •• I’ve learnt a lot from the online course, but I’ve learnt a lot more from putting it into practice, even though I may have made some mistakes and spent a lot of time correcting things.

•• I’ve gained more knowledge about the benefits of the VLE, I’m now more interested in working with it.

•• I feel very confident, and am looking forward to learning about a few of the techniques that I need to perfect.

•• I think the course is a good example in its own right of how to use it in practice. On completion of the course, their gradual progress in relation to technological skills was observed (see Table 4). This was the case for five of the lecturers/learners belonging to the beginner-level group, who had moved up to the intermediate-level group; two of the intermediate-level lecturers/ learners had made enough progress to join the advanced-level group. Three lecturers already in the advanced-level group used Moodle tools that they had not used previously, they learnt to search for help on the Internet and via video tutorials, and to look for ways of improving them on their own. In addition, on completion of the training course, 12 out of the 16 lecturers/learners had their own courses on Moodle.

Table 4. Number of lecturers by level of technological knowledge

Training

Beginner level

Intermediate level

Advanced level

At the start

7

6

3

On completion

2

9

5

4. Discussion Overdijk and Diggelen (2006) defined technology appropriation as “a process of social construction in which the actions and thoughts of the user are shaped by the technology, while the meaning and effects of the technology are shaped through the users’ actions.” McAnally-Salas, Navarro, and Rodríguez (2006) defined technology appropriation as the changes occurring in lecturers as a consequence of technology use in their courses; in this respect, teaching turns into something different when technology is incorporated into it, either voluntarily or forcibly, because new knowledge and skills are integrated that become apparent in a lecturer’s level of mastery and appropriation. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Original title: Aplicación y validación de un modelo tecnopedagógico de formación docente mediante una plataforma educativa virtual


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Application and validation of a techno-pedagogical lecturer training model...

As the authors have already mentioned, it was possible to observe changes in the lecturers’ attitudes towards technology, as well as the gradual development of their skills. Some examples of their views are given below: •• I need to keep practising, though I have gained more knowledge.

•• All this stuff about learning with technology is never ending; there’s always something else to learn. •• […] there’s a lot to learn. I suggest a second part; we’re hooked, so let’s carry on!

During the sessions, it was found that the advanced-level lecturers had continued to use Moodle as a replica of what they would usually have done in the face-to-face classes (using Moodle as a blackboard). The beginner and intermediate-level lecturers/learners had also done the same. As they discovered Moodle tools, they realised the benefits that this VLE could offer them in terms of simplifying their classes, such as grades, questionnaires and dialogues. •• Questionnaires make the lecturer’s job much easier. Many of the lecturers preferred to use e-mail to send assignment instructions or to keep in touch with their students, but they valued the fact that they could do all of that in one place. Hooper and Rieber (1995) proposed another two phases. One is reorientation, which, according to these authors, “requires that educators reconsider and reconceptualize the purpose and function of the classroom. […] The focus of the classroom is now centered on a student’s learning […] the teacher’s role is to establish a learning environment that supports and facilitates students as they construct and shape their own knowledge […] [teachers] are open to technologies […] [and] include technology in their classrooms.” Hooper and Rieber (1995) also stated that the evolution phase “serves as a reminder that the educational system must continue to evolve and adapt to remain effective. […] The classroom learning environment should constantly change to meet the challenge and potential provided by new understandings of how people learn.” In the case of lecturers observed in the study presented in this article, only one reached this phase.

5. Conclusions and study limitations From the results obtained, it was found that training the lecturers to use ICTs and guiding them to develop their own courses made them more likely to acquire technological skills. The lecturers managed to incorporate technology into their classrooms, and they gradually appropriated it, without overlooking the pedagogical aspects. Their gradual progress in relation to technological skills was supervised. This was the case for five of the lecturers/learners belonging to the beginner-level group, who had moved up to the intermediate-level group, and for two of the lecturers/learners belonging to intermediate-level group RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Application and validation of a techno-pedagogical lecturer training model...

who had moved up to the advanced-level group. In the advanced-level group, the lecturers/learners learnt to look for ways of improving their courses on their own Likewise, 12 out of the 16 participants had their own online courses as a classroom support. This meant that this techno-pedagogical lecturer training model was validated because it worked. Regarding the limitations of this study, it should be noted that several lecturers dropped out of the course. Out of the 24 lecturers enrolled on it, only 16 completed it. Thus, if participation had been greater, better results could have been obtained. Moreover, it would have been interesting to have established why they dropped out. Other important issues not addressed in the study were (a) getting the opinions of the students of the lecturers/learners on the course and (b) analysing the online activity logs to ascertain usage time and participation in each activity. It should be underscored that constant communication with the lecturers is very important. Indeed, following completion of the course, some of the lecturers continued to ask for advice about revising their courses. This provided confirmation of the importance of institutional support.

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About the Authors Mónica Inés Monsiváis Almada monsivaismonica@hotmail.com Coordinator of Curricular Development, Xochicalco University, Mexico She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and a master’s degree in Education (Autonomous University of Baja California, UABC, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico). She has wide-ranging experience of working in the: •• Office of the General Manager, Office of Academic Affairs and Office of Liaison and Qualifications Coordination at the University of Tijuana (CUT), Mexico. •• Department of Curricular Development, Xochicalco University. •• Lecturer Training, Xochicalco University. •• Accreditation processes of the Mexican Federation of Private Institutions of Higher Education (FIMPES) for Xochicalco University. She has more than 10 years’ experience of teaching in higher education. She has had several articles published in Xochicalco University’s journals. Calle San Francisco núm. 1139 CP 22835, Ensenada, Baja California Mexico

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Lewis McAnally Salas mcanally@uabc.edu.mx Full-time Senior Researcher, Educational Development and Research Institute, Autonomous University of Baja California, Mexico He is a full-time senior researcher in the Educational Development and Research Institute (IIDE) at the Autonomous University of Baja California (UABC), Mexico. He holds a master’s degree in Education Sciences (UABC) in which he was awarded a School Merit for achieving the highest average grade and a cum laude distinction in the defence his dissertation entitled “Prototipo de un curso en línea a nivel licenciatura” [Prototype of a bachelor’s degree level online course]. He holds a doctorate in International Education (Centre of Excellence, Autonomous University of Tamaulipas, UAT, Mexico), where he presented his thesis entitled “Factores contextuales y de formación docente que influyen en el diseño de cursos en línea” [Contextual and lecturer training factors that influence the design of online courses]. His research focuses on technology-mediated learning processes, e-learning, educational design for online courses, training lecturers to become online lecturers, and technology dissemination processes for learning in education institutions. He is the author of several peer-reviewed articles published in national and international journals. He has given presentations at national and international conferences, and has collaborated on several book chapters. In addition, he was editor-in-chief of the Revista Electrónica de Investigación Educativa (REDIE) from October 2003 to March 2009, and, in 2010, he received recognition from the UABC for academic merit in the area of Education and Humanities for his contribution to the field of research into educational technology and to human resources training. http://iide.ens.uabc.mx/blogs/mcanally Instituto de Investigación y Desarrollo Educativo (IIDE) Universidad Autónoma de Baja California (UABC) Km 103 carretera Tijuana-Ensenada CP 22830. Ensenada, Baja California Mexico

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Gilles Lavigne gilles@uabc.edu.mx Full-time Senior Researcher, Educational Development and Research Institute, Autonomous University of Baja California, Mexico He was a tenured lecturer for 21 years at the Télé-université (TÉLUQ), Université du Québec, Canada. TÉLUQ is a wholly online university. Since 2002, he has been a full-time senior researcher in the Educational Development and Research Institute (IIDE) at the Autonomous University of Baja California (UABC), Mexico. He has wide-ranging experience in: •• Administration, as director of research and postgraduate studies for 8 years. •• International cooperation for 12 years, as head and scientific director of projects in various countries (Vietnam, Senegal, Mauritius, Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile, Belgium and Cuba). •• Higher level teaching, both face-to-face and online (he was awarded a prize for the best online course in 2000 by the Quebec Ministry of Education). •• Research, both social and educational technology-related. He has published widely in Spanish, French and English. Instituto de Investigación y Desarrollo Educativo (IIDE) Universidad Autónoma de Baja California (UABC) Km 103 carretera Tijuana-Ensenada CP 22830. Ensenada, Baja California Mexico

The texts published in this journal are – unless indicated otherwise – covered by the Creative Commons Spain Attribution 3.0 licence. You may copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the work, provided you attribute it (authorship, journal name, publisher) in the manner specified by the author(s) or licensor(s). The full text of the licence can be consulted here: <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/es/deed.en>

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ARTicle

Creating and using educational resources to improve practical teaching in the Human Physiology subject on the bachelor’s degree course in Physical Activity and Sports Sciences. Assessment of results Gemma Olmos

gemma.olmos@uah.es Assistant Doctor Lecturer, Department of Physiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Alcalá, Spain

M. Piedad Ruiz-Torres

mpiedad.ruiz@uah.es Tenured Lecturer, Department of Systems Biology, University of Alcalá, Spain

Laura Calleros

laura.calleros@uah.es Assistant Doctor Lecturer, Department of Systems Biology, University of Alcalá, Spain

María Alicia Cortés

alicia.cortes@uah.es Researcher, Department of Systems Biology, University of Alcalá, Spain

Sergio de Frutos

sergio.frutos@uah.es Researcher, Department of Systems Biology, University of Alcalá, Spain

Rafael Ospina

rafael@portaldemedicina.com Scientific Director, Menntun, Colombia

Manuel Rodríguez-Puyol

manuel.rodriguez@uah.es Emeritus Professor of Physiology, Department of Systems Biology, University of Alcalá, Spain

Submitted in: January 2013 Accepted in: April 2013 Published in: January 2014 RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC

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Recommended citation

Olmos, G., Ruiz-Torres, M.P., Calleros, L., Cortés, M.A., de Frutos, S., Ospina, R. & Rodríguez-Puyol, M. (2014). Creating and using educational resources to improve practical teaching in the Human Physiology subject on the bachelor’s degree course in Physical Activity and Sports Sciences. Assessment of results. Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento (RUSC). Vol. 11, No 1. pp. 108-127. doi http:// doi.dx.org/10.7238/rusc.v11i1.1757

Abstract

The need to advance towards a methodology that strengthens self-directed learning and competency development among students has become a key focus of university teaching in recent years. This focus has given rise to new methodological strategies that have been enhanced by the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). Within the progress of these methodological strategies, the creation of educational resources that help to meet their objectives has become an important part of the work done by university lecturers. Along those lines, a group of lecturers in the Department of Physiology at the University of Alcalá (UAH), Spain, has created a series of educational resources using visual online tools for practical teaching in the Human Physiology subject. These resources were used for the first time in the 2011/12 academic year in the Human Physiology subject, taught in the first year of the bachelor’s degree course in Physical Activity and Sports Sciences. This article presents the resources created and the methodology used. The results obtained from their use are also assessed; these results refer to the students’ satisfaction with the resources, and the contribution that the resources and the methodology made to the students’ learning. A survey was conducted to ascertain the students’ opinions, and a comparative analysis was performed of the grades obtained by the students in the practical part of the subject and their impact on the overall grade, and those obtained in the previous academic year when the resources had not been used. The results show that the students were satisfied with both the educational resources and the methodology used, and that there was a significant improvement in the grades obtained in comparison to the previous academic year.

Keywords

human physiology, educational resources, methodological innovation, assessment

Elaboración y empleo de materiales didácticos para la mejora de la enseñanza práctica en la asignatura de Fisiología Humana en el grado de Ciencias de la Actividad Física y del Deporte. Evaluación de resultados Resumen

La necesidad de caminar hacia una metodología que potencie el aprendizaje autónomo y el desarrollo de las competencias en el alumno se ha convertido en estos últimos años en un elemento clave en la enseñanza universitaria. Esta constante ha impulsado el auge de nuevas estrategias metodológicas que se han visto dinamizadas por el uso de las nuevas tecnologías. Dentro del progreso de estas metodologías, la elaboración de materiales didácticos que favorezcan estos objetivos ha sido y sigue siendo una pieza importante de trabajo entre los docentes universitarios. En esta línea, un grupo de profesores del Departamento de Fisiología de la universidad hemos elaborado una serie de materiales didácticos empleando herramientas visuales y virtuales, para la enseñanza práctica de la asignatura Fisiología Humana. Estos materiales RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC

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se utilizaron por primera vez durante el curso 2011-12 en la asignatura Fisiología Humana de primer curso del grado de Ciencias de la Actividad Física y del Deporte (CCAFyDE). En este trabajo presentamos los materiales elaborados y la metodología utilizada. También evaluamos el resultado obtenido tras su empleo en cuanto a la satisfacción del alumno y a la contribución que estos materiales y tal metodología han tenido para el aprendizaje de los estudiantes. Para ello se realizó una encuesta entre los alumnos y un análisis comparativo de las calificaciones obtenidas en la parte práctica de la asignatura y de su impacto en el conjunto de la nota total de esta misma, con respecto a las notas obtenidas por los estudiantes del curso anterior, en el que no se utilizaron estos materiales. Los resultados indican una aceptación satisfactoria por parte de los alumnos tanto de los materiales didácticos como de la metodología empleada, así como una mejora significativa en sus calificaciones con respecto al curso anterio

Palabras clave

Fisiología Humana, materiales didácticos, innovación metodológica, evaluación

Introduction For several years, Spanish universities have been grappling with change processes within the context of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). Of particular importance in those processes is advancement towards the kind of teaching that strengthens self-directed learning and competency development among students, where competencies are understood as a combination of skills, knowledge and attitudes that are suited to the jobs that students will eventually do. It is therefore crucial to create new teaching methodologies that are dynamic enough to cope with continuous improvement. In particular, these methodologies should ensure that the teaching-learning processes strengthen the students’ responsible, active role and greater participation in the development of knowledge and skills (Zabalza, 2003-4), which will ultimately enable them to create their own learning processes (Prudencia Gutiérrez et al., 2011). This requires the development of new ways of creating and conveying information, such as strengthening the use of online, digital and audiovisual tools, etc., and ultimately creating new methodologies and improving the use of new technologies applied to teaching (Salinas, 2004). The process requires students to take a more active part in their own learning processes, and it should therefore aim to strengthen their communication, information-searching and teamwork skills (Zabalza, 2003-4; Bartolomé Pina, 2008; Adell Segura & Castañeda Quintero, 2010). In addition, it should consider strategies that strengthen interaction between lecturers and students, and among students, as that seems to be an aspect that information and communication technologies (ICTs) have yet to resolve (Flores & De Arco, 2012). The need for innovation has gradually developed over the past few years, during which time many varied initiatives have been implemented in a range of disciplines (Area Moreira, 2005; Margalef et al., 2007; Prudencia Gutiérrez et al., 2011). These experiences have shown that using new strategies and methodologies to facilitate and improve the students’ learning, to teach them to learn and to develop their own learning is fundamental to any form of improvement in the teaching-learning process. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC

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For several years, the development of new educational resources in digital format has been one of the innovations that many lecturers have strengthened the most. The use of these resources has been found to yield good results with regard to understanding and acquiring the required knowledge, as well as reinforcing other competencies (Carranza & Celaya, 2003). In addition, it has been shown that having educational resources available in multimedia or other presentation formats is a simple, practical way of conveying information, of making it accessible to students, thus aiding the students’ understanding and strengthening their self-directed work. Over the years, guidelines and criteria have been given for creating such resources. As the process is dependent on experience in and the rapid development of new technologies, the resources have been adapted to foster the acquisition of the competencies that each discipline requires (Area Moreira, 2005; Prendes et al., 2008). In scientific disciplines in general, and in a subject like Human Physiology in particular, innovation in teaching through the use of educational resources has been ongoing for several years in a wide variety of initiatives (García & Lauretta, 2008; Gallego Fernández et al., 2008; Pagés, 2007; Pagés et al., 2011; Prendes et al., 2008). In the field of Human Physiology, practical teaching is crucial in terms of ensuring that students learn the subject properly. Practical teaching allows students to come into direct contact with the real aspects of the subject matter, and with the observation and analysis methods through which knowledge is acquired. Furthermore, it represents a complement and an extension to theory classes, together forming a whole. Well-designed, high-quality practical classes can help to arouse or confirm the students’ interest in or enthusiasm or passion for the subject, as they can provide a stimulating feeling of discovery and substantiation. In addition, practical teaching in the Human Physiology subject enables competencies other than cognitive ones to be acquired. These include the development of abilities and skills such as teamwork, the capacity to summarise, and the ability to produce and interpret results, all of which will be crucial to students in their working lives. Regarding the scheduled practicals for this subject, the students customarily have to do practical exercises selected by the lecturers, who will have explained the theory and procedure to be followed beforehand. As a result, the students are simply actors following a script written by the lecturers. This method of practical teaching has been found to be passive and not very stimulating; it has also been shown not to foster the development of the necessary competencies among students. Bearing the above in mind, and from our experience of practical teaching in this subject, we felt that it was necessary to introduce an innovative change in the methodology used for practical teaching that would strengthen the students’ active participation. This change involved establishing a work procedure that would incorporate new technologies and foster research and self-directed learning. To that end, a series of educational resources were developed to encourage the students to: •• Approach their learning through a more active and participatory methodology.

•• Become more independent in their work, particularly in their preparation of, critical attitudes towards and discussions about it.

•• Adopt a learning method that induces them to conduct research and integrate knowledge, to

relate different aspects of it, and to be capable of drawing on and applying it to situations that are likely to arise in their working lives.

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These resources were made available to the students on the university’s virtual learning environment (VLE) while undertaking the subject, so that they could work on them before doing their practicals. After doing their practicals, the students’ levels of satisfaction with the resources and the methodology were assessed, as was the impact of using the resources in the learning process by analysing the grades obtained by the students and comparing them to those obtained in the previous academic year when the resources had not been used.

Objective This study had a two-fold objective: •• Firstly, to create a series of educational resources (scripts and videos) and make them available to the students via Blackboard – the university’s Virtual Classroom VLE – to support them in

doing their practical activities. The context in which the practicals were done was the Human Physiology subject, taught in the first year of the bachelor’s degree course in Physical Activity and Sports Sciences. •• Secondly, to assess the impact of implementing the resources by conducting a survey

to collect the students’ opinions of them, and by performing a comparative analysis of the grades obtained by the students and those obtained in the previous academic year when the resources had not been used, in order to estimate the extent to which the resources had helped to improve practical teaching in the subject as whole.

Description and criteria for creating the educational resources Within the framework of the EHEA, the proportion of European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) credits allocated to laboratory practicals in accordance with the university’s criteria for the new bachelor’s degree course in Physical Activity and Sports Sciences is around five percent of the subject’s six ECTS credits. These credits are split between five 90-minute practicals. For the purposes of this study, the educational resources were made available for use in three practicals, which were selected in accordance with the criteria of usefulness and relevance to the theoretical content of the subject: •• Measuring blood pressure.

•• Interpreting electrocardiogram (ECG) results. •• Interpreting spirometry results.

The following resources were created for each of these practicals:

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•• An audiovisual tutorial (images with voiceover) specifying the following (the original Spanish text has been translated into English here):

A series of different practicals will be done throughout the academic year. They cover important aspects of human physiology and will enable you [the student] to get a pretty good idea of some of the procedures used to measure bodily functions. At the start of each academic year, you will find the specific practicals to be done in the Assignments folder for practicals. The following video gives a clear, concise explanation of how to prepare for and do the practicals in this subject. For each practical, you [the student] will need to do some prior research, which will be assisted by a script that will guide you through both the research process and the learning process. The script comprises several sections, the content of which is detailed below: –– The objectives pursued by the Physiology practical and related theoretical areas of the syllabus.

–– Information on theoretical content for which resources are available (in audiovisual and text format), relating to the basic theoretical concepts that students need to be aware of

before doing the practical. The students are responsible for watching and working with these resources, although they can look for others themselves. Bibliographic sources are provided for that purpose. –– A protocol: a step-by-step explanation of how to do the practical work is given.

–– Guidelines for producing the results: how to process and analyse the data, how long it should take and how to present the results.

–– A test to assess the quality of the resources and the use made of them by the students. •• A script in PDF format for each practical, containing the following sections: –– A preparatory questionnaire about the theoretical concepts of the practical, which will guide

the students through the research process relating to information searching before doing the practical.

–– The conceptual basis, which contextualises the practical within the subject content. –– A protocol that the students need to follow to do the practical. –– A chronological description of how the practical progresses.

–– A guide for presenting the results that the students obtain: tabulating results, performing statistical analyses and designing graphics.

•• A slide-show presentation of the script content to ensure that the students have a tool

that provides them with a quick refresher of the information that they need to assimilate. Scientific videos are included, which give detailed explanations of the practical procedures to be carried out. Some examples of the images from the videos created for the practicals are shown below:

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Illustration. Examples of images from the videos created for the practicals

•• Links to web sites containing scientific content, which the students may find useful in

preparing for the practicals, although their use is not compulsory. In order to get these links, the following activities were carried out: a) searching in official, reliable sources of information (PubMed, EBSCO, library, other universities and libraries, networks of virtual learning objects, etc.); b) filtering and selecting suitable links for the practical (done by a peer academic advisor); c) reviewing, summarising and adding value to the linked resources (done by the teaching staff ). The final list of links to websites is summarised in Table 1.

Table 1. Websites selected for their scientific content

BLOOD PRESSURE

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMvcm0800157#figure=preview.gif http://www.sumanasinc.com/webcontent/animations/content/bloodpressure.swf http://www.medindia.net/animation/blood-pressure.swf http://mrhardy.wikispaces.com/Blood+Pressure.swf http://catalog.nucleusinc.com/interactive/high_blood_pressure.swf http://web.diabetes.org/link/link_for_life/03screen3.swf http://www.seh-lelha.org/swf/hipertension.swf Online course: http://www.csuchico.edu/atep/bp/bp.swf Electrocardiogram: http://healthlibrary.epnet.com/GetContent.aspx?token=0fcfa67b-a10e-40af-bef63c0b92e23cdf&chunkiid=104075

ELECTROCARDIOGRAM

Electrical conduction system of the heart: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/animate/flash-electrical.swf http://www.bhf.org.uk/swfs/hearthealth/ecg.swf http://www.orthosports.info/multimedia/electrocardiogram/Electrocardiogram.swf Cardiac cycle: http://chs.sd57.bc.ca/~jbleecker/science/bi12ppt/Bio12_2/C13_Circulatory%20System_Newer/ cardiac.swf http://www.wisc-online.com/objects/ap2304/ap2304.swf

SPIROMETRY

http://qs1252.pair.com/monarchm/elsevier/mao_v2/www-convert/rich_media/62l0209/player. swf?1294931209000 http://www.iesvirgen.com/images/stories/dep_biologia/Biolopage/Materiales/spirometry_spa. swf

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Creating and using educational resources to improve practical teaching...

Method Description of the student sample This study was conducted on students taking the Human Physiology subject, a six-credit basic-training type course taught in the first year of the bachelor’s degree course in Physical Activity and Sports Sciences. The results were analysed for 102 students in the 2011/12 academic year (27 female and 75 male), and for 97 in the 2010/11 academic year (26 female and 71 male). Of the students in the 2011/12 academic year, 91 (22 female and 69 male) answered the survey on the resources created. The age interval was 18-33 years.

Description of the instrument Creating, conducting and analysing the survey to ascertain the students’opinions of the teaching-learning process in the Human Physiology subject using the resources described above. The survey was designed in collaboration with the university’s Teaching Support Service and adapted to practical resources. The survey had four sections, each containing several questions. The students could choose a single answer to each question from the following options: totally disagree, somewhat agree, moderately agree, strongly agree, totally agree. We assessed the following sections: •• Time and effort put into preparation by the students (one question). •• Resource preparation (three questions).

•• Quality of resources provided (five questions).

•• Knowledge and skills acquired through the methodology (three questions). The data collected from the survey were tabulated and analysed to obtain the respective percentages for each of the questions posed.

Procedure The educational resources were made available to the students enrolled at the start of the subject via Blackboard – the university’s Virtual Classroom VLE – to guide and support them in doing these practicals. The process that the students had to follow to do the practicals properly was: to review the resources for each practical, to create the requested resources and to study the theoretical part of the practical so that they would have the necessary knowledge to do the practical on the day. While the practicals were being done, two lecturers were on hand to answer any queries that the students had about implementing the protocols. It was crucial to have a series of parameters available in order to determine whether the procedures used in the teaching-learning process were either suitable or needed changing. Parameters like these can be obtained by performing an assessment involving reflection, analysis and decision-making. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC

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Original title: Elaboración y empleo de materiales didácticos para la mejora de la enseñanza práctica en la asignatura de Fisiología Humana en el grado de Ciencias de la Actividad Física y del Deporte. Evaluación de resultados


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Creating and using educational resources to improve practical teaching...

Teaching-practice assessment has been shown to be one of the most powerful formative strategies for improving the quality of the teaching-learning process, which enables resource, training and infrastructure requirements to be ascertained, and the students’ needs to be identified. Bearing these premises in mind, a survey was conducted after the students had done the practicals, and the results obtained from it were analysed.

Results analysis 1. Analysis of the student survey The data collected from the survey were tabulated and analysed to obtain the respective percentages for each item described in the ‘Description of the instrument’ section. Time and effort put into preparation by the students The time and effort put in by the students was assessed as time invested in preparing for the practical using the educational resources created. Chart 1 shows that nearly half of the students spent an hour on their preparation. The percentages of students who spent two or more hours were very low. It should be noted that a percentage of the students did not specify how much time they had spent, which indicates that they either did count the time or did not spend any time worthy of mention.

3.3%

3.3%

3.3%

3.3% 14.2%

47.2%

23.1%

NK/NA 0h 0.5 h 1h 2h 5-6 h Over 10 h

Chart 1. Time and effort put into preparation by the students (percentage of the number of students)

Resource preparation Regarding the students’ needs in order to prepare for the practicals, the opinions shown in Table 2 were obtained. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC

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Creating and using educational resources to improve practical teaching...

Table 2. Resource preparation (percentage of the number of students)

Totally disagree

Somewhat agree

Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Totally agree

A supplementary personal explanation had to be given by the lecturers before doing the practical.

3.3

6.6

39.6

41.8

8.8

The practical work was complemented by contributions made in theory classes and seminars.

0.0

7.7

25.3

48.4

18.7

The time and effort put into preparing for the practicals complemented the theory classes.

1.1

4.4

33.0

49.5

12.1

RESOURCE PREPARATION (%)

Regarding the work done in the practicals being complemented by theory classes and seminars, a high percentage of the students agreed (48.4% strongly agreed and 18.7% totally agreed). These percentages indicate that the students perceived good complementarity between what was covered in the theory classes and what was done in the practicals. Regarding the need for an explanation to be given by the lecturers before doing the practical, a moderate percentage of the students agreed (41.8% strongly agreed and 39.6% moderately agreed). This may be related to the small amount of time that the students said they had spent on preparation (as shown Chart 1). •• Quality of resources provided Table 3. Quality of resources provided (percentage of the number of students)

Totally disagree

Somewhat agree

Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Totally agree

The resources provided for preparing and doing the practicals were clear and sufficient.

0.0

3.3

14.3

51.6

30.8

The information and bibliography recommended for use in preparing the practicals were available and easy to access.

2.2

9.9

27.5

38.5

22.0

The resources were made available to the students with enough time to prepare for the practicals.

0.0

9.9

17.6

50.5

22.0

The students needed the lecturers’ help to understand the resources provided.

0.0

8.8

46.2

33.0

12.1

The use of discussion forums and the sharing of worked-on resources on the VLE facilitated a better understanding of the resources for doing the practicals.

11.0

30.8

28.6

16.5

13.2

QUALITY OF RESOURCES PROVIDED (%)

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A very high percentage of the students agreed that the resources were suitable, clear and sufficient to prepare for the practicals (51.6% strongly agreed and 30.8% totally agreed), that there was enough time to prepare them (50.5% strongly agreed and 22% totally agreed) and that the necessary information and bibliography were easy to access (38.5% strongly agreed and 22% totally agreed). However, the students moderately agreed with the need to get the lecturers’ help to understand the resources, which required a prior explanation (46.2% moderately agreed and 33% strongly agreed). Regarding the use of discussion forums on the VLE, the percentage of agreement was not high (30.8% somewhat agreed and 28.6% moderately agreed). It should be noted that this resource was not widely used by the students, and that it did not constitute a substantive element of the methodology. The low level of agreement can therefore be considered normal. •• Knowledge and skills acquired through the methodology Another of the important issues in the assessment of the methodology was to determine the level of knowledge and skills acquired through the methodology. The results are shown in Table 4. Table 4. Knowledge and skills acquired through the methodology (percentage of the number of students)

Knowledge and skills acquired through the methodology (%)

Totally disagree

Somewhat agree

Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Totally agree

The methodology fosters the students’ motivation to do the practicals properly.

0.0

3.3

17.6

53.8

25.3

This activity fosters relationships between the students, enabling the work done to be shared and discussed.

0.0

3.3

18.7

45.1

33.0

The preparatory work for the practicals strengthened the students’ capacity to search for and select resources.

0.0

12.1

45.1

37.4

5.5

A high percentage of the students agreed that the methodology fostered their motivation to do the practicals properly (53.85% strongly agreed and 25.3% totally agreed), fostered relationships between the students and discussions (45.15% strongly agreed and 33% totally agreed) and strengthened their capacity to search for and select resources (45.1% moderately agreed and 37.4% strongly agreed).

2. Comparative analysis of the grades obtained by the students In order to assess the students’ assimilation of content after using the resources, a test-type exam was set. The exam contained different questions to determine the use made of the resources by the students, both for theory and for doing the practical procedures. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC

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With the aim of getting a more comprehensive assessment of the usefulness of the resources used by the students in the practicals and the methodology followed by them, we performed a comparative analysis using Student’s t-test to compare the means of the grades obtained in the practical exam by the students who worked with the resources in the 2011/12 academic year and those obtained in the 2010/11 academic year when a similar exam had been set but the methodology had not been applied. Chart 2 shows the grades obtained in the practical exam for both academic years.

2011/12 Academic year

2010/11 Academic year

0

2

4

6

8

10

Chart 2. Grades obtained in the practical exam by the students in the 2010/11 academic year (n=97) and the 2011/12 academic year (n=102), whose means were 5.62 and 6.66, respectively. The data were analysed using Student’s t-test to compare means: t=3.82456; p=0.00017591.

A significant improvement was found in the grades obtained by the students in the 2011/12 academic year (n=102 students) in comparison to those obtained in the 2010/11 academic year (n=97 students), as the means were 6.66 and 5.62, respectively (t=3.82456 and p=0.00017591). In order to refine these data, we performed a comparative analysis of the grades obtained in the whole subject after continuous assessment, and of the contribution that the practical exam grade had made to the final grade. Chart 3 shows the means of the grades obtained in the whole subject in each of the academic years (2011/12, n=102 students and 2010/11, n=97 students). They were 6.34 and 5.07, respectively. A significant improvement was found in the grades obtained (t=6.47811 and p=1.7828E-7).

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2011/12 Academic year

2010/11 Academic year

0

2

4

6

8

10

Chart 3. Grades obtained in the subject by the students, after continuous assessment, in the 2010/11 academic year (n=97) and the 2011/12 academic year (n=102), whose means were 5.07 and 6.34, respectively. The data were analysed using Student’s t-test to compare means: t=6.478114; p=1.7828E-7.

Finally, we analysed the contribution that the practicals had made to the theoretical content grade. Chart 4 shows the means of the grades obtained in the theoretical content assessment. A significant improvement was found in the grades obtained in the 2011/12 academic year (5.84) in comparison to those obtained in the 2010/11 academic year (4.43). This would seem to suggest that making better use of the practicals led to an improvement in the assimilation of theoretical content. This study was assessed using Student’s t-test to compare means (n=102 in 2011/12 and n=97 in 2010/11; where t=8.25498 and p=0).

2011/12 Academic year

2010/11 Academic year

0

2

4

6

8

10

Chart 4. Grades obtained in the theoretical content assessment by the students in the 2010/11 academic year (n=97) and the 2011/12 academic year (n=102), whose means were 4.43 and 5.84, respectively. The data were analysed using Student’s t-test to compare means: t=8.25498 and p=0. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC

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Conclusions The results obtained in this experience of working with students on practical teaching in the Human Physiology subject have enabled us to approach and, in so doing, move forward in the use of new teaching methodologies with new educational resources. •• On the one hand, the results obtained from the student survey indicated the students’ high level of satisfaction with the use of these new tools and with the methodology followed.

•• On the other hand, a significant improvement was found in the academic results obtained by the students, not only in the assessment for the practicals, but also in the overall assessment for all the content and competencies. The first stage of our work, which was the process of creating the resources, gave rise to a considerable improvement in our experience as lecturers, specifically with regard to organising all the information for the practical sessions that we had developed, and then arranging it in video and slide-show format to make it accessible to the students. This creation process enabled us to reconsider important aspects of both the content and design of the practicals, and the importance of conveying information is such a way as to facilitate the students’ self-directed learning process through the resources. In terms of implementing the students’ use of these resources and their subsequent assessment by means of a survey, this work enabled us to interact more closely with the students in the teachinglearning procedures, and to become aware of the students’ perceptions of the resources that they had used and how useful they had been to them in the process. In addition, this study enabled a preliminary assessment to be done of the way in which the use of new technologies and new resources in learning helps to motivate the students’ attention and strengthen their self-directed work, to facilitate their comprehension and acquisition of knowledge, and to obtain better results in the subject in general. This could be deduced from the comparative analysis of the grades obtained in the subject in the 2011/12 academic year in comparison to those obtained in the previous academic year. Regarding the need for explanations to be given by the lecturers to enable the students to better understand the resources and work out how to do the practicals (which a percentage of the students requested), two problems became apparent: •• On the one hand, the small amount of time that a high percentage of the students had spent on preparing for the practicals. This indicated that the students had not fully assumed their part of the self-directed work, which new teaching methodologies imply. •• On the other hand, this need for explanations meant that we had to consider improving those resources to make them more comprehensible and accessible to the students.

One of the elements on which there was a low level of agreement was the usefulness of using discussion forums. One of the reasons could be the fact that it had not constituted a substantive RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC

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element in the development of the methodology used in this experience and, as a result, the students did not consider the use of this resource a priority. The importance of this tool to the development of competencies such as group work and group construction of knowledge had nevertheless been noted. This made us think about the importance of incorporating it as a key tool in future experiences. In turn, these considerations present two challenges: helping to strengthen the students’ responsible, independent role in the teaching-learning process, and improving educational resources that facilitate the students’ work. In short, considering this experience as a whole, and within the teaching-learning process involving practical teaching in Human Physiology, the use of educational resources based on new technologies represents an important advance in both the students’ motivation and work, and in their academic results. In addition, it offers important advantages for lecturers and students alike: creating resources enriches the lecturers’ knowledge and teaching skills, and the students’ use of those resources strengthens their capacities and skills. Moreover, it optimises time spent on studying and complements the subject content, which leads to better grades. Finally, these resources can be used in practicals for this subject on other bachelor’s degree courses, and can be improved by taking into account the opinions collected from the student survey. Their use has enormous potential for both the lecturers’ pedagogical practice and the students’ knowledge and competency acquisition.

Acknowledgments This work was funded by the projects UAH/EV428 and UAH/EV451 of the UAH’s programme Proyectos para el fomento y la innovación en el proceso de enseñanza aprendizaje [Projects for development and innovation in the teaching-learning process].

References Adell, J., & Castañeda, L. (2010). Los entornos personales de aprendizaje (PLE): una nueva manera de entender el aprendizaje [Personal learning environments (PLE): a new way of understanding learning]. In R. Roig Vila & M. Fiorucci (Eds.). Claves para la investigación en innovación y calidad educativas, la integración de las tecnologías de la información y comunicación y la interculturalidad en las aulas [Keys to research in educational innovation and quality, the integration of information and communication technologies and interculturality in classrooms]. Area, M. (2005). Internet y la calidad de la educación superior en la perspectiva de la convergencia europea [The Internet and the quality of higher education in the outlook of European convergence]. Revista Española de Pedagogía, 63(230), 85-100. Bartolomé, A. (2008). Entornos de aprendizaje mixto en educación superior [Blended learning environments at higher education]. Revista Iberoamericana de Educación a Distancia (RIED), 11(1),15-52. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC

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Carranza, M., & Celaya, G. (2003). Una estrategia para favorecer la comprensión y el aprendizaje en las ciencias morfológicas: presentaciones en PowerPoint [A strategy to improve the comprehension and learning in morphological science: Powerpoint presentation]. RELIEVE, 9(2),139-159. Retrieved from http://www.uv.es/RELIEVE/v9n2/RELIEVEv9n2_3.htm. Flores, O., & De Arco, I. (2012). La influencia de las TIC en la interacción docente y discente en los procesos formativos universitarios [The Impact of ICTs on Lecturer and Student Interaction in University Education Processes]. RUSC. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal, 9(2),31-47. Retrieved from http://rusc.uoc.edu/ojs/index.php/rusc/article/view/v9n2-flores-arco/v9n2-flores-arco Gallego, R., Palés, J. L., Escanero, J. F., & Sánchez-Barceló, E. (2008). Innovación educativa en la universidad: la enseñanza de la fisiología en el grado de Medicina [Educational innovation in universities: physiology teaching on the bachelor’s degree course in Medicine]. Educació. Informes i Dossiers 8. Publicacions de la Universitat de València. García, E., & Lauretta, D. (2008). Consideraciones metodológicas y organizativas para la preparación y el desarrollo de videoconferencias (VC) con metodología CLIL [Methodological and organisational considerations for the development of videoconferences based on the CLIL didactical approach in a European cooperation perspective]. Revista Iberoamericana de Educación a Distancia (RIED), 11(1), 107-134. Margalef, L., Iborra, A., Pareja, N., Castro, B., Domínguez, S., García, I., & Jiménez, S. (2007). Tejiendo redes de aprendizaje y reflexión: una propuesta de innovación en la licenciatura de psicopedagogía [Weaving learning and reflection networks: an innovation proposal on the bachelor’s degree course in Pyschopedagogy]. PULSO, 30,123-142. Prenes, M. P., Martínez, F., & Gutiérrez, I. (2008). Producción de material didáctico: los objetos de aprendizaje [The production of educational materials: learning objects]. Revista Iberoamericana de Educación a Distancia (RIED),11(1),81-106. Pagés, T., Blasco, J., Viscor, G., Gallardo, M. A., Carbonell, T., Ibarz, A., Alva, N., & Fernández, J. (2011). Aplicación de metodologías activas para conseguir un aprendizaje profundo [Applying active methodologies to achieve deep learning]. Buenas prácticas docentes en la universidad. Modelos y experiencias en la Universidad de Barcelona [Best teaching practices in universities: models and experiences in the University of Barcelona] (pp. 165-178). Editorial Octaedro. Pagés, T. (2007). Experiencia en el diseño y uso de plataforma virtual, para el aprendizaje de Fisiología [Experience in the design and use of a virtual environment for Physiology learning]. Revista de Educación en Ciencias de la Salud (R.E.C.S.), 4(1). Prudencia, E., Yuste, R., Cubo, S., & Lucero, M. (2011). Buenas prácticas en el desarrollo de trabajo colaborativo en materias TIC aplicadas a la educación [Collaborate on ICT work applied to education]. Revista de Currículum y Formación del Profesorado, 15(1),180-194. Salinas, J. (2004). Innovación docente y uso de las TIC en la enseñanza universitaria [Teaching innovation and the use of ICT in university education]. RUSC. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal, 1(1). Retrieved from http://www.uoc.edu/rusc/dt/esp/salinas1104.pdf Zabalza, M. A. (2003-2004). Innovación en la enseñanza universitaria [Innovation in university teaching]. Contextos Educativos, 6-7,113-136.

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About the Authors Gemma Olmos gemma.olmos@uah.es Assistant Doctor Lecturer, Department of Physiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Alcalá, Spain She holds a doctorate in Chemistry and received a special award for her bachelor’s degree (University of Alcalá, UAH, Spain). Her professional activities mainly involve teaching practical classes in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and practical and theoretical classes in Physiology. She is the coordinator of a teaching innovation group that focuses on innovation in methodology and resources for Human Physiology teaching, and has participated in various teaching innovation projects on subject virtualisation and on creating resources for Human Physiology teaching. She also has broad experience in the field of scientific research. Departamento de Biología de Sistemas Facultad de Medicina y Ciencias de la Salud Universidad de Alcalá 28871 Alcalá de Henares (Madrid) Spain

M. Piedad Ruiz-Torres mpiedad.ruiz@uah.es Tenured Lecturer, Department of Systems Biology, University of Alcalá, Spain She holds a doctorate in Biology (University of Alcalá, UAH, Spain). She teaches Human Physiology. She holds a master’s degree in Teaching. She belongs to a teaching innovation group and has participated in various teaching innovation projects and courses on improving Human Physiology teaching. She has broad experience in the field of scientific research, with numerous articles published in renowned international journals. Departamento de Biología de Sistemas Facultad de Medicina y Ciencias de la Salud Universidad de Alcalá 28871 Alcalá de Henares (Madrid) Spain

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Creating and using educational resources to improve practical teaching...

Laura Calleros laura.calleros@uah.es Assistant Doctor Lecturer, Department of Systems Biology, University of Alcalá, Spain She holds a doctorate in Biology (University of Alcalá, UAH, Spain). She teaches Human Physiology. She participates in teaching innovation projects on improving Human Physiology teaching and belongs to a teaching innovation group. She has broad experience in the field of scientific research. Departamento de Biología de Sistemas Facultad de Medicina y Ciencias de la Salud Universidad de Alcalá 28871 Alcalá de Henares (Madrid) Spain

María Alicia Cortés alicia.cortes@uah.es Researcher, Department of Systems Biology, University of Alcalá, Spain She holds a doctorate in Biology (University of Alcalá, UAH, Spain). She teaches Physiology and participates in various teaching innovation projects. She has research experience and coordinates the technical management of the renal samples biobank at the UAH. Departamento de Biología de Sistemas Facultad de Medicina y Ciencias de la Salud Universidad de Alcalá 28871 Alcalá de Henares (Madrid)

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Sergio de Frutos sergio.frutos@uah.es Researcher, Department of Systems Biology, University of Alcalá, Spain He holds a doctorate in Pharmacy (University of Alcalá, UAH, Spain). He teaches Human Physiology. He belongs to a teaching innovation group and participates in various projects on the creation of resources for and the improvement of Human Physiology teaching. He has broad research experience on an international scale. Departamento de Biología de Sistemas Facultad de Medicina y Ciencias de la Salud Universidad de Alcalá 28871 Alcalá de Henares (Madrid) Spain

Rafael Ospina rafael@portaldemedicina.com Scientific Director, Menntun, Colombia He is a qualified surgeon (El Bosque University, Colombia). He specialises in university teaching and is an expert in e-learning. He is a coordinator of continuing medical education programmes in elearning mode. He is a guest lecturer at the University of Alcalá, UAH, Spain. Menntun (Bogotá) Colombia

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Creating and using educational resources to improve practical teaching...

Manuel Rodríguez-Puyol manuel.rodriguez@uah.es Emeritus Professor of Physiology, Department of Systems Biology, University of Alcalá, Spain He holds a doctorate in Biology (University of Alcalá, UAH, Spain) and a bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy (Complutense University of Madrid, UCM, Spain). He has taught in the field of Physiology as well as on numerous doctoral and master’s degree programmes in the fields of Physiology and Biomedicine. He belongs to a teaching innovation group and participates in various projects on the creation of resources for and the improvement of Human Physiology teaching. He has broad research experience, with numerous projects and scientific articles published in renowned international journals. He manages the renal samples biobank at the UAH. Departamento de Biología de Sistemas Facultad de Medicina y Ciencias de la Salud Universidad de Alcalá 28871 Alcalá de Henares (Madrid) Spain

The texts published in this journal are – unless indicated otherwise – covered by the Creative Commons Spain Attribution 3.0 licence. You may copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the work, provided you attribute it (authorship, journal name, publisher) in the manner specified by the author(s) or licensor(s). The full text of the licence can be consulted here: <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/es/deed.en>

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ARTicle

Determination of writing styles to detect similarities in digital documents Yohandri Ril Gil

rilltt@uci.cu Technology and Information Technology Security Advisor, FORTES Educational Technology Centre, University of Information Sciences, Havana

Yuniet del Carmen Toll Palma

ytoll@uci.cu Quality Assessor, FORTES Educational Technology Centre, University of Information Sciences, Havana

Eddy Fonseca Lahens

elahens@uci.cu Specialist, IdeoInformatics Centre, University of Information Sciences, Havana

Submitted in: March 2013 Accepted in: April 2013 Published in: January 2014

Recommended citation

Ril, Y., Toll, Y.C. & Fonseca, E. (2014). Determination of writing styles to detect similarities in digital documents. Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento (RUSC). Vol. 11, No 1. pp. 128-141. doi http://doi.dx.org/10.7238/rusc.v11i1.1783

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Original title: Determinación de estilos de escritura para la detección de similitudes entre documentos digitales


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Determination of writing styles to detect similarities in digital documents

Abstract

Anything involving human intellect is at risk of being plagiarised. This includes scientific and literary works such as articles, theses, audiovisual works, plans, projects and computer programs. However, this article pays special attention to the existence of this phenomenon in written works in general, and in digital documents in natural or programming languages in particular. The objective of the research is to develop and apply a mathematical model that allows the writing style used in the drafting of texts to be determined. The results obtained from the application of the procedure are intended to serve as the basis for reducing the number of documents that need to be compared in order to analyse and detect similarities in them. The procedure was experimentally applied to a set of articles classified by topic and author, where the writing styles used to draft them differed.

Keywords

writing style, digital documents, plagiarism, procedure

Determinación de estilos de escritura para la detección de similitudes entre documentos digitales Resumen

Todo lo inherente al intelecto humano es susceptible de actos de plagio: obras científicas y literarias tales como artículos, tesis, obras audiovisuales, planos y proyectos, códigos fuentes de programas, entre otros. Sin embargo, el presente trabajo dedica especial atención a la existencia de este fenómeno en obras escritas, en concreto documentos digitales provenientes de lenguajes naturales o de programación, y centra su objetivo en el desarrollo y aplicación de un modelo matemático que permite determinar el estilo de escritura empleado en la redacción de los textos. Los resultados que se esperan obtener a partir de la aplicación del procedimiento servirán de base para la reducción en el número de documentos que se deben comparar en el análisis y detección de similitudes entre estos documentos. De forma experimental se aplica el procedimiento a un grupo de artículos clasificados por temáticas y autores y que difieren entre ellos en el estilo de escritura utilizado para su redacción.

Palabras clave

estilo de escritura, documentos digitales, plagio, procedimiento

1. Introduction The advantages offered by information and communication technologies (ICTs) are irrefutable and borne out by numerous examples. However, along with the positives come the negatives like plagiarism, which is undoubtedly one of the most illustrative examples. The Real Academia Española, the institution responsible for regulating the Spanish language, defines the Spanish term ‘plagiar’ (Real Academia Española, 2001) – ‘to plagiarise’ in English – in a simple, categorical manner: “Copiar en lo sustancial obras ajenas, dándolas como propias”. A definition in English of the term is “to appropriate (ideas, passages, etc.) from (another work or author)” (Plagiarise, n.d.). RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Original title: Determinación de estilos de escritura para la detección de similitudes entre documentos digitales


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Determination of writing styles to detect similarities in digital documents

Anything involving human intellect is at risk of being plagiarised. This includes scientific and literary works such as articles, theses, films, sheet music, audiovisual works, plans, projects, computer programs and websites. However, this article pays special attention to the existence of this phenomenon in written works in general, and in digital documents in natural or programming languages in particular. Using elements from other works is a common practice. The way it is done determines the intentionality of respecting – or otherwise – the authorship of the sources. Among the various methods used are the following: •• Correct: the provenance of the referenced textual material is accurately shown, adding information about the author of the work cited.

•• Paraphrasing: based on an interpretation, certain ideas from other documents are expressed in an author’s own words.

•• Multiple sources: a new document is created by the textual or modified use of fragments of text from other documents.

•• Mosaic: segments of an original document are disarranged so as to be textually used in a new document.

•• Odd modifications: segments of an original document are used while words or phrases are inserted to modify them.

•• Copying and pasting: the document is copied in part or in full without any modifications. This

is relatively easy to detect by doing a comparison to determine whether or not there are any differences between the documents.

Technological advances mean that systems are now available to detect plagiarism in documents; however, human supervision of the process is still essential. An accusation of plagiarism is serious and should not be made lightly. The use of automated tools reduces the number of documents that require human intervention by differentiating between them, sometimes using heuristics, as is the case for determining that the original of several similar websites is the one with the highest ranking. For comparisons between works done by students, the one by the student with the highest performance could be considered the original. Unfortunately, these heuristics are not always valid, and it is not even possible to be sure that they are so in the majority of instances. As is often the case, the proposed analysis depends on a subjective assessment. Thus, from this point forward, the term ‘determination of similarities’ will be used instead of ‘plagiarism’. Many articles have discussed topics relating to the determination of similarity in documents. Of particular note among these are: “Detecting similar documents using salient terms” (Cooper et al., 2002) The comparison between two documents is done by pre-processing both and searching for tokens1 defined in advance, such as proper nouns, acronyms, locations, abbreviations, etc. An Information 1. A token, also called a ‘lexical component’, is a string of characters that has a coherent meaning in a particular natural or programming language. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Original title: Determinación de estilos de escritura para la detección de similitudes entre documentos digitales


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Determination of writing styles to detect similarities in digital documents

Quotient (IQ) (Cooper et al., 2002) is assigned to each term, which is equivalent to the amount of information that its appearance in the text provides. The score for the similarity in two texts reflects proportionality with the number of terms appearing in one document but not in the other. “Tool support for plagiarism detection in text documents” (Gruner & Naven, 2005) A method is shown for the analysis of writing styles on the basis of statistical behaviour. It seeks to determine how language is used by the author and to compare it with other documents. The search for styles can be performed on paragraphs or on fragments of text. “Check: a document plagiarism detection system” (Si et al., 1997) It determines similarity on the basis of how often the terms appear. A weightings vector for each compared documents is generated, and the cosine between these vectors is used as a parameter in a function that returns an estimate of similarity. The procedure is repeated for each section of the documents until the existence or otherwise of copying between them is determined. “Sim: a utility for detecting similarity in computer programs” (Gitchell & Tran, 1999) The article is about detecting similarity in programs. The programs are separated into tokens in order to then calculate the alignment score between two token streams. Each gap or mismatch in the alignment is assigned a weighting. The similarity is computed using the expression:

s =

2 × score (p1,p2) score (p1,p2) + score (p1,p2)

[I]

Where score (p1, p2) is the alignment score between program 1 and program 2. “Plagiarism in natural and programming languages: an overview of current tools and technologies” (Clough, 2000) It summarises a set of tools available for detecting similarities in texts in natural or programming languages. It concisely describes the distinctive elements of some algorithms used by those tools to perform comparisons, as is the case for determining the Longest Common Subsequence. The objective of the research is to develop and apply a mathematical model that allows the writing style used in the drafting of texts to be determined.

Research method and theory used In order to conduct the research, various scientific methods were used. For example, a literature review was conducted to look for sources of information to theoretically underpin the study. Analysis and synthesis methods were generally used throughout the research process, and particularly for specifying the theoretical fundamentals relating to the detection of similarities in digital documents, and to the analysis and interpretation of the results obtained from the application of the tool to detect plagiarism in digital documents. In addition, descriptive statistics were used to process the RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Original title: Determinación de estilos de escritura para la detección de similitudes entre documentos digitales


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Determination of writing styles to detect similarities in digital documents

data obtained from the application of the tools to detect similarities in digital documents, and inferential statistics were used to make decisions about whether or not to reject the data obtained from the process for detecting similarities in digital documents.

2. Development In the case of systems for detecting similarities in documents, the biggest challenge is the enormous volume of data that has to be processed; that is why a pre-classification of the whole sample or the original documents available for the comparison is required. The criteria taken into account for the classification often include document type, language, category, subcategory, keywords, authors and dates. Our proposal is to incorporate writing style as a comparative criterion when it comes to determining whether or not a document is original. Thus, the number of documents to be compared in the search for similarities would be reduced to those that have a direct relationship – in terms of classification – with the compared document, which in turn have a similar writing style.

2.1. Procedure for writing style extraction Any text can be represented by a statistical model that identifies its intrinsic characteristics, which relate to the author’s writing style. Among these we would mention: Stop words: this refers to the use of articles, adverbs, prepositions and conjunctions. The frequency with which these words are used denotes the author’s writing style. Consequently, stop word mean is defined as:

Pp =

Cpp 100 % Tp *

[II]

Where Pp is stop word mean, Cpp is the number of stop words used and Tp is the total number of words in the text. Level of difficulty: determines the level of education that someone needs to have in order to understand the text. There are several indices available to calculate this level. Gunning (Wikipedia, 2011), Dale and Chall (1948) and Flesch-Kincaid (DuBay, 2004) are some of them, although the latter is the most commonly documented and cited. The expression to determine the Flesch-Kincaid index is as follows: IFK = 1.599Λ − 1.015β − 31.517

[III]

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Determination of writing styles to detect similarities in digital documents

Where λ is the mean of one-syllable words per 100 words, and β is the mean sentence length measured by the number of words. Richness of vocabulary: proposed by Honoré (1979), this tries to determine the richness of the author’s vocabulary on the basis of the total unrepeated words used in the text. The following expression is used for that purpose:

R =

100 log (M) M2

[IV]

Where M is the number of different words in the text. Depending on the type of document being analysed, the calculation of R has more or less validity. Certain specialist articles and computer programs are good examples of this, as their very nature requires the constant repetition of words. As a consequence of the above, an approach proposed by Yule (1944) is introduced as a calculation alternative, defining: ∞

K =

2

104 (∑i  = 1 i   Vi − M) M2

[V]

Where Vi is the number of words that appear i times in the text. M has the same meaning as in the previous calculation. Mean sentence length: is a reliable measure of grammatical knowledge that the author uses in the composition of sentences.

Lp0 =

∑iNo = 1 loi Tp = No No

[VI]

Where loi is the length in words of the sentence occuring in position i, No is the total number of sentences and Tp is the total number of words in the text. Mean word length: this term is directly connnected with the richness of the author’s vocabulary and measures his or her ability to use complex words2. Pp =

Cpp * 100 % Tp

[II]

2. Complex words are considered to be those formed by three or more syllables that do not represent proper nouns, prefixes, suffixes or compound words. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Determination of writing styles to detect similarities in digital documents

Where Lpp is mean word length, Tc is the total characters used (excluding spaces), and Tp is the total number of words used. The final definition is that of the writing style vector (E), whose components are described above: E < Pp, IFK, K, Lp0, Lpp >

[VIII]

While it is true to say the determination of an author’s writing style implies some degree of uncertainty, knowing what that degree is enables a suitable margin of deviation to be established when it comes to determining who the creator of a document is. Among the main parameters that have an influence on uncertainty are the topic covered, the document length (in terms of the number of paragraphs, sentences or words used), the author’s experience and the document end user. Having a statistical estimate of the writing style is important to ensure that there is a comparative criterion for selecting and classifying documents, and for determining their authorship. One of the applications is the determination of similarities in documents, where processing time needs to be optimised. The materials to be compared are stored on vast databases, so processing everything is not an option, nor is processing only those documents belonging to one classification category. Other arguments are required to differentiate between and considerably reduce the number of documents to be processed, like a writing style identifier, for example.

3. Research analysis and results In order to apply the proposal for determining writing styles, 37 documents by 5 authors in 4 thematic areas were selected: education, history, medicine and children’s stories. Two of the authors belong to the thematic area of medicine. Chart 1 shows the document distribution by thematic area.

14% 27% EDUCATION HISTORY MEDICINE STORIES

27%

32%

Chart 1. Document distribution by thematic area

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Determination of writing styles to detect similarities in digital documents

In order to automatically determine the writing style vector, a tool was developed (Figure 1) to enable the extraction of a set of statistics from the texts analysed as the step prior to calculating the vector.

Figure 2. Tool for calculating the style vector

The characteristics extracted from the documents are listed below (to aid understanding of the content of Figure 1 for non-Spanish speakers, the English translation of each characteristic is given in brackets): •• Promedio de palabras de paro (Stop word mean) •• Nivel de dificultad (Level of difficulty)

•• Variedad de vocabulario (Richness of vocabulary)

•• Longitud promedio de oraciones (Mean sentence length, measured in words) •• Longitud promedio de palabras (Mean word length, measured in characters) •• Número de oraciones (Number of sentences) •• Número de palabras (Number of words)

•• Número de palabras monosílabas (Number of one-syllable words) •• Número de palabras de paro (Number of stop words) •• Total de caracteres (Total characters)

•• Total de palabras no repetidas (Total unrepeated words) RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Determination of writing styles to detect similarities in digital documents

In order to determine trends and others statistics, a Microsoft Office 2007 spreadsheet was used. Table 1 shows the mean values obtained for the style vector components for each author. As we can see, the parameter that makes the biggest difference is richness of vocabulary. Authors 1 and 2 stand out in this case, who covered education and history topics, respectively. In particular, author 2 has the lowest level of difficulty owing to the use of easily understandable narrative documents. Table 1. Style vector means by author

Stop word mean

Level of difficulty

Richness of vocabulary

Mean sentence lenght

Mean word length

Author 1

37.49

21.89

2482.43

20.46

5.314

Author 2

35.88

11.40

2357.63

30.39

4.742

Author 3

30.52

26.88

1011.01

12.41

5.162

Author 4

24.21

28.96

1121.34

10.57

5.356

Author 5

33.34

26.70

665.76

12.54

4.399

For each author, it is essential to determine how the writing style parameters vary, that is to say, whether not a particular author is able to maintain his or her writing style across a set of documents on the same topic. An analysis was performed on each vector parameter to calculate its mean deviation, as shown in Table 2. As can be anticipated from the information shown in the previous table, it is precisely the richness of vocabulary parameter that varies the most, and the mean word length parameter that varies the least â&#x20AC;&#x201C; so little so that it was necessary to increase the number of decimal places to three. Table 2. Mean deviations by vector parameter

Stop word mean

Level of difficulty

Richness of vocabulary

Mean sentence lenght

Mean word length

Author 1

0.65

0.82

107.03

1.26

0.079

Author 2

0.53

0.74

82.57

1.10

0.075

Author 3

1.96

1.05

69.78

1.05

0.066

Author 4

1.25

1.53

229.08

0.99

0.092

Author 5

1.10

5.43

75.88

1.87

0.079

Chart 2 shows the distribution of deviations through a graphic representation of areas. As we can see, author 2 has the most consistent writing style because the area representing it (red) is more uniform. The opposite is the case for authors 4 and 5, who have several peaks and troughs in their respective deviation distribution areas. Despite the fact that authors 3 and 4 both belong to the thematic area of medicine, there is a considerable difference in their writing styles.

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Determination of writing styles to detect similarities in digital documents

Deviation distribution Author 5

1.10

Author 4 1.25

75.88 5.43

Author 2 Author 1

0.53 0.65 Stop word mean

0.079

0.99

0.092

229.08

Author 3 1.96

1.87

1.53

69.78

1.05

1.05 0.74 0.82

82.57

1.10

Level of difficulty

107.03

Richness of vocabulary

1.26

0.066 0.075 0.079

Mean sentence lenght Mean word lenght

Figure 3. Deviation distribution areas

The proposed method for determining writing styles can be used in a scenario where it is necessary to describe documents whose authorship has been validated. Some descriptors are commonly used, such as author, title, keywords, category, subcategory and document type, yet having a descriptor like writing style will enable a reduction in the number of documents that need to be compared in the search for possible plagiarism. In this respect, when the aim is to analyse the presence of plagiarism in a new document, it will only need to be compared with a sub-set made up of those with a similar writing style vector. Although it is possible to start with the idea that every author has a unique writing style, it is nevertheless important to consider that the main threats to the validity of this method reside in the selection of documents to determine an author’s writing style. They should be documents whose authorship has been authenticated, while bearing in mind that more than one author may have participated in the drafting of a document. When the document is not about one of the topics customarily covered by the author, it is acceptable for the deviation indices to vary within a reasonable range. Thus, it is advisable to use documents on topics that the author usually covers. Finally, there are other elements that are equally as important, such as the learning process and the changing reality surrounding the individual, which gradually give rise to variations in every author’s writing style. In this respect, the determination of writing styles will be more reliable when, from the viewpoint of writing style, the individual is more mature and experienced.

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Determination of writing styles to detect similarities in digital documents

4. Discussion and conclusions The proposed procedure focuses on the determination of writing styles and enables the academic community to observe similarities in documents. However, it does not constitute a definitive solution to the serious problem of academic plagiarism. Mindful, systematic training in values such as responsibility and honesty is required. Why insist on academic honesty? If academic honesty is non-existent, then an impression of knowledge will be given that does not match the reality of what is genuinely in the cognitive structure. Dishonest behaviour in the academic sphere is a means of deceit and, above all, of self-deceit. It erodes the core of the educational aim of our teaching activity. Owing to its ethical nature, we might assume that the concept of honesty is implicit, but this assumption is not absolutely certain. Acts of plagiarism may be committed deliberately, accidentally or unknowingly. What can be done to strengthen these values among our students? When we show professional coherence and commitment, creating a high-level pedagogical and intellectual atmosphere, we manage to eliminate or reduce academic dishonesty and its negative effects. In higher education, there are clearly major opportunities to learn and, at the same time, major opportunities to defraud. In some ways, we trust that most of the students are aware of their obligations to learn, influenced by the need to get a degree. Our education function cannot be limited to the use of tools to oversee plagiarism; this does not guarantee that the students will not act fraudulently. We must insist on the fact that ethical behaviour is based on free acceptance of the rules of conduct that cannot be imposed by force of authority. From a very young age, human beings gradually enrich their vocabulary, gain more experience and training, and develop their writing styles as they learn. That is why the creation of a unique writing style is perceived as a slow process. In future studies, the intention is to explore (a) the procedures in order to obtain the development curves for writing styles, and (b) the characterisation of these styles on the basis of the parameters describing them, all of which have formed a fundamental part of this study. The appropriation of third-party works as one’s own will continue and evolve at the same pace as technology, so being ready to counteract this phenomenon is of vital importance. Most of the studies reviewed for this research will form the basis for the development of future works on the detection of similarities in documents, and the proposal presented here will serve as the starting point for determining which documents to compare. The extraction of the style vector marks the difference between authors, whether or not they cover the same topic. By applying the proposed mathematical model to a considerable set of documents, it was found that trends really do exist when it comes to drafting, and that such trends put a stamp of authenticity onto a document.

References Clough, P. (2000). Plagiarism in natural and programming languages: an overview of current tools and technologies. Research Memoranda: CS-00-05, Department of Computer Science, University of Sheffield, UK, 1-31. Retrieved from http://ir.shef.ac.uk/cloughie/papers/plagiarism2000.pdf RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Cooper, J. W., Coden, A. R., & Brown, E. W. (2002). Detecting similar documents using salient terms. In Proceedings of the 11th international conference on Information and Knowledge Management. New York, NY: ACM. Retrieved from http://www.labsoftware.com/flahdo/Papers/CIKMDuplicates.pdf Dale, E., & Chall, J. S. (1948). A formula for predicting readability. Educational Research Bulletin, 27(1), 11-20. Retrieved from http://www.ecy.wa.gov/quality/plaintalk/resources/classics.pdf Dubay, W. H. (2004). The principles of readability. Costa Mesa, CA: Impact Information. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED490073.pdf Gitchell, D., & Tran, N. (1999). Sim: a utility for detecting similarity in computer programs. In The proceedings of the 30th SIGCSE technical symposium on Computer Science Education. New York, NY: ACM. Retrieved from http://www.eng.uwi.tt/depts/elec/staff/feisal/ee302/sim-gitchell.pdf Gruner, S. & Naven, S. (2005). Tool support for plagiarism detection in text documents. In Proceedings of the 2005 ACM symposium on Applied Computing. New York, NY: ACM. Retrieved from http:// dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1066677.1066854. doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/1066677.1066854 Honoré, A. (1979). Some simple measures of richness of vocabulary. Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing Bulletin, 7(2). Plagiarise (n.d.). In The Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.collinsdictionary.com/ dictionary/english/plagiarise Real Academia Española (Ed.) (2001). Diccionario de la Real Academia Española. Madrid, Spain: Real Academia Española. Si, A., Leong, H. V., & Lau, R. W. H. (1997). Check: a document plagiarism detection system. In Proceedings of the 1997 ACM symposium on Applied Computing. New York, NY: ACM. Retrieved from http:// www.cs.cityu.edu.hk/~rynson/papers/sac97.pdf. doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/331697.335176 Wikipedia (2011). Gunning fog index. Wikipedia. Online: Wikipedia.org. Retrieved from http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunning_fog_index Yule, G. U. (1944).The statistical study of literary vocabulary. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, 107(2), 129-131. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2981280?uid=3737824& uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&sid=21102626763567. doi http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2981280

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About the Authors Yohandri Ril Gil rilltt@uci.cu Technology and Information Technology Security Advisor, FORTES Educational Technology Centre, University of Information Sciences, Havana He holds a bachelor’s degree in Telecommunications and Electronic Engineering and is an assistant lecturer at the University of Information Sciences (UCI), Havana, specifically for Teleinformatics I and II on the Informatics bachelor’s degree course. He is a technology and information technology (IT) security advisor in the FORTES Educational Technology Centre He is currently taking a master’s degree in Distance Education at the UCI. His main lines of research are telecommunications networks, IT security, virtual learning environments, the quality of learning objects and software architecture. He has had various articles published in renowned journals such as No Solo Usabilidad and RUSC. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal, and in the proceedings of national and international events.

Yuniet del Carmen Toll Palma ytoll@uci.cu Quality Assessor, FORTES Educational Technology Centre, University of Information Sciences, Havana She holds a master’s degree in Software Quality and is an assistant lecturer at the University of Information Sciences (UCI), Havana. As an information expert, she collaborates with the Information and Knowledge Group at the FORTES Educational Technology Centre. She is responsible for editing the Producción de recursos didácticos [Production of didactic resources] and Archivo [File] sections of the FORTES centre TeduScopio newsletter, and is also the general editor of the newsletter. She is currently a quality assessor in the FORTES centre. Her main lines of research are the quality assessment of learning objects and other software products, information and knowledge management, and the architecture of information for FORTES centre projects. She has had various articles published in renowned journals such as EDUTEC, No Solo Usabilidad, REDC and RUSC. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal, and in the proceedings of national and international events, in which she has participated widely.

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Eddy Fonseca Lahens elahens@uci.cu

Specialist, IdeoInformatics Centre, University of Information Sciences, Havana He is a specialist in the IdeoInformatics Centre at the University of Information Sciences (UCI), Havana. He leads the Motor project for the intelligent categorisation of content and is an architect on the Motor project for the intelligent categorisation of content for e-mail. His main lines of research are the development of information technology (IT) solutions for the Internet, the development of concurrent and distributed applications, the automatic categorisation of content and the automation of learning object assessment. He has had various articles published in national journals and in the proceedings of national and international events.

Universidad de las Ciencias Informáticas Carretera a San Antonio de los Baños, km 2 ½ Torrens, municipio de La Lisa La Habana, Cuba

The texts published in this journal are – unless indicated otherwise – covered by the Creative Commons Spain Attribution 3.0 licence. You may copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the work, provided you attribute it (authorship, journal name, publisher) in the manner specified by the author(s) or licensor(s). The full text of the licence can be consulted here: <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/es/deed.en>

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Special Section “Mobile Learning Applications in Higher Education”

introduction

What is the future of mobile learning in education? Dr Mohamed Ally1

mohameda@athabascau.ca Professor, Centre for Distance Education Researcher, Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute (TEKRI) Athabasca University, Canada

Dr Josep Prieto-Blázquez

jprieto@uoc.edu Dean, Computing, Multimedia and Telecommunication Studies Open University of Catalonia (UOC), Spain

Submitted in: November 2013 Accepted in: November 2013 Published in: January 2014

Recommended citation

Ally, M. & Prieto-Blázquez, J. (2014). What is the future of mobile learning in education? Mobile Learning Applications in Higher Education [Special Section]. Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento (RUSC). Vol. 11, No 1. pp. 142-151. doi http://doi.dx.org/10.7238/rusc.v11i1.2033

1. Support for this publication was provided by a research grant (NPRP Grant # 4-125-5-016) from the Qatar National Research Fund (a member of Qatar Foundation). RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Abstract

The evolution of wireless technologies and the development of applications for mobile devices in higher education have been spectacular. For many educators, mobile technology in the field of teaching and learning has recently become one of the most important areas of research. Today, mobile learning is a strategic topic for many organizations concerned with education. In the future, more research should be conducted to transform education using mobile learning. The advent of new types of devices is disruptive to education, no matter what educators and education institutions do. Therefore, a thorough analysis, from a pedagogical and technological perspective, is key to ensuring appropriate usage and implementation of mobile learning. This Special Section of RUSC. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal presents a general overview of successful mobile learning experiences in higher education. Its aim is to share best practices and create new opportunities in universities. These mobile applications will add another layer to the learning and teaching processes.

Keywords

mobile learning, future of mobile learning, mobile applications, higher education, mobile age

¿Cuál es el futuro del aprendizaje móvil en la educación? Resumen

Las tecnologías inalámbricas y las aplicaciones para dispositivos móviles en la educación superior han experimentado un crecimiento espectacular. Para muchos educadores, la tecnología móvil en el campo de la enseñanza y el aprendizaje se ha convertido en uno de los principales ámbitos de investigación. Hoy, el aprendizaje móvil es un ámbito estratégico para muchas organizaciones que tienen competencias educativas. En el futuro, habrá que intensificar las investigaciones para transformar la educación mediante el aprendizaje móvil. La aparición de nuevos tipos de dispositivos plantea problemas para la educación, independientemente de lo que hagan el personal docente y las instituciones educativas. Por lo tanto, es esencial llevar a cabo un análisis, desde una perspectiva tecnológica y pedagógica, para garantizar el uso y la implementación apropiados. Esta sección especial de RUSC. Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento presenta una visión general de experiencias exitosas de aprendizaje móvil en la educación superior. El objetivo es compartir buenas prácticas y crear nuevas oportunidades en las universidades. Estas aplicaciones móviles añadirán un nuevo estrato a los procesos de aprendizaje y enseñanza.

Palabras clave

aprendizaje móvil, futuro del aprendizaje móvil, aplicaciones móviles, educación superior, época móvil

1. Introduction Think back 15 years ago. It was hard to imagine that today people would be using mobile technology to learn, to socialize, and to conduct everyday business. Many sectors of society have adapted to use mobile technology to deliver services to customers. In the financial sector, customers now have access to banking services using mobile technology – “in the pocket banking” (The Economist, 2007). Libraries are being digitized and information formatted for access using mobile technology – “a RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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library in everyone’s pocket” (Ally & Needham, 2010). The healthcare system is also employing mobile technologies to deliver training to healthcare professionals and services to patients (Kenny et al., 2012; Taylor et al., 2010). With communication technology, learners can use mobile technology anywhere and anytime to access educational resources (Ally & Tsinakos, 2014; Hassan et al., 2012; Roberts, 2013). As more individuals around the world are using mobile technology to learn and to do everyday tasks, the question is “What is the future of mobile learning in education?” In the future, mobile devices will look completely different from today’s; hence, higher education must plan to deliver education to meet the demands of new generations of students. We are in the first generation of mobile learning, since it is in its early stage of development. Nevertheless, there are billions of mobile devices being used around the world (ITU, 2013). The next generation of mobile learning will be more ubiquitous; there will be smart systems everywhere that learners can learn from, and learners themselves will be mobile. Learners will learn from multiple sources rather than using one device. Also, the next generation of mobile technology will be virtual, with virtual input and output capabilities. The use of mobile technology allows for cloud teaching where access to people, resources and information will float freely regardless of location (Sutch, 2010). Learners in different time zones and locations will be able to access tutors when needed. According to a Futurelab report (Daanen & Facer, 2007), by 2020, digital technology will be embedded and distributed in most objects. Personal artefacts such as keys, clothes, shoes, notebooks and newspapers will have devices embedded within them, which can communicate with each other (Daanen & Facer, 2007). This will make learning more ubiquitous and pervasive.

II. Mobile technology in higher education Many higher education organizations are implementing mobile learning to provide flexibility in learning (Tsinakos & Ally, 2013). Using mobile technology to reach students will benefit higher education by increasing enrolment and having a broader student population, since students in different age groups will be able to access course materials anywhere and anytime (Lowenthal, 2010). Mobile learning facilitates equal opportunities for all by allowing learning to be accessible across time zones, thus making location and distance irrelevant to the learner. Wireless mobile devices are small enough to be portable, which allow learners to use them anywhere and anytime to interact with other learners everywhere to share information and expertise, complete a task or work collaboratively on a project. Workers in organizations can use mobile devices to learn on the job so that they can transfer what they learn in the school system to the job. One example is the use of mobile devices to train workers to improve their communication skills in the workplace so that they can be productive on the job (Ally & Samaka, 2013)2. Learners can use the wireless capability of their mobile devices to access up-to-date and relevant educational resources from the web and to communicate with

2. This project was made possible by an NPRP Grant # 4 -125 -5 –016 from the Qatar National Research Fund (a member of Qatar Foundation). RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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experts in the field of their studies. Situated learning, which is the application of knowledge and skills to specific contexts, is facilitated, since learners can complete courses while working on the job or in their own space, and apply what they learn at the same time. The use of mobile technologies is changing the way we live and how we access education. One clear development is a blurring of our social, business, learning and educational lives as the pattern of our communication and interaction across time and space changes (Demsey, 2008). Countries around the world are starting to see that Internet access anywhere and anytime is a human right for citizens and have set goals to establish the infrastructure to allow access by all, which will facilitate the use of mobile technology in education (BBC News, July 2010). There is great potential for mobile learning in developing countries, but careful planning is required for mobile learning to be successful (Muir, 2013; Traxler, 2013). Mobile learning is not about the technology, it is about the learner. The learner is mobile and is at the centre of the learning, and the technology allows the learner to learn in any context. Vavoula and Sharples (2009) state that mobile learning is a social rather than technical phenomenon of people on the move, constructing spontaneous learning contexts and advancing through everyday life by negotiating knowledge and meanings through interactions with settings, people and technology. Future mobile learning will shrink the global virtual space. Mobile technology can be used to connect students from different parts of the world to create and share information with each other. Students can use the mobile telecommunication system to show where they are so that students from other parts of the world can learn about those locations. Botha, Vosloo, Kuner, and van der Berg (2009) conducted a study that examined global learning with students from different cultures using mobile technology. They found that the process of creating, sharing and negotiating provided an opportunity for students to foster relationships and to contextualize their lives to develop shared understandings. The process used to create and share information with different cultures resulted in the development of intercultural competencies and skills to communicate between cultures.

III. Designing mobile learning for the future In this fast changing world, different stakeholders will have to work together to develop new educational models to cater for new generations of learners who will be using mobile technologies that do not exist as yet. Educators need to re-conceptualize education and make the shift from education at certain ages to lifelong learning (Brown, 2005). The current educational model is outdated because it was developed before the advent of information and communication technologies. The current model, based on classroom-based face-to-face delivery, is geared towards educating a certain segment of the population. Also, teachers are being trained for the current model of education, and will therefore continue using the model when they become teachers. Teacher training must be re-invented to prepare teachers for the technology-enhanced educational system. Education must examine the way educational resources are designed and delivered and take into consideration the needs and characteristics of current and new generations of students. For example, RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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in technology-enhanced delivery, what is the ideal length of a course and what support is required? The current generation of students use ‘always-on’ technology such as mobile devices, where they need information and feedback ‘now’ rather than ‘later’. Because of the flexibility of using mobile devices in learning, students prefer them to personal computers, despite the time needed to get started using mobile devices (Stockwell, 2010). Mobile learning can transform pedagogy to cater for new generations of learners because it offers the opportunity to use active learning strategies and for learners to learn in their own context, which will result in higher-level learning (Cochrane, 2013; Stoerger, 2013). With mobile technology, a group of learners can access content from electronic repositories or create their own content, validate the content, and help each other regardless of location. Learner-generated content can then be used by other learners (Traxler, 2009). Mobile learning benefits learners because they can use mobile devices to learn in their own learning community, where situated learning, authentic learning, context-aware learning, contingent learning, augmented reality mobile learning and personalized learning are encouraged (Quinn, 2013; Traxler, 2010). Learning will move more and more outside of the classroom and into the learners’ environments, both real and virtual, thus becoming more situated, personal, collaborative and lifelong (Naismith et al., 2006). Mobile technology allows learners from different cultures to express themselves more readily compared to face-to-face situations (Wang et al., 2009). Also, learners can use the technology to develop communities of learners, where learners can tutor and help each other in the learning process, thus resulting in high-level learning.

IV. Contributions to the Special Section This Special Section of RUSC. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal contains five articles. Selected after a blind peer-review process, they report on specific mobile learning applications in higher education. Brief introductions to the selected articles are given below. In “Mobile learning in the field of Architecture and Building Construction. A case study analysis” by Ernest Redondo et al., the authors present four case studies in the field of Architecture and Building Construction in order to evaluate the integration of augmented reality (AR) technology into mobile devices. These case studies were conducted on several bachelor’s and master’s degree course subjects at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya. BarcelonaTech (UPC), Spain. The AR mobile learning applications are based on optical image recognition and GPS positioning to create 3D georeferencing models that allow information to be displayed, adjusted and evaluated on site. The article “Mobile learning: a collaborative experience using QR codes” by Meritxell Monguillot et al. highlighted the potential of using mobile learning and QR codes to foster interaction in a faceto-face education classroom. The experience enabled students to do more physical activity in a collaborative way through the use of QR codes. The experience was based on qualitative educational research and had a multiple case-study design. The results show the potential of mobile learning as an emergent educational tool that is capable of facilitating and fostering the teaching-learning process. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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In “Student projects empowering mobile learning in higher education”, Àngels Rius et al. analyzed the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), Spain, as a case study and presented several examples of tools developed by students as part of their final year projects. These projects explored different technologies and provided useful information to guide institutional investment in the development of m-learning tools. Akin to the collaborative development model in the field of open source software, this paradigm therefore allows the sustainability of m-learning in educational institutions to be assured. The article “M-learning patterns in the virtual classroom” by Fernando López et al. reported on a study whose aim was to assess the penetration of mobile devices for learning purposes in higher education and to identify the main usage patterns. The results were conclusive: 25% of accesses to the learning management system (LMS) were made from mobile devices. The authors have asserted that the findings of the study could have significant implications not only for researchers and lecturers, but also for institutions intending to implement this teaching/learning methodology. In “A comparative study of computer and mobile phone-mediated collaboration: the case of university students in Japan”, Gibran Alejandro Garcia compared how two types of media influence the participation, interaction and collaboration of students. It inquired into the students’ collaboration experiences, opinions, and difficulties they encountered during the online discussions. Then it explored the impact that these two types of media had on the students’ final outcome. The study concluded that mobile phones had great potential to enhance interaction in online collaboration.

V. Conclusion Because of the availability of mobile technology globally, this is the first time in history that educators have had the opportunity to allow individuals from around the world to access educational resources to enable education for all. This is facilitated by many initiatives that are making educational resources available as open educational resources. The increasing availability of open educational resources for mobile technology is making access to learning more affordable for anyone who wants to learn. Mobile technologies are becoming more personal with the introduction of gesture-based interaction and affective computing. Devices can interpret gestures made by learners and respond appropriately based on the gesture. When a learner holds a mobile device, the device will read the physiological state of the learning to detect the learner’s emotions. Based on the emotion of the learner, the device will decide on what the learner should do next. Because of the computing power and multimedia capabilities of mobile technologies, educational resources must be more game-like to motivate learners to learn. In the future, more research should be conducted to transform education using mobile learning. Koszalka and Ntloedibe-Kuswani (2010) suggested that there is a need for more rigorous research on the use of mobile technology in learning to enhance the use of mobile learning in education. Also, there is a need for more extensive quantitative and qualitative research studies on mobile learning to advance the implementation of mobile learning in the 21st century (Ali & Irvine, 2009). There should RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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be more research on how to design and deliver learning to reach the masses, taking into consideration learners’ cultures, values, and local contexts. Education must take advantage of this abundance of mobile technology to deliver education to students anywhere and anytime (López Cruz & Gutiérrez Cortés, 2012). Education has to be transformed in the digital age to deliver education using mobile technology and to meet the needs of learners in the 21st century (Ally & Tsinakos, 2014; Gerstein, 2013).

Acknowledgements We would like to thank the authors and reviewers of this Special Issue for their collaboration and prompt responses to our enquiries, which enabled the completion of the manuscripts in a timely manner. We gratefully acknowledge the Managing Editor of RUSC. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal, Ms Elsa Corominas, for her help and encouragement during the entire editing process of this Special Section.

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About the Authors Dr Mohamed Ally mohameda@athabascau.ca Professor, Centre for Distance Education Researcher, Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute (TEKRI) Athabasca University, Canada Dr Ally is Professor in the Centre for Distance Education and Researcher at the Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute (TEKRI) at Athabasca University, Canada. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. His current areas of research include mobile learning, e-learning, distance education, and use of information and communication technology in training and education. Dr Ally was President of the International Federation of Training and Development Organizations (IFTDO) and is one of the Founding Directors of the International Association of Mobile Learning (IamLearn). He was also on the board of the Canadian Society for Training and Development. Dr Ally chaired the Fifth World Conference on Mobile Learning and co-chaired the First International Conference on Mobile Libraries. He recently edited seven books on the use of mobile technology in education, training and libraries. His book Mobile Learning: Transforming the Delivery of Education and Training won the Charles A. Wedemeyer Award for making a significant contribution to distance education. He is currently editing two books in the area of E-learning. Dr Ally has published in peer-reviewed journals, chapters in books and encyclopedia, and served on many journal boards and conference committees. Centre for Distance Education Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute (TEKRI) 1 University Drive Athabasca, AB, T9S 3A3 Canada

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What is the future of mobile learning in education?

Dr Josep Prieto-Blázquez jprieto@uoc.edu Dean, Computing, Multimedia and Telecommunication Studies Open University of Catalonia (UOC), Spain Dr Josep Prieto-Blázquez obtained his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), Spain. He also holds a master’s degree in Computer Science from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya-BarcelonaTech (UPC), Spain. Since 1998, he has worked as a lecturer in the Computing, Multimedia and Telecommunication Studies Department at the UOC, where he has been the director of the Computer Engineering degree course since 2001 and the dean since 2013. His line of research focuses on exploratory and application technology in the field of ICTs. He has participated in wireless, free software and virtual learning environment projects, and is also a member of the Mobility, Multimedia and Multidevice innovation group (mUOC) and of the Cryptography and Information Security for Open Networks (KISON) research group. Universitat Oberta de Catalunya Rambla Poblenou, 156 08018 Barcelona Spain

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Special Section “Mobile Learning Applications in Higher Education”

article

Mobile learning in the field of Architecture and Building Construction. A case study analysis Ernest Redondo Domínguez

ernesto.redondo@upc.edu Doctor of Architecture, Tenured University Lecturer, Department of Architectural Representation and Visual Analysis I, Barcelona School of Architecture (ETSAB), Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya-BarcelonaTech (UPC), Spain

David Fonseca Escudero

fonsi@salle.url.edu Doctor of Engineering, Tenured University School Lecturer, Department of Architecture, La Salle Campus Barcelona, Ramon Llull University (URL), Spain

Albert Sánchez Riera

albert.sanchez.riera@upc.edu Doctor of Architecture, Assistant Lecturer, Department of Architectural Representation and Visual Analysis II, Barcelona School of Architecture (ETSAB), Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya-BarcelonaTech (UPC), Spain

Isidro Navarro Delgado

isidro.navarro@upc.edu Architect, Doctoral Student, Department of Architectural Representation and Visual Analysis I, Barcelona School of Architecture (ETSAB), Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya-BarcelonaTech (UPC), Spain

Submitted in: May 2013 Accepted in: October 2013 Published in: January 2014

Recommended citation

Redondo, E., Fonseca, D., Sánchez, A. & Navarro, I. (2014). Mobile learning in the field of Architecture and Building Construction. A case study analysis. Mobile Learning Applications in Higher Education [Special Section]. Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento (RUSC). Vol. 11, No 1. pp. 152-174. doi http://doi.dx.org/10.7238/rusc.v11i1.1844 RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Abstract

This educational research focuses on the use of mobile learning (m-learning) in the field of Architecture and Building Construction. It was conducted at various levels of university teaching (bachelor’s and master’s degree courses) to assess the integration of augmented reality (AR) technology on mobile devices. Several cases employing different strategies were studied. These strategies ranged from using Quick Response (QR) codes or specific markers to download multimedia content created by the students, to 3D georeferencing models that allowed information to be visualised, adjusted and assessed on site. Specific practical exercises were therefore designed for different topics, where the two most common forms of registering were tested (optical image recognition and GPS positioning). Light integration at the scene was also addressed. Owing to the high cost and limited availability of these devices, experimental groups made up of small numbers of students were formed so that devices could be shared if necessary. Improvement in academic performance and system usability were assessed in each specific case using standardised questionnaires, and the results were compared to those obtained for the control group students. The results show that these devices have become an effective, efficient and satisfactory tool for the use of hand-held AR technology.

Keywords

educational research, mobile learning, augmented reality, architectural representation, user experience

Mobile learning en el ámbito de la arquitectura y la edificación. Análisis de casos de estudio Resumen

En esta investigación educativa nos hemos centrado en el uso del aprendizaje móvil (ML) en el campo de la arquitectura y la construcción. Se llevó a cabo en distintos niveles de la enseñanza universitaria de grado y de máster, a fin de evaluar la integración de la tecnología de la Realidad Aumentada (RA) en dispositivos móviles. Se han realizado varios estudios de caso, en los que se han abordado diferentes estrategias, que van desde el uso de los códigos QR (quick reference) o marcadores específicos para descargar contenidos multimedia generados por los estudiantes tales como los modelos 3D georeferenciados para ser ajustados y evaluados en el lugar. Por lo tanto, se diseñaron prácticas específicas en el marco de diferentes temas, donde los dos tipos más comunes de registro han sido probados (reconocimiento óptico de imagen y posicionamiento GPS). También se ha abordado la integración de la luz en la escena. Debido al alto costo y a la disponibilidad limitada de estos dispositivos, hemos creado grupos experimentales con pocos alumnos que comparten, si es necesario, los terminales. La mejora del rendimiento académico y la manejabilidad de los sistemas han sido evaluadas en cada caso específico utilizando cuestionarios estandarizados, en comparación con el grupo de estudiantes de control. Los resultados muestran que estos dispositivos se han convertido en una herramienta eficaz, eficiente y satisfactoria para el uso de esta tecnología móvil, la RA en su versión (hand-held) manejable a mano.

Palabras clave

investigación educativa, aprendizaje móvil y realidad aumentada, representación arquitectónica, experiencia de usuario

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1. Introduction The experience presented in this article did not take the format of a traditional subject, but instead used specific technologies such as augmented reality (AR) in workshops, or mobile learning (m-learning) modules, integrated into various subjects in the field of Architecture and Building Construction Science and Technology. In these workshops, specific applications (apps) and practices were used to visualise virtual models at real scenes on mobile phones and tablets, incorporated at particular times during bachelor’s and master’s degree courses. In accordance with the proposed model, those students with advanced mobile devices formed part of the experimental groups (EGs or scenario S2), and they visualised virtual content that they had mostly created themselves at a specific place. The remaining students doing the ordinary workshop formed part of the control group (CG or scenario S1). The strategy had been designed as an independent module for the visual assessment of projects or construction details on site. The hypothesis tested was whether it contributed new values to the learning process by involving the students in the creation, visualisation and adjustment of virtual architectural models as a step prior to their construction, providing close-up topical knowledge and the opportunity for the students to interact with those models by sharing their ideas about the site. All of this allows the students to take part in their educational processes while using devices and technologies that motivate them because they form part of their natural environment. The comparison between attaining the general subject objectives of the two groups (EG and CG) and the potential improvement in academic performance of the EGs assessed as case studies was the basis of the project presented here. These practices were applied to subjects across the bachelor’s degree courses in Architecture of the Barcelona School of Architecture (ETSAB) at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya-BarcelonaTech (UPC) and in Building Construction Science and Technology of the Barcelona School of Building Construction (EPSEB) at the UPC, the university master’s degree course in Urban Management and Valuation at the UPC, and the bachelor’s degree courses in Architecture and Building Construction Science and Technology of the La Salle Campus Barcelona at Ramon Llull University (URL). In this field, AR m-learning was trialled using technologies ranging from QR codes to visualise and download multimedia content, to positioning (registering) virtual models in the environment (by optical image recognition or geolocation). The experience was based on the hypothesis that the new information and communication technology (ICT) tools used in the Web 3.0 environment enable the students’ skills (Álvarez, 2012) and learning processes (Álvarez & Bassa, 2013) to be improved at a lower cost (using free applications or educational licenses) and in less time. Furthermore, all of that can be done without any prior experience thanks to the intuitive touch-screen interfaces of the latest-generation mobile devices. In combination with the advances in cloud-computing (CC) technology, which enables apps and services to be shared ubiquitously on the Internet, a workflow is generated that allows the teaching experience using AR m-learning to become a new paradigm of continuing education and contextual self-study. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Several strategies were used to test the hypotheses, starting with a pre-test, which established the technological profiles of the students and their own knowledge of technology, which in turn determined the EG. Questionnaires were then used to find out about the usability of the methods and processes considered. Parameters to assess academic performance on completion of the experiences were included in the post-test. Besides being more motivated by the designed experiments, the EG students generally achieved better results in their academic performance, which, in the absence of more in-depth testing, relates the correct use of these technologies to the students’ curricular improvement.

2. Objetives As already mentioned, the aim of this research was to assess hand-held AR technology in learning processes. First, the usability of the systems employed and, second, the improvement in the students’ academic performance were assessed. This assessment was based on the study of person/mobile device interaction in teaching processes (Argüelles, Callejo, & Farrero, 2013), and on the ability to visualise virtual models or make digital notes and sketches using devices of this type. These aspects are what we would consider to be today’s version of architectural photomontage, seeking to foster greater interest in the disciplines involved in order to bring about an improvement in the students’ academic performance. In order to implement these experiences, content and specific assessment methods were developed regarding the use of mobile devices to visualise content locally and ubiquitously, and of commercial (ARmedia©, Layar©) own-developed apps designed by the workgroup for free distribution and use on the Android© operating system. The latter app, called U-AR, was considered necessary to enable the creation and personalised management of virtual content using AR, which, in the field of study in question, has a number of potential advantages over those already in the marketplace (Sánchez Riera, Redondo, & Fonseca, 2012). The specific objectives of each experience focused on assessing whether there were significant differences in (a) the academic results and (b) the students’ levels of satisfaction and motivation depending on the teaching scenario used (S1, based on conventional methods, and S2, based on AR m-learning). To that end, the following research questions were posed: (Q1) Are there any differences in the students’ levels of satisfaction and motivation depending on which of the two proposed teaching scenarios is used?, and (Q2) Are there any differences in the academic results depending on which of the two proposed teaching scenarios is used?

3. Background The first works on m-learning were by Kristoffersen and Ljungberg (2000). Other experiences (Lehner & Nosekabel, 2002) extended the idea into an Internet and mobile device-based virtual university RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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by developing an m-learning platform called Welcome. Several authors (Prahalad & Hamel, 1990) have called for this educational competency to be considered basic, and it has been expanded in our experiences (Fonseca et al., 2013), where we would effectively be talking about a concept midway between m-learning and ubiquitous learning (u-learning), in which data are stored in the cloud. In view of these references and the lack of others, especially in the architecture and building construction environment, we considered it worthwhile to further this educational research. Regarding AR technology, many studies have been done on its potential: in medicine (Paiva, Machado, & Oliveira, 2012), in maintenance or assembly operations (Benbelkacem et al., 2009; Hincapie et al., 2011), in tourism (Guttentag, 2010; Hsu, 2011), in museums (Tillon, Marchal, & Houlier, 2011) or in advertising and marketing (Honken et al., 2012), as well as in areas that are more closely-related, such as archaeology and historical heritage (Haydar et al., 2008), planning and urbanism or construction and maintenance processes (Allen, Regenbrecht, & Abbott, 2011). Some authors have suggested the viability of introducing AR into other areas such as design, excavation, layout, inspection, the coordination or supervision of tasks (Shin & Dunston, 2008), or infrastructure visualisation (Schall et al., 2008). In building restoration, it has been trialled, using mobile devices, to visualise the final appearance of a site on a 1:1 scale (Tonn et al., 2008). Its usefulness as a tool for representing internal spaces has also been tested (Wang, 2008) by experimenting with apps that did not require any prior experience (Oksman, Siltanen, & Ainasoja, 2012). In the educational environment, its usefulness has been demonstrated for improving mathematics teaching (Kondo, 2006), spatial abilities (Martín Gutiérrez, 2010) or music (Peula et al., 2007). Edutainment (education+entertainment) proposals such as Construct3D have been studied (Kaufmann, Schmalstieg, & Wagner, 2000), and there are websites that offer students the chance to buy augmented books to improve their skills (Martin et al., 2011).

4. Method 4.1. Assessment of the usability of the systems employed We used online and paper-based questionnaires that had generally been designed with two objectives in mind: to assess a specific element and to obtain qualitative feedback from the students. Generally, the questions had been designed to be answered using Likert scales, where 1=disagree and 5=strongly agree. The results were analysed for each of the workshops done, and were then processed jointly. Each questionnaire was divided into four sections (A, B, C and D) in accordance with the following descriptions: A: personal questions about gender, age, name, qualifications, etc.; B: questions about prior knowledge of the technology, which were useful to evaluate the students’ technical profiles; C: opinion of the workshop and the teaching materials used; and D: opinion of the AR m-learning and 3D object-modelling technology. The answers obtained served as the basis for the analysis based on ISO 9241-11, which sets out guidelines for usability in relation to three principal components: effectiveness, understood as the RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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user’s ability to complete tasks during the workshop, in relation to accuracy and integrity; efficiency, understood as the allocated resources, with questions about time and effort spent on resolving the proposed exercises; and satisfaction, understood as the students’ subjective reactions to the workshop. Especially noteworthy was the exercise in which Layar was used (case study 3), where the opportunity to answer certain geolocated questions was incorporated into the on-site visualisation process, which enabled an assessment of the students’ opinions of how the different proposals had been integrated into the site. The only format used was Google Docs, which allowed the results to be gathered and analysed immediately (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

4.2. Improvement in academic performance A crucial aspect was the curricular assessment of the students who had used such technologies in order to check whether their performance had improved in comparison to those who had not used them. To that end, it was necessary to compare their scores in the pre-test and compare them with the scores that they obtained after doing the workshop (post-test). The students were divided into two groups, EG (using AR) and CG (doing a conventional workshop). As the groups were small, we could not strictly take the means of each group, but instead had to estimate the probability of the groups being convergent before and after doing the workshop (pre-test and post-test). For that purpose, the statistical procedure developed by Gosset (1908) was used, which is known as Student’s t-test and is suitable for making precise estimates from data with small samples. In order to check if the groups were initially similar, that is to say, if the variation in scores (pre-test) between the different groups was not significantly greater than the variation within the groups, an analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed, which allowed the null hypothesis (h0) of convergent scores in the different RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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groups (no differences) to be tested. The flow diagram used to assess performance is shown below (Figure 2).

RANDOM ALLOCATION OF GROUPS CONTROL GROUP (CG)

EXPERIMENTAL GROUP (EG) YES

PRE-TEST

PRE-TEST

COMPARISON OF MEASUREMENTS AND ANOVA BETWEEN GROUPS NO THEORICAL EXPLANATION Conventional class

THEORICAL EXPLANATION: Application of AR visualiization technique

POST-TEST

POST-TEST RESULTS ANALYSIS

Figure 2.

5. Case Studies The students in the EG were given specific AR training. The specifically designed workshops lasted for six hours, and were divided into three two-hour sessions. The first session was for the students to receive generic training on how to use and manage the AR apps that would be employed. The second session was for the students to practise how to visualise the imported models and how to interact with the specific players (U-AR, ARPlayer and Layar). The third outdoor session was for the students to experiment on site with the fit of the virtual models, assessing both the model and the experience. Table 1 shows the different case studies conducted. Only cases 3 to 6 (with a bold border) are described below because the most distinct variants of AR technologies were used in them. These cases represented the end of the preliminary study phase (cases 3 and 4) and the start of the assessment and usability of the app created for such purposes (5 and 6)..

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Table 1

PHASES

EXERCISES

0. FEASIBILITY STUDY

0 GIRONELLA

1. 1 BEST PRELIMINARY STUDIES USING EXISTING 2 DAC SOFTWARE AND PLATFORMS 3 EGIII

2. OWN DEVELOPED APP

1.1 1.2 1.3

ENVIRONMENT

REGISTER

MARKER

SOFTWARE

HARDWARE ASSESSMENT

Outdoor

OPTICAL

AR_toollkit / img

AR_Media / Lap Top./ JUNAIO Mobile

Feasibility

Indoor Indoor Outdoor

OPTICAL

AR_toollkit img

AR_Media / Build AR / JUNAIO

Lap Top./ Mobile

Usability

Indoor

AR_toollkit

AR_Media

Lap Top

Usability

Indoor

AR_toollkit

AR_Media

Lap Top

Usability

4 TICS (layar)

Outdoor

GPS

---

LAYAR

Mobile

Usability

5 APF

Outdoor

OPTICAL

Img.

U-AR

Mobile

Usab / Performance

6 PT II

Indoor

U-AR

Mobile l

Usab / Performance

5.1. Case study 1 Information Technology (IT) Applications (APF) (3 credits), Architecture at ETSAB-UPC, 2012. The objective of the subject was to model urban units, squares or stretches of streets and to develop urban design projects in them by incorporating sculptural elements. This process involved two thematic areas: digital image processing and the use of responsive tools to create virtual 3D scenes. In this case, we focused on the study of interventions in the urban landscape of Barcelona; the place of intervention was Flassaders square and the reference model was sculptures. The work group comprised 25 students divided into 3 groups: a CG (8 students) without 3G phones doing the

Figure 3. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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conventional workshop, and two EGs using iOS (9 students) and Android (8 students) devices, who were given specific training on how to use the specific AR. Android users used the own-developed U-AR app and iPhone© users used ARmedia© (Figure 3). The objective of the EG focused on assessing the best fit in terms of size and location of the models in relation to the dimensions of the square. This basic aspect of the exercise was corroborated, as the CG students made disproportionate proposals in comparison to the EG students, whose properly adjusted the size of their proposals (Redondo et al., 2012).

5.2. Case study 2 Technical Projects II, (PT II) (3 credits), Building Construction Science and Technology at EPSEB-UPC, 2012. The object of study focused on the application of ICTs to construction and maintenance processes. The exercise focused on visualising the construction process of a load-bearing wall support. A total of 146 students took part in this experience, who were divided into 3 CGs and 1 EG (Figure 4). Details of the experiment are described in Sánchez et al. (2013).

Figure 4.

5.3. Case study 3 ICTs Applied to Territorial Analysis (TICS) (60 hours), university master’s degree course in Urban Management and Valuation, ETSAB-UPC, 2012. The topic of the experiment focused on the Barcelona Knowledge Campus (BKC). A total of 11 students took part in this experiment, in a single EG. Use was made of a geographical information system (GIS) capable of integrating the data obtained (digitally modelled buildings located in their real, physical coordinates) in a georeferenced manner. In this case, Layar© was used. It is a free app that allows both alphanumeric and digital-model content to be georeferenced for their integrated visualisation on mobile devices (Figure 5). Details of the experiment are described in Redondo et al. (2013). RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Figure 5.

5.4. Case study 4 Representation Systems II (EG III) (9 credits), Architecture at La Salle Campus Barcelona, URL, 2011/2012. A total of 57 students did the project. The students on the previous workshop were taken as the CG. All of the students had been given CAD 2D and 3D training. In this case, integrated use was made of several AR m-learning strategies to present the projects, using QR codes linking to multimedia content: videos, CAD, virtual 3D models integrated into AR, specific websites, etc. (Figure 6). Details of the surveys and academic progress are described in Fonseca et al. (2012).

Figure 6.

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6. Results Analysis 6.1. Usability The joint results of the four workshops assessed in this instance, where each variable had the same weight in the formation of the indicator that it explained, are given in Figure 7 below, which shows the mean results of the workshops done in relation to effectiveness, efficiency and level of satisfaction reached. It is possible to observe that the three components forming part of usability obtained similar ratings, at around 3.5 out of 5 points, with satisfaction higher than the rest.

Questions Average:

4.50

Effectiveness

Efficiency

Satisfaction

Effectiveness

Efficiency

Satisfaction

4.00 3.50 3.00 2.50 2.00 1.50 1.00

final assessment

[AR could be useful on building and architectural areas?j

[The course satisfies the purpose for which it was designed. (spatial and graphical skills ... [software used will be useful in your immediate future as a student?j [software used will be useful in your immediate future as a engineer ?j [AR Technology will be useful in your immediate future as a student?j [AR Technology will be useful in your immediate future as a engineer?j

[Global opinionj

[I have been able to solve the exercises presented.j

[Could you have learned this content independently?j

[The number of exercises given are sufficient for hours of proposed work.j

[ models incorporating shadows from the real environment is importantto make the scene ... [Do you think that using objectsas ocluders help integrate the model in the scene?j

[Was it hard to understandhow the program works?j

[The software used is appropriate for workshop obj ectives.j

[The exercises have been representativej

[material has a good and careful presentationj

0.00

[The theoretical contents have been given clear and representativej

0.50

Figure 7.

However, some questions that ought to be posed are (a) How do each of these indicators relate to each other?, (b) What relationship is there between these usability components and usability itself?, and (c) What relationship is there between each of them and other variables such as the final rating, the number of hours that the student used a computer, or performance, if it was assessed? To answer these questions, compound indicators were constructed (which we have called Level II). Used for RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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that purpose was the analysis of principal components extracted from the group of original single indicators that would form part of each indicator. Based on their values and percentages of variance explained, each compound index was constructed in accordance with the following formula:

An equation to construct the quality indicator on the basis of each component and its eigenvalues, according to Peters and Butler (1970), where: Imj represents the compound indicator to be obtained (efficiency, satisfaction, effectiveness, etc.) for each j-th student; Zrj is the score of the r-th component (factor) for the j-th student; and √y, is the square root of the eigenvalue for that component. This therefore ensured that the components with a higher variance explained had greater weight in the rating of the new variable being derived. After obtaining the index, it was normalised on a scale from 0 to 1. The value obtained illustrated each student’s situation in comparison to that of the other participants in the questionnaire for each of these indices. Thus, the following variables were constructed: level of education, efficiency, effectiveness, satisfaction and usability. Table 2 shows a summary of usability assessment results obtained from the various experiments.

Prior knowledge of technology

Table 2

BEST

DAC

EG III

TICS

APF

PT_II

[LINUX-UNIX OS]

0.59

0.10

1.22

1.27

1.00

1.26

[WINDOWS OS]

2.29

2.71

4.19

4.36

4.00

4.31

[Macintosh OS]

0.76

1.67

1.57

2.00

2.00

2.14

[Word Processors]

1.76

1.86

3.78

3.73

3.33

3.71

[Spreadsheets]

1.76

1.29

3.19

2.82

2.33

3.46

[Databases]

1.29

1.62

2.35

2.73

2.17

2.80

(GIS)

0.82

0.43

1.86

1.64

1.33

2.09

[Photo editing]

1.59

1.86

2.68

2.91

3.50

3.06

(CAD)

1.59

2.90

3.76

4.00

3.83

4.00

[Multimedia Applications]

1.65

1.14

2.86

3.55

3.50

3.11

[Internet browsers and search engines]

2.59

2.24

4.22

3.91

3.67

3.97

[Email Software]

2.59

2.95

4.38

4.27

3.67

4.29

[AR Applications]

0.71

0.19

0.24

1.00

1.83

2.06

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BEST

DAC

EG III

TICS

APF

PT_II

-

-

3.62

3.73

3.67

3.17

[material has a good and careful presentation]

4.18

3.52

3.70

3.64

3.50

3.34

[The exercises have been representative]

4.53

4.05

3.97

3.91

3.50

3.49

[The software used is appropriate for workshop objectives.]

4.00

3.76

3.92

3.09

3.50

3.29

[The course satisfies the purpose for which it was designed. (New Graphical tools for presentations)]

4.35

3.86

3.76

3.73

3.83

3.31

[Could you have learned this content independently?]

2.88

2.57

2.89

2.82

1.83

3.37

[The number of exercises given is sufficient for hours of proposed work.]

4.18

3.62

3.41

3.18

3.50

3.17

[I have been able to solve the exercises presented.]

4.18

3.57

3.76

3.64

3.33

3.54

[Global opinion]

4.07

3.62

3.86

4.00

4.17

3.46

[Prior knowledge of the use of modeling software?]

-

2.95

2.41

2.27

-

-

[Prior knowledge of the use of AR on mobile devices

-

1.24

1.22

1.18

1.00

2.03

[Was it hard to understand how the program works?]

-

2.71

2.24

2.00

2.67

2.40

[Software used will be useful in your immediate future as a student?]

-

3.67

3.38

3.73

3.50

3.37

[Software used will be useful in your immediate future as an engineer?]

-

3.81

3.32

3.64

4.00

3.34

[AR Technology will be useful in your immediate future as a student?]

-

3.86

3.11

3.45

3.50

3.31

[AR Technology will be useful in your immediate future as an engineer?]

-

3.90

3.27

3.36

3.83

3.54

[AR could be useful on building and architectural areas?]

-

4.10

3.84

4.09

4.00

3.83

[Models incorporating shadows from the real environment is important to make the scene more realistic?]

-

4.29

4.03

3.27

4.33

3.89

[Do you think that using objects as occluders help integrate the model in the scene?]

-

-

3.84

3.55

3.50

3.57

4.18

3.67

3.78

4.27

3.83

3.51

3D modelling and augmented reality

Workshop opinion

[The theoretical contents have been given clear and representative]

Final assessment

Focusing specifically on the students’ assessments and their relationship with potential curricular improvements, as an example we would point out that student 122 (see Table 3) had the highest score and mean in his/her ratings. In contrast, student 125 had the lowest mean in his/her answers and consequently the lowest rating, which would suggest the potential existence of a direct relationship between the answer mean and the usability index assigned to each student. However, student 48, with a mean identical to the previous student, did not have a zero rating, but rather slightly above. Similarly, taking into account only the mean of his/her answers, student 67 had the second highest RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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result. However, he/she had a lower usability index than student 41, who, with a lower answer mean, had a higher usability index, due basically to a higher overall consideration of efficiency, effectiveness and level of satisfaction shown. In other words, while student 41 was less satisfied with the workshop done, he/she considered it to be efficient and effective, and more so than student 67, who gave it a higher score than the other students. Thus, the constructed index served to correlate other variables such as academic performance, which was not directly related to the answer mean, as it was derived from the indicators explaining a higher percentage of the latter. In this section, the comparison of all the experiments undertaken is shown in the table below. Table 3

Variables

Student 122

Student 125

Student 48

Student 67

Student 41

W_contents

5

2

2

5

3

W_material

4

2

2

5

4

W_exercises

5

1

2

5

5

W_software

5

2

3

5

5

W_course_purpose

5

2

3

5

5

W_learn_indep

3

3

3

4

5

W_num_exercises

4

2

3

4

5

W_solve

5

3

3

4

5

W_Global_opinion

5

2

1

5

5

T_hard_program

1

2

1

3

1

T_soft_useful_student

5

2

2

5

5

T_soft_useful_engineer

5

3

3

5

5

T_AR_useful_student

5

2

1

5

3

T_AR_useful_engineer

5

3

2

5

3

T_AR_useful_areas

5

2

2

5

4

T_shadows

5

2

2

3

5

T_occluders

5

2

2

3

4

Final_assessment

5

2

2

5

4

Mean

4.56

2.17

2.17

4.50

4.22

EFFICIENCY

0.73

0.03

0.06

0.57

0.89

EFFECTIVENESS

0.96

0.00

0.21

0.66

0.87

SATISFACTION

1.00

0.15

0.13

1.00

0.74

USABILITY

1.00

0.00

0.09

0.82

0.93

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6.2. Improvement in academic performance As already mentioned, on completion of workshops APF and PT II, the students submitted proposals for assessment by the lecturers. By way of an example, Table 4 below shows, by group and sub-group, the results and gains obtained in the pre-test and post-test workshop measurements for Technical Projects II (PT II), which had the highest number of students and from which the most relevant conclusions could be drawn. Table 4

SUB-GROUP/GROUP 1M

2M

3T

Control

4T

Experimental

Total

PRE_Test

POST_Test

Gain

Mean (S.D.)

2.52 (1.32)

4.24 (1.13)

1.72 (-0.19)

N

26

26

Mean (S.D.)

3.14 (1.45)

4.36 (1.02)

N

44

44

Mean (S.D.)

2.66 (1.71)

4.80 (0.95)

N

38

38

Mean (S.D.)

2.82 (1.53)

4.49 (1.04)

N

108

108

Mean (S.D.)

2.62 (1.74)

4.81 (0.86)

N

38

38

Mean

2.62 (1.74)

4.81 (0.86)

N

38

38

Mean (S.D.)

2.77 (1.58)

4.57 (1.01)

1.80 (-0.57)

N

146

146

0

1.22 (-0.43)

2.14 (-0.76)

1.67 (-0.49)

2.19 (-0.88)

2.19 (-0.88)

The results show that the EG (4T) had a higher score (4.81) after training (post-test), which was 0.24 points above the CG mean (4.49). In addition, they show a greater gain in comparison to the CG mean (Figure 8).

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5 4.5 4

Control Experimental

3.5

Linear (Control) 3

Linear (Experimental)

2.5 2

PRE TEST

POS TEST

Figure 8.

7. General Conclusions Regarding the questions posed at the start of this experience, it should be noted that significant differences were found in all the workshops depending on the two scenarios considered. In the EG, these were reflected in both the students’ motivation levels and improvement in their academic performance. Thus, the results obtained show that the groups using the new method (AR m-learning) secured an improvement in their scores. Obtained from the post-test assessment, these scores show the greatest gain in comparison to the pre-test done at the start of the workshop. Likewise, and according to the data, comparable in the surveys carried out, the experience generated a high degree of expectation among the students, which led to greater motivation and engagement while the workshop was being done. These students had high scores for materials, workshop content and the method used, which would suggest that this technology could be effective in learning processes as a complement to conventional training.. Regarding the relationships between the variables that had an impact on the global opinion of the workshop, the correlations obtained were not particularly high compared to the rest of the workshops. Those for presentation quality and exercise representativeness had the clearest relationships (0.70 and 0.73, respectively). In contrast, the variables for prior knowledge of the technology and use of software and operating systems did not significantly correlate with the global opinion of the workshop. Finally, we can assert that AR m-learning technology to visualise architectural projects of all kinds has great potential, be it for visualising their scale on site, their appearance or the different stages of execution, and contributes to a better understanding and communication of them. This allows different virtual proposals to be checked and compared before they are built for real. Given all of the above, we consider that this educational experience has contributed new pedagogical values that have allowed already consolidated content and methodologies to be developed, and that such values have had a direct impact on Architecture and Building Construction studies. As a future line RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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of work, we are developing new questionnaires to incorporate qualitative aspects based on personal interviews. Acknowledgments. Funded project. VI National Plan for Non-Oriented Fundamental Research, 2008-2011, Government of Spain. EDU-2012-37247/EDUC.

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About the Authors Ernest Redondo Domínguez ernesto.redondo@upc.edu Doctor of Architecture, Tenured University Lecturer, Department of Architectural Representation and Visual Analysis I, Barcelona School of Architecture (ETSAB), Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya-BarcelonaTech (UPC), Spain Architect (ETSAB-UPC, 1981). Doctorate in Architecture (1992). Doctorate special award (1994). Tenured university lecturer (1993), Department of Architectural Representation and Visual Analysis I (EGAI), UPC. Department of EGA-I director (1996-2003). Deputy director of ETSAB-UPC (since 2011). He has two Government of Spain CNEAI-recognised six-year increments and two Government of Catalonia AGAUR-recognised research periods. Principal researcher on the National RD&I Project EDU-201237247/EDUC. Assessor of the Spanish National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation. Assessor of the Spanish National Agency for Assessment and Foresight (since 2006). Director of the UPC research group in Architecture, Representation and Modelling (ARM). Director of the GILDA-ICE-UPC executive committee. Member of the scientific and editorial boards of several publications. Lecturer of several subjects in the field of Architectural Representation and Visual Analysis on the Architecture bachelor’s degree course, using conventional and digital methods, and president of the final year project board at ETSAB-UPC and the Research into Urban Management and Valuation master’s degree board, UPC (since 2008). Principal researcher on Educational Research Projects AGAUR, ICE-UPC, 1999ARCS-00230 and 2007MQD00025. Author of more than 25 indexed publications, WOK, SCOPUS, Avery, RIBA, focusing on the use of ICTs in architecture. He has supervised four doctoral theses. Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya-BarcelonaTech Av. Diagonal 649, 2 08028 Barcelona Spain

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David Fonseca Escudero fonsi@salle.url.edu Doctor of Engineering, Tenured University School Lecturer, Department of Architecture, La Salle Campus Barcelona, Ramon Llull University (URL), Spain Technical Engineer in Telecommunications (La Salle-URL, 1998). Bachelor’s degree in Audiovisual Communication (Open University of Catalonia, UOC, 2006). Master’s degree in Information and Knowledge Society (UOC, 2009). Doctorate (URL, 2011). Tenured university school lecturer (2002). Lecturer in the Department of Architecture, La Salle Campus Barcelona, URL (since 1997). Researcher for the Department of Media Technology, La Salle Campus Barcelona, URL (since 2005). Internationally certified by Autodesk in AutoCAD (since 1997) and Revit (since 2011). Project manager, Department of Architecture, La Salle Campus Barcelona, URL (since 2010): IntUBE (224286), OikodomosII (177090-LLP1-2010-1-ES-ERASMUS-EAM), Repener (BIA2009-13365). He is a principal researcher on Project EDU2012-37247/EDUC. Member of GILDA-ICE-UPC and of the scientific and editorial boards of several publications. Tutorial manager and academic tutor, lecturer of several subjects in the field of IT Tools on the bachelor’s degree course in Architecture and Building Construction Science and Technology. President of final year work, final year project, final bachelor’s degree and master’s degree project boards at La Salle-UPC (since 1999). Member of several doctoral boards at the UPC and Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) (since 2011). Author of more than 10 indexed publications focusing on usability, accessibility and architectural education, as well as on the use of ICTs in architecture. He has jointly supervised two doctoral theses. Universitat Ramon Llull C/ Quatre Camins, 2 08022 Barcelona Spain

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Mobile Mobile learning learning: in the unafield experiencia of Architecture colaborativa and Building mediante Construction... códigos QR

Albert Sánchez Riera albert.sanchez.riera@upc.edu Doctor of Architecture, Assistant Lecturer, Department of Architectural Representation and Visual Analysis II, Barcelona School of Architecture (ETSAB), Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya-BarcelonaTech (UPC), Spain Architect (Vallès School of Architecture (ETSAV), UPC, 1999). Postgraduate qualification in Executive Projects (UPC-Sert School, 2001). Postgraduate qualification in Town Planning and Land Management (Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB)-APCE, 2005). Master’s degree in Urban Management and Valuation (Centre for Land Policy and Valuations, UPC, 2010). Doctorate in Architecture (2013), with the thesis entitled Evaluación de la tecnología de realidad aumentada móvil en entornos educativos del ámbito de la arquitectura y la edificación (Assessment of augmented reality technology in educational environments in the field of architecture and building construction), focusing on the assessment of technology in teaching environments in the field of architecture, town planning and building construction. Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya-BarcelonaTech Av. Gregorio Marañón, 44-50 08028 Barcelona Spain

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Mobile learning in the field of Architecture and Building Construction...

Isidro Navarro Delgado sidro.navarro@upc.edu Architect, Doctoral Student, Department of Architectural Representation and Visual Analysis I, Barcelona School of Architecture (ETSAB), Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya-BarcelonaTech (UPC), Spain Architect (ETSAB-UPC, 1999). Doctoral candidate on the Modelling and Visual Simulation in Architecture (MSVA) programme at ETSAB-UPC. Adjunct university lecturer (2005) in the Department of Representation and Visual Analysis I (EGA-I), UPC. Tenured university school lecturer in the Department of Architecture, La Salle Campus Barcelona, Ramon Llull University (URL) (since 1994). Internationally certified by Autodesk in AutoCAD (since 2010), MAX and Revit (since 2011). Member of the UPC research group in Architecture, Representation and Modelling (ARM). Member of the GILDA-ICE-UPC research group. Author of several indexed publications focusing on usability, accessibility and architectural education, as well as on the use of ICTs and augmented reality in architecture. Tutorial manager and academic tutor, lecturer of several subjects in the field of Architectural Representation and Visual Analysis, using conventional and digital methods, on the bachelor’s degree course in Architecture and Building Construction Science and Technology. Training coordinator of BIM (Revit) parametric programs at the CAD Centre (CeCAD), La Salle (since 2010). Master’s degree programme coordinator in the Department of Architecture, La Salle (since 2010). Director of the master’s degree programme in Sustainable Architecture and Energy Efficiency (since 2009). Coordinator of the postgraduate programme in Environmental Architecture and Sustainable Town Planning (since 2009). Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya-BarcelonaTech Av. Diagonal 649, 2 08028 Barcelona Spain

The texts published in this journal are – unless indicated otherwise – covered by the Creative Commons Spain Attribution 3.0 licence. You may copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the work, provided you attribute it (authorship, journal name, publisher) in the manner specified by the author(s) or licensor(s). The full text of the licence can be consulted here: <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/es/deed.en>

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Special Section “Mobile Learning Applications in Higher Education”

article

Mobile learning: a collaborative experience using QR codes Meritxell Monguillot Hernando

tritxell@gmail.com Lecturer in Physical Education in Compulsory Secondary Education, National Institute of Physical Education of Catalonia (INEFC)-Barcelona Centre, Spain

Carles González Arévalo

cargonzalez@gencat.cat Lecturer in Physical Activity and Sport Course Planning, Department of Physical Education, National Institute of Physical Education of Catalonia (INEFC)-Barcelona Centre, Spain

Montse Guitert Catasús

mguitert@uoc.edu Director of Digital Skills Training and of the Edul@b Research Group, and a Lecturer in Computing, Multimedia and Telecommunication Studies, Open University of Catalonia (UOC), Spain

Carles Zurita Mon

czurita@xtec.cat Teacher of Physical Education in Compulsory Secondary Education and Post-Compulsory Schooling, Virolai School, Barcelona, Spain

Submitted in: June 2013 Accepted in: October 2013 Published in: January 2014

Recommended citation

Monguillot, M., González, C., Guitert, M. & Zurita, C. (2014). Mobile learning: a collaborative experience using QR codes. Mobile Learning Applications in Higher Education [Special Section]. Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento (RUSC). Vol. 11, No 1. pp. 175-191. doi http://doi.dx.org/10.7238/ rusc.v11i1.1899

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Abstract

The experience presented in this article highlights the educational potential of using mobile learning and QR codes in a secondary physical education classroom to foster healthy physical activity. The experience was designed as a collaborative didactic unit for 13/14 year-old compulsory secondary education pupils from two schools in Barcelona, Spain. The main objective was to simulate a Mount Everest ascent by performing collaborative resistance strength challenges designed by the pupils and converted into QR codes. The total number of strength exercise repetitions that the pupils from both schools managed to do collaboratively simulated the number of metres climbed towards the summit of Mount Everest. The experience was based on qualitative educational research and had a multiple case-study design. Moreover, it used a collaborative methodology to accomplish the challenge. The results obtained show the potential of mobile learning as an emergent educational tool that is capable of facilitating and fostering the teaching-learning process.

Keywords

mobile learning, physical education, secondary education

Mobile learning: una experiencia colaborativa mediante códigos QR Resumen

La siguiente experiencia muestra las posibilidades educativas del uso del aprendizaje móvil y de códigos QR en el aula de Educación física de secundaria como herramienta para fomentar la práctica de actividad física saludable. La experiencia ha sido diseñada en forma de unidad didáctica colaborativa para el alumnado de segundo curso de educación secundaria obligatoria de dos centros educativos de Barcelona. El objetivo principal ha sido simular el ascenso al Everest mediante la realización de retos colaborativos de fuerza resistencia diseñados por el alumnado y convertidos en códigos QR. La suma de repeticiones de fuerza conseguidas de forma colaborativa entre el alumnado de ambos centros ha simulado en metros la ascensión al Everest. La experiencia se ha basado en la investigación educativa cualitativa y bajo un diseño de casos múltiple y ha utilizado una metodología colaborativa para la consecución del reto. Los resultados obtenidos han demostrado el potencial del aprendizaje móvil como herramienta educativa emergente facilitadora y motivadora del proceso de enseñanza aprendizaje.

Palabras clave

aprendizaje móvil, Educación física, enseñanza secundaria

1. Introduction The technological, social and cultural changes brought about by the information and knowledge society have extended beyond the sphere of education, giving rise to a new ecology of learning (Coll, 2013). These changes are affecting every level of learning – the what, why, how, where, when and by whom of teaching and learning, thus making it necessary to re-examine how they should be incorporated into the school curriculum. In today’s society, the impact of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has led to the emergence of new environments, educational RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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agents and learning opportunities. Consequently, ways of teaching and learning are shifting towards personalised learning and moving away from traditional universal schooling (Coll, 2013). The advent of technology in education has provided teachers with new opportunities and resources to create new ways of teaching (Fundación de la Innovación Bankinter. Accenture, 2011). Thus, one of the major challenges that today’s education faces is how to teach and educate in the context of a digital culture and society (Alonso et al., 2012).

1.1. Mobile learning Mobile devices and applications (apps) are emergent technologies that will be incorporated into education in the near term (Informe Horizon, 2012). “Mobile learning involves the use of mobile technology…”, and one of the most important features is that it enables “… learning anytime and anywhere” (UNESCO, 2013). According to Cantillo et al. (2012), the technological features of mobile learning are portability, immediacy, connectivity, ubiquity and adaptability. Regarding the teaching-learning process, the incorporation of mobile devices into education has considerable benefits and enormous potential. It enables collaboration among pupils, information searching, knowledge creation and improved interaction and communication among the various educational agents. In addition, it facilitates access to learning anytime and anywhere by enabling connectivity and the use of multiple apps for educational purposes (Fundación Telefónica, 2013) In contrast to traditional learning, which is centred on the figure of the teacher as a beacon of standard knowledge, the use of technologies in the classroom fosters learning that is more active, dynamic and interactive (Fundación de la Innovación Bankinter. Accenture, 2011). Regarding the teaching-learning process, Naismith et al. (2006) have asserted that the incorporation of mobile learning into education can produce considerable benefits. Mobile learning enables the construction of new knowledge from prior knowledge and the design of activities that promote learning situated in a real and meaningful context for pupils. In addition, it increases the potential for collaboration and social interaction among pupils, and generates informal learning and activities outside the scope of formal curricular learning, as today’s learning can take place anytime and anywhere. Finally, the use of mobile devices can serve as a support for expanding and delivering resources and materials to pupils. The experience presented in this article was undertaken at two compulsory secondary education schools in Barcelona, Spain, where compulsory secondary education is governed by the Spanish Organic Law on Education (LOE/2006) and Catalan Decree 143/2007. The current competency-based curriculum proposes a change of educational paradigm, as the goal is to ensure that pupils develop and acquire basic competencies. One of the core aspects of the current curriculum is the promotion of lifelong learning to provide the pupils with the knowledge and basic skills required to live in society and to spark their desire to carry on learning. The aim of the competency-based curriculum is to integrate various types of formal, informal and non-formal learning so that pupils are able to relate them to the content and use them effectively in different situations and contexts. The current compulsory secondary education curriculum (LOE/2006) proposes the development RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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of eight basic competencies, one of which refers to information processing and digital competency (Guitert et al., 2008). To attain this competency, pupils should be able to search for, process and communicate information and turn it into knowledge, as well as use technology in a responsible, independent, reflective and critical manner. Within this context, the use of technology in the classroom fosters and supports the new teaching paradigm and helps pupils to learn by themselves (Prensky, 2008). The current curricular approach to physical education in compulsory secondary education stresses the importance of acquiring and consolidating healthy lifestyle habits by doing physical activity and sport (González Arévalo, 2010). Looking after one’s body and health, improving physical fitness and making an active, constructive use of spare time are competencies that physical education in compulsory secondary education must develop (Decree 143/2007). In addition, the competency-based curriculum must provide pupils with the skills, knowledge and expertise required to enable them to satisfactorily cope with the problems of daily life once they have completed their compulsory secondary education. The experience presented in this article is about a practical application developed in a secondary physical education classroom. It combines the use of mobile learning and QR codes to foster and get the pupils engaged in healthy physical activity.

2. Research method 2.1. Methodological overview The experience was based on qualitative educational research and had a multiple case-study design. It was implemented through a collaborative physical education project undertaken at two compulsory secondary education schools in Barcelona1. The instrument used to evaluate the experience was a questionnaire.

2.2. Sample The sample was formed by 128 13/14 year-old compulsory secondary education pupils from two schools in Barcelona.

2.3. Design of the experience Learning objectives The general objective of the didactic unit was to get the 13/14 year-old compulsory secondary education pupils from the two schools to simulate a healthy, collaborative Mount Everest ascent by performing resistance strength challenges that were shared and displayed as QR codes. 1. This experience was awarded first prize in the individual category of the 3rd ICT Best Practices competition organised by the Barcelona Education Consortium. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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In accordance with the Proyecto Atlántida (Atlantis Project) (2008), which focuses on saving the democratic values of education and developing innovation experiences in the curriculum and organisation of schools (http://www.proyectoatlantida.net), the curricular assessment criteria – consisting of a statement and a short explanation of it – show the type and level of learning that pupils must achieve at a particular time with regard to the skills specified in the general objectives. The starting point of the experience was the prescriptive assessment criterion for physical education applicable to 13/14 year-old compulsory secondary education pupils (Decree 143/2007): To raise the individual level of physical fitness to improve health.

Competencies The experience placed emphasis on certain basic competencies. The interaction with the physical world competency was particularly important because the pupils learnt to work on strength to look after their health. In addition, the experience reinforced the learning to learn competency because the pupils were able to perform self-assessment and co-assessment throughout the process, as well as design their own challenges to work on strength. The citizenship and social competency was also developed through the collaborative work done to accomplish the challenge. Finally, the information processing and digital competency was developed using tools to construct QR codes, mobile apps to read them, music editing software and Google Forms. The experience also developed specific physical education competencies. In particular, the competencies relating to the acquisition of healthy habits by doing physical exercise tasks to develop strength.

Content The Physical fitness and health content block served as a tool to attain the learning objectives. To be precise, work was done on content relating to the development of strength as a healthy, basic physical quality, and on doing different exercises and using the tabata method to improve strength. The tabata method is currently used a lot in the spheres of fitness training and health, and involves exercising for 20 seconds and resting for 10 seconds in consecutive intervals for a total of 4 minutes. In addition, work was done on content relating to the use of different Web 2.0 tools and mobile apps, which are detailed further below.

Didactic strategies The collaborative technique used to accomplish the challenge was a collective marker based on adding together the number of points achieved by every participant in a certain physical exercise task (Orlick, 1990, cited in Velázquez Callado, 2012). In this case, the collective marker that had to be reached was 8,850 metres, representing the summit of Mount Everest. An inclusive and participatory methodology was also used, as all the pupils collaborated to accomplish the challenge irrespective of their individual levels of performance or physical ability.

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Planning and implementation The experience was implemented as a didactic unit and was carried out in the third term of the academic year. It lasted for 12 hours and was divided into 12 face-to-face sessions for each school and year. To accomplish the challenge, the pupils were organised into groups of four, and the ascent was simulated by adding together the number of individual and group strength exercise repetitions (reps) done in each session. Each group designed four strength exercises and converted them into QR codes, which it then exchanged with the pupils from both schools. To design the QR codes, the pupils used the QR Stuff and QR Voice tools, and to read them, they used various mobile apps. In order to add together the number of strength exercise reps and earn ascent metres, the tabata method was used. In each session, the pupils did a maximum of two tabata series. In addition, to make the exercise as realistic as possible, the increasing difficulty of doing physical exercise at an altitude was simulated, so the reps achieved at each camp had a different value, as shown in the following figure:

8,850 m

Camp 3 value 1 rep x 0.8 Camp 2 value 1 rep x 0.9 Camp 1 value 1 rep x 1 35 reps = 1 m

Figure 1. Rep, value and ascent metre details.

For example, a group achieving 350 strength exercise reps at Camp 1 effectively managed to climb 10 metres. For the Camp 1 and Camp 2 ascents, two sessions were used, respectively. For the Camp 3 and Camp 4 ascents, three sessions were required because the value of the reps was lower owing to the hypothetical influence of altitude.

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Assessment The assessment criteria and their relationship to the learning objectives were as follows: •• Designing 4 healthy, collaborative resistance strength challenges in groups of 4. (Objective 1) 20%. •• Putting effort into accomplishing all the healthy, collaborative resistance strength challenges. (Objective 2) 20%. •• Designing 4 healthy, collaborative resistance strength challenges in QR format for pupils from another school. (Objectives 3 and 4) 30%. •• Performing the final evaluation of the unit by submitting the Google Forms form. (Objective 5) 10%. •• Using different Web 2.0 tools to develop the unit. (Objective 5) 5%.

•• Entering the record of reps achieved on the form. (Objective 5) 5%.

•• Simulating a Mount Everest ascent by performing healthy, collaborative resistance strength challenges converted into QR codes. (General objective) 10%.

Assessment procedures A competency-based curriculum places the pupils at the centre of the teaching-learning process; they become the true protagonists, whereas the teachers take on the roles of process facilitators and guides. Within this context, assessment takes on a new meaning. Far from being penalising or qualifying, it becomes processual, regulatory, instructional and formative (Sanmartí, 2010). In this experience, both the teachers and the pupils took part in the process using three types of assessment: hetero-assessment performed by the teachers, co-assessment among the pupils and self-assessment by the pupils. In addition, the experience took into account the three assessment stages and used initial or diagnostic assessment, formative or continuing assessment and final or summative assessment. Several assessment instruments were used in the course of the experience. These provided the teachers and pupils with information and allowed the learning process to be monitored and regulated. The instruments used were checklists, questionnaires (online forms) and rubrics.

Web 2.0 tools The virtual learning environment that served as a meeting point for both schools and facilitated the experience follow-up was a Google Sites website called Junts/es fins l’Everest (Together to the top of Mount Everest). It was organised into different pages as follows: presentation, challenge, competencies and indicators, learning objectives, content, assessment, Web 2.0 tools, QR designs, musical tabatas, challenge monitoring and a marker that, like a countdown timer, indicated the number of days left to accomplish the challenge. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Figure 2. Experience website (Google Sites)

The following table shows the Web 2.0 tools used in the experience: Table 1. Web 2.0 tools used in the experience.

Web 2.0 tools Voki

Voki was used to present the challenge to the pupils.

Tools for designing QR codes

QR Stuff http://www.qrstuff.com/ QR Voice http://qrvoice.net/

Mobile apps for reading QR codes

QR Droid for Android, QR Reader or Qrafter for iPhone, BIDI: Lector de Códigos QR for Blackberry, QR Code Reader for Windows 7.

Audacity

The pupils used Audacity to design their own musical tabatas for strength work.

Google Forms

Two Google Forms forms were used: one for daily monitoring of reps done by each group and school to note the metres achieved in each session, and another for gathering the pupils’ final evaluations of the experience.

To monitor the challenge, an Excel spreadsheet was designed and shared on Google Drive. It was also embedded in the Google Sites website so that the results obtained by each group and school in each session could be displayed. The following figure shows the curricular elements of the didactic unit:

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COMPETENCES

ASSESSMENT INSTRUMENT TYPES

ASSESSMENT CRITERION

Interaction with the physical world Learning to learn Information processing and digital Citizenship and social

To raise the individual level of physical fitness to improve health

Hetero-assessment Co-assessment Sels-assessment Initial, formative and final Checklists, rubrics and questionnaires

METHODOLOGY Collaborative Inclusive Participatory

CONTENT Relating to work on strength and health, and to the use of Web 2.0 tools and mobile apps to develop QR codes

TOOLS

OBJECTIVE

Voki Google Sites Google Forms QR codes Mobile apps Audacity

To get 13/14 year-old compulsory secondary education pupils from two schools to simulate a healthy collaborative Mount Everest ascent by performing strenght challenges converted into QR codes

Figure 3. Curricular elements of the didactic unit.

3. Results The learning results obtained from the ICT-mediated experience were satisfactory. Particularly noteworthy were how much the pupils liked using the collaborative methodologies, the usefulness of mobile phones as motivational tools that create and foster learning circumstances, and the transfer of learning connected with health and technological apps to the pupils’ real lives. The results were organised into the following categories:

Evaluation of the experience

Usefulness of mobile phones and QR codes in learning

RESULTS

Motivation, collaboration and engagement

 Transfer of learning to real life

Healthy, useful learning

Figure 4. Results categories.

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Usefulness of mobile phones and QR codes in learning Sixty-six percent of the pupils positively rated the usefulness of mobile phones in the classroom because they had enabled them to do some activities, to learn new and useful things, to use mobile apps that they had been unaware of, and to combine and learn technological and physical activity concepts. The pupils satisfactorily rated the use and design of QR codes in the desired format (voice, video and text) to learn new and healthy strength exercises and to exchange them with pupils from another school. In addition, they pointed out that discovering what strength challenge was hidden behind each QR code had sparked their interest and motivation.

No (38)

Yes 75 66% No 38 34%

YES (75)

Chart 1. Evaluation of mobile phone use in the physical education classroom.

Eighty-seven percent of the pupils said that they had not previously used any tools to design QR codes, and that learning about them had been very positive and relevant. One pupil said2: “I think that QR codes will be very useful in the future, and we need to know how to use them.” The pupils rated mobile phone use in the classroom with comments like: “this is the first time we’ve been asked to bring our mobiles into the classroom”, “it’s much easier to do the lesson with a mobile”, “it was different from other classes”, “it was fun”, “I’d rather use new ways of learning than pens and notepads”, “I liked it because I didn’t know how to design QRs” and “I liked it because I’d never have thought that they’d make us use a mobile in a lesson, especially not in PE lesson.”

Healthy, useful learning The pupils positively rated the fact that they had worked on the strength of different muscle groups by doing new exercises and using various materials. Ninety-eight percent of the pupils said that they had learnt to do resistance strength exercises in a healthy way, and commented: “this unit was really 2. Translator’s note: All the comments made by the pupils have been translated from Spanish into English. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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useful because I’ve learnt to do physical activity and look after my body, and that’s important because we’ll only have one body in this life.”

Motivation, collaboration and engagement The pupils positively rated the collaborative work done and the chance to interact with pupils from another school by exchanging QR codes. The pupils pointed out the high levels of participation and engagement in the challenge because everyone, through their strength exercise contributions, had helped to accomplish the challenge irrespective of their individual levels of fitness and/or physical ability. The pupils said: “we all did the activities, and even though you weren’t putting in that many reps, you felt that they were important”, “this unit has been a new experience as we’ve never worked with other schools before.” In addition, 89% of the pupils considered that working with their own music increased their motivation.

Transfer of learning to real life Eighty-one percent of the pupils satisfactorily rated the usefulness and the transfer of learning acquired to their real lives: health, body care, mobile app use and QR code design.

No (22)

Yes 91 81% No 22 19%

YES (91)

Chart 2. Usefulness of learning acquired to real life.

The pupils said: “it’ll be very useful to me, in a job where QR codes need to be used”, “for health”, “when I want to do sport” and “to know how to look after my body.”

The pupils’ evaluations of the experience The pupils positively rated the experience, particularly because it had given them the opportunity to work jointly with another school to accomplish a common challenge, to learn to do healthy strength RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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exercises, to design QR codes and to use mobile apps that they had been unaware of at the start of the experience. In addition, they said that they had had fun, had made an effort and had worked in teams to accomplish the challenge. Eighty-nine percent of the pupils rated the unit with a score between 7 and 10, while 12% of the pupils rated it with a score of 6 or lower.

1 2 2%

40

2 0 0% 3 0 0%

32

4 0 0% 5 4 4%

24

6 7 6% 7 17 15%

16

8 40 35% 9 30 27% 10 13 12%

8

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Chart 3. The pupils’ evaluations of the unit

Ninety-four percent of the pupils rated the teachers’ actions with a score between 7 and 10, while 8% of the pupils rated them with a score of 6 or lower. Finally, continuing on from the sentence “This unit was like a/an… because…”, the pupils rated the experience with comments like: “its was very interesting because we mixed cooperation, technology and music in the classroom”, “it was a surprise because we did it with another school”, “it was like an explosion of creativity because I learnt loads of new things”, “this unit was a new experience in technology and PE, it was my favourite unit of the year”, “this unit was a new activity because we did activities that we hadn’t done before in other subjects (QR).”

Evaluation of the learning results The results obtained in the pupils’ learning were very satisfactory. The pupils learnt to use different technological tools while self-managing the development of strength in a healthy way using a collaborative working methodology. The pupils demonstrated high levels of motivation and engagement in the various activities and in the accomplishment of the challenge. In fact, 94% of the pupils passed the didactic unit.

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4. Conclusions “In the 21st century almost all work will be done in groups, most often facilitated by technology.” (Marc Prensky (2011). Teaching Digital Natives, p. 68)

The results obtained from the experience open up a broad range of opportunities for incorporating mobile learning into the physical education classroom as an educational tool and an emergent, potential methodology, thus coinciding with the results of the study conducted by Ibáñez and Asensio (2012) in the secondary education sphere. The experience presented in this article is framed within the current concept that Adell and Castañeda (2012) term ‘emergent pedagogy’. Educational practices based on this pedagogy have certain features that were taken as points of reference for this experience. For example, the didactic unit was implemented as an open collaborative project that encouraged several teachers and schools to participate; it strengthened skills and attitudes towards learning to learn and an engagement in learning beyond the classroom; it surpassed physical and organisational boundaries by uniting formal and informal contexts, thus shaping new ecologies of learning (Sangrà, 2012). Coinciding with the results of the study conducted by Ibáñez and Asensio (2012), this experience has shown how important mobile phone use is as a positive and motivational tool to improve the learning circumstances of pupils studying physical education. In addition, the pupils rated mobile phone use in the physical education classroom as a fun, enjoyable experience, coinciding once again with the study by Ibáñez and Asensio (2012). According to Cantillo et al. (2012), the incorporation of mobile phones into the classroom has enabled a number of benefits to be gained in relation to the development of certain basic competencies, skills and abilities among pupils. For example, in the experience presented here, active participation skills were developed through the exchange of challenges converted into QR codes with classmates or with pupils from another school, through the proper, responsible use of mobile phones in the classroom, through learning about concepts and technological tools that could be transferred to other curricular subjects or real-life situations, and through the design of basic musical sequences to self-manage their own strength training for health. It was therefore found that mobile learning combined with the use of collaborative, inclusive strategies enabled the pupils to improve their physical fitness in a fun, healthy way. According to Naismith et al. (2006), the incorporation of mobile learning and technology into educational processes fosters collaboration and social interaction, and both of these were observed in the experience through the exchange of QR codes with pupils from different schools. Various studies have highlighted the benefits of mobile learning for teaching, learning and educational change. Given the accessibility and enormous potential of mobile devices, they enable learning to be taken outside the classroom and pupils to create and share their knowledge (Fundación Telefónica, 2013). To sum up, the experience has enabled a reflection on the benefits of using mobile learning as an educational tool and an emergent methodology in the physical education classroom, as well as an observation of its enormous potential for learning and for fostering a healthy lifestyle among young people in a fun, collaborative, contemporary and technology-mediated way.

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física. Formación del profesorado. Educación Secundaria (Vol. 1, pp. 75-87). Barcelona, Spain: Graó. Guitert, M., Guerrero A. E., Ornellas, A., Romeu, T., & Romero, M. (2008). Implementación de la competencia transversal “Uso y aplicación de las TIC en el ámbito académico y profesional” en el contexto universitario de la UOC [Implementation of the transverse competence “use and application of ICT in the academic and professional area” in the university context of the UOC]. Revista Latinoamericana de Tecnología Educativa, 7(2), 81-89. Retrieved from http://dialnet.unirioja. es/servlet/articulo?codigo=2860446 Ibáñez, A., Vicent, N., & Asensio, M. (2012). Aprendizaje informal, patrimonio y dispositivos móviles. evaluación de una experiencia en educación secundaria. Didáctica de las Ciencias Experimentales y Sociales, 26, 3-18. doi: 10.7203/DCES.26.1937 Ley Orgánica 2/2006, de 3 de mayo, de Educación [Organic Law 2/2006, of 3 May, on Education]. Boletín Oficial del Estado [Official Gazette of the Government of Spain], 106, 17158-17207. Retrieved from http://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2006/05/04/pdfs/A17158-17207.pdf Moya, J. (Coord.) (2008). Proyecto Atlántida. De las competencias básicas al currículo integrado. Ministerio de Educación Política Social y Deportes. Gobierno de Canarias. Consejería de Educación, Universidades, Cultura y Deportes de Canarias. Madrid. Retrieved from http://www. redes-cepalcala.org/inspector/DOCUMENTOS%20Y%20LIBROS/COMPETENCIAS/DE%20LAS%20 COMPETENCIAS%20BASICAS%20AL%20CURRICULO%20INTEGRADO.pdf Moya, J., & Luengo, F. (2010). La concreción curricular de las competencias básicas: un modelo adaptativo integrado [The curricular specification of basic competencies: an integrated adaptive model]. CEE Participación Educativa, 15, 127-141. Naismith, L., Lonsdale, P., Vavoula, G., & Sharples, M. (2006). Literature Review in Mobile Technologies and Learning. FutureLab Series. Report: 11. University of Birmingham. Retrieved from http://telearn. archives-ouvertes.fr/docs/00/19/01/43/PDF/Naismith_2004.pdf Prensky, M. (2008). El papel de la tecnología en la enseñanza y en el aula [The Role of Technology in teaching and the classroom]. Educational Technology, Nov-Dec. Translation into Spanish by www. aprenderapensar.net. Retrieved from http://issuu.com/aprenderapensar/docs/el_papel_de_la_ tecnolog_a-marc-prensky Prensky, M. (2011). Enseñar a nativos digitales [Teaching digital natives: partnering for real learning]. Madrid, Spain: Ediciones SM. Proyecto Atlántida (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.proyectoatlantida.net Sangrà, A. (2012). Crear y gestionar ecologías de aprendizaje: tendencias educativas en la sociedad que viene [Creating and managing ecologies of learning: educational trends in the coming society]. Xornadas Autonómicas “A Sociedad en Rede”. Santiago de Compostela, Spain, 23-24 November  2012. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/asangra/ecologias-de-aprendizajecafi-santiagonov2012 Sanmartí, N. (2010). Avaluar per aprendre. L’avaluació per millorar els aprenentatges de l’alumnat en el marc del currículum per competències [Assessing to learn. Assessment to improve pupils’ learning in the context of the competency-based curriculum]. Retrieved from http://www.xtec.cat/alfresco/d/d/ workspace/SpacesStore/fc53024f-626e-423b-877a-932148c56075/avaluar_per_aprendre.pdf RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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UNESCO (2013). Policy guidelines for mobile learning. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/ images/0021/002196/219641e.pdf Velázquez, C. (2012). Comprendiendo y aplicando el aprendizaje cooperativo en Educación física [Understanding and applying cooperative learning in Physical Education]. Revista Española de Educación Física y Deportes, 400, 11-36.

About the Authors Meritxell Monguillot Hernando tritxell@gmail.com Lecturer in Physical Education in Compulsory Secondary Education, National Institute of Physical Education of Catalonia (INEFC)-Barcelona Centre, Spain She holds a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education (INEFC-Barcelona Centre) and a master’s degree in Education and ICT (Open University of Catalonia, UOC, Spain). She is a doctoral student at the UOC, a Physical Education teacher trainer and an external collaborator of the Group for Social and Educational Research on Physical Activity and Sport (GISEAFE), Barcelona, Spain. INEFC-centro de Barcelona Av. de l’Estadi, 12-22 08038 Barcelona Spain

Carles González Arévalo cargonzalez@gencat.cat Lecturer in Physical Activity and Sport Course Planning, Department of Physical Education, National Institute of Physical Education of Catalonia (INEFC)-Barcelona Centre, Spain He holds a doctorate (University of Barcelona, UB, Spain) and a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education (INEFC-Barcelona Centre). He is a member of the Group for Social and Educational Research on Physical Activity and Sport (GISEAFE), Barcelona, Spain. Departamento de Educación Física del INEFC-centro de Barcelona Av. de l’Estadi, 12-22 08038 Barcelona Spain

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Montse Guitert Catasús mguitert@uoc.edu Director of Digital Skills Training and of the Edul@b Research Group, and a Lecturer in Computing, Multimedia and Telecommunication Studies, Open University of Catalonia (UOC), Spain She holds a doctorate in Pedagogy (University of Barcelona, UB, Spain). She is the director of Digital Skills Training, a lecturer in Computing, Multimedia and Telecommunication Studies and a principal researcher of Edul@b (Research Group Education and IT) at the UOC. Universitat Oberta de Catalunya Rambla Poblenou, 156 08018 Barcelona Spain

Carles Zurita Mon czurita@xtec.cat Teacher of Physical Education in Compulsory Secondary Education and Post-Compulsory Schooling, Virolai School, Barcelona, Spain He holds a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education (National Institute of Physical Education of Catalonia (INEFC)-Barcelona Centre, Spain). He is a Physical Education teacher trainer. Escola Virolai C/ Ceuta s/n 08032 Barcelona Spain

The texts published in this journal are – unless indicated otherwise – covered by the Creative Commons Spain Attribution 3.0 licence. You may copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the work, provided you attribute it (authorship, journal name, publisher) in the manner specified by the author(s) or licensor(s). The full text of the licence can be consulted here: <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/es/deed.en>

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Special Section “Mobile Learning Applications in Higher Education”

article

Student projects empowering mobile learning in higher education Àngels Rius

mriusg@uoc.edu Lecturer, Open University of Catalonia (UOC), Spain

David Masip

dmasipr@uoc.edu Lecturer, Open University of Catalonia (UOC), Spain

Robert Clarisó

rclariso@uoc.edu Lecturer, Open University of Catalonia (UOC), Spain

Submitted in: June 2013 Accepted in: October 2013 Published in: January 2014

Recommended citation

Rius, À., Masip, D. & Clarisó, R. (2014). Student projects empowering mobile learning in higher education. Mobile Learning Applications in Higher Education [Special Section]. Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento (RUSC). Vol.  11, No  1. pp.  192-207. doi http://doi.dx.org/10.7238/rusc. v11i1.1901

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Abstract

Educational institutions are facing the challenge of providing students with tools for mobile learning (m-learning). However, the evolution of technology makes the development and continuous improvement of these tools rather expensive. For example, it is difficult to assess the different technology options available and to choose which ones are best suited to a particular context. In this article, the proposed solution is to engage students on technology degree courses in the development of m-learning tools. The Open University of Catalonia (UOC) is analyzed as a case study, and several examples of tools developed by students as part of their final year projects are presented. These projects explore different technologies and provide useful information to guide institutional investment in the development of m-learning tools. Akin to the collaborative development model in the field of open source software, this paradigm therefore can ensure the sustainability of m-learning in educational institutions.

Keywords

final year project, mobile device applications, m-learning, e-learning tools, innovation

Proyectos de los estudiantes para potenciar el aprendizaje móvil en la educación superior Resumen

Las instituciones educativas se enfrentan al reto de ofrecer a los estudiantes herramientas para aprendizaje móvil (m-learning). Sin embargo, la evolución de las tecnologías hace que el desarrollo y la mejora continua de estas herramientas sea algo muy costoso. Por ejemplo, resulta complicado evaluar las diferentes alternativas tecnológicas disponibles y seleccionar la más apropiada según el contexto. En este artículo, se propone como solución implicar a los estudiantes de titulaciones tecnológicas en el desarrollo de herramientas de m-learning. Se analiza como caso de estudio la Universitat Oberta de Catalunya y se presentan ejemplos de herramientas desarrolladas por estudiantes como parte de su trabajo final de carrera. Estos trabajos permiten explorar diferentes tecnologías y proporcionan información útil para guiar la inversión institucional en el desarrollo de herramientas de m-learning. Así pues, este paradigma, cercano al modelo del desarrollo colaborativo en el software libre, permite asegurar la sostenibilidad del m-learning en instituciones educativas.

Palabras clave

trabajo final de carrera, aplicaciones para dispositivos móviles, m-learning, herramientas de e-learning, innovación

1. Introduction According to some authors (Traxler, 2006; Frohberg, 2006; Sharples, 2010), we are living in a so-called ‘mobile era’, and there is talk of a new revolution at hand; a revolution where mobile devices play a key role. The rapid evolution of wireless technologies and the unremitting development of applications (apps) for mobile devices in recent years are good examples of that. In particular, new types of devices have burst onto the educational scene regardless of the day-to-day activities undertaken by educators and educational institutions. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Wireless technology and mobile devices are getting faster and more powerful all the time. In fact, there is now a tendency to replace desktop and laptop computers with other types of devices that require a different kind of interaction. In addition, there is currently a proliferation of tools and programming languages to develop mobile device apps and, simultaneously, a relentless growth in the specific marketplaces for publishing and sharing apps of this type. In the sphere of education, the demand for new apps to adapt learning environments to new mobile devices is driving the need for more and more work to be done on them. Some authors have identified major opportunities in the field of higher education, one of them is Alan Livingston. He has noted that the use of mobile devices by higher education students is practically universal, which, in his opinion, represents an excellent opportunity (Livingston, 2009). The new context enables students – as users of mobile devices with access to a communications network – to study anywhere and anytime. Faced with this new scenario, educational institutions have no option but to adapt; they have to modify their platforms to enable various means of access to resources from different types of device. The objective must be not to lose the competitive advantage (Cobcroft et al., 2006). Apps to facilitate learning via mobile devices are usually developed by the development departments of educational institutions. However, in the current times of economic difficulty, some ostensibly interesting projects may not be viable because the investment they require is too great. However, if the aim is to narrow the digital divide, then it is essential to work on innovating learning environments and platforms. It is crucial to look for alternative options in order to adapt to this new reality. In the particular case of higher education institutions offering information technology (IT) degrees, it should be noted that final year students have the necessary skills and knowledge to become potential developers. An advantage is that they are already familiar with the environment and its requirements, and this enables them to solve certain problems that they have clearly identified. So why not capitalize on this situation? If creating such tools for their own benefit and for that of their fellow students – and, by extension, for that of the educational community – motivates them, then why not help them do so? Many earlier proposals in the spheres of e-learning and m-learning have promoted the figure of the student as a creator of teaching content (Kukulska-Hulme, 2007; Hernández Requena, 2008), in keeping with the philosophy whereby content emerges from Web 2.0 user contributions (Alexander, 2006; Ferguson, 2011). However, the idea put forward in this article goes further, as it proposes that students should become the authors of (or at least contributors to) their own m-learning tools. Considering this option as a sustainable methodology from a financial perspective, the university or educational institution in question should: 1) provide a minimal set of tools to gain open access to certain institutional data in a controlled, secure way, and 2) set out procedures that firstly enable new apps to be developed for the institution and secondly facilitate their integration into the learning platform, in a similar way to how apps are created in open source software communities. At the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), this opportunity has been identified: in the Computing, Multimedia and Telecommunication Studies, besides their role as m-learning consumers, students are being encouraged to become m-learning producers; they have been given the opportunity RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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to undertake projects related to educational tools in a real environment. This article describes this experience from the perspective of the tools or apps that were created, and the benefits derived from this activity to both the students and the institution. The second section of this article analyses the characteristics of m-learning and the challenge it poses for educational institutions; the third section describes the context of the institution within which the projects were undertaken, the student profiles and the students’ m-learning needs; the fourth section presents some examples of the m-learning tools developed by the students, and describes their objectives, the technologies involved and the authors’ motivations; finally, the fifth section analyses the conclusions drawn..

2. M-learning in educational institutions Mobile learning or ‘m-learning’ (Naismith et al., 2004; Holzinger et al., 2005; Ally, 2009; Bachmair et al., 2010) is the term used to describe the use of mobile devices as tools in the learning process. Some strengths of m-learning are: portability, as mobile devices can be used anywhere, inside and outside the classroom; their potential as a tool for collaboration and interaction; the ability to obtain information suited to the context or situation; permanent connectivity (always on); and the possibility of adapting content to every user according to their needs and expectations. Notable weaknesses are the limitations of mobile devices compared to computers. These include, for example, a smaller screen size, an interface that is not well suited to entering large quantities of data, or fragmentation (different manufacturers, operating systems, screen sizes, etc.). In other words, when designing an m-learning solution, not only do the pedagogical aspects need to be taken into account, but so too do the technological and usability aspects (Ally, 2005; Seong, 2006). In the literature on the topic, a very diverse range of m-learning tools has been explored (Naismith et al., 2004), such as self-assessment questionnaires, simulations, problem-solving exercises, augmented reality guides (for museums or monuments), group work activities, and tools for personal organization (study calendars) or learning management (alert notification during the course, formality administration, etc.). In other words, m-learning tools aim to provide a response to objectives as disparate as educational content delivery, assessment, student-student and studentlecturer communication, and teaching management. The evolution of technology has changed the landscape of m-learning proposals. For example, some early tools favoured the use of text messaging via SMS (Stone et al., 2002) or e-mail or webbrowsing via WAP (Motiwalla, 2007). Today, such proposals have been totally surpassed by the availability of apps for smartphones or tablets, which can incorporate on-demand multimedia content (Özdemir, 2010), use geolocation to send data (Wang, 2004) or foster collaboration through instant messaging functions (Kukulska-Hulme, 2008). In this article, m-learning is considered from an academic and institutional perspective, bearing in mind that the resources available for allocation to the creation or adaptation of m-learning tools are limited. It should be noted that the more sophisticated the tools are, the higher the cost of RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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development becomes. In addition, as mentioned already, there may be technological problems, so it is vital to ensure that every student can use the developed tools, not only at present but also in the future, to get a return on the investment made in them. Currently, there are multiple platforms for which mobile apps are being developed, such as iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry or other cross-platform solutions based on HTML5 (Cavalas et al., 2011; Charland & Leroux, 2011). A bad choice of technology may render the investment in e-learning tools useless in the long term. For example, the use of Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME) used to be recommended as a means of ensuring platform-independent implementation (Holzinger et al., 2005). However, the J2ME platform is no longer compatible with many new and popular devices (Gartner, 2012). In short, educational institutions intending to commit to m-learning will need to make a considerable investment in terms of resources. Moreover, they run the undeniable risk of the investment quickly losing value owing to the technological changes taking place. Thus, it is crucial to develop a strategy to experiment with various technologies before decisively committing to them. This article aims to address that need, based on the experience of what has happened in a particular university. .

3. Context: m-learning at the UOC The UOC (http://www.uoc.edu) is a virtual university whose mission is to offer lifelong learning, using technology as a teaching tool and a communication channel. A UOC student is someone who usually combines studying with work and/or family-related responsibilities, making it difficult for them to attend a traditional university (Duart, Salomรณn, & Lara, 2006). Thus, students with this profile are very motivated when it comes to using technology to overcome the barriers of non face-to-face and asynchronous learning. They are potential users of m-learning solutions. Although the UOC is an atypical university given its virtual nature, it is nevertheless a potential point of reference for any other higher education institution. In fact, traditional universities are now offering more and more non face-to-face services through websites, online services and mobile apps. Good examples of such services are open educational resource (OER) repositories, campuses with virtual classrooms, or massive online open courses (MOOCs). The UOC and all of these initiatives have one characteristic in common, which is crucial to the development of their projects: they need to invest in innovation and technology. Aspects like the incorporation of on-demand video, the adaptation of content to mobile devices, etc., require continuing investment. In the current context of economic crisis and limited resources, alternative ways of driving these innovative projects forward need to be found. And this is where centers (faculties, studies or departments) specializing in engineering and technology can play a very important role. For example, in the case of the UOC, technology degrees come under Computing, Multimedia and Telecommunication Studies. Students taking these courses have the necessary skills and knowledge to develop m-learning solutions. In addition, working on tools of this type is usually motivating for them, as they are RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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potential users and are familiar with the subject area and the requirements. Finally, the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) provides them with the opportunity to develop apps of this type: the final year project, an individual assignment that students must complete as a means of integrating and applying knowledge acquired in earlier years of undergraduate or graduate study. In the case in hand, the students had the freedom to choose the topic of their final year projects and some of them put forward the idea of developing m-learning tools or services. It should be noted that having the freedom to choose the topic made the students more motivated. In addition, while the students were doing their projects, they were supervised by someone with experience (project supervisor), who was able provide them with the necessary guidance to ensure the quality of the final product. In this respect, it should be noted that the quality of some of the developed tools was outstanding, approaching that of a finished product. As a result, they were eligible for inclusion in the catalogue of teaching tools of the Virtual Campus. For the students, undertaking a final year project related to m-learning allowed them to learn and apply their knowledge to a field (mobile technologies) that is in high demand within the labour market. In addition, being users of their own products and offering tools that might be useful to their fellow students provided them with even more motivation. From the university’s perspective, projects like these represent an excellent opportunity to assess prototypes and new technologies before making any significant investment in its own apps.

4. M-learning tools born of the students’ contributions This section presents four examples of projects undertaken by the students in accordance with the proposed initiative. In order to put them into context, sub-section 4.1 gives a short description of the profiles of the students that undertook the projects. Sub-section 4.2 gives details of their objectives and technical characteristics. Finally, sub-section 4.3 summarizes the students’ future expectations for the developed apps.

4.1 Student profiles: motivation and prior training The profiles of the students that performed the function of m-learning producers were diverse. Regarding their prior knowledge of app development for m-learning environments, it should be noted that some of the students were self-taught: from those who had become interested in the topic several years beforehand to those who had taken a tutorial or a specific, one-off course. In contrast, others had no prior training in this respect. Only one student had a purely professional interest. All of them were very attracted to the topic, either because they had recognized that this technology was cutting-edge and of considerable interest, or having identified certain limitations in relation to the learning environments and the use of mobile devices, had been unable to find apps or tools to meet their needs. For example, despite having electronic devices like an iPad available, one of RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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the students was unable to study if he/she was not in front of a computer. Another, who wanted to learn Japanese, had looked for all sorts of mobile device apps but found that they all had significant limitations. In the first case, the student chose to design a tool from scratch, and in the second, the student developed a tool that would not have the limitations identified in the existing ones. In the majority of cases, the challenge was lifelong learning for mobile environments through the creation of an app that would be useful to the person developing it and to others as well.

4.2 Final year project descriptions Described in detail below are the four projects undertaken by these students in the sphere of e-learning. Table 1 summarizes their main characteristics: Table 1. Summary of projects presented

Objective

LiveUOC

iUOC

Language Learning

Mprogcourse

To enable access to the Virtual Campus (e-mail, forums and activities)

To enable access to the Virtual Campus (e-mail, resources and activities)

To enable learning of Japanese Kanji symbols

To enable subject monitoring (activities, resources and events)

Android

iOS

Cross-platform (HTML5)

Cross-platform (HTML5)

Client

Client

Client-Server

Client

Android, Java and JSON

iOS (XCode, ObjectiveC) and JSON

Sencha Touch 2, Apache Tomcat, J2EE, MongoDB, HTML and CSS

Phonegap, JQuery Mobile, HTML and CSS

OpenAPI (LTI)

OpenAPI (OAuth2)

--

Gmail and Dropbox

Platform Architecture Technologies API used

4.2.1 LiveUOC The LiveUOC project (Serrano, 2012) developed an interface for Android devices to enable access to the UOC Virtual Campus (see Figure 1). This interface allowed people to identify themselves as Virtual Campus users, to access personal e-mail and check message boards, discussion forums and activity calendars in the virtual classrooms. The technologies used in this project were Android (the platform), Java (the programming language) and JSON (the data exchange mechanism). In order to perform these tasks, the mobile app also interacted with the Virtual Campus via an API, which provided identity and messaging services, etc., in accordance with the LTI 1.1 standard (IMS, 2012). It should be noted that the project was developed before the first corporate app for mobile access to the Virtual Campus. The app therefore allowed the challenges of delivering some of the Virtual Campus services via mobile devices to be explored and the usability of a simple mobile interface to be tested. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Figure 1. Image of the LiveUOC app

4.2.2 iUOC The iUOC project (Fernรกndez, 2013) developed a mobile interface for iPads to enable access to the UOC Virtual Campus. The app allowed users to be authenticated on the Virtual Campus and to access and download course-related documents. Finally, the app provided users with the option of viewing the assessment activities of the subjects in which they were enrolled. This project used technologies associated with development for the iOS operating system (Objective C, the programming language, and XCode, the development environment) and JSON (the data exchange mechanism). In order to perform these tasks, the mobile app also interacted with the Virtual Campus via an API called OpenAPI (Rius et al., 2012) based on the OAuth2 protocol. Besides the resultant app, this student offered the library developed in the course of the project, which connects to the OpenAPI, to the UOC in order to facilitate the development of more advanced apps. Likewise, the student offered an open source code version of it, having developed it free-ofcharge for the institution; the student reserved the full version in order to offer it to the general public in an app marketplace.

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Figure 2. Screenshots of the iUOC app interface

4.2.3 Language Learning The Language Learning project (Capell & Lorca, 2013) developed a client-server app to enable learning of the Japanese language Kanji alphabet. The app had a dictionary of words displayed in the form of flashcards to facilitate memorization. In addition, users had the option of sorting their lists of words by topics (days of the week, food, etc.) to guide study.

Figure 3. Screenshot of the Language Learning app interface

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The project used the Sencha Touch 2 framework (for cross-platform development based on HTML5), Apache Tomcat (the app server), J2EE (for server development) and MongoDB (the database). The resultant source code had an open source license and was saved on the GitHub website to facilitate collaborative development. It should be noted that this project was undertaken collaboratively by two students. The work was divided up according to the planned functionality: one student undertook the server part and the other undertook the client part for the data display. A joint project between two students can be a risky venture because, if one drops out, they both suffer. However, if they succeed in working together, then the teamwork competencies are considerably strengthened, as was the case in this instance. In this project in particular, one of the students did not have any experience in mobile app development, and he/she compensated for his/her lack experience with a self-teaching attitude and remarkable dedication. The implemented tool was fully functional and both students asserted that, owing to its modular structure, it had been designed to be easily extensible. They planned to make the app freely available to the general public in an app marketplace at some time in the future.

4.2.4 Mprogcourse The Mprogcourse (Rodríguez, 2013) project implemented a tool to enable academic courses to be monitored; it displayed practical information to enable course monitoring. In particular, the project allowed a classroom to be simulated, where, using their mobile phones or tablets, students could access course-related documents or resources and the adjunct lecturers’ curricula, receive notifications in accordance with the course calendar and access the geographical location of course-related events.

Figure 4. Mprogcourse app interface RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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The technologies used in this project were Phonegap and JQuery Mobile (for development based on HTML5), the Dropbox API (for user authentication and file download) and the Google Maps API (to display maps and event locations).

4.3 Continuity expectations On completion of their projects, the students felt very motivated by the results obtained and satisfied with what they had learnt during the process. They also remained interested in the idea of continuing to develop the apps produced in the course of their projects: •• Three planned to make the apps freely available to the general public in an app marketplace (App Store, Google Play, etc.).

•• One had published his/her app with an open source license.

•• Another was working on a new app based on a future line of work identified during the project.

However, at the time of writing, only one of the projects (Language Learning) was being assessed for potential use in a subject. In this respect, one of the challenges for the institution is to ensure that the efforts that the students put into these apps can have a positive impact on the faculty. Thus, for example, the following features can be promoted: •• The use of open source licenses on such apps.

•• The use of institutional repositories for app storage.

•• The collaboration of the university’s teaching staff and managerial staff while these projects are being developed to provide guidance on the expected outcomes and ensure that the knowledge acquired in each project is not lost, but instead remains within the institution. In this respect, it is important to highlight the enormous diversity of technologies explored by the students in their projects. Even if the end product cannot be directly exploited, the knowledge acquired about the suitability, level of maturity and tools available in the various environments is very valuable to the institution when it comes to developing its m-learning policy.

5. Conclusions This article presented an institutional approach, within the university sphere, of undertaking final year projects whose end products could be of benefit to the institution. The objective was two-fold: first and foremost, to train students on the topic of designing and applying mobile device programs, and second, to provide them with the necessary background to ensure that the products obtained would be useful within the university’s own m-learning context. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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The preliminary results of applying this new process to final year projects were satisfactory with respect to both student outcomes and community creation. Regarding the former, the students acquired mobile development and usability competencies and demonstrated a high level of engagement (because the results of their work would be useful to their fellow students). Concerning the latter, it has already enabled some of the new mobile tools to be incorporated into the Virtual Campus. Furthermore, the use of open source code in the described approach allows new apps to be developed by building on the results obtained in earlier projects, as well as adding functionalities to mobile apps that have already been developed. The results obtained may help other institutions to follow a similar protocol in their face-to-face and virtual teaching. However, educational institutions that want to engage their students in the development of m-learning apps will face two challenges: •• Reducing the barrier to entry: students interested in developing new apps must be given facilities

to do so. In this respect, a potential strategy would be the creation of an open API to enable access to a university’s services and IT systems in a controlled, simple way (Rius et al., 2012).

•• Gathering and disseminating the results of these apps so that future projects can use, expand and improve them. In this respect, it is crucial to have a catalogue of apps produced (for

example, http://open-apps.uoc.edu/index.php/en/) to facilitate their re-use and expansion. In other words, it should not only include the final app, but also the user manuals, design documents, source code, etc.

References Alexander, B. (2006). Web 2.0: A new wave of innovation for teaching and learning? Educause review, 41(2), 32. Ally, M. (2005). Using learning theories to design instruction for mobile learning devices. In Jill Attewell and Carol Savill-Smith Editors. Paper presented at the Mobile learning anytime everywhere (pp. 5-8). MLEARN 2004. Rome, Italy. Learning and Skills Development Agency. Ally, M. (Ed.). (2009). Mobile learning: Transforming the delivery of education and training. Athabasca University Press. Edmonton, Canada. Bachmair, B., Cook, J., & Kress, G. R. (2010). Mobile learning: structures, agency, practices. Springer. New York, United States. Capell, E., & Lorca. S. (2013). Aprendizaje de idiomas: aplicación móvil en HTML5 y J2EE [Language Learning: Mobile application in HTML5 and J2EE] (Final Year Project - Computer Engineering). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10609/19045 Charland, A., & Leroux, B. (2011). Mobile application development: web vs. native. Communications of the ACM, 54(5), 49-53. doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/1941487.1941504 Cobcroft, R. S., Towers, S., Smith, J., & Bruns, A. (2006). Mobile learning in review: Opportunities and challenges for learners, teachers, and institutions. Paper presented at the Proceedings Online LearRUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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ning and Teaching (OLT) Conference 2006 (pp. 21-30). Department of Teaching and Learning Support Services, QUT, Brisbane, Australia. Duart, J. M., Salomon, L., & Llara, P. (2006). La Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC): innovación educativa y tecnológica en educación superior [The Open University of Catalonia (UOC): Educational and technological innovation in high education]. RIED-Revista Iberoamericana de Educación a Distancia, 9(1), 315-344. Retrieved from http://ried.utpl.edu.ec/images/pdfs/vol9-11.pdf Ferguson, R. (2011). Use of Questions to Facilitate Social Learning in a Web 2.0 Environment. RUSC. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal, 8(1), 316-327. Retrieved from http://www.uoc.edu/ojs/ index.php/rusc/article/view/v8n1-ferguson/v8n1-ferguson-eng Fernández, G. (2013). iUOC (Final Year Project - Technical Engineering in Computer Systems). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10609/18601 Frohberg, D. (2006, October). Mobile Learning is Coming of Age: What we have and what we still miss. In M. Mühlhäuser, G. Rößling & R. Steinmetz (eds.): Paper presented at the Proceedings of DeLFI (pp. 327-338). GI. ISBN: 978-3-88579-181-2. Darmstadt, Germany. Gavalas, D., & Economou, D. (2011). Development platforms for mobile applications: Status and trends. Software, IEEE, 28(1), 77-86. doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/MS.2010.155 Gartner (2012). Market Share Analysis: Mobile Phones, Worldwide, 4Q12 and 2012. Retrieved from http:// www.gartner.com/resId=2334916 Hernández Requena, S. R. (2008). The constructivist model and the new technologies, applied to the learning process. RUSC. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal. doi:10.7238/rusc.v5i2.335 Holzinger, A., Nischelwitzer, A., & Meisenberger, M. (2005). Lifelong-learning support by m-learning: example scenarios. eLearn, 2005(11), 2. doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/1125280.1125284 IMS Global Learning Consortium (2012). Standard Learning Tools Interoperability 1.1. Retrieved from http://www.imsglobal.org/lti/ Kukulska-Hulme, A., Traxler, J., & Pettit, J. (2007). Designed and user-generated activity in the mobile age. Journal of Learning Design, 2(1), 52-65. doi http://dx.doi.org/10.5204/jld.v2i1.28 Kukulska-Hulme, A., & Shield, L. (2008). An overview of mobile assisted language learning: From content delivery to supported collaboration and interaction. ReCALL, 20(03), 271-289. doi http:// dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0958344008000335 Motiwalla, L. F. (2007). Mobile learning: A framework and evaluation. Computers & Education, 49(3), 581-596. doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2005.10.011 Naismith, L., Sharples, M., Vavoula, G., Lonsdale, P. (2004). Literature review in mobile technologies and learning. FutureLab Series. Retrieved from http://www2.futurelab.org.uk/resources/documents/ lit_reviews/Mobile_Review.pdf Özdemir, S. (2010). Supporting printed books with multimedia: A new way to use mobile technology for learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41(6), E135-E138. doi http://dx.doi. org/10.1111/j.1467-8535.2010.01071.x Rius, A., Aracíl, X., & Baró, X. (2012). UOC API Site, a seed for new eLearning applications. Actas de IX Simposio Pluridisciplinar sobre Diseño y Evaluación de Contenidos Digitales Educativos In M. Marco Suchs & P. Pernías Peco (eds.) Paper presented in the Proceedings of SPDECE-2012: 9th Multidisciplinary RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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symposium on the design and evaluation of digital content for education (pp. 245-252). Universidad de Alicante. Alicante, Spain. Retrieved from: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/5141121/ spdece2012.pdf Rodríguez, M. J. (2013). Mprogcourse: programación de cursos para plataforma móvil [Mprogcourse: course planning for a mobile platform] (Final Year Project - Computer Engineering). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10609/18934 Seong, D. S. K. (2006). Usability guidelines for designing mobile learning portals. Proceedings of the 3rd international conference on Mobile technology, applications & systems (Article 25). ACM. Bangkok, Thailand. Serrano, J. A. (2012). LiveUOC: Diseño de una aplicación de acceso a la UOC desde Android [LiveUOC: Design of an application to enable access to the UOC from Android devices] (Final Year Project Technical Engineering in Computer Systems). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10609/15041 Stone, A., Briggs, J., & Smith, C. (2002). SMS and interactivity – some results from the field, and its implications on effective uses of mobile technologies in education. In Marcelo Milrad, Heinz Ulrich Hoppe, Kinshuk (Eds.). Paper presented at IEEE international workshop on wireless and mobile technologies in education (WMTE’02) (pp. 104-108). Växjö, Sweden. Sharples, M., Taylor, J. & Vavoula, J. (2010). A theory of learning for the mobile age. Medienbildung in neuen Kulturräumen [Media education in new cultural spaces] (pp. 87-99). VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften (Publisher of Social Sciences). Editor Ben Bachmair. Wiesbaden, Germany. Traxler, J. (2009). Learning in a mobile age. International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning, 1(1), 1-12. doi http://dx.doi.org/10.4018/jmbl.2009010101 Wang, Y. K. (2004). Context awareness and adaptation in mobile learning. Proceedings of the 2nd IEEE International Workshop on Wireless and Mobile Technologies in Education (pp. 154-158). IEEE. JungLi, Taiwan.

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About the Authors Àngels Rius mriusg@uoc.edu Lecturer, Open University of Catalonia (UOC), Spain She holds a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology awarded in 1990 (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya-BarcelonaTech, UPC, Spain) and a doctorate in the Information and Knowledge Society awarded in 2010 (UOC). She worked in various service firms and was an adjunct lecturer at the UPC for more than 15 years. Since 2001, she has been a lecturer in Computing, Multimedia and Telecommunication Studies at the UOC and, since 2004, the academic director of the .NET Technology master’s degree programme. Her teaching focuses mainly on databases and final projects. Her research interests include software engineering and e-learning, with a specific focus on the formal representation of processes for learning environments, service specifications and the automation of those specifications.

David Masip dmasipr@uoc.edu Lecturer, Open University of Catalonia (UOC), Spain David Masip holds a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology awarded in 2001 (Autonomous University of Barcelona, UAB, Spain) and a doctorate in Information Technology awarded in 2005 (UAB). He did his thesis at the Computer Vision Center (CVC), Spain. He taught at the UAB from 2001 to 2005, and then worked as a collaborating lecturer at the University of Barcelona (UB), Spain, from 2005 to 2007. Since 2007, he has been a lecturer at the UOC, where, among others, he coordinates Artificial Intelligence, Business Analytics and various final year project subjects. His research interests focus on the field of computer vision, in particular object recognition, facial classification and algorithms for machine learning and the statistical recognition of patterns.

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Robert Clarisó rclariso@uoc.edu Lecturer, Open University of Catalonia (UOC), Spain Robert Clarisó holds a bachelor’s degree in Informatics Engineering awarded in 2000 (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya-BarcelonaTech, UPC, Spain) and a doctorate in Computer Languages and Systems awarded in 2005 (UPC). He was an adjunct lecturer at the UPC in 2006 and at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), Spain, from 2006 to 2011. He has taught Theoretical Computer Science and has supervised final year projects. Since 2005, he has been a lecturer at the UOC, where he coordinates the Theoretical Computer Science, Graph Theory and final year project subjects. His research interests include formal methods, software engineering and e-learning tools

Universitat Oberta de Catalunya Rambla del Poblenou 156 08018 Barcelona Spain

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Special Section “Mobile Learning Applications in Higher Education”

article

M-learning patterns in the virtual classroom Fernando A. López Hernández

fernando.lopez@upct.es Associate Professor, Department of Quantitative Methods and Computing, Technical University of Cartagena (UPCT), Spain

María Magdalena Silva Pérez

maria.silva@bib.upct.es Administrative and Service Staff (PAS), Technical University of Cartagena (UPCT), Spain

Submitted in: June 2013 Accepted in: October 2013 Published in: January 2014

Recommended citation

López, F.A. & Silva, M.M. (2014). M-learning patterns in the virtual classroom. Mobile Learning Applications in Higher Education [Special Section]. Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento (RUSC). Vol. 11, No 1. pp. 208-221. doi http://doi.dx.org/10.7238/rusc.v11i1.1902

Abstract

Mobile devices are everywhere to be found on university campuses. This has changed the nature of higher education and led to a new mobile form of e-learning known as m-learning. The aim of this article is to assess the penetration of mobile devices for learning purposes in higher education and to identify the main usage patterns. To that end, the study used two complementary methodologies: web usage mining and a questionnaire survey. Web usage mining was performed to collect data from the university’s learning management system (LMS) in order to explore this new technology’s usage trends in the past four academic years and to identify the main patterns of behaviour. A questionnaire survey of 460 university students was conducted to find out about the student-declared level of m-learning penetration. The results are conclusive: 25% of accesses to the LMS were made from mobile devices and 75% of the students used these devices for learning purposes. The findings of this study have significant implications not only for researchers and lecturers, but also for institutions intending to implement this teaching/learning methodology. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Keywords

m-learning, mobile devices, web usage mining, Moodle, learning management systems

Patrones de m-learning en el aula virtual Resumen

Los dispositivos móviles se han vuelto omnipresentes en los campus universitarios, lo que ha cambiado la naturaleza de la educación superior y ha proporcionado una nueva forma de aprendizaje electrónico móvil (m-learning). El objetivo de este trabajo es evaluar la penetración que tienen los dispositivos móviles para el aprendizaje en la educación superior e identificar los principales patrones de uso. El estudio utiliza de forma complementaria dos metodologías. En primer lugar se realiza un ejercicio de minería web en la plataforma virtual de la universidad, a través del cual se exploran las tendencias del uso de esta nueva tecnología en los últimos cuatro cursos académicos y se identifican los principales patrones de comportamiento. En segundo lugar se lleva a cabo una encuesta a 460 estudiantes universitarios para conocer el nivel de penetración del m-learning declarado por los estudiantes. Los resultados son concluyentes, el 25% de las entradas al sistema LMS (Learning Maganament Systems) se realizan con dispositivo móvil y el 75% de los estudiantes utilizan estos dispositivos con fines de aprendizaje. Las implicaciones de este estudio son importantes tanto para investigadores y profesores como para las instituciones que pretendan implantar esta metodología de estudio.

Palabras clave

m-learning, dispositivos móviles, minería web, Moodle, Learning Maganament Systems

1. Introduction Mobile devices are everywhere to be found on university campuses owing to their low cost and improved technical capabilities, and to falling Internet service charges. This has changed the way in which students behave, interact with their environment and approach their learning tasks. This reality, which lecturers perceive on a daily basis on university campuses, has had a major impact on higher education, giving rise to an emergent teaching/learning concept based on user mobility, which is increasingly widespread in society: mobile e-learning or m-learning. A wide range of m-learning definitions can be found in the literature (Park, Nam, & Cha, 2012; Hwang & Tsai, 2011), yet they all have the same idea in common: mobile devices play an important role in learning activities, irrespective of where such activities are carried out. Furthermore, it is now very usual to find courses that blend the traditional face-to-face methodology with an online platform, mainly based on the use of a learning management system (LMS). LMSs have modular features that enable lecturers to deliver content and practical activities to students, as well as multiple configuration options for online course management. The three most commonly used LMSs by Spanish universities are1 Sakai, Blackboard and Moodle. The developers of the three systems are aware of the impact that m-learning has on students, and

1. See Prendes (2009) for more information on the use of LMSs by Spanish universities. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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have therefore evolved their systems by incorporating new technical features to enable adaptation to mobile technology. Thus, Sakai, which comes under Project Keitai, has been developing new functions to enable adaptation to mobile technologies since 2011 (Sakai Mobile). Blackboard has developed the Blackboard Mobile application (app), an interface that provides students and lecturers with the content of their courses in a way that is compatible with a wide variety of devices, including iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Smartphone Web OS. Moodle (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment), the most commonly used LMS by Spanish universities, has also adapted to this technology. In the latest versions of this open source LMS, a mobile device app has been incorporated to adapt the user interface to desktop and laptop computers, tablets and mobile phones in order to display information in a user-friendly way (Arjona & Sánchez, 2013). Although all of these LMSs usually provide statistical reports such as logs of course activity, the data that these reports provide do not help to draw useful conclusions about student behaviour or study habits (Zorrilla, Menasalvas, Marín, Mora, & Segovia, 2005), or even about the type of device that students use to view information. This limitation can be overcome by incorporating web usage mining techniques. These techniques have been used massively in e-commerce and are now an emergent methodology in education (Castro, Vellido, Nebot, & Mugica, 2007; Romero & Ventura, 2007). However, while the main objective of web usage mining (and data mining in general) is to increase an e-commerce firm’s sales and profits, the objective in the field of e-learning is to improve teaching and learning. Some examples of the use of this research methodology in education are the studies by Pahl (2004) and, in Spain, by Casany et al. (2012). In order to identify patterns of student behaviour, survey-based studies are by far the most usual because they enable a direct evaluation of a considerable number of important aspects of this technology. In this study, both methodologies were used complementarily with the aim of finding out about the penetration of mobile devices in higher education and of identifying patterns of behaviour when this technology is used. On this point, it is important to highlight that, while the students’ use of mobile devices is generally associated with the term ‘m-learning’, students do not always use them in a university environment for learning purposes. Rather, they almost certainly use them more often simply to view items like their notes, for example. With this aim, web usage mining was performed first of all to examine the monitoring logs of basic activities undertaken by the students on the LMS, with a focus on identifying patterns of behaviour regarding accesses made from mobile devices and comparing them with accesses made from classic devices. Then a survey was conducted, in which the university students were asked directly about the adoption of this technology as a learning method.

1.1. Increased research into m-learning M-learning is a hot topic in the educational technology-related literature. As the implementation of these techniques is relatively new, most contributions are very recent. Nevertheless, a high number of articles on this topic can be found. On an international scale, three very recently published literature reviews (Hwang & Tsay, 2011; Hung & Zhang, 2012; Wu, Jim Wu, Chen, Kao, & Liny Huang, 2012) and a RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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couple of editorials in one of the highest impact journals in the field of education (Rushby, 2012; Pachler, Ranieri, Manca, & Cook, 2012) have highlighted the scientific community’s growing interest in this topic. In Spain, the level of research into the penetration of these devices in Spanish universities is very limited when compared to that of other countries, despite having similar levels of student demands and high, sustained growth in terms of both the percentage of classrooms with Wi-Fi connections (more than 85%) and the number of mobile Internet connections. Nevertheless, it is possible to find some initiatives where certain universities with a non face-toface orientation stand out, such as the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), Spain, and the National University of Distance Education (UNED), Spain, which are paving the way for the incorporation of m-learning into higher education and consider it as one of the new horizons (Martín, Díaz, Plaza, Ruiz, Castro, & Peire, 2011). The SCOPEO (2011) report also presented a complete view of the m-learning situation in Spain, as did the recent HESTELO (2013) report that focuses on analysing the results of a survey of 111 students from the University of Valladolid (UVa), Spain. In addition, several experiences or case studies of various Spanish universities have been published.

2. Method 2.1. Population In order to find out about the penetration of mobile devices in higher education and to identify usage patterns for this technology, this study focused on students enrolled at the Technical University of Cartagena (UPCT), Spain. Founded in 2001, the UPCT is the most modern of Spain’s four technical universities. Besides 15 of its own bachelor’s degree or master’s degree courses, 22 Engineering and 1 Business Administration and Management bachelor’s degree courses are taught at the UPCT. It is a small university with a highly technological profile. In the 2012/2013 academic year, it had 7,310 students, most of whom were enrolled on technical degree courses (Engineering), although quite a high percentage was enrolled on the bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management course and a small proportion on the university’s own bachelor’s degree or master’s degree courses.

2.2. Instruments Data collection Firstly, a statistical exploration was done on the accesses made to the UPCT’s Moodle-based LMS. The information was organised into four annual periods, each from 1 September to 31 August. Web usage mining served to indirectly identify certain behaviours associated with the use of this type of device. Secondly and complementarily, a questionnaire survey of 460 university students enrolled on the various degrees courses taught at the UPCT in the 2012/2013 academic year was conducted. Convenience sampling was used to gather relevant data from the population, such as gender, degree type and year. In total, there were 460 responses, representing 6% of the population. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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The questionnaire was divided into two sections. The first section was used to identify the demographic aspects of the students; it also contained questions to find out about the penetration of mobile devices for learning purposes. The second section contained three questions to evaluate levels of satisfaction regarding Moodle use when mobile devices were used. The answers were given on a Likert scale from 1 to 7, where 1=Strongly disagree and 7=Strongly agree.

3. Accesses to the LMS from mobile devices Activity on the UPCT’s LMS has continued to increase owing to the intensive use made of it by the students and lecturers, and it is now an essential tool in university teaching. Monitoring this LMS since 2009 represents an excellent tool to get an in-depth knowledge of changes in m-learning mobile device usage and of the patterns of behaviour of students accessing the website from such devices. Once again, it is important to note that not all accesses logged on the LMS are for learning purposes, as many are simply for viewing administrative items like timetables and notes, for example. Attention shall be focused on the type of device used to access the system, with the main aim of finding out about the evolution that has taken place in recent years. Table 1 gives details of various relevant access data for the last four periods in which data was available. Table 1. General access data, by year and device type

Period 2009/10

2010/11

2011/12

2012/13

Total (includes mobile devices)

Number of visits Number of pages visited Pages per visit (mean) Time (mean) Bounce rate (%)

668,937 5,277,737 7.89 5 m 34 s 9.27%

1,031,478 7,509,552 7.28 5 m 50 s 10.14%

1,308,187 10,317,962 7.89 6 m 58 s 11.07%

1,584,192 12,297,842 7.76 7 m 15 s 14.38%

Mobiles (Smartphones)

Number of visits Number of pages visited Pages per visit (mean) Time (mean) Bounce rate (%) Mobiles / Total visits (%) Mobiles / Total pages (%)

9,495 42,699 4.50 7 m 57 s 12.79% 1.42% 0.81%

49,090 240,766 4.90 5 m 14 s 12.05% 4.76% 3.21%

156,945 747,744 4.76 4 m 44 s 18.14% 12.00% 7.25%

309,720 1,376,974 4.45 4 m 26 s 12.96% 19.55% 11.20%

Tablets

Number of visits Number of pages visited Pages per visit (mean) Time (mean) Bounce rate (%) Tablets / Total visits (%) Tablets / Total pages (%)

0 0 ------

0 0 ------

11,088 56,413 5.09 4 m 36 s 15.57% 0.85% 0.55%

58,730 337,364 5.74 6 m 05 s 17.85% 3.71% 2.74%

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The data shown in Table 1 highlight a number of points. First, the increase in the total number of visits was spectacular, almost tripling in the analysis period. Thus, in the 2012/2013 period, the UPCT’s LMS received a total of 1,584,192 visits with 12,297,842 pages visited, whereas in the 2009/2010 period there were only 668,937 visits with 5,277,737 pages visited. Despite this spectacular increase, the mean pages per visit remained constant in every period at nearly 8. Also worthy of note is the increase in the mean time that a visit lasted, which rose from 5 minutes 34 seconds in the first period to 7 minutes 15 seconds in the last period. This sustained increase might be due to the multiplication of content that the lecturers incorporated into their courses. Second, Table 1 breaks down the data by the two most common mobile devices: smartphones and tablets. These data are the most relevant to this study, as they allow the evolution of accesses from these mobile devices to be observed. While only 1.42% of accesses (9,495 visits) were from smartphones in the 2009/2010 period,2 the percentage had risen to 19.55% in the last year. The same increase was observed for accesses from tablets, which rose from 0% to 3.71%. Taking the two types of mobile device together, the number of visits from them in the last period accounted for nearly one quarter of accesses to the LMS. When compared to the results obtained in the study by Casany, Alier, Mayol, Galanis, and Piguillem (2012) on another technical university, those obtained here are very different. Thus, in September 2011, 96.21% of accesses were from desktop or laptop computers, while 3.48% were from mobile devices and only 0.28% from tablets. There are other characteristics that should be highlighted when exploring accesses from different types of device. First, the mean number of pages per visit was much lower when access to the LMS was from a mobile device than when it was from a classic device (desktop or laptop). Moreover, albeit with minor fluctuations, this pattern was sustained over the four analysis periods. For example, in the last period (2012/2013), the mean number of pages per visit was 7.76, irrespective of the device used, compared to a mean number of 4.45 from smartphones. It should also be noted that the mean number of pages per visit from tablets was between both figures (5.74). Second, the mean time that a visit lasted was greater when a desktop was used (7 minutes 15 seconds) than when a smartphone or tablet was used (4 minutes 26 seconds and 6 minutes 05 seconds, respectively). The impression is that there is a strong relationship between these two indicators (mean number of pages, mean time) and the size of the screen from which the LMS is accessed. Those users who access from mobiles tend to look for the required information quickly, whereas those who access from classic devices have longer and more in-depth browsing sessions as regards the number of pages visited. These results coincide with those obtained from other studies (Mödritscher, Neumann, & Brauer, 2012), including those conducted on Spanish universities (Casany et al., 2012). Finally, the bounce rate, referring to the number of visits in which only one page of a website is viewed before leaving it, was slightly higher for mobile devices. This may be due to factors such as design (small screen) or the students, who, taking advantage of the ubiquity of their mobiles, use them to get one-off pieces of information (notes, for example) and leave the site after viewing just one page. 2. It should be noted that, in the first two periods, there were no accesses from tablets as these devices had yet to become popular. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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3.1. Time patterns: m-learning study habits Access behaviour from mobile devices also displays time patterns that can be described by assessing accesses to the LMS. In this sub-section, detailed information has only been given for the last period (2012/2013). Table 2 shows the percentage distribution of accesses by device type, taking into account the most significant periods into which an academic year can be considered divided: classes, exams, holidays and summer break. Some important variations were found. Thus, the highest percentage of accesses from mobile devices occurred at exam time, almost certainly due to one-off access when students were looking for specific information. In this period, the demand for information using mobile devices was higher than 30%, compared to the 25% as an overall indicator. The results obtained by Casany et al. (2012) were comparable. A similar behaviour was also identified in the distribution of accesses by device type in the summer break. This increase might be due to the sociodemographic characteristics of the Region of Murcia, a Spanish autonomous community that has a high number of second homes that do not have landline Internet access, thus forcing the students to use their smartphone data connections. Table 2. Access, by period and device type (2012/2013)

Classes

Exams

Holidays

Summer break

Total

Desktop / Laptop

81.4%

69.1%

81.1%

68.1%

76.7%

Mobile

15.1%

27.2%

15.6%

29.1%

19.9%

Tablet

3.4%

3.7%

3.3%

2.8%

3.4%

Classes: 30 weeks of lectures; Exams: official times from February to June; Holidays: two official periods for Christmas and Easter; Summer break: no lectures. In addition, other studies have documented differences in the times of day when accesses occur. Selecting the same times as those in the study by Casany et al. (2012), access to the LMS was assessed by the type of device. Table 3 shows the results. Table 3. Percentage distribution of accesses, by time and device type (2012/2013)

0-7am

8am-1pm

2pm-4pm

5pm-8pm

9pm-12am

Total

Desktop / Laptop

71.3%

73.1%

87.7%

79.8%

76.2%

76.7%

Mobile

24.4%

23.1%

10.3%

17.3%

19.9%

19.8%

Tablet

4.3%

3.8%

2.0%

3.0%

4.0%

3.4%

This highlights two points. First, mobile device activity was slightly higher at night, thus coinciding with the results obtained by Casany et al. (2012). It was also higher in the morning (8am-1pm), and lower in the third time span (2pm-4pm).. Finally, the percentage distribution of accesses by day of the week is shown in Table 4. No important variations were found either between days of the week or at weekends. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Table 4. Percentage distribution of accesses, by day of the week and device type (2012/2013)

Mon

Tue

Wed

Thu

Fri

Sat

Sun

Total

Desktop / Laptop

76.1%

75.8%

77.1%

76.5%

75.2%

77.7%

80.1%

76.7%

Mobile

20.7%

20.8%

19.7%

19.9%

21.3%

18.8%

16.3%

19.9%

Tablet

3.2%

3.5%

3.2%

3.7%

3.5%

3.5%

3.6%

3.4%

4. Questionnaire survey results The second analysis tool was a questionnaire survey conducted on 460 students at the UPCT. The main objective of this second analysis was to quantify the penetration of mobile device use, understood as the percentage of students using a mobile device for learning purposes.

4.1. M-learning penetration Table 5 shows the main demographic characteristics of the sample analysed. Table 5. Demographic data of the students and m-learning use

Number (N)

Percentage (%)

Male

324

70.4%

Female

136

29.6%

Q1: Gender

Q2: Type of degree course Engineering

337

73.3%

Business Administration and Management

93

20.2%

University’s own bachelor’s or master’s

30

6.5%

First

160

34.8%

Second or higher

300

65.2%

Smartphone

374

91.0%

Tablet

104

25.3%

iPod

56

13.6%

iBook

33

8.0%

None

30

7.3%

No

115

25.0%

Yes

345

75.0%

Q3: Year in which you are enrolled

Q4*: Do you have any of these mobile devices?

Q5: Have you ever used any mobile devices for studying?

* The sum of percentages may be higher than 100%

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The students were technologically well-equipped; 91% had smartphones and only 7% did not have a mobile device with an Internet connection. Also worthy of note is that 25% of the students had a tablet; a high percentage when taking into account the newness of these devices and the difficulty of gaining access to them owing to their cost. With these data, it was no surprise to find that 75% of the students said that they used these devices for studying. This percentage is high when compared to those presented in the recent HESTELO (2103) study, in which nearly 50% said that they used m-learning. In order to work out whether sociodemographic factors had an influence on any variations in this percentage, the following sub-section analyses the existence of differential behaviours by gender, year, degree type and the availability or not of mobile devices.

4.2. Sociodemographic factors Table 6 shows the results for the relationship between demographic factors and m-learning use. Gender, year and degree type did not lead to any significant differences. In all cases, tests of independence based on χ2 yielded null hypotheses. Table 6. Demographic factors and m-learning use

Uses m-learning No

Yes

χ2

p-value

Gender

Male Female

26.5% 21.3%

73.5% 78.7%

1.39

0.238

Year

First Second or higher

25.6% 24.4%

74.4% 75.6%

0.08

0.775

Degree course

Engineering Business Administration and Management Master’s

24.9% 21.5% 36.7%

75.1% 78.5% 63.3%

2.78

0.249

Does not have a smartphone Has a smartphone

78.9% 20.1%

21.1% 79.9%

64.29

0.000

Does not have a tablet Has a tablet

30.2% 9.5%

69.8% 90.5%

19.92

0.000

Does not have an iPod Has an iPod

26.4% 16.1%

73.6% 83.9%

3.01

0.083

Mobile device availability

However, mobile device availability did lead to significant differences. For example, the percentage of students doing m-learning reached up to 90% among those with tablets. In general, this suggests a positive relationship between the availability of the right devices and the adoption of m-learning. If students have the right devices, they use them for learning purposes.

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4.3. Attitudes towards mobile device use Finally, to find out about the students’ perceptions of using the LMS when they accessed it from mobile devices, three questions were posed to rate accessibility to the UPCT’s virtual classroom. It should be noted that, at the time of writing, the UPCT’s LMS did not have the app for mobiles, so it was to be expected that the students would rate some aspects negatively. Table 7 shows the overall results only for those students who said that they used m-learning. Regarding the first two questions (Q6 and Q7), the ratings were surprisingly positive. Table 7. Perception of accessibility to Moodle from mobile devices

Mean

SD

Q6: It is easy to view virtual classroom (VC) content using a mobile device (MD)

5.01

1.81

Q7: It is easy to do VC activities (questionnaires, forums, messages) using an MD

4.34

1.80

Q8: It would be good to work with specific resources for mobile technology in the VC

5.34

1.61

The impression is that the students are prepared to use mobile devices despite the fact that universities do not facilitate access.

5. Conclusions Mobile device use is increasingly commonplace among the Spanish university population. Students use these devices for everything, including study. There is no doubt that m-learning is an emergent learning technique that is taking root among university students. The Moodle access data obtained in this study show how important the use of these devices in higher education is becoming. In the 2012/13 academic year, 25% of the UPCT’s students accessed this LMS from mobile devices. In addition, the survey results show that 75% of the students used them for learning purposes. They even perceived Moodle’s usability as acceptable, despite the fact that, at the time of writing, the UPCT had yet to adapt it to mobile devices. This would confirm that certain accesses were merely an extension of access to the e-learning platform from traditional devices, where the pedagogical methodology had not changed because it only provided access to content anytime and anywhere. However, the hope is that m-learning will provide new pedagogical models that can only be implemented by using these technologies. Although the future is uncertain, the tendency is clear, and these figures will almost certainly continue to increase in the 2013/14 academic year. The results of this study show that there are various actions that university managers ought to pursue to meet this growing demand from the students. First, it is essential to adapt LMSs to facilitate access from mobile devices. At the time of writing, very few universities had rolled out this system. University students demand that content management systems (CMSs) be updated and adapted RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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to enable them to access them in a more flexible and efficient way from mobile devices. Second, as designers and creators of courses on LMSs, it is important for lecturers not to overlook the importance of providing a format that can be accessed from a range of devices, thus making their courses more user friendly. In addition, most lecturers are opposed to the use of mobiles in their classes. Despite the ubiquity that these technologies permit and the unique type of learning that they facilitate (Mobilla, 2011), formal education systems usually ban them or pay no attention to them. This is indeed the case according to the latest HESTELO (2103) report, which asserts that 44% of students use mobile devices in class, though only 2% do so at the lecturer’s request. Moreover, 17% are banned from using them. This opportunity should not be missed. The potential for learning that mobile devices offer is enormous, and they have the capability of being a support tool for solving some of the problems that higher education is experiencing.

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M-learning patterns in the virtual classroom

About the Authors Fernando A. López Hernández fernando.lopez@upct.es Associate Professor, Department of Quantitative Methods and Computing, Technical University of Cartagena (UPCT), Spain His line of research in the field of teaching innovation focuses on the use of mobile devices for educational purposes. He is currently developing programmes for the integration of new technologies into the classroom, and the adaptation of educational resources to make them compatible with mobile devices, mainly Mac devices. http://metodos.upct.es/falopez Departamento de Métodos Cuantitativos e Informáticos Facultad de Ciencias de la Empresa Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena C/ Real, 3 30201 Cartagena (Murcia) Spain

María Magdalena Silva Pérez maria.silva@bib.upct.es Administrative and Service Staff (PAS), Technical University of Cartagena (UPCT), Spain Since 2006, she has administered the learning management system (LMS). She is a specialist in elearning, b-learning and the development of educational resources. She collaborates with and coordinates the teaching group for new educational resource development, and is the coordinator of the LMS group. She is currently conducting research into massive open online courses (MOOCs), and multitechnology and multiplatform use in e-learning. Personal de Administración y Servicio Administradora del Aul@ Virtual Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena Sala 2, Campus Muralla del Mar Plaza del Hospital, 1 30202 Cartagena (Murcia) Spain

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Original title: Patrones de m-learning en el aula virtual


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M-learning patterns in the virtual classroom

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Special Section “Mobile Learning Applications in Higher Education”

article

A comparative study of computer and mobile phone-mediated collaboration: the case of university students in Japan Gibran Alejandro Garcia Mendoza

gib_80@hotmail.com Doctoral Student, Education and Psychology Programme, International Christian University (ICU), Tokyo, Japan

Submitted in: June 2013 Accepted in: October 2013 Published in: January 2014

Recommended citation

Garcia Mendoza, G.A. (2014). A comparative study of computer and mobile phone-mediated collaboration: the case of university students in Japan. Mobile Learning Applications in Higher Education [Special Section]. Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento (RUSC). Vol. 11, No 1. pp. 222-237. doi http://doi.dx.org/10.7238/rusc.v11i1.1898

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Abstract

Web-based forums are the major form of asynchronous communication in online courses. They are considered suitable collaborative learning environments to conduct discussions among groups of learners (Lieblein, as cited in Lamb, 2004; Zhu, 2006; Swan, 2001; Palloff & Pratt, 2005). However, despite their relevance, web-based forums have been reported to be lacking when measuring the productivity of participants’ interaction. Although previous studies have suggested the use of Short Message Service in supporting online collaboration, little research has been conducted to understand whether mobile phones increase interaction in online discussions and how interacting via mobile phones differs from desktop computers. Thus, this exploratory case study examines online collaboration through Moodle forums on desktop computers and the LINE chat application on smartphones. First, this paper compares how these two types of media influence the participation, interaction and collaboration of students. Second, it inquires into the students’ collaboration experiences, opinions, and difficulties they encountered during the online discussions. Finally, it explores the impact that these two types of media had on the students’ final outcome. Based on a literature review, the results of the content analysis of the posts and the experiences shared by the participants, this study concludes that mobile phones have great potential to enhance interaction in online collaboration.

Keywords

participation, interaction, online collaboration, LINE, Moodle, mobile phones, desktop computers

Estudio comparativo sobre la colaboración mediante teléfono móvil y ordenador: el caso de los estudiantes universitarios en Japón Resumen

Los foros basados en web son la principal forma de comunicación asincrónica en los cursos en línea. Se consideran entornos de aprendizaje colaborativo adecuados para llevar a cabo debates entre grupos de alumnos (Lieblein, citado en Lamb, 2004; Zhu, 2006; Swan, 2001; Palloff y Pratt, 2005). Aun así, a pesar de su relevancia, se ha documentado que los foros basados en web son insuficientes para medir la productividad de la interacción de los participantes. A pesar de que estudios anteriores han sugerido el uso de SMS para apoyar a la colaboración en línea, se han realizado pocas investigaciones para entender si los teléfonos móviles incrementan la interacción en los debates en línea y para saber qué diferencias hay entre la interacción a través de móvil y ordenador. Así, este estudio preliminar examina la colaboración en línea a través de foros de Moodle en ordenadores y la aplicación del chat LINE en teléfonos inteligentes. En primer lugar, esta investigación compara de qué manera ambos dispositivos influyen en la participación, la interacción y la colaboración de los estudiantes. En segundo lugar, indaga en las experiencias de colaboración de los estudiantes, sus opiniones y las dificultades con que se han enfrentado en los debates en línea. Finalmente, explora el impacto de ambos medios en el resultado final obtenido por los estudiantes. Basándose en una revisión de la bibliografía existente, el resultado del análisis de contenidos de los mensajes y las experiencias compartidas por los participantes, este estudio llega a la conclusión de que los teléfonos móviles tienen un gran potencial para incrementar la interacción en la colaboración en línea.

Palabras clave

participación, interacción, colaboración en línea, LINE, Moodle, teléfonos móviles, ordenadores

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Introduction Background Web-based discussion forums are considered to “create a suitable environment for peer and collaborative learning as they eliminate the apprehension, embarrassment and pressure that students usually feel when participating in live class discussions” (Lieblein, as cited in Lamb, 2004, p. 345). Owing to their asynchronous characteristics, web-based forums allow students to reflect on their own learning (Zhu, 2006) and their classmates’ contributions while creating their own posts (Swan, 2001). Further, these forums let students test out new ideas and receive critical and constructive feedback (Palloff & Pratt, 2005) from their peers and instructors. Unfortunately, active interaction from students has been reported to be scarce in some contexts. This problem has been attributed to unusable software, interface design (Vonderwell & Zachariah, 2005), organizational readiness and communication values of the individuals (Fichter, 2005). Interaction is an important factor for students to interrelate with an online group or community. It creates an impact on students’ achievement (Zirkin & Sumler, 1995), satisfaction (Burnett et al., 2007) and perception of learning (Swan, 2001). It is also a crucial element for a discussion to move from simple participation to real collaboration (Ingram & Hathorn, 2004). Jung et al. (2002) argue that social interactions could enhance students’ participation in discussions. Further, Beuchot and Bullen (2005) claim that interaction is related to sociability. Similarly, Wilson (2006) considers social presence, defined as the extent to which technology makes people feel personal connections with others, as a crucial element in interaction. Therefore, it can be assumed that if there is an increase in social presence on web-based forums, there may be a significant increase on the level of interaction among participants. Although most formal web-based conferencing takes place via desktop or laptop computers, there is a growing interest in the use of portable devices to access forums. Roschelle (2003) argues that the most successful handheld technologies involve rich social practices which are built around rather simple and reliable technology, and instant messaging (Short Message Service, SMS) on mobile phones has been seen as one of the most used and context rich means of social interaction (Sorensen & Gibson, 2004). The use of SMS in online instruction could increase students’ ease of communication, accelerate the work process because of the near synchronous nature of the medium (Beurer-Zuellig & Meckel, 2008) and contextualize interactions, giving users a sense of “be[ing] part of the action” (Asi et al., 2011, p. 15). Thus, if there is an improvement in social interactions and acceleration of the work process, the use of SMS could have a great impact on individual and group-level performance.

Statement of the problem Previous studies have contrasted Computer-Mediated Collaboration (CMC) on web-based forums with face-to-face environments (Beuchot & Bullen, 2005; Burnett et al., 2007; McCrory, Putnam, & Jansen, 2008; Swan, 2001; Zhu, 2006) and have considered them different in attributions (Ingram RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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& Hathorn, 2004). Although some of these studies already suggested the use of SMS in supporting online collaboration (Savenye, 2005; Wuensch et al., 2008), there is a lack of further research on how interactions via mobile phones differ from those of desktop computers. If patterns of collaboration between CMC and face-to-face are treated differently, it is obvious that collaboration through mobile phones should also be treated differently since the interaction occurs via different media. Therefore, there is a need for a deeper understanding on how students’ collaboration through mobile phones differs from those of desktop computers and how this use of mobile media affects the groups’ outcome.

Research questions The study aimed to answer three main research questions: 1. Are there differences in participation and interaction between computer and mobile phonemediated collaborative learning groups? 2. How different are the collaboration experiences between mobile phone and computer-mediated collaborative learning groups? 3. What is the impact on the groups’ final written reports when interacting through mobile phones instead of computers?

Methodology This study aimed to compare the participation, interaction and collaboration between two groups of students. One group used CMC via Moodle forums, a virtual learning system on desktop computers. The other used Mobile Phone-Mediated Collaboration (MMC) via LINE, an instant message application on smartphones. The study considered students’ personal experiences, opinions and attitudes towards interaction and discussion, and examined the quality of the final group report. Although a qualitative approach was considered in principle, quantitative data was also collected.

Participants A total of 26 students ranging in age from 19 to 23 years became the sample of the study. They were attending a course on instructional design and technology at a private university in Tokyo, Japan. Two main groups were formed for the online discussion. The group engaged in the CMC or Moodle group (14 participants: 10 female and 4 male), and the group engaged in the MMC or LINE group (12 participants: 7 female and 5 male). Owing to the students’ concerns about exchanging personal contact information, the LINE groups were formed on the basis of the number of participants who RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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voluntarily wished to use their smartphones for this task. The rest of the students were assigned to the Moodle group. The Moodle and LINE groups were subsequently divided into two each, resulting in the formation of four small groups. This decision was made taking into consideration previous research by Jahng et al. (2010), which suggested that students might be more participative in small group discussions than in whole group discussions.

Procedures First, a face-to-face session was organized for students to gather with their respective team members. During this session, two ice-breaker activities were held so that the students could get to know their team-mates better before interacting online. Afterwards, both the LINE and Moodle groups were given ten days to discuss their views of learning. After the end of the discussion period, all the groups were allotted four days to summarize their group discussions and write group reports. Once each group had submitted its group report, all the students were asked to submit an individual reflection note regarding their experience with the online collaborative activity. The tasks designed for this study formed part of the course activities and accounted for 30% of the students’ final course grades.

Data collection The data was obtained from three different sources: a) a content analysis of the messages posted by students to the Moodle web-based forums and LINE application chat rooms during the online discussion; b) the participants’ individual self-reflection notes on the online activity, written by the students based on their experience, satisfaction, members’ contributions, feelings and thoughts during the online collaboration activity; and c) focus group interviews of seven active members from each Moodle and LINE group. For this, a short interview guide was designed based on the selfreflection notes to collect further details on the participants’ experiences of the discussion.

Analysis Analysis of participation Participation in online discussions can usually be perceived when a comment is posted on a web forum to be read by others. However, in this study, participation was measured by counting the statements in the students’ comments. First, all comments made by the students and the moderator were ordered chronologically, based on the date and time they were posted. Later, these comments were divided into complete statements. The importance of breaking down a message into statements is that even when some groups post more messages, they do not necessarily post the same amount of statements (Ingram & Hathorn, 2004). Therefore, statements are considered to measure participation more accurately since they can vary in number, size and intellectual content.

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Analysis of statements This case study employed Content Analysis based on the Asynchronous Computer-Mediated Collaboration Model designed by Ingram and Hathorn (2004) and the model by Jahng, Nielsen, and Chan (2010). It focused on three main genres of student interactions: student-entire group, studentstudent and student-moderator. To analyze the interaction on the content of the problem, the statements were divided into three broad categories: on-task, off-task and independent statements. On-task statements were content-related statements. They helped to set the environment for the discussion and build the community. They were later sub-divided into: a) Social statements referring to the assignment, such as positive supportive statements (e.g., “well done”, “good job”, etc.), complaints about the task or negative comments about the discussion topic. b) Group management statements were those that did not contribute directly to solving the problem; however, they included allocating tasks and deciding on the procedure for the discussion (e.g., “Let’s start the discussion”, “Are there any other ideas?”, “Please, don’t forget to…”). c) Direct discussion of the scenario statements were sentences that contributed directly to the topic of the discussion (e.g., “I think changing the way of learning is effective”; “for me, learning is more like memorizing”, etc.). Off-task statements were ideas unrelated to the assignment or discussion (e.g., talking about the weather, self-introductions, ice-breakers, etc.). Independent statements were stand-alone comments that did not lead to any further discussion.

Analysis of patterns of interaction threads The patterns of interaction were threads in which different participants or the moderator referred explicitly or implicitly to one another’s comments. They were classified into: a) Simple interaction threads: They comprised a single comment and response to that comment (e.g., a: comment – b: response). b) Collaborative threads: They included a third response that synthesized all the responses. They included an initial comment, a response to that comment and a synthesizing or further response (e.g., a: comment – b: response – c: synthesis/ further response) When more threads appeared across the discussion in longer forms, there was an expected increase in interaction and collaboration.

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Coding rubrics for the content analysis Coding rubrics were designed to categorize the statements as either on-task or off-task (see Table 1) and their type of interaction. Once all the statements had been classified, those that exclusively fell into the on-task category were further classified into social, group management and direct discussion of the scenario (see Table 2). Table 1. Coding rubrics for the content analysis

Participant

Code

Type of statement

Yukiko Sato

YS

On-task (Discussion-related statements)

Tomoko Hato Moderator

On-task interaction

Code :Ontask

Social Group management Direct discussion of the scenario

Code /Social

Code

Student to Student

/tS

Student to Moderator

/tM

/Management /Direct

TH

Type of interaction

/tG

Student to Group

M Off-task (Non discussionrelated statements)

:Offtask

Example Yukiko Sato sent an on-task message on the discussion of the scenario to the whole group YS:On-task/Direct/tG

Table 2. Coding rubrics for the subdivision of on-task statements

On-task interaction

Code

Examples

Social

/Social

“There are many ideas in our discussion!! All of them are very interesting.”

Group management

/Management

“First, post your FIRST opinion as ‘A new discussion topic’.”

Direct discussion of the scenario

/Direct

“In my opinion, learning happens when the topic is relevant to my own life. If the topic is not relevant to my life, it’s really easy to forget.”

Analysis of the groups’ final written reports Real collaboration should result in a synthesis of the contributions of all members. Therefore, it was necessary to know whether the final group reports combined the ideas of all members in each group. This was done by comparing and examining the transcripts of the online discussions with the final group reports. To do that, the “Compare documents” tool provided by Microsoft Word® was used. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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This feature allowed the researcher to see how much information from the online discussions was actually included in the final draft and which students provided the information.

Validity Multiple sources were used to triangulate the data and to validate the results: the content analysis of the asynchronous discussion transcripts, the students’ self-reflection notes and the students’ comments from the focus group interviews. Furthermore, two discussion transcripts (one from a Moodle group and another from a LINE group) were coded by two more coders. These coders were instructors from an open university in the Philippines who had experience in the design and management of online courses. Agreements and disagreements during the coding process were debated between the researcher and the two coders via Skype® (a Voice-over-Internet-Protocol service). In the end, approximately 80% of the statements coded matched. The other two discussion transcripts were coded by the researcher himself, taking into consideration the two other coders’ suggestions. Finally, the results and findings from the content analysis were compared with the results of previous published research on similar settings.

Results Differences in participation, interaction and collaboration The study showed that the LINE groups made a larger number of posts containing a small number of statements, whereas the Moodle groups made a smaller number of posts containing a larger number of statements. The students from Moodle Group 1 posted a total of 220 statements (3,530 words) and those from Moodle Group 2 posted 442 statements (6,982 words), while those from LINE Group 1 posted a total of 202 statements (2,718 words) and those from LINE Group 2 posted 237 statements (2,483 words). Regardless of the differences in the number of statements posted, similar types of statements on the content of the discussion were found in both types of groups. The largest exchange of on-task statements was in the form of student-group, followed by student-student, and the lowest was in the form of student-moderator (see Figure 1). Nevertheless, the LINE groups exchanged a larger number of social and group management statements, as well as a larger number of off-task statements, in contrast to the Moodle groups (see Figure 2). Furthermore, they exchanged more statements with the moderator in comparison to the Moodle groups. A common pattern of interaction thread of the a-b form (containing a question or a comment and a reply) was found in both the Moodle and the LINE groups. However, the Moodle groups showed few varieties of interaction threads of the a-b-a and a-b-c only forms, whereas the LINE groups showed a larger variety of interaction threads of the a-b, a-b-a, a-b-c, a-b-c-a, a-b-c-b and a-b-c-d forms. In addition, two of the interaction threads from the LINE groups were considered collaborative interactions.

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3.20 %

Indep.

1.80 %

6.50 %

3.80 %

0.90 % 4.30 %

Off-task/tS

8.80 %

11.80 %

Off-task/tG

13.60 %

3.80 %

17.60 %

14 %

0% 0.20 %

Off-task/tM

0.50 %

1.30 %

35.50 %

On-task/tS

13.60 %

45.60 %

On-task/tG

17.60 %

66.30 %

28.40 %

48.60 %

40.30 %

0.20 % 3.60 %

On-task/tM 0%

10%

8.50 %

0.50 %

20%

30%

40%

50%

60%

Moodle Group 2

Moodle Group 1

70%

LINE Group 1

80%

90%

100%

LINE Group 2

Figure 1. Percentage of on-task and off-task statements in the Moodle and LINE groups

3.20 %

Indep.

1.80 %

12.70 %

Off-task

6.50 %

18.10 %

26.90 %

59.10 %

Direct

17.70 %

Management

57.50 %

0%

10%

17.60 %

7%

20%

30%

Moodle Group 1

19.10 %

43.10 %

15.60 %

7.30 %

Social

3.80 %

25.70 %

6%

40%

50%

Moodle Group 2

38.40 %

13.10 %

60%

70%

LINE Group 1

80%

90%

100%

LINE Group 2

Figure 2. Percentage of social, management and direct statements in the Moodle and LINE groups

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Differences in collaboration experiences Moodle Group 1 members expressed their unease with the slow response and lack of participation from their peers. The lack of ideas to enhance the online discussion was also considered a problem. In addition, there was also a tendency for online discussion to be dominated by only two members of the entire group. In Moodle Group 2, the majority of students expressed their satisfaction with the activity and its usefulness in making them rethink the concepts previously taught in class. Most of the participants felt very satisfied with the participation and contribution of all the members. The participants who were interviewed attributed it to well executed planning and distribution of responsibilities among all members before the online discussion. Both the Moodle groups considered the time-lags in the responses, the requirement of logging in on the website to make a post, and the broadness of the topic of discussion as main factors that affected the discussion. LINE Groups 1 and 2 reported having  enjoyed the activity. Both groups highlighted the convenience of receiving notifications and messages directly to their mobile phones. They also considered the “Read” notification very useful for encouraging participation from other members. Further, they considered the “chat style” relaxing and enjoyable. Although both groups reported being satisfied with the participation and contribution of their peers, some of the participants felt pressured as LINE demanded quicker responses. Furthermore, they faced problems with the device. The size of the display and keyboard made reading and typing long sentences “a hard thing to do” (female participant, LINE 2 group). Finally, both groups shared the problem of not being able to exchange Word files via their mobile phones to edit and proofread their final report.

Impact on the groups’ final written reports Moodle Group 1’s report was not considered to synthesize all of the group members’ opinions. Three unedited comments from two students became visible after comparing the final product with the transcripts of the online discussion. However, Moodle Group 2’s report was considered closer to a synthesis of the group’s ideas, even though it contained a brief summary made by one of its members during the online discussion. As for LINE Group 1’s report, it was considered to be close to a synthesis of the entire group’s ideas. Nevertheless, it contained a short summary previously posted by a single member. In contrast, in LINE Group 2’s report, no comments or summaries previously made by a single member were found. It proved to contain a synthesis of all the group members’ ideas.

Discussion Time-lags between posts and the variance in interaction threads Burr and Dawson (2003) argued that online interaction is not only mediated by the technology, but also restricted by the main input device. The students from the LINE groups reported having RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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difficulties when typing with a small keyboard. Therefore, many messages posted in LINE discussions were kept short. The larger number of posts made by the LINE groups could be explained by the short time-lags that existed between each reply. The time-lags and distribution of the posts between replies of the LINE groups were shorter (e.g., 8:40pm, 9:54pm, 10:23pm, and 10:39pm) compared to those of the Moodle groups (e.g., 3:10am, 1:14pm, 4:08pm, and 6:32pm). Although the portability of the device and the ease with which members could join the discussion anytime-anywhere may have been some of the reasons, the short time-lag in replying using LINE was likely to have been enhanced by the “Read” notification. Whenever the students checked a new post to the LINE forum, the “Read” notification automatically appeared on the sender’s screen, confirming that the message had been seen. This notification created a sense of group pressure on the receivers, which encouraged them to post a prompt reply. Thus, the combination of the short statements due to 1) the input limitation of the device and 2) the quick responses from peer members encouraged by the “Read” notification led to more alternations in the posts. As a result, more complex interaction threads were generated in the LINE group discussions. In contrast, the long time-lags between each reply in the Moodle forums made students address different opinions in a single message. In addition, the average number of students who posted per day was limited. Therefore, the slow response time and the minimal participation in a day resulted in less variance of patterns of interaction threads. This could explain why the dominant interaction threads found in the Moodle groups were a-b forms. This finding corresponds with the ideas of Hara, Bonk, and Angeli (2000), who argued that long time-lags between participation create a one-way pattern and not a two-way interaction. That is because the student who initiates the discussion seldom participates a second or third time. Even those students who had been very active in the discussion referred to a different idea when posting their second or third message.

Similarities in on-task statements The content analysis results showed that in each Moodle and LINE group, the largest on-task statements exchange occurred between a student and the whole group. Greetings included at the beginning of the messages (e.g., “Dear Shinagawa san”, “Hi, yuki!!, “Hi everyone!”) facilitated the identification of the addressee(s). Yet, some messages did not include a greeting, which made it unclear whether the addressee was a single student or the whole group. Therefore, the content of these messages was re-read and discussed among the coders before classifying them into “studentstudent” or “student-group”. The majority of on-task statements were direct followed by management and social. Nevertheless, the LINE groups posted more social and management statements, and a larger number of off-task statements in comparison to the Moodle groups. Although the off-task statements were comments unrelated to the discussion (e.g., greetings, jokes, etc.), they did increase sociability in the community (Bishop, 2006). These results might indicate that although mobile phones promote more social and management on-task statements than desktop computers, they still encourage students to post a larger number of direct statements. In other words, it is possible to keep students discussing on-task, but within a more social and managerial environment. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Impact on the groups’ performance The transcripts of the discussion provided insights into the fact that students in the LINE groups had completed the assignment ahead of schedule. In addition, the number of exchanged statements peaked much earlier in the LINE groups than in the Moodle groups.

100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Moodle Group 1

20th

21st

22nd

23rd

24th

25th

26th

27th

28th

29th

30th

0

14

0

12

15

28

6

20

28

43

54

Moodle Group 2

0

0

29

68

62

54

36

53

7

78

55

LINE Group 1

27

23

20

4

35

17

9

57

9

1

14

LINE Group 2

11

12

13

44

7

5

92

14

8

13

18

Figure 3. Number of statements distributed along the discussion period

These indications made the researcher infer that the LINE groups had completed their assignment before the Moodle groups. This inference was supported by a self-reflection note from one of the leading members in LINE Group 2, who mentioned that “everyone got an early start on their work” (female participant). Consequently, they had more time to work on editing and proofreading the final draft. The acceleration in the flow of the discussion led the LINE group members to come to a quicker conclusion. This provided the students with more time to work on their written assignment, thus having a positive impact on the final product. This was clearly observed in the group report from LINE Group 2, which proved to be a real synthesis of the whole group’s ideas. The positive impact on performance was also reflected in the students’ self-reflection notes and comments made during the focus group interviews. They expressed their satisfaction with the participation and contribution of the whole group. These results support the idea that mobile phones can have a major impact on performance by improving interaction and management, accelerating the work process as stated by Beurer-Zuellig and Meckel, (2008). However, the transcripts of the discussions showed that the two LINE groups had arranged an offline meeting at the end of the discussion period, which could have affected the study outcomes. If this is indeed the case, this may have enhanced reachability, personal contact and faster decision-making, which highlights the need to further examine the usage of mobile phones and to take this extra interaction into consideration when repeating or interpreting this research. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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Difference in the content of the discussions The LINE groups’ discussions were mainly based on personal experiences. The students shared several personal episodes of their lives, which were used as examples during the discussion. Further, the LINE group students’ performance was less scholarly. They did not cite any fragments from authors or share links to support their thoughts in the same way as the Moodle groups did. This may be due to the laborious action of copying and pasting text on smartphones. Also, being on the move avoided plagiarism. In fact, a student argued that the mobility made her rely more on her personal experience since she was not carrying all her reference material with her when writing comments. Therefore, she considered that by using Moodle on desktop computers, people tended to think more deeply about the topic of discussion. These thought support findings from an interview-based study by Perry and Brodie (2006), who argued that mobile workers referred to mobile technologies as potentially supportive of more effective communication; however, they are not very suitable for more cognitively demanding work.

Conclusions Based on a literature review and results of this case study, it can be concluded that mobile phones have a great potential for enhancing interaction in online collaboration. The times of posting and replying, and of accessing the forum become a crucial factor in the interaction and patterns of interaction threads. The short messages and limited time in posting responses generated multiple interaction threads among the LINE users, which were not registered in the Moodle groups. Although the content analysis results showed a higher percentage of social and off-task statements in the LINE group discussions than in the Moodle groups, the number of direct statements on the discussion topic was not surpassed. This suggests a potential for students to maintain real-time discussions via a mobile phone in the same way as with a desktop computer, but within a more social and managerial environment. Further, mobile phones enhanced information exchange and kept the flow of the discussion active, which made students in the LINE groups reach an agreement earlier than those in the Moodle groups. As a result, the LINE group members had more time to work on editing their group reports. These characteristics of collaborating via a mobile phone, which had a positive impact on performance and on the quality of their final products, were reflected in the students’ satisfaction. Nevertheless, the outcomes from the participants in this study demonstrated that the Moodle and LINE discussions tended to be different in content. While the Moodle groups’ discussions were primarily based on the students’ experiences, handouts provided in the course, and other sources from websites, the LINE groups’ discussions were mostly experience based. The larger exchange of social information through a mobile phone created a more suitable environment for sharing personal experiences and opinions. These differences in discussion content, brought about by these two programs, should be considered in order to plan suitable activities for each medium. RUSC VOL. 11 No 1 | Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and University of New England | Barcelona, January 2014 | ISSN 1698-580X CC CC

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While more cognitive activities for problem-solving might be more appropriate for desktop computers, brainstorming activities that promote creative thinking might be more suitable for mobile phones. Although this study took a somewhat quantitative approach when measuring the participation and interaction within each group, statistical analyses are still required. Analysis such as Chi-square should be done to test the level and uniformity of the members’ participation within each Moodle and LINE group. In addition, correlation analyses among direct, social and management messages should be considered to explore individuals’ communication and interaction behaviour. The coding used for this study followed the rubrics established by Ingram and Hathorn (2004) and Jahng et al. (2010); nevertheless, content analysis is still considered an umbrella term which has a variety of methods. Therefore, other methods of content analysis should be employed to re-analyze the students’ discussions and see if they are consistent with the results of this study. Further research is also required to explore how the use of a mobile device could influence the pedagogical approaches of teachers and the organization of their class activities. Moreover, it is important to study the way students represent and process information through online collaboration and how this affects their learning.

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About the Author Gibran Alejandro Garcia Mendoza gib_80@hotmail.com Doctoral Student, Education and Psychology Programme, International Christian University (ICU), Tokyo, Japan Gibran Alejandro Garcia Mendoza holds a master’s degree in Education from the International Christian University (ICU), Japan, and a bachelor’s degree in Teaching English as a Foreign Language from the Benito Juárez Autonomous University of Oaxaca (UABJO), Mexico. He worked for the SEPA-Inglés programme of the Latin American Institute for Educational Communication (ILCE) training teachers who worked for the Telesecundaria system (a distance secondary school learning system with television support in Mexico). He has worked as a Spanish Teaching Assistant at Albion College, in the United States, through the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program (FLTA) of the Institute of International Education (IIE). He has also worked as a Teaching Assistant at ICU, teaching workshops to undergraduate students and designing teaching materials for an e-learning project among Asian Christian Universities (ACUCA Project). He received an award at the International Conference for Media Education (ICoME) in 2013 for his research on mobile and computer-mediated online collaboration. He is currently working for Berlitz Co., Japan, as a foreign language instructor, while pursuing his doctoral degree in Education Technology at ICU. Higashi-cho 4-41-5 OZ-Ichibangai, A-107 Koganeishi, 184-0011 Tokyo, Japan

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