J. Ballesta-Claver1, I. de Orbe-Payá1, F. Quintanal Pérez2, L.F. Capitán-Vallvey1

1University of Granada. Faculty of Sciences (SPAIN)
2H.H. Maristas La Inmaculada High School (SPAIN)
On Spanish campuses, more emphasis is placed on what the professor says and less on the independent initiative of students and their teamwork. The reason for the difference can be found in the traditionally low allocation of resources for higher education in Spain. However, changes in the learning process, consisting mainly of increased interactivity between professors and students and encouraging teamwork, require the use of new educational technology. University education needs easy tools for students and professors that can be incorporated into the development of a practical course. Web 2.0 makes it possible to develop different types of mentoring and promote the self-evaluation of learning if an educational platform is used that encourages social constructivism and collaborative learning. Educational platforms can adopt the use of wiki activity that promotes teamwork, thus contributing to the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), and includes competency development. In addition, the platform can effectively facilitate online mentoring.

As a repository of educational content, a virtual platform should primarily be a channel of communication with students. Of the different available virtual platforms, Moodle is, in our opinion, the best option because it offers a collaborative technology, incorporating resources that facilitate the exchange of ideas and materials. With Moodle, cooperative projects (wiki) can be used on a shared basis. Moreover, this platform makes it possible to interact with the system and with other students (Web 2.0 tools). It is possible to include multimedia tools such as videos, flash animation and presentations with educational content. The platform lets the students themselves set up their own laboratory practice groups from the schedules established by the professors using the resource called ‘questionnaire’ on the Moodle platform. The system is reconfigurable due to the fact that it uses free software. In this case, simply by installing the corresponding plug-in, it can be used for chemistry education, as we have demonstrated in our work. One example is the Jmol resource type extension, open-source Java software for interactive 3D viewing of molecular structures, which can obtain the IR spectrum of the studied molecules with the corresponding vibrations. However, it is possible to include different Java applets in Moodle, like the Virtual Lab developed by David Yaron at Carnegie Mellon University. This applet includes virtual experiments on stoichiometry, limiting reagents, chemical equilibrium, solubility, acid-base and thermochemistry, and produces good results with students. Using Java applets for educational purposes provides a powerful tool for self-education.

Web 2.0 platforms like Wordpress or Blogger for creating blogs and Facebook for creating web pages can connect professors with their students, because these are tools that students know and may use more comfortably, thus obtaining the course information more quickly. We implemented these tools in a one-year chemistry course at the University of Granada and received good reviews from students due to the fact that, in addition to the above, the tools offer on-line tutorials and updated material in addition to providing necessary information to students about last-minute changes in class schedules, laboratory hours and other activities. We believe that the new Web 2.0 tools are fully capable of handling the new teaching methodologies.