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B. Bordel, R. Alcarria, M. Pérez-Jiménez, M.M. Sanz Lluch

Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (SPAIN)
Society digitalization has affected the entire traditional social structures: from family and commercial relations to education. For example, new society members are used to a more fast communication method, which is also less formal than during previous periods; that is, messages tend to be short and conscious, free of elegant and complex formal sentences or expressions.

Although this is only a particular example, is one of the keys to understand the current decline in student satisfaction in relation to tutoring at universities. In fact, new native digital teenagers and students show different quality standards to which now are employed to design tutorial action plan at higher education institutions. Traditional tutoring sessions or accompanying plans do not fulfill the needs of a new generation which does not have to wait for information or look for reliable information sources (the success of tools such as Google Maps is a good indication of this fact).

On the other hand, communication channels nowadays are more ubiquitous than ever, which is a real opportunity to design new and more effective tutorial action plans. In particular, most students are very active in different social networks such as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. We argue the idea of a virtual connection with professors and/or mentors trough these new media may improve the perception of students about tutorial action.

During the second term of the year 2016/17 at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid a platform based on IFTTTT (If This Then That) rules connecting different official profiles in these networks, specifically created to represent a “forum” for some particular subjects, was designed and implemented. This platform allows the definition of working groups, subjects, classrooms, etc., besides a message or content may be published in a collection of different social networks using the proposed interface.

In this platform, a group of veteran students were integrated, in order to act as mentors of the new students. Besides, all important messages, motivational sentences (or content, in general), relevant materials, virtual debriefing sessions, etc. were also distributed using these media. An experimental group of new students was also included in the platform. Both master and bachelor degree students participated.

At the end of the experimental period, a survey was developed. Opinions from new students, professors and veteran students were collected. Results showed a relevant improvement in the new students’ satisfaction, and reported a high motivational level in professors and veteran students. Academically, students in the experimental group noted a high level of learning and a better and deeper acquisition of competencies (both, technological and transversal) was reported.