INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY IN A BLENDED COURSE: “THE BEST OF TWO WORLDS”

Hold the attention of students and ensure that they are concentrated, taking advantage of the time when they are studying, both inside and outside the classroom, it has always represented a great challenge, but even more in the digital age, where student’s attention span, seems to be declining more and more. The traditional lecture doesn’t seem to be the most appropriate model to achieve this challenge, and it is necessary the use of instruments and new teaching and learning methods to adapt to this new type of students. In this new scenario, in which the development of applications for teaching, educational resources and new ways of sharing information has meaning a growing virtualization in the traditional learning classroom, teachers should play an important role as facilitators, incorporating challenging elements, offering both individual and cooperative activities that pose new challenges to enable deep learning.

A case study is presented where virtual learning instruments of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are combined with face to face classroom, integrating "the best of two worlds", to get it, we have developed a virtual learning environment, which includes interactive activities, virtual labs, educational videos and that employs game-based learning. The main objective of such an environment is to increase student motivation and engagement with the subject, extending the learning area supervised by the teacher beyond the classroom walls. The second objective is to facilitate, thanks to the previous self-study, the creation of more practical and participatory learning scenarios in the classroom that allow students to deepen the content and to achieve a significant and reflective learning. The experience has been carried out with several student groups of Fundamentals of Computer Technology, a six credit course taught in the first year of the Grades in Computer Engineering and Information Systems. This is an eminently technological and practical subject in which it is essential that students devote much of their learning time to problem solving and to hands-on activities.

Results obtained show that the two objectives for the virtual environment and ICT tools have been fulfilled: have led to greater student motivation and have increased remarkably the participation and involvement of students in the classroom. Both factors have brought about a significant improvement in the academic achievement of the experimental groups. It is also true that we have found some difficulties, on the one hand, the reluctance of some students to active methodology and participation that always involves greater effort than traditional methods and on the other hand, the lack of commitment of not a few students, to carry out the virtual tasks planned before the face to face classroom attendance, however, in quantitative and qualitative surveys, students have reflected a high level of satisfaction with both, the educative tools and the active learning approach used in the classroom.