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LEARNING COMMUNITIES AT THE UNIVERSITY: A NEW TEACHING APPROACH

Human existence is linked to learning process. The quality of our learning will depend on both, the opportunities in formal and non-formal education, and the result will be related to personal decisions and interests. This will be in turn more or less successful according to personal resources found in the social environment.

There is no doubt that formal and non-formal education have a special relevance for development, training and socialization of individuals (Faris and Peterson, 2000). In this sense, learning communities promote the overcoming of barriers among different educational aspects and involve people with different skills, knowledge and experience levels. In fact, they may learn through their involvement and participation in relevant activities by the construction of a collective knowledge and by the corresponding assistance they provide.

The learning community is clearly defined as a heterogeneous group of people learning together, using common tools in the same environment. Depending on the working environment, different learning communities may exist, e.g. learning communities based in classrooms, schools, geographical areas or virtual environments.

From the teaching perspective, learning communities at the University would be a powerful tool to secure and adapt the university teaching to the framework of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). It aims to achieve close cooperation between higher education studies and approach them at the same time to the social needs.

In this sense, we propose to establish teaching communities on Faculties or Colleges where students of diverse Degrees are involved. They would prepare seminars, which were previously proposed and coordinated by teachers of different knowledge areas. The idea is to contact students from different disciplines with one common goal: perform a work in a cooperative way, where different points of view can be analysed, and sharing ideas and knowledge. At the same time, personal key skills to teamwork, such as communication, commitment and decision-making, could be developed.