M. Fuentes Agustí1, M.J. Hernández Serrano2

1Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (SPAIN)
2Universidad de Salamanca (SPAIN)
Building the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) represents a deeper process of changes in the educational systems where university students and their learning are the central focus. Under this context the priority is established upon the learning to learn a student -centered approach- which as a consequence minimize the teacher activity. Within this scenario, along with the new concepts of teaching and learning, its relationship with the skills to develop, and continuous evaluation, all raise questions that encourage interdisciplinary researchers, from different universities, to work on and discuss new roles and methodologies concerned with improving teacher quality.

Innovative activities inside and outside the classroom have started to emerge in order to accomplish the diversification of activities to result in the European framework. In this new scenario is particularly important the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to complement the activities, facilitating the work aimed to enhance the cooperative work, encourage independent learning and continuous assessment. Virtual campuses created by a range of universities offer this combination of teaching and learning activities by means of different technological tools.

According to this context is taken place the present comparative study between the virtual spaces created by the Autonomous University of Barcelona and the University of Salamanca, as technological resources that reinforce the traditional learning and educational processes. Firstly we discuss the tools provided and the educational possibilities offered by virtual campuses. Secondly is explained briefly their evolution, in the last five years, as a result of their main teachers’ uses. And finally is described the new possibilities emerged at present to promote collaborative learning and continuous assessment, as well as digital competences.

On the whole, teaching and learning virtual environments offer new opportunities for training and organizing information, and facilitate the autonomous directed activity, individual and in groups, for both teachers and students. However, results of this study show how the virtual platform that supports teaching and learning processes is not as important as what are the psycho-pedagogical principles that underlie the use of any technological tool, and the way interpersonal mediation is promoted between participants.