Universitat de València (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN11 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 2502-2507
ISBN: 978-84-615-0441-1
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2011
Location: Barcelona, Spain
A social network is a structure made up of individuals sharing common interests, such a particular kind of knowledge. In the higher education framework, it can be applied as an alternative educational practice in order to provide better communication between teachers and learners. Through its practical use on know-how, we can complete tasks, solve problems and acquire certain learning outcomes.
For the matter of Pharmacognosy, in the third level of Pharmacy Degree at the University of Valencia (Spain), it has been created a Facebook group in order to have a safe place through professor and students can communicate, discuss and resolve questions on natural drugs isolation and characterization as well as about the use of medicinal plants. Once the group is created, the professor invite the students to belong to it and explain how the process works. The methodology has been used not only in theoretical classes but also in laboratory sessions. In the former, problems are formulated in the virtual class section and members of the group discuss questions and share knowledge. In the latter, before each laboratory session, a series of questions on the protocol are proposed. The students must read, understand what to do, relate concepts, discuss and give answers to the whole group. Examples that have been resolved are the following: exercises on the extraction of active principles and structural elucidation. First of all, the students must recognize the phytochemistry types of compounds contained in a problem drug of a medicinal plant, looking at the structures that are formulated in the virtual class. Secondly, they have to determine the biogenetic precursors, hypothesize the solubility of compounds in order to extract and purify them and give some general or specific reactions for their characterization. After that, the students should propose some proton resonance assignments to any of the principles. They can propose the name of the vegetal drug according to the principles identified and its pharmacological properties. There is a fluent communication among the members of the group through the commentaries, so the doubts are dispelled and problems are solved.
Moreover, professor brings up more difficult aspects to generate interest to alow learning competencies and guarantee the efficient use of this practice. Thus, it propels professor-student relationship, the degree of autonomy and responsability with which students are able to apply knowlege and skills, and reduces presential time.

Acknowlegments: This work has been supported by Vicerectorat de Planificació i Igualtat de la Universitat de València (39/FO/15/2010).
Social network, Facebook, Natural drugs and medicinal plants.