VIRTUAL LABORATORIES AND VIRTUAL WEB PLATFORMS AS LEARNING TOOLS IN HIGHER EDUCATION
In recent years, higher education in the European Union has suffered a series of profound changes with the fundamental objective of improving the mobility of students and professors as well as the creation of a grading system that would facilitate the exchange of information about the program content. In this context, it is important to keep in mind that the changes linked to the implementation of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) have created a suitable environment for developing new methodological strategies within the process of teaching and learning based on competency training.
The significant advances made by Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the past few decades have made the growth of new lines of investigation applied to technological development in the educational field possible.
In the 2010-2011 academic year, the University of Córdoba introduced the new system of masters and doctorates. One of the transversal subjects offered was called "Fundamentals and Tools for the Modelling of Technical-Scientific Processes of Investigation". This subject has continued to be imparted until today and it deals with, as its name suggests, teaching students the basics of the processes of system behaviours, its mathematic modelling and both general and specific tolls that allow for the implementation of simple systems.
This communication presents a research study of the evolution of the methodology of work within transversal subjects of masters. In the first phase, an Interactive Simulation Laboratory (ISL) was developed and implemented, in which, from the study of projectile motion through resistant environments, the students are introduced to modelling and numeric simulation processes, comparing different numerical methods and studying both the verification of the software and the reliability of methods, models, and simulations.
In the second phase, 8 mini-videos lasting 10 minutes each were developed, 2 corresponding to each one of the blocks that are integrated into the whole course, where the fundamental aspects of the themes that will be covered are explained.
In the third phase the virtual platform Moodle was utilised incorporating the (ISL) developed by our work teams; online tutoring was made available; the filmed mini-videos were uploaded, as well as the teaching methods at the disposal of the students (transparency slides, practice material, additional lectures, etc.) that are necessary for optimal development of the course.
For the purpose of determining the reliability of the improvement in teaching, a comprehensive study was done of the scores using the Pearson correlation test, Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), and Test T, demonstrating that students were able to obtain better academic results at the end of the course despite having lacked previous knowledge.
Finally, strategies and on-line evaluation systems were designed that help to establish the level of knowledge acquired by the students.
It is important to highlight that the development of this virtual platform has allowed for the complete virtualization of this course, which increased the integration of international students in the 2015-2016 academic course.
Finally there was a study done on the level of satisfaction of the students regarding both the virtual tools and multimedia. The results of the different thematic blocks that make up the course and the variation of the final results achieved were analysed statistically.