M. Pinto1, F. Souza1, F. Nogueira1, A. Balula2, L. Pedro3, L. Pombo1, F. Ramos3, A. Moreira1

1Aveiro University, Department of Education (PORTUGAL)
2Aveiro University, School of Technology and Management of Águeda (PORTUGAL)
3Aveiro University, Department of Communication and Art (PORTUGAL)
Communication Technologies are used in Higher Education Institutions worldwide, noting significant differences between developed and developing countries. The impact due to the use of CTs has produced changes in the design of teaching and learning practices, giving rise to learning paradigms such as e-learning, b-learning, m-learning and cloud learning. In this context, some authors (Blin & Munro, 2008; Shurville, Browne, & Whitaker, 2009; Brown, 2010) emphasize that the perspective that the use of CTs is not potentiating innovation or disruptiveness of more traditional forms of education, and is instead supporting the repositories of content and materials to be accessed by students. On the opposite side, several authors (Garrison & Anderson, 2003; Downes, 2005; Bielaczyc & Blake, 2006; Siemens & Tittenberger, 2009) state that Internet and CTs are disruptive and becoming more and more powerful, promoting changes in the participation of teachers and students, their work and in the roles they play in the educational process. Teachers are becoming more and more facilitators and mentors, while students’ roles focus more on the autonomy and empowerment of building their own learning spaces, producing and consuming content.

Furthermore, the present review suggests that social web Communication Technologies, supported by web 2.0 tools and platforms are largely adopted by HEI institutions in support to learning and in support of services offered by libraries. The use of web 2.0 brings the culture of connectedness, collaboration communication, sharing and interaction between users into the formal educational context. Other CT uses, more specifically 3D Virtual Worlds like Second Life, are also being adopted in HE regarding their interactional power, or their potential as teaching environments for the promotion of learning. Cloud computing has recently emerged as a service for improving efficiency and cost for the educational sector, virtualizing CTs and facilitating their provision on demand.

As a result of understanding the vast and disperse body of literature published concerning the use of CT in HE, the authors of this paper will present the main goals of a project titled “Portuguese Public Higher Education Use of Communication Technologies”, whose aim is to characterize Portuguese higher education institutions according to their use of CTs and best practices, and disseminate the information obtained following the development of an online information visualization tool. The ultimate goal is to contribute towards making valuable and up-to-date information available to institutions and users, facilitating and potentiating research in the area.