VIRTUAL SCIENCE LABS AS E-LEARNING TOOL IN HIGHER EDUCATION
1 Universidad de Córdoba (SPAIN)
2 Technology Centre of Metal-Mechanical and Transport (Cetemet) (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Conference name: 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2018
Location: Palma, Spain
Abstract:Since the inclusion of Spain in the Bologna Declaration, whose objective is to reform the university system through the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), the student acquires a leading role in the teaching-learning process. In order to promote autonomy among the students in the training process, the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) is increasingly common. Among them, e-learning using mobile apps has a great potential to strengthen the learning process given its popular use among university students. This is mostly because these tools have assorted advantages over traditional methods, e.g. magisterial lectures, such as ubiquitous access, possibility to update and increase content, self-taught, etc. Moreover, they are easily linkable to social media, thus making the learning process more attractive, more easily accessible and more cooperative.
For the purpose of increasing student motivation, in this work, a mobile application has been designed and developed, in which three laboratories, belonging to the faculties of of Sciences (Biology and Chemistry) and engineering, have been virtualized. The contents are related to different basic subjects from the Degrees of Chemistry, Biology, and Electrical and Mechanical Engineering of the University of Córdoba. In each of the three laboratories, the students can access to multimedia information corresponding to various materials and equipment, videos, links, virtual laboratories as well as an explanation of some practical sessions.
For the different scenarios development, 360º panoramic pictures have been used, which have been made using HDR (High Dynamic Range) techniques. These scenarios contain interactive three-dimensional models built using image analysis and 3D scanning techniques. The platform chosen for the development was Android, due to the majority use of this operating system on mobile devices among the students.
It is good to notice that this type of e-learning facilitates students the accessibility to materials related to the practical subjects under study which are very important in science teaching. Also, they become more familiar with technical terms in an interactive, more entertaining and efficient manner, improving the motivation degree and the student's involvement in the subjects under study. This leads to a greater assimilation of knowledge and skills. To verify this, for each laboratory, we divided the students in a group without access to the app (control group) and another one (testing group) with access. We conducted a series of questionnaires with the testing groups using the game-based platform “Kahoot!”. The questionnaires intended to enlighten the degree of acceptance of the tool, the impact on learning of the subjects under study and the identification of potential areas of improvement.
Generally, the testing group students found the tool very interesting and helped them improving their scores compared to the control group. No clear distinction between students of different subjects was appreciated. A limited content in this first version was major drawback. Also, this evaluation has been conducted only with one control and one testing group of each subject, thus limiting its potential to extract definite conclusions. Further content upload and testing on different courses will be done in the future to evaluate the benefits of science learning using this app.
Keywords: e-learning, Virtual Laboratory, mobile app, Science, Engineering.