ON THE INTEGRATION OF SOCIALMEDIA IN THE PROCESS OF ENGINEERING EDUCATION
In the last years, accessing information through the web has become the main source of knowledge for researchers and students. The amount of information stored in the web is increasing exponentially and most of it is available and accessible everywhere around the world. Particularly, students are nowadays used to accessing information from diverse sources in a seamless fashion, using different devices with internet capabilities which also enable the use of social networks. This new generation have been often referred to as digital natives or the Net Generation.
Despite these definitions have recently been a source of controversy in the educational community, it is a fact that students nowadays need to be motivated in a different way, compared to traditional students. In this line, the use of multimedia techniques in the educational process is required to be one of the fundamental cornerstones, instead of a supporting mechanism.
Another factor that makes a difference with previous generations is the important role that social networks play in the way students communicate and interact. Most of young undergraduates have at least one profile in a social network that they use to stay in touch with friends, share multimedia content, etc. In this work we used the term socialmedia to describe this seamless integration of multimedia resources and social networks that swiftly has become a daily life reality.
Additionally, engineering studies are very demanding for young undergraduates due to the inherent complexity of the addressed concepts. The assimilation of those concepts and the comprehension of their practical application requires a lot of resources (e.g., in terms of effort and time) from the student.
Here, we propose some guidelines to combine use of Multimedia-based education (MBE) and social networks, in order to foster learning processes for students enrolled in engineering courses. Our main objectives are:
-The use of socialmedia as a means of adapting the learning process to the new capabilities and uses of the students.
-The use of socialmedia as an instrument to reduce the learning curve for the understanding of complex concepts. In addition, this could also be used to facilitate the access of persons with disabilities to engineering studies.
-Taking advantage of the familiarity of nowadays students with social networks to use these networks to interact with them, supervise their work and aim their progress towards a better understanding of complex concepts in engineering.
Along the paper, we take the classic concept of a virtual e-learning platform applied to engineering studies and push it further through the use of socialmedia resources. The proposed socialmedia platform is a cloud-computing based e-learning platform that allows students to access the resources and interact with the lecturer and other students from virtually any location.The platform stores and manages the multimedia learning resources, enabling a flexible access in terms of time and location to those resources by the students. These students and the lecturers are part of a learning community that allows different levels of interaction among them. Thanks to these characteristics, the proposed socialmedia platform will boost the students’ motivation through a greater level of interactive among them and with the lectures that enables collaborative learning experiences and improve their level of comprehension of the addressed topics.