M.L. Sein-Echaluce1, N. Boal1, C. Bueno1, J. Castelló2, J.M. Correas1, J. Gil1, D. Lerís1, V. Martínez2

1Universidad de Zaragoza (SPAIN)
2Universitat Jaume I (SPAIN)
Several experiments carried out at the University of Zaragoza concerning the incorporation of e-learning platforms for blended-learning in an environment of cooperation between all agents implied in the education process are presented in this paper. The aim is to improve learning competences once the real situation of the students implied is clarified.

These training experiments are based not only on the assimilation of contents, but also on the development of competences, and on mathematics (which is our field of research) as well as on social and linguistic aspects which we consider highly important.

A drastic change of traditional classroom methodology to an atmosphere of participation is necessary. The use of virtual environments complement the classroom work; first allowing students access to course material, second supporting tutorial tasks and finally as a meeting point to share information and create knowledge.

For three years, we have been carrying out an experiment concerning classroom training with first year students at Engineering degrees before the start of the academic year. It aims to improve those abilities which allow the students to get competences, avoiding the repetition of contents and procedures, through cooperative activities (puzzle techniques, informal groups, ‘one minute papers’ etc). Also, during the academic year, we encourage students to work in groups in the traditional classroom sessions.

All these classroom experiments enable us to design a methodology based on online cooperative activities with the help of an online tutor, in order to enhance independent learning. The teacher chooses as the way to teach the course one or more of the following: “Traditional”, “Evaluating” and “Social-Cooperative”. A description of the activities will be included in this paper.

These experiments form the basis of a research project now in progress and involving several Spanish universities, which creates an e-learning course based on cooperative activities. It creates an online course in Moodle which aims to improve mathematics abilities of first year university students and has the following features: 1) Better functionalities of the platform for individual attention and knowledge management 2) An e-learning methodology adaptable to any situation 3) Good mathematics resources 4) Cooperative activities (Web 2.0) with tutors. A summary of the stages of the project will be presented.

Based on this project, the first steps towards the creation of an international virtual mathematics community have been carried out within the context of the process of the European convergence. The objectives are the creation of an English repository of learning objects which are easily combinable, adaptable, and reusable and of a methodology based on cooperative activities (Web 2.0) which allows to pay attention to training, cultural and linguistic diversity.

All the above is applicable to any subject at any level, as long as the activities to be carried out are adapted to the training objectives.