Development of Digital Projects as Learning Strategies. The Desingcrea/Diseñoteca Project

  1. 1. Nuria Rodríguez Ortega

    Universidad de Málaga (University of Malaga)

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Development of Digital Projects as Learning Strategies. The Desingcrea/Diseñoteca Project
Rodríguez, Nuria, University of Malaga (Spain),
In the last Digital Humanities conference in London (July 2010), several of those present expressed the need for educational strategies based on digital projects. The reasons can be summarised as follows: firstly, given the difficult sustainability of these types of projects, the help of students in their development could be a key factor in their upholding. Secondly, participating in real digital projects could help these students gain an array of essential competences in the digital society in which they will develop their professional work.

Bearing this in mind, the aim of this paper is to present a case of educational innovation, financed by the University of Malaga since 2006, which I believe can respond to the concerns expressed in London.

The Desingcrea/Diseñoteca Project
The Desingcrea/Diseñoteca project was originally created to redefine the practical aspect of certain subjects within the degree of Technical Industrial Design Engineering given in the Polytechnic Institute of the University of Malaga.

Specifically, our aim was to develop collective learning strategies that could lead to significant and relevant training, involving the student in the development of his/her own knowledge. In order to do this we decided that the new possibilities of virtual interaction brought about by the Information and Communication Technologies, as proposed in the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) theory, social participation web environments (2.0), combined with the educational principles of Pedagogic Constructivism (Mitchel Rescnick, 1996) and Conectivism (G. Siemens, 2006), offered the perfect framework on which to base this project.

Taking an objective based educational model as a starting point, we decided that all these strategies revolved around a common objective: the development of an industrial design database, which we called Diseñoteca, which in turn would be integrated into a web portal also dedicated to industrial design (Desingcrea). The idea was that Desingcrea/Diseñoteca would be developed progressively through the collective work of students, who would be responsible for the preparation of its material and content, through tasks incorporated into the teaching programme of certain subjects of the degree. Once developed, the Desingcrea/Diseñoteca system would work as an online resource available to all students, who could use it as a tool for consultation, study and debate.

Desingcrea/Diseñoteca: Design and Structure
Desingcrea/Diseñotca is a web application developed specifically by computer engineers from the University of Malaga for this project1. Updates carried out on the system aimed to transform an informational system, based on the «database» philosophy, into a learning community, based on the «social network» or «2.0» theory, bringing together users interested in industrial design, amongst them our students, who were responsible for its dynamization.

Desingcrea/Diseñoteca focuses on the industrial design, therefore the entire information published on this website is around this subject matter. As well as informative sections, created by the students, such as directories, bibliographical indexes, etc., the Desingcrea portal has resources common to web 2.0, such as the publication of news and articles as blogs, the possibility for users to evaluate the contents, RSS, tag clouds and the capacity to link these contents to other existing resources on the Network (text, images, web pages, etc.). It is therefore possible to create a real, open and global network about industrial design, which students use as a personalised learning environment. [Fig. 1 and 2].

Fig. 1. Desingcrea website. 1 <>

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Fig. 2. Blogs written by students at Desingcrea website.

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The Diseñoteca database, which is integrated into the Desingcrea website, is also being developed through the collective work of students. Industrial design objects are registered in a structured manner within Diseñoteca. It is made up of data records in which participants describe and classify the design objects according to a protocol of standards and metadata. [Fig. 3]

Fig. 3. Diseñoteca’ s record. Simple display showing the assessment given by students.

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In order to create this data register, the principal source used was The Categories for the Description of works of Art (CDWA), of the Getty Research Institute (1998), which was updated in the work Cataloging Cultural Objects (Baca, 2006), of American Library Association Editions. The result is a more specific example of this standard that we call Categories for the description of industrial design objects (CDOID), and that will be the object of a future publication.

The system offers students the possibility to discuss the records of their classmates, contributing data and information that enrich the description of the object. Besides, in this way the collective participation in the creation of contents and the exchange of ideas is increased.

Likewise, students can assess these records using tools common to the repositories of the social web. This assessment will act as a co-evaluation, complementing the final grade given by the teacher. [Fig. 3].

Management and monitoring of students. Each teacher is assigned a specific number of students to monitor. A series of features have been installed on the system so that students are monitored in the most complete way possible. In this way it is possible for the teacher to see the records that have been created and edited by any student and consult his/her record history, seeing the different actions and tasks that have been carried out. This way the system not only shows us the amount of time that the student has been connected to the Internet, but also the tasks that he/she has actually carried out and therefore if the student has really been working. [Fig. 4].

Fig. 4. Display for the teacher profile with the report of the student´s work and actions.

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Finally, given that one of the aims of Desingcrea/Diseñoteca, as mentioned, is to work as an information and meeting website for all those interested in industrial design, a validation tool has been incorporated into the system as a means to guarantee the quality of the process. That is, information introduced into Desingcrea/Diseñoteca is not made public to users until it has been corrected and validated by the teacher in charge.

What does Desingcrea/Diseñoteca Bring to the Learning of Students?
According to results obtained since this project began in 2006, I list the following aspects which could be applied to any similar, digital based projects.

The students have become familiar with work concepts and systems common to the design and execution of digital projects, offering them an invaluable preparation in facing this type of project in the future. For example, they have become familiar with the use of metadata, and have become aware of the need for their systematic and coherent use, an idea that is not always sufficiently adopted amongst humanities specialists.
With regards to the pedagogic use of 2.0 tools, the potential of blog type applications to encourage critical thinking should be underlined. News and articles published by students, as contents on the Desingcrea portal, can be discussed and assessed by their own classmates, favouring the exchange of ideas and encouraging debate amongst them.
The possibility of linking information published on Desingcrea/Diseñoteca with other news, portals and sites on the Network, helps students to familiarise themselves with the idea of the Network as a global data repository where knowledge is produced through the significant connection of information nodes.
While creating Designcrea/Diseñoteca, a collaborative project based on the contributions of participants on an open system which, at the same time, is incorporated globally into the Network from which it is also fuelled, students are encouraged to integrate themselves into the so called open and shared knowledge culture. This culture is associated to the thinking behind 2.0 and defines the new paradigm of knowledge that, based on the concepts of both Rheingold’s Smart Mobs (2000) and Lévy’s Collective intelligence (1994, 1998), is shaping our contemporary society (UNESCO, 2005).
During the paper, these ideas will be developed in more detail and other significant results will be presented.

Baca M. 2006Cataloging Cultural Objects: A Guide to Describing Works and Their Images, Chicago: American Library Association Editions

Cabero Almenara, J. 2007Diseño y producción de TIC para la formación: nuevas tecnologías de la información y la comunicación, . BarcelonaUOC

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Lévy, P. 1994L'intelligence collective. Pour une anthropologie du cyberespace, París La Découverte

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Litwin, E. 2005Tecnologías educativas en tiempos de Internet, Buenos Aires, Madrid: Amorrortu

Mitchel Resnick, Y. K. 1996Constructionism in practice: designing, thinking, and learning in a digital world, Mahwah (New Jersey)LEA

Rheingold, H. 2002Smart Mobs. The Next Social Revolution, CambridgePerseus Publishing

Seely Brown, J. 2002 “Growing Up Digital: How the Web Changes Work, Education, and the Ways People Learn, ” Change, 10-20

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UNESCO 2005Hacia las sociedades del conocimiento, , Ediciones UNESCO

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2011
"Big Tent Digital Humanities"

Hosted at Stanford University

Stanford, California, United States

June 19, 2011 - June 22, 2011

151 works by 361 authors indexed

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Series: ADHO (6)

Organizers: ADHO

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  • Language: English
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