The use of New Education and Communication Technologies is now seen as a priority in Europe. The U.PORTO shares this vision and has established the use of NECTs as a priority in its strategies of action for the coming years. However, the implementation of e-learning in an institution as large as the U.PORTO is not a simple process, involving many players, from Faculty Heads to their respective teaching staff and students, to information system administrators, libraries and computing centres.
In 2003, the U.PORTO initiated a pilot-project aimed at creating conditions for a systematic and sustainable increase of the development of educational contents at the University, with a view to blended-learning. This was the first edition of the e-LearningUP project.
With a length of 5 years, this project was coordinated by the Office Support for New Technologies in Education – GATIUP, in the context of the mission of the now extinct Institute for Resources and Common Initiatives of the University of Porto, with the purpose of “boosting institutional cohesion and spirit at the University of Porto, by facilitating cooperation among all agents and contributing to its projection at national and international levels, promoting the excellence of its activities”.
The e-LearningUP project aimed to stimulate the use of ICT, in particular the Internet, in the Teaching/Learning process, through the creation of an online component to support presential classes. The intention was that teachers should make the educational contents available online in the University’s e-learning platforms, promoting the use of electronic resources in the teaching practice. Furthermore, the intention was also to expand the repository of online resources of the University, and to evaluate the impact of e-learning in improving the quality of teaching.
The pedagogical approach over the project’s 5 year life-span never followed a rigid model of organization of materials and communication strategies. Similarly, teachers at the U.PORTO had at their disposal in each academic year much more than an e-learning platform for the availability of materials.
Teachers could, at any given moment, choose freely between two e-learning platforms and receive support from GATIUP in the development and placing of materials online. Therefore, the following platforms were used and tested:
The use of diverse systems of learning management allowed a careful observation of the number of tools used and the degree of refinement with which these same tools were used. This allowed a decision on the type of platform to be used in the future, justified and based on the usage data delivered by the academic community.
The pilot edition of the project had the support of POS_Conhecimento.
After the success of the previous project, there was an exponential increase of participations in the project, and high level scientific, technical and pedagogical contents were developed. This edition had the support of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.