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The same year (2006) in which the Observatory for Education in the Arts (ODAS) was founded, and very much in line with the Observatory’s aims, an electronic learning platform was also created. The platform was devised as a pilot scheme for implementation in the undergraduate degree courses of Fine Arts and Art History. The first phase in this project (2006-2008) was restricted initially to those subjects directly related to courses in Aesthetics and Art Theory. However, the intention from the outset was to include a subject with a markedly historical approach, so as to lay the groundwork for subsequent phases in which the specific problems presented by this, and other approaches that form part of the Fine Arts and Art History degrees, might be tackled.

In the case of ODAS, the electronic learning platform can be seen as an extension of the university lecture theatre, and all that that entails as regards our understanding of academic activity and the learning experience. As expected, this methodological approach —in short, a commitment to a blended learning environment— has had an impact on the organization, use and teaching purposes of the platform in all the subjects in which it has been introduced. Today the electronic learning platform is an indispensable tool in achieving the following aims:

  • Providing detailed information about the learning skills and objectives, course contents, methodology and the organization of the subject, assessment procedures and the student’s learning tasks.
  • Complementing—illustrating and extending— class work.
  • Supervising the student’s autonomous work.
  • Promoting the active involvement of the student in the academic management of the subject.
  • Evaluating the teaching methodology adopted and the technical performance of the resources used.
The reference to this platform as a tool is both appropriate and necessary in highlighting its adequate subordination to a pedagogic model and a specific teaching approach. Yet, while the tool is at the service of the activity, it also determines without a doubt such an activity and this is important when considering the type of teaching resources and materials that have been adopted —and which will be incorporated in the future— in seeking to achieve the objectives set. To avoid an inappropriate use of the platform, it is essential that a thorough analysis of its attributes, and the possibilities that derive from these for its use in education, be undertaken. It is with this conviction that ODAS is striving to use this tool as an additional factor in the design and preparation of learning activities, tasks and materials, and given the rapid evolution of such platforms this promises to be a never-ending enterprise.