Cooperation for institutional strengthening: shared knowledge in the quest for improved teaching
© The Author(s) 2013
Received: 15 December 2012
Accepted: 15 April 2013
Published: 15 July 2013
This article presents an evaluation of the institutional cooperation project entitled “Universidad y sociedad del conocimiento. Fortalecimiento institutional en áreas dedicadas a la enseñanza universitaria con nuevas tecnologías” (FEUNT, Universities and knowledge society. Institutional strengthening in areas dedicated to new technology-mediated university teaching), funded by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and undertaken by the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC), Spain, and the National University of Córdoba (UNC), Argentina. The main aim of the four-year project was to incorporate technologies into the institution, with emphasis on improved teaching and institutional conditions. By combining top-down, bottom-up and middle-out strategies (Cummings et al., 2005), the project articulated five programmes (research, lecturer training, technological improvement, teaching materials production, and dissemination and open knowledge), in which lecturer training, educational technology research and technology investment were interrelated. Taking needs into account, investment was made in core technologies and peripheral learning technologies (Salmon, 2005) that allowed the activities to be carried out, while others showing new potential were proposed. The aim of the work was to mobilise institutional culture in order to bring changes in teaching practices (Hargreaves, 2003). Lecturer training was carried out by means of workshops focusing on teaching materials production, viewed as an artefact that enabled teaching staff to reflect on decision-making when confronted with technology-mediated teaching processes (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2001). The results of the evaluation evidenced the success of a proposal based on strengthening a working group (Educational Technology Area) to support teaching staff. They also highlighted several weaknesses, particularly in relation to the project’s sustainability.