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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 237 (2017) 57 63

7th International Conference on Intercultural Education Education, Health and ICT for a
Transcultural World, EDUHEM 2016, 15-17 June 2016, Almeria, Spain

Gender Differences in Music Content Learning Using a Virtual


Platform in Secondary Education
Desire Garca-Gil & Roberto Cremades Andreu*
Complutense University of Madrid, C/ Rector Royo Villanova, s/n, 28040 Madrid, Spain

Abstract

Current education outlooks concur on the need to design effective learning settings adapted to the digital environment which
students live in. The rapid development of software and computer tools has generated new teaching and learning spaces (Gamage,
Tretiakov, & Crump, 2011).
Leaving aside the issues derived from their implementation in the classroom (Girvan & Savage, 2010), this study looks at the use
of a virtual education platform for the subject of Music in Compulsory Secondary Education (ESO). The specific focus is to analyse
how the music contents contemplated in Decree 38/2015 from May 22, which establishes the curriculum in Compulsory Secondary
Education (ESO) and the baccalaureate in Cantabria, can be covered in this space, as well as to examine gender differences in the
attainment of these contents. To this end, we began with the current curriculum, following a mixed research design that on the one
hand included a semi-structured interview with the teacher, and on the other, a questionnaire administered to 93 students of Year
1 of ESO in a public school of the Autonomous Community of Cantabria. The results obtained help justify the genesis and teaching
purpose of the education platform, and at the same time present the perception and actual appropriateness of this setting for
participants. The conclusions evidence that the gender differences found are the consequence of the attractive design of the
activities, a circumstance that fosters greater motivation in the subject of Music in ESO.
2017
2016TheTheAuthors.
Authors. Published
Published by by Elsevier
Elsevier Ltd.Ltd.
This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
Peer-review under responsibility of the organizing committee of EDUHEM 2016.
Peer-review under responsibility of the organizing committee of EDUHEM 2016.
Keywords: virtual platform; music education; secondary education; gender

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +34 91 394 6247 fax: + 34 91 394 6251.


E-mail address: desiree,garcia@edu.ucm.es, rcremades@edu.ucm.es

1877-0428 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
Peer-review under responsibility of the organizing committee of EDUHEM 2016.
doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2017.02.017
58 Desire Garca-Gil and Roberto Cremades Andreu / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 237 (2017) 57 63

1. Introduction

The study of the use of Information and Communication Technology (hereinafter ICT) in the different education
levels and branches of knowledge is a well-established line research that has generated an extensive and interesting
body of scientific literature (Asian & Zhu, 2015; George & Onniyi, 2016; Uluyol & Sahin, 2016). Studies in this field
coincide in pointing out that software and computer tools have enabled, among other benefits, more independent and
cooperative learning than with traditional teaching (Girvan & Savage, 2010; Rabah, 2015). Technical advances in this
area and their subsequent implementation in teaching has generated new teaching-learning spaces (Gamage, Tretiakov,
& Crump, 2011), such as virtual platforms (Virtual Learning Environments, VLEs) (Lim & Kim, 2015). These have
been seen as a change and evolution in the resources used by certain teachers who, adapting to the needs of the
information society, have found in the Web the ideal medium to perfect their lessons by posting resources online,
while enabling all stakeholders to share information (Silva, 2011).
In relation to teachers, Imbernn, Silva and Guzmn (2011) reflected on the teaching competences that university
teachers should have in order to achieve meaningful learning using two of the basic distance education models: e-
learning and b-learning. They designed and implemented case studies, intentionally selecting a group of representative
universities in Spain that were carrying out electronic and virtual learning initiatives, with the participation of teachers
and students. On the one hand, the results obtained showed that for the proper use of a virtual platform it was necessary
to have extensive teacher training in the area of ICT, as well as continuous assessment of the practice to implement
future improvements. On the other hand, the study revealed that adequate planning and implementation of virtual
environments allowed students to develop competences in the areas of reasoning, planning, reflexive learning,
knowledge creation and communication (p. 114).
As for the possible influence on the teaching methodology for music, using a case study Alberich-Artal and Sangra
(2012) demonstrated how music teaching was carried out in an essentially virtual context, that is, the platform
ConservatorioVirtual.com. This space includes a series of musical content courses such as training in score editing,
composition techniques for film music or contemporary music, among others. The virtual environment of each course
has a relatively uniform design: they all present music examples, high quality images and videos, together with simple
texts and self-correction exercises. Among other results, the study highlighted the fact that, although it favoured
independent learning, music education requires direct student-teacher contact that should not be replaced by a virtual
context. Similarly, experts drew attention to the fact that the success of this device depends on the quality of the
contents displayed, as well as on how they are structured.
Regarding the education potential of virtual platforms, Serra and Valls (2015), based on an analysis of
intergenerational creation workshops, indicated the importance of feedback from all platform users in theses spaces.
Furthermore, the collaborative learning made possible by these systems makes it possible to develop a common base
of knowledge that is continuously growing and, therefore, continuously updated.
Emphasis should also be placed on studies dealing with gender and technology in education (Castao, 2008, 2010;
Cohoon, 2011; Sinz, 2011) which generally indicate that women have had the most difficulties gaining access to and
using electronic resources, a circumstance which is known in the scientific literature as the gender digital divide
(Brynin, 2006). Quicios, Ortega and Trillo (2015) have stated that it is necessary to provide a more familiar and
equitable situation for both genders, since each one uses digital resources differently. While females resort to new
technologies to increase their social and family relationships (within a more expressive-community setting), males
act within more playful contexts, (...) related to action (and) games (...) (Sabater & Fernndez, 2015, p. 243).
In the academic world and, specifically, in Compulsory Secondary Education, girls prefer easy-to-use electronic
devices that help them improve their class work (Heemskerk, Admiraal, & Ten Dam, 2011). However, with regard to
the relationship between gender and teacher attitudes towards ICT, the results indicate there are no differences between
males and females when it comes to using them in the classroom, with their existing digital skills being the factor that
determines the level of use (Fernndez & Torres, 2015).
Based on the above, this paper focused on a Year 1 class of Compulsory Secondary Education in a public school in
the Community of Cantabria, to examine how the music curriculum established in Decree 38/2015 was covered using
a virtual platform and, at the same time, to discover if any gender differences existed when learning this content.
Desire Garca-Gil and Roberto Cremades Andreu / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 237 (2017) 57 63 59

2. Method

2.1. Participants

In one part of this study we interviewed the Music teacher and in the other we administered a questionnaire to a
total of 93 first-year students in Compulsory Secondary Education at a public school in the Region of Cantabria, of
which 49 were female (52.7%) and 44 male (47.3%), aged 12 to 14 (Mage= 12.56, SDage= .65). It should also be noted
that 83 students (89.2%) stated they had an Internet connection at home, while only 10 (10.8%) said they did not; with
computers being the electronic device most frequently used (n= 72, 77.4%), followed by mobile telephones (n= 13,
14%) and tablets (n= 8, 8.6%).

2.2. Instruments and Procedure

The study followed a mixed research design using both qualitative (semi-structured interview) and quantitative
(questionnaire) data collection techniques.
Preparation of the interview took into account the purpose of the study and we thus considered the existing
relationship between the contents established in Decree 38/2015 and the use of the education platform in the first year
of Compulsory Secondary Education. Furthermore, we conducted a bibliographic review to design a semi-structured
interview with the teacher including the following categories: 1. Teacher Profile (Ordaz & Herrera, 2016), providing
general data related to academic background and professional experience of the interviewee (The following parts were
taken into account: 1. Age, 2. Gender, 3. Career as teacher, 4. Occupied positions and centres, 5. Academic
qualifications of access to his work as a teacher, 6. Other qualifications, 7. Institution where he/she is employed
nowadays and 8. Stage and course where he/she is working); 2. Training in the digital field (Area, 2010), aimed at
delving into the theoretical and the practical knowledge on the use of digital tools in the classroom, as well as
confirming whether it was acquired through formal, informal or non formal education (They were asked questions
like what demands of formation does it raise the use of the digital technologies in the classroom of music? or which
is the periodicity that you renew your knowledge in the digital area with?); 3. The use of the platform in the classroom
(Ardura & Zamora, 2014), which helped understand issues related to the electronic device implemented and its use in
relation to lesson planning (They were inferred in questions such as in what courses do you use virtual environments
as part / support of your methodology? And how does it affect its use in the planning of the teaching?); 4. The use of
the virtual environment for the development of the contents for the Music and Technology section of the curriculum
in the Autonomous Community of Cantabria (Decree 38/2015, from May 22, which establishes the curriculum in
Compulsory Secondary Education (ESO) and the baccalaureate in Cantabria), paying attention to matters such as (a)
developing listening -What activities and digital resources do you use for the development of hearing?-, (b) work
based on dance and body expression -How do you work dancing and body expression?-; or c) planning written work
-As for the production of written works, which are the digital sources which utilization promotes in class?-, among
others; and, 5. Final considerations (Kvale, 2011), to address any elements not covered that the interviewee may want
to add (for example, is there any other aspect you think that it should be taken into account and it has not been
mentioned?).
Additionally, the interview was validated by following a draft protocol that was adapted from Calvo and Daz
(2004), for which we requested the opinion of an expert in this line of research.
Regarding the procedure, it was contacted by e-mail the tutor of the group to explain the intention of the interview
to her, to have her conformity as for the recording of the same one and to fix one day for its telephonic accomplishment
(Rubin and Rubin, 2012) that was carried out one week after the mentioned request.
In order to triangulate the information obtained during the interview with the teacher, we designed an ad hoc
questionnaire in which students had to rank, on a five-point Likert-type scale (1= Strongly disagree; 2= Disagree; 3=
Neither agree nor disagree, 4= Agree; 5= Strongly agree), various aspects related to the use of a virtual platform for
learning the Music contents. To validate this instrument, we estimated the validity of the construct through a factor
analysis (principal component extraction) with Varimax rotation, from which we extracted 5 factors that explained
64.73% of total variance. Previously, to ensure the data fit a factor analysis model, we measured the Kaiser-Meyer-
60 Desire Garca-Gil and Roberto Cremades Andreu / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 237 (2017) 57 63

Olkin sampling adequacy index for which we obtained a value of .835, interpreted as valid, and Bartletts sphericity
test (2(120)= 473.03, p = .000), which was statistically significant, therefore it was decided that using this type of
analysis to measure the validity was appropriate (Rodicio & Iglesias, 2011).
Moreover, we assessed the internal consistency of the questionnaire with Cronbachs alpha reliability coefficient,
which showed a value of .859, providing a high level of internal consistency in the answers given by the students.
The questionnaire was created with Google Forms and completed individually by the students online, through a
link that was uploaded to the education platform they used for their music lessons.
The data from the questionnaire was analysed using IBM SPSS Statistics 22 and the following statistical methods
were used: Descriptive Statistics (frequencies and percentages); Frequency Analysis, with the Chi-square test;
Normalcy Analysis with the Kolmogorov Smirnov test; and Mann-Whitney Non-Parametric U Test.

3. Results

3.1. Interview with the teacher

The analysis of the interview drew attention to three main results. First, in relation to academic background, we
found a diversity of forms of education that covered both formal settings (related to the attainment of music contents,
I went to a Conservatory (...) I have a Higher Diploma in Music Theory (...) and then I have a Professional Piano
Diploma (...) and also the Professional Diploma in Harmony,), and informal ones (related to the attainment of
theoretical and practical digital knowledge, (...) well, I was in a work group at my School on general training on the
Moodle platform and other things related to ICT, and then everything else I just learnt by myself (...) exploring, trying
things out looking things up on the Internet. Thus, the diversity of her education has a direct impact on her teaching
approach, which combines formal learning in the classroom with informal learning on the Internet.
Second, the interviewee stated that her lesson plans were affected by the use of the platform. This required more
initial preparation but, at the same time, it made it possible to spend more time on practical exercises during the lessons
and it saved time organising activities on-site: (I spend time creating material and thinking about whether the activity
worked, why one worked and another one didnt, for example. So, that type of things, you reflect more (...) All of this
gives you more time to spend on practice. And you no longer have to organise it all, you no longer waste time looking
for a song on an album or anything, you have everything there already (...)). Thus, the teaching takes on a greater
vitality as a result of deeper reflection and the initial systematisation of the teaching-learning process conducted in the
classroom ((...) helps me make better use of my time).
Third, the teacher stated that the use of the platform had a direct impact on the academic relationship with students
in relation to communication (And then, another advantage of this platform is communication with my students for
example, if somebody misses a lesson, they just need to go onto the platform and thats it they can ask what weve
done, what had to be done, when the exam is, in other words, there is communication 24 hours a day (...)) and
teaching personalisation (Then, you can personalise, which is an improvement, because you personalise for your
students, your group of students. Some years there are resources I have already prepared which maybe this year I
cannot use because my students dont want them, or they have something else I dont know, other things that year.
So this is an improvement). In short, the use of the digital tool helps teachers involve students in a more personalised
way and offer the group more specific resources.

3.2. Questionnaire given to students

Table 1 shows the frequency of student responses to each item, as well as the Chi-square frequency analysis.

Table 1. Frequencies, percentages and frequency analysis of items assessed by students.


Items 1 2 3 4 5 2
1. I understand what we learn in music class better
0 (0.0%) 6 (6.5%) 25 (26.9%) 35 (37.6%) 27 (29.%) 19.473*
using digital tools
Desire Garca-Gil and Roberto Cremades Andreu / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 237 (2017) 57 63 61

Items 1 2 3 4 5 2
2. The platform helps me find the materials I need to
2 (2.2%) 3 (3.2%) 15 (16.1%) 39 (41.9%) 34 (36.6%) 67.720*
conduct my activities
3. Working with the platform helps me make better use
6 (6.5%) 3 (3.2%) 23 (24.7%) 31 (33.3%) 30 (32.3%) 37.914*
of time in class
4. I can access the platform from home to go over the
5 (5.4%) 9 (9.7%) 19 (20.4%) 24 (25.8%) 36 (38.7%) 32.753*
activities conducted in class
5. When I have any questions, I can ask the teacher
4 (4.6%) 1 (1.1%) 4 (4.3%) 11 (11.8%) 73 (78.5%) 201.785*
through the platform
6. When I miss a lesson, I can find out what activities
5 (5.4%) 10 (10.8%) 10 (10.8%) 25 (26.9%) 43 (46.2%) 52.108*
my classmates have done and catch up
7. I can learn theory more easily by conducting
8 (8.6%) 5 (5.4%) 16 (17.2%) 26 (28.0%) 38 (40.9%) 39.527*
activities and games on the platform
8. Following the musicogram on the platform during
6 (6.5%) 4 (4.3%) 19 (20.4%) 41 (44.1%) 23 (24.7%) 48.022*
listening exercises helps me learn
9. It is useful to be able to download at home the
9 (9.7%) 16 (17.2%) 13 (14.0%) 26 (28.0%) 29 (31.2%) 15.763*
listening exercises that we work on in class
10. Having the scores on the platform allows me to
4 (4.3%) 1 (1.1%) 7 (7.5%) 19 (20.4%) 62 (66.7%) 136.624*
study them anywhere
11. Id rather do work using digital resources 6 (6.5%) 5 (5.4%) 20 (21.5%) 27 (29.0%) 35 (37.6%) 36.839*
12. Id rather do exams on the platform because I
6 (6.5%) 3 (3.2%) 12 (12.9%) 20 (21.5%) 52 (55.9%) 84.043*
understand the questions better
13. My user knowledge of the platform is sufficient 2 (2.2%) 3 (3.2%) 12 (12.9%) 25 (26.9%) 51 (54.8%) 88.882*
14. I like to conduct musical activities using the
2 (2.2%) 3 (3.2%) 13 (14.0%) 30 (32.3%) 45 (48.4%) 74.043*
platform
15. I apply what I learn on the platform to the rest of 16
15 (16.1%) 34 (36.6%) 19 (20.4%) 9 (9.7%) 18.774*
the subjects (17.2%)
16. Working on the platform has improved my digital
6 (6.5%) 3 (3.2%) 20 (21.5%) 31 (33.3%) 33 (35.5%) 41.140*
skills
*p < .001. Note: 1= Strongly disagree; 2 = Disagree; 3 = Neither agree nor disagree, 4= Agree; 5 = Strongly agree.

The frequency analysis was statistically significant in all the items of the questionnaire. Furthermore, the highest
response percentages were in the Agree and Strongly Agree options, except for the question asking if they applied
to the rest of the subjects what they learned on the platform.
Before going further, we studied the normality of the sample with the Kolmogorov Smirnov test from which we
obtained a score of p .01, indicating the normality hypothesis is rejected and therefore it was necessary to use non-
parametric tests. To analyse the items by gender we implemented the Mann-Whitney U Test, the results of which
showed statistically significant differences in item 1. I understand what we learn in music class better using digital
tools (U= 763.000, Z= -2.551, p= .011); and in item 15. I apply what I learn using the platform to the rest of the
subjects (U= 804.500, Z= -2.179, p= .029), where males showed a higher average range than females.

4. Discussion

The use of electronic devices to support teaching requires extensive teacher training in digital technologies (Ruiz,
Rubia, Anguita, & Fernndez, 2010) which, according to the statements provided by the teacher interviewed, must
come from both formal and informal education. Therefore, attainment of the various contents in the Music curriculum
will depend to a greater or lesser extent on the teachers instrumental and educational training on new technologies.
In turn, the use of digital tools as part of the teaching methodology makes it possible to acquire knowledge in a
reflexive and reasoned manner, as evidenced by the fact that the interviewee highlighted the use of virtual
environments (such as Incredibox) to do written work, which requires greater student involvement as far as decisions
62 Desire Garca-Gil and Roberto Cremades Andreu / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 237 (2017) 57 63

on the contents used and their layout ( when I set them some homework, with something like Incredibox, it means
every activity is different. Because if its not you need to let them add something of their own because if not they
will just put down what it says in the Wikipedia). Likewise, students showed that being taught like this helped them
improve their digital skills. Moreover, there is the advantage of easier communication between the teacher and the
student, as well as the usefulness of having access to the syllabus and the activities anywhere, at any time, aspects that
concur with the data obtained in both instruments.
Another element to be highlighted is that the benefit provided by the new technologies is directly related to the use
teachers make of it by fostering the interest of the students in the activities carried out in the classroom. As the teacher
interviewed expressed (What I say is, ok, I dont have a book but my students read, I dont have a notebook but they
write, so, it is on a different format, but what is it that matters here? The format or the activity? What matters is the
activity, not the format).
In relation to gender, and in accordance with studies that show that there are differences in the use of TICs between
men and women (Brynin, 2006; Sinz, 2011), this work was centred on his application on the musical didactic area in
the classroom of Secondary, a sphere on that the scientific literature is scanty. In this way, the female students who
participated in this study showed a lower level of agreement than male students in making the most of learning music
contents using digital tools, for what it is clear that, for them, the digital methodological resources do not intervene
on a direct form in the acquisition of the musical contents, circumstance that can be explained in that they do not
perceive the platform as a space of learning, since they use them, with higher frequency, to communicate and relate
with their equals.
At the same time, female pupils show that they do not apply, on an equivalent form to his male partners, the above
mentioned learnings in the rest of subjects. Then, it can be underlined that knowledge and technological skills brought
into play in the lessons of Music do not imply for them, a significant learning, since they do not enable them for the
domain or assimilation of other areas of knowledge. Nonetheless, at present there is a strong emphasis on developing
strategies to enhance digital growth among students, women and men, which focuses on the role played by the teacher
in the academic use of these electronic devices (Fernndez & Torres, 2015).
In short, this study has clearly shown that musical content covered in secondary education classrooms can be
addressed using a virtual platform, and furthermore, students, mostly male, appreciate what they learn this way as it
is more motivating: Female pupils still need a higher deepening in the use of the same ones in order that knowledge
obtained from them can be used by them to take advantage so much in the set of the curricular subjects as in other not
formal areas. In this regard, it is important to note that teachers need training in the area of ICTs, and planning should
be aligned with students digital skills. When necessary, efforts must be made to provide students with the necessary
skills so that they can make the most of the educational potential these tools offer.

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