Operations Management

Active learning in Operations Management: interactive multimedia software for teaching JIT/Lean Production, European higher education is increasingly becoming immersed in two realities that will without doubt have a bearing on its future over the coming decades. On the one hand, the impact that Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) are having on teaching methodology, the way teaching processes are conducted, and the fashion in which teachers relate to students. On the other hand, the legal framework that regulates university education in Europe is in the process of adapting to the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), instigated by the European Union. The Sorbonne (1998), Bologna (1999), Prague (2001), Berlin (2003), Bergen (2005), London (2007) &Leuven (2009) declarations, all agree on the need to harmonise higher education in Europe. This harmonisation requires significant changes to be made to the university system including the need to adapt teaching methodologies to the new challenges that are being faced. For example, the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) is bringing about a decrease in the number of on-site class hours, which is affecting the teaching methodology to be used. This teaching philosophy is aimed at greater student autonomy and means a change from a teaching-based to a learning-based focus facilitated by the new technologies (European Commission, 2002). In other respects, there is also a patent need to respond to a growing demand for lifelong learning and distance learning. Going hand-in-hand with this is the need to cater for new student profiles, with a wide range of motivations, ages, interests and spaces.In these circumstances, we consider the development of new learning tools which incorporate the advantages provided by ICT to be an appropriate response to this need. ICT are having a clear effect on teaching-learning models, considerably broadening the possibilities of further education to the extent that it becomes, in practical terms, permanent education. They are thus also having a strong impact on the teaching methodology, the teaching/learning process linkage and on the relationship between instructors and students. ICT-based learning tools are becoming very powerful tools for conveying informationas they are significantly changing communication between the actors in the teaching-learning process. Institutions responsible for further education are well-aware of this phenomenon (NCET (National Council for Educational Technologies of UK) (1994), European Commission (1996), AACSB (American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business) (1997) and UNESCO (Andresen & Brink, 2002)). The interest shown by theEuropean Union in the latest Framework Programmes is a faithful reflection of the importance that itsmember States are affording the study, promotion and incorporation of the new technologies in Higher Education. Therefore, continuing along the lines of earlier initiatives, the Fifth European Community Framework Programme coveringResearch, TechnologicalDevelopment and Demonstration Activities (1998-2002) proposed, Information Society Technologies (IST) and a range of lines of action related to the use of ICT in teaching environments among its priority topics. These lines included the “development of tools, open platforms, advanced personalised-teaching systems and large-scale experiments to achieve the flexible university of the future”. Meanwhile IST continued to be a priority topic in the 6th Framework Programme with one of its prime objectives being the eEurope Action Plan. This initiative gave great importance to the “effective application of ICT in education and permanent learning” For this reason the eLearning Programme (2004-2006) was also adopted with one of its basic lines being “to develop virtual university campuses”. The Seventh Framework Programme (2007-2013) also provides for research initiatives in this same line in its “ICT Work Programme 2011-2012”. This is divided into eight Challenges that are considered to be of strategic interest for European society, one of which focuses on the use of the ICT in teaching both in educational institutions, including  universities, and in the workplace (Challenge 8 -ICT for Learning and Access to Cultural Resources). One of the aspects included is the promotion of projects linked to developing tools that enable creative, non-linear learning, and the use of ICT for continuous training and the creation of new learning models on the basis of these technologies.

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