GICAC, Higher Education Institution Quality Management Innovation Group, was approved as a consolidated group by the UPM in June 2006. These researchers began to cooperate in 2006 as part of a joint international PhD programme between Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM, Spain), Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja (UTPL, Ecuador) and Universidad Católica del Norte (UCN, Chile). They are members of the UPM, UTPL and the Universidad Mayor San Andrés (UMSA, Bolivia).
The main initial goal of the collaboration among these higher education institutions was PhD researcher training focused on advanced software, intelligent system and distributed environment development technologies, in a particular with a group of hard-working young researchers at UTPL. Teething troubles were topped by the large geographical distance between the three institutions or the complexity of scheduling transatlantic travel that disrupted researcher agendas.
On this ground, the first group of participants promoted the development of a technological framework that would strengthen research collaboration between research teams located in different countries and different time zones [Tovar, 2008]. This project was developed as part of the UPM Relations with Latin America Programme. Specifically, we developed a web portal that embraced different technologies and provided contents in this technological framework.
The technologies selected for this project supported individual and even collaborative access to literature and Internet links shared by the research team. Additionally, they supported synchronous communication among researchers located in different geographical areas. The main outcome was a virtual learning environment with public and private repositories of scientific papers, research material, collaborative multimedia contents and forums for asynchronous and real-time meetings and exchange of contents, among other possibilities
This setup led to the establishment and management of several research lines by organizing PhD course resources. Also, it included a set of Web 2.0 technologies that were applied to the development of other training programmes, e.g., EHEA-compliant master’s degrees. Consequently, this framework was the factor that had the biggest impact on the later development of joint international projects started up by this group of researchers.