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Project-based learning

New educational methodologies in front of the EEES: Learning Based in Projects and his implementation with technologies for the work colaborativo

Introduction

The Learning Based in Projects or Project Based Learning (PBL), is a didactic methodology in which the student learns the concepts of the asignatura by means of the realisation of a project or resolution of a properly designed problem and formulated by the professor. A project is properly designed if to conclude of successful way necessarily forces to the student to purchase the knowledges that the professor wishes to transmit.

The PBL is born in the decade of the 60 in the University of McMaster (Canada) to combat the desmotivación of the students of medicine, and in spite of being a quite extended method in the Anglo-Saxon world, is not it so much in the universities of Latin tradition.

Diverse studies show that the PBL boosts skills very important, such as the work in group, the autonomous learning, the planning of the time, the work by projects or the capacity of oral expression and written, and improves the motivation of the student, what translates in a better academic performance and a greater persistence in the study. Nevertheless this model of learning poses initially difficulties of adaptation so much for professors as for students, because it changes the traditional roles.

We consider that this type of experiences can be beneficial so much for the student, that develops new skills that already have commented, as for the professor, that has to adapt to the new exigencias so much of the academic surroundings that poses the adaptation to the EEES as of the market of work.

The Learning Based in Projects has some important requests of communication and of exchange and gestión of information. In a field like this is fundamental to cover these needs, and the use of Technologies of the suitable Information can be a great help. In the market, exists an important number of tools, so much of free use as under licence and, in occasions is difficult to decide cuales are the most adapted to each need.

With the present project, pose an experience that can serve us like bank of proofs with two fundamental aims: determine the suitability of the implantation of the PBL in the plans of the study of the Computer Engineerings and identify and use properly the available technological tools. This experience would begin the next course with a conjoint project between several asignaturas that allowed us value the idoneidad of the proposal.

Like this, like initial step poses the development of a group of four asignaturas optativas of the plans of study of the Computer Engineerings by means of this educational method. In concrete treats of the asignaturas “Reasoning” and “Models of Aided by Manufacture Computer”, of the first cuatrimestre, and “Charts Advanced and Animation” and “Games and Virtual Reality”, of the second cuatrimestre, all they with 3 theoretical credits and 3 practical in the current plan of studies (24 credits between all the asignaturas). Our proposal is the develop a conjoint project along all the course in which they participate the students enrolled of the 4 asignaturas, that would substitute his participation in the traditional teaching of the asignaturas by the learning based in projects. For his development would provide them tools software for gestión of the project and for the exchange of information.

Motivation

The technological changes suceden every time with greater rapidity. Peter Scholtes signals that nowadays a youngster of 18 years will be witness along his life of at least 4 or 5 technological renewals. This does that every time they have less importance the contents, and was elder the need to teach to learn by on transmit knowledges. It treats to prepare to our youngsters for the continuous learning.

The traditional teaching bases in four fundamental principles: the fragmentation of the knowledge in asignaturas, the class expositiva like half for the transmission of the knowledge, the individual study and the evaluation through examinations. This methodology has the advantages to allow that the professor transmit the information of fast way and to a lot of students at the same time and results also comfortable for the student because it allows him decide voluntarily his degree of implication in the process of learning. Has, however, big limitations: the fragmentation does not favour the interdisciplinarity, does not promote the thought or the discussion, does not facilitate the application of the knowledge to real cases, the taking of decisions, etc. In definite, is a way of teaching that has felt in a context of masificación, but is not a suitable model to form professionals that work properly in team, that develop his imagination, that express properly or that assume responsibilities and take decisions.

In front of this situation, some new forms to understand the process of education-learning have gone appearing in the last years. Between these proposals stands out the learning based in projects PBL, that tries to minimise the limitations of the traditional teaching. The PBL is a didactic strategy in which the students, organised in groups, develop projects. It boosts skills very important as they are the work in group, the autonomous learning, the planning of the time, the capacities of oral expression and written, the intellectual skills of high level or the capacity of autoevaluación.

On the other hand, in our degree are forming to professionals for the creation of software to base to create small programs of individual form, when this a complex activity that requires of the collaboration of big teams of people that have to organise. Pose a model like the PBL allows us approximate us more to a real situation, where have big needs regarding the flow of the information: on the one hand, the information has to happen of some components of the group to others of fast and reliable form, and has to be up to date and available for all the members of the group. Besides, the information that handles can have a big volume and be very heterogeneous. These characteristics, together with the need to fulfil the requests of time and of aims of the project, carry to that the gestión of all the process was not simple. To cover these needs exist in the market a good number of applications software that can be of utility. However, no always it is easy to determine which are the most adapted for each need. Many times, even it is not possible to find a tool that adapt properly to our problem.

Joined to all this, the university finds in these immersed moments in the project of construction of the European Space of Upper Education. Among others changes, this new context goes to suppose the implantation of the European system of credits (ECTS) that, as we know, will happen to measure the hours of work of the student in front of the hours of face-to-face teaching that measured with the traditional system. Still like this, it follows keeping a basically quantitative vision. However, in the own Royal decree does reference to “that This measure of the have academician comports a new educational model that it has to orient the programmings and educational methodologies centring them in the learning of the students, and no exclusively in hours lectivas”. In definite treats to realise a programming centred in the learning. The model PBL can cover properly these new needs

In definite, in sight of the times of renewal that run for the university, the criteria of educational convergence emanated of the process of Bolonia, the virtues and opportunities that for the student supposes the PBL, and the state of maturity and the technology, concludes that it can give in these moments the coyuntura ideal to implant the PBL.

Antecedents

The Learning Based in Projects has gone incorporating to the university life during the last 50 years, especially in the Anglo-Saxon world. The first experiences are due to the McMaster University in Notary, applied to the studies of medicine. Some universities of the centre and the north of Europe also have applied these models in his studies: Aalborg or Roskilde in Denmark, Maastricht and Twente in Holland or Linköpings in Sweden. In Spain also exist experiences of this type especially in the Catalan universities.

The field of application of the PBL is very varied: from the application to all the plan of studies, until the implementation in the second cycle or in an asignatura or a group of these. To continuation present a small sample of the experiences in the Spanish university. For example, The Universitat Pompeu Fabra entered in 2004 the PBL in the first course of the degree in Biology, with the consequent rediseño of the time organisation and of the programs of the asignaturas. The Universitat Autonomous of Barcelona, in his University School of Infirmary Vall d'Hebron completed in 2004 a change in the educational methodology based in the learning based in problems and developed in small groups (8-10 students) with a tutor in accordance with some phases established. This process initiated of pioneering form in the course 1999 and has implemented of progressive way course to course. Simultaneously, it has followed a double process of training of the profesorado and of preparation of documentation. This project already has reached the complete degree. The Faculty of Medicine of the University of Castile-La Mancha has worked from his creation by means of learning based in projects (PBL), assisting to professors, PAS and students in the specific continuous training for this type of education. The first promotion went out the course 2002-2003.

The Engineering of Telecommunications of the Universitat Politècnica of Catalonia structures entirely following the model PBL. In concrete, in each cuatrimestre the student has to cursar one or two blocks that constitute a block curricular, that is to say, evaluates as a whole. Each block is formed by one or two face-to-face modules and a no face-to-face module designated project, that for the students supposes roughly the half of the activity of the block and in which, divided in groups of 5 or 8, have to analyse and resolve different problems applied, related with the contents of the face-to-face modules of this block or of previous block.

Joined to the educational experiences, appears always the need to have a technological support that facilitate the implantation of these new forms of work. In the market exists software for the gestión of projects and for the work colaborativo, so much free as under licence, although no always adapts easily to the utilisation in the classrooms or does not integrate the exigible complete functionality.

For example, Microsoft Project is a tool that allows to schedule a project and realise the follow-up of the same.

Microsoft Visio is a group of tools to create diagrams of Gantt and of Pert. It facilitates the specification, design and planning of a project.

Alternatively, the surroundings of free use Eclipse provides also useful applications for the design, implementation and proofs of programs.

Open Workbench, is a free application with good capacities to schedule.

Another tool that provides numerous characteristics for gestión of projects and control of versions, lists of post, gestión of tasks and of errors, etc. is SourceForge.

Finally, BSCW is a tool of free use that is thought for work colaborativo: it allows exchange of information in real time, diary shared, forums, bulletin board, control of versions, lists of post, etc.

Methodology

In the methodology has a double facet in a project like east: on the one hand the methodological appearances of the model posed for the project that have to realise the students to surpass the asignaturas, and on the other hand, the methodology applied to llevar this experience. Regarding the organisation of the work of the students, pose the following structuring of the educational process:

Organisation in groups

  • Students: Groups of 20 maximum students (given the current number of students enrolled in the asignaturas, will not be necessary more than a group). Teams of 3-4 students
  • Professors: The professors of the team organise of the following way:
    • Tutors: Each team of students will have a tutor that will realise the follow-up of his team.
    • Supervisors: The current professors of the asignaturas will distribute the tasks of supervision of each one of the face-to-face sessions.
    • Experts: All the professors of the present project, to his time, will act like experts in a matter, realising seminars and tutorías.

Project

  • An only project for all the teams, properly designed so that it allow to develop all the matter contained in the 4 asignaturas.

Sessions of work

  • Face-to-face sessions: sessions to realise in a classroom, with the teams of students and the professors involved. These sessions will be able to be of presentation of the problems or activities to develop, of presentation and debate of the results of the work, or practical sessions of laboratory.
  • Sessions no face-to-face: weekly Sessions, in which each team separately, will realise of the activities proposed.
  • Seminars: short Sessions, where will give the complementos educational necessary, by part of the expert professors in each subject or of external experts.
  • Tutorías With the different professors to resolve doubts. Individual or by teams.

Activities

  • Resolution of the different problems or cases associated to the project.
  • Visits to organisms, centres, institutions, companies…
  • Practical work in the computer classroom.
  • Research of information through internet and in the library.
  • Documentation of the project.
  • Proofs of evaluation.
  • Questionnaires of follow-up.

Materials of study

  • Books and manual
  • Articles and short monographs
  • Informative material: press, webs…
  • Exercises of autoevaluación
  • Forums of debate
  • Audiovisual material: videos, presentations…

Tools

  • Software of development
  • Software of work in group and gestión of projects
  • Virtual campus
  • Software ofimático: browser, processor of texts, presentations, leaf of calculation…

Evaluation

  • Evaluation by the educational team of the folder of the team, reports written and oral presentations.
  • Evaluation peer review (some teams evaluate to other)
  • utoevaluación By means of tests, scheduled or by surprise.
  • Evaluation of the attitude: Participation in the group and in the team, initiative, argumentation, implication, creativity…

Methods

  • Work of the professors in team.
  • Determination of experts in each matter.
  • Division of the activities between the professors involved.
  • Use of the Virtual Campus, especially of his utilities for the work in group.
  • Questionnaires and surveys for recopilar information on the development of the experience.
  • Utilisation of the statistical models adapted for the analysis of the results and the extraction of conclusions.

Aims

The main aim of the project is the realisation of a pilot experience on learning based in projects and the technologies of the suitable information for this model of teaching. This experience has to allow us value the suitability to implant this model of teaching and in which degree is convenient his development, as well as identify advantages, inconvenient and difficulties. Besides, it has to allow us identify the available tools more suitable and integrate them properly, even with the additional development of small modules. It will do upsetting, besides, in that the software used was of free use, whenever it was possible.

The concrete aims are:

  • Realisation of a pilot experience of teaching based in PBL that involve to four asignaturas optativas of the Computer Engineerings.
  • Development of a project for the students that adapt properly to the aims of the asignaturas involved and to the final aims of learning.
  • Realisation of a quantitative and qualitative study of the results of the experience.
  • Identification of advantages, inconvenient and difficulties of this model.
  • Assessment of the degree of development more convenient, with the determination of the idoneidad to implant this system in other asignaturas and even in all the plan of studies.
  • Reinforcement of the interdisciplinarity of the asignaturas, at present very atomizadas.
  • I stimulate of the profesorado, carrying the philosophy of the work in group to the own professors.
  • Specification of the requests that would have to have a suitable software to support the implantation of the PBL.
  • Study of the software of support for gestión of projects and for work colaborativo existent in the market, especially the one of free use, and identification of the capacities of these tools.
  • Integration of the tools for his use by part of students and professors and eventual development of some additional module.

Final report

New educational methodologies in front of the EEES: Learning Based in Projects and his implementation with technologies for the work colaborativo.  

P. Arques Farmyards, F. Aznar Gregori, L. Carbonell Soto, P. Compañ Rosique, F. Galician Last, R. Molina Carmona, J.To. Puchol García, J. R. Reverte Bernabeu, R. Satorre Rope, C. Villagrá Arnedo

Group i3to: Industrial Computing and Artificial Intelligence

Projects of Technological Innovation-Educational 2006 of the Vicerrectorado of Technology and Educational Innovation

Industrial Computing and Artificial Intelligence (i3a)


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