KNORK Project activities at the Technology School “Electronic Systems” associated with Technical University – Sofia

The first course at the Technology School “Electronic Systems” associated with Technical University of Sofia (TUES) is a specialized course in the field of Computer Aided Circuit Design (CAD). The CAD course was held in the second semester (18 weeks) of grade 11 for 52 students aged 17-18 year.

The practical training of the students in the CAD course consists in two major approaches – weekly assignments and three month long term project.The students had weekly assignments, developed collaboratively–shared presentations in the field of Analog and Digital circuits design and simulation. These homework activities are presented, discussed and analyzed in class.

The long term projects are developed by groups of students. They need to gather information, discuss the given problem in collaborative environment, analyze and simulate the digital or analog circuit using specialized CAD software – SPICE, Orcad and other CAD tools for circuit design. Prolonged working process with iterative circuits simulations – performing number of analysis of the designed circuit to refine the circuit parameters and characteristics

The schedule and topics for the weekly homework assignments and schedule for delivering parts of the three-month project have been developed.

The students documented their work at every step of the development process. Planning and writing the documentation, sharing the drafts, asking the teacher and other students for feedback improving the project and project documentation, submitting respective report and presenting the obtained design and simulation results.

Students use forums, blogs and social media for discussing problems and talk about their points of view and opinions. They were encouraged to use collaborative professional tools in order to plan, organize, and execute the project tasks and write project documentation: Face to face and virtual meetings (Skype); Share materials/ comment easily – Google Apps; Google Docs for collaborative editing and commenting; Google Drive for file sharing. Google+ for discussions; Project management – Google Apps; Google Calendar – useful for project scheduling.

All participants are divided into groups of two and the principle of selection of team members is free according to the preferences of the students. For the purposes of communication between students and teacher for both classes are created groups in Google Groups APE-11g-2014 and APE-11v-2014, where they can send e-mails and messages.

For each team have created separate workspaces in Google Drive to upload materials for weekly assignments and for a long time project tasks according to a pre-established schedule.

Sharing folders for each team is done so that all the other teams can see the results and comment, but without the right to edit and change. Finalized document on the long time project is created in Google Drive as a shared document with the possibility of collaboration between the team members and comments from the teacher. In shared space it is possible to upload files with simulation results, Word documents, Power Point presentations and PDF files and other materials.

A Web site on CAD ​​course is developed and its navigation includes access to lectures and study materials, documents for weekly assignments and complete set of files for the long time project, the results of surveys of students.

At the end of term, the projects were presented by the teams.

The scores were based on the project outcome, the individual homeworks and the activity of the student. Weekly assignments are assessed individually for them to form an overall assessment of current practical work during the term.

The complex assessment includes the following criteria: 1) Collection and analysis of information from the Internet for study of the project; 2) Evaluating the synthesized and simulated scheme by blocks and complete electrical scheme; 3) Evaluation of the documentation and reporting of the project; 4) Compliance with pre-established schedule for completion of each phase of the project; 5) Evaluation of individual project work, presentation and analysis of results for each team member.

The results obtained from collaborative teamwork based on shared documents and contents, and successfully application the principles of trialogical approach have analyzed and discussed. It can be summarized that the advantage of the new pedagogical practice and positive outcome are that students have abilities to:

It can be summarized that the major advantage of the new pedagogical practices and positive outcomes are the students’ abilities to:

  • Use modern professional tools for circuit design and simulation;
  • Work efficiently as a group;
  • Use collaborative tools and on-line resources;
  • Manage their work in terms of tasks and time distribution for achieving deadlines;
  • Present and report their work considering the problems they face;
  • Hold and evaluate, discuss and justify the proposed solutions;
  • Make peer reviews and comment results.

Stela Stefanova

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