All posts by Roberto Righi

Pilots, Workshops and dissemination activities at the Technical University – Sofia

Pilots  

The pilots at the Technical University of Sofia in Springwere conducted with 3 classes – second year bachelor degree students in Aviation engineering – obligatory course in Electronics (15 weeks), fourth year bachelor degree students (10 weeks – ASIC Design) and first year master degree students (15 weeks – Design and Analysis of CMOS IC). Second year students developed collaboratively 5 shared home assignments covering basic topics and one month long course work. Forth year students and master students used team work on common 3 month long project. In addition to the project work, students were required to submit five individual homework assignments. Each team had to choose a project subject from a list provided by the teacher. Two project milestones were set – intermediate report and final report.

All participants had to register individual Google and GitHub accounts (only for ASIC design and master course). The teacher was responsible for creating a Google Docs document for each project report and sharing it with the team. Students were encouraged to ask for help at any time without waiting for the scheduled classes. Usually they were getting a response during the same day. Announcements were made on a Google+ hangout and via email. Each class had a Google calendar with all relevant milestones and class schedules.

At the end of the semester, the projects or course work were presented by the teams. The scores were based on the project outcome, the individual home assignments and the activity of the student during the semester (email, participation in discussions, git commits).

Workshops

Two teachers workshops were organized at TUS (5 teachers) and TUES (33 teachers) about cloud technologies – collaborative tools, feature of Google applications and their usage in education.

Very successful was workshop for teachers from TUES, organized in the town of Dobriniste at 01.07.2015, which was combined with the teambuilding. Practical examples of courses, using such technologies of already conducted pilots in TUS and TUES were also considered. Main activities was done by TUES – very nice presentation of cloud technologies and hyperlink to all considered application was done by yang assistants from the Technical University, but delivering all his classes at TUES. There were very active and fruitful discussions after the presentation.  The school teachers were impressed from pilot results at their school; ask many questions, and express willingness a new workshop to be organized with the practical exercises on cloud technologies.

Meetings with Decision Makers      

Together with principle of TUES we have participated in two very important meetings with the Vice Minister of Education and with the Head of Educational Commission in Parliament, concerning new educational law, introducing new approaches in education and more practical training.  Our experience and results from applying collaborative learning with extensive use of digital cloud technologies was pointed as a good example to follow. In both meetings there were a lot of representative from schools, universities, business and industry. There was also one such meeting with Vice Minister of Regional Development for discussing the EU Program “Regions in growth 2015-2020” and role of education for the qualification and competences of future employees.

Publications

We have participated in two conferences with 3 papers already presented, and have prepared another 2 for publishing in the Annual Journal of Electronics, a part of the paper for Early symposium in Cyprus and one paper for the International Conference in Sozopol. The papers considered results from conducted pilots, and */features of the developed tool for analyzing collaborative artefacts in project based courses.

Tania Vasileva

Dissemination Activities at Technology School “Electronic Systems” associated with Technical University of Sofia

In the last year in Technology School “Electronic Systems” associated with Technical University of Sofia (TUES, TU-Sofia), Bulgaria one of the partners in the project KNORK, have been introduced new pedagogical methods for collaborative learning using cloud technologies. A new course plan based on the design principles of trialogical approach was developed and a project-oriented education and training were realized in the field of “Global networks”. Implementation of new pedagogical practices in the learning process yielded excellent results from training. Verification of acquired knowledge, skills and competencies is not only in the classroom but also in real situations of professional forums and competitions.

In the month of April 2015 was conducted National networking competition for students in Bulgaria, organized by the Ministry of Education and Science, Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics at Sofia University – Sofia and the Bulgarian Association of Networking Academies. Students from all over Bulgaria participated in the competition.

Competitors from TUES, TU-Sofia won the first six places in the ranking, as well as a total of 10 places in the group of the 20 finalists. TUES won the prize for the best school in the competition.

All finalists are admitted to students without entrance exam at the Technical University – Sofia and Sofia University.

At the award ceremony was attended by Deputy Minister of Education, government experts from the Ministry of Education, representatives of companies from the ICT sector in Bulgaria.

Deputy Minister of Education Mrs Vaniya Kastreva awards personally all winners of the networking competition.

Networking Comprtition in Bulgaria

Publications for the networking competition in the media:

 

Finnish and Maths in Italy

In a Primary school in Italy, and more precisely in Lucca, Tuscany, two classes are testing a method to teach maths, which is based on Finnish books, with the aim to stimulate the kids’ knowledge and skills. This experience allowed the pupils to get closer to the Finnish language, to learn some words, but also to increase their memory and to improve their skills in English. For Italian speakers – but also for the Finnish colleagues  – there is a video on the Italian newspaper La Repubblica: http://video.repubblica.it/cronaca/viva-la-matikka-scuola-primaria-a-lucca/188850/187768?ref=HRESS-1 

Using laptops in class: pros & cons

It is OK to bring a laptop to the lecture? Nowadays, the question concerning the usage of laptops in the university should be posed rather differently: what we should do with the laptops that have already flooded our classrooms?

As Dan Rockmore [http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/the-case-for-banning-laptops-in-the-classroom] writes in his article in “The New Yorker”, today’s university can be considered as “the progeny of an ill-conceived union of twenty-first-century tools (computers, tablets, smartphones) with nineteenth-century modalities (lectures)”. The important question is whether teachers and lecturers are able to do anything to mitigate the consequences of this “ill-conceived union”?

On the one hand, some research show that using computer in the classroom can be harmful for the whole enviroment. The user is not focused on the lecture because he or she at the same time tries to listen, write an e-mail, make notes and comment on a friend’s picture on facebook. It also distracts other students, who rather prefer observe the actions of a laptop-using colleague than to pay attention to the lecturer’s talk. Last but not least, the teacher’s concentration is also harmed due to lack of eye-contact with the students and general distraction among them.

The other side claims that notebooks were not always used only for making important notes: after all, their margins have always been full of doodles and written chats. Another crucial argument is that students use a computer because it allows making notes quicker and do the fact-checking while listening. We can also  encounter the opinion saying that nothing really has changed because of the laptop’s presence in the classroom. Dennis Baron [link:http://illinois.edu/blog/view/25/87314] even wrote that “pretending to pay attention is one of the most valuable skills I learned as a student” and laptop is just an another version of reading adventure novels hidden behind bigger textbook’s cover.

Although the idea to ban laptops in the classroom finds probably a considerable group of supporters (often equipped with forceful arguments), more than a solution it seems like throwing baby out with the bathwater. The complete prohibition should be considered like the teacher’s defeat rather than the prolific solution. The important thing is to realize that laptop won’t disappear from our classrooms so we have no choice but to agree that less restrictive solutions have to be worked out.

At first, teachers should clearly define their attitude toward the in-class laptop usage. It is important to do it at the very begining of the semester, and it should assume the shape of an ethical contract. It is also possible to reorganize the class in order to create a separate area for laptop-users. Another solution is to ask the students not to use their computers for a moment when something that recquire special attention is being explained.

The problem is still open and it certainly demands a wider discussion. For further information please visit: http://teachingcenter.wustl.edu/Journal/Reviews/Pages/Research-In-Class-Devices.aspx#.VFoMvxZZ1dh

Edited by Jacub Misun and Patrycja Bakowska 

Students needs to acquire soft skills

It is not any more a lack of technical skills the pain point among young people looking for their way on the labor market. The results of a survey conducted by the Workforce Solutions Group at St. Louis Community College showed down that soft skills represent a more critical shortcoming of job applicants than technical skills. 60% of employers indicate as the area of the biggest gap such skills like: communication and interpersonal skills, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration. Shocking is also serious jump of about 10 percentage points in just two years in this area.

Continue reading Students needs to acquire soft skills