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The TekBots Platform for Learning: Implementation and Practice 10:30 - 11:15 R. Traylor.

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Presentation on theme: "The TekBots Platform for Learning: Implementation and Practice 10:30 - 11:15 R. Traylor."— Presentation transcript:

1 The TekBots Platform for Learning: Implementation and Practice 10:30 - 11:15 R. Traylor

2 Using the TekBots Platform in a Freshman Orientation Course

3 What my talk will cover Overview of Platforms for Learning (PFL) –Origin –Definition –Our implementation of a PFL (Tekbots) ECE112 –Concept –Structure and numbers –Lecture –Lab

4 Platforms for Learning Origins Carley’s CMU ECE introduction course Students really enjoyed class We added “layers” More success and fun! “This really works, but why?”

5 Cultural Differences Students have changed -> motivations too! Internet, cell phones, computers, video games... –...all cheap and easily available –...but the magic is lost The joy of building and creating is lost Replaced with the cheap and easy, thus… –little satisfaction –boredom

6 Cultural Differences (cont.) Resurrect the “magic” of electrical engineering Make it fun, not boring Challenge students, help them succeed, and encourage them

7 Consumer Mentality “Privileges” are now “birthrights” “I paid for this class, I want the product.”...a good grade! Work hard not a virtue, just want a good grade, job, life –present hard problems as rewards –learning takes hard work, but it’s worth it

8 Different Learning Styles “One style fits all?” We all have various learning styles Use multiple learning styles (all if possible) Some verbal, some visual, some kinesthetic –have students interact directly with real systems –hands on experiences –connect the abstract with the theoretical

9 ECE Curriculum Discontinuity Viewed as islands of facts No connections between islands Learn for the test: “cram and flush” –view curriculum as a thread –use a common object for continuity

10 Theory and Practice Disconnected Students can manipulate the math, but don’t understand the meaning Sanitized homework problems are artificial –apply theory to real problems –solve “real,” “messy” engineering problems

11 Lectures Don’t Work Very Well A proven poor learning method After 15 minutes, half of class in coma Lecturer feels good, but little accomplished Transfer from blackboard to paper: nobody’s brains involved –employ proven active learning concepts –effectively use labs to teach –use hands-on techniques

12 Platforms for Learning - Definition “A common unifying object or experience that weaves together topics in a curriculum like a thread.” Prevents isolated islands of information Platforms may or may not be physical The TekBot robot is one example of a PFL Learning revolves around a platform Curriculum first, platform second

13 Platforms for Learning Our Implementation Hands-on teaching –utilizes more learning styles –ties theory to the real world problems

14 Platforms for Learning Our Implementation Scaffolding –new concepts introduced in a familiar environment

15 Platforms for Learning Our Implementation Community –learning is enhanced in communities –social aspect keeps learning interesting –retention enhanced

16 Platforms for Learning Our Implementation Promote innovation –“keep cookies on the bottom shelf” –any time, anywhere labs –free tools –building blocks: innovation “bait”

17 Platforms for Learning Our Implementation Individual ownership –keeps the student interested

18 ECE112 - Introduction to Electrical & Computer Engineering An intro to ECE and learning platforms Basic concepts of KVL, KCL, electronics Kilometer wide, centimeter deep Is ECE for you? Important leveling instrument

19 ECE112 The numbers Term duration10 weeks Number of students150-200 Lectures2 per week Lecture length50 minutes Lab sections6-7 Students per lab24 Total TAs8-10 TAs per lab3 Percentage who pass80%

20 ECE112 Lecture All lecture notes on web site Pre-reading strongly encouraged 10-20 minute lecture punctuated with a learning exercises Learning exercises 1-20 minutes long Don’t lecture what they can read!

21 ECE112 Lecture (cont.) Lecture and lab closely coupled Make lecture necessary for lab success Topic always connected with lab work Constantly refer to the platform Schematics from platform are examples Problems drawn from the platform design

22 ECE112 Lecture (cont.) Active learning utilized One minute quizzes “Daily nickel” for right answers In-class problems Chaotic, powerful

23 ECE112 Lecture (cont.) Confronts students with lecture material Step by step, 3-4 minutes/step Eliminate misconceptions by wandering around Turn in for minimal credit

24 ECE112 Homework Real problems from plausible situations Problems taken from the robot design Work in groups, solve on your own Graded by TAs, returned in lab next week TAs can discuss problems/grading in lab

25 ECE112 Labs Good labs take much work! Revision, revision, revision Update almost real-time if necessary Requires close communication: TAs, lab writer, instructor Weekly review of what worked, what didn’t

26 ECE112 Labs (cont.) Did it teach? Avoid mindless writing of lab reports Pre-lab work required to proceed successfully No step-by-step instructions Clear expectations, little procedure

27 ECE112 Labs (cont.) Plentiful TA help available Don’t fix their problem The point is not to finish the lab Informal lab (music, snacks) Lab not a “timed event”

28 ECE112 Labs (cont.) Lab difficulty requires group cooperation Avoid “getting through the lab” mentality Take time to work through problems Take time to reflect on solutions Labs checked off by TAs in lab Challenge problems

29 ECE112 Other Environmental Factors Encourage community –Break down “the wall” between student and instructor –Set a tone of community/respect –Participate in class mailgroup –Visit labs weekly –Chat with students

30 ECE112 Other Environmental Factors Study sessions –Student-led problem solving –Students teach students –Low pressure, high intensity –Noisy, free form, teams form –Teacher only there to guide and check answers

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