PROBLEM-BASED LEARNING AND COLLABORATIVE LEARNING
In this work we will show how we work with Problem-based Learning (PBL), Collaborative Learning, prototype construction, problem solving in Engineering and the use of the Arduino card for prototype operation, sacrificing little class time.
PBL has been applied in different educational stages. Someone who knows PBL knows also about the roles that the teacher and the students play in this educational model. On the other hand, “traditional learning” is the most usual way of learning in the Facultad de Ingeniería at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), as well as in many engineering schools, at least in México. This raises the issue of linking both of them in order to obtain better results.
In this document we try to show how we used both educational means, teaching students by traditional approaches and letting them work on an activity using PBL. Basically, the teacher’s role remains the same in the classroom, and does not necessarily have to change the way he or she usually works, but instead, there are other learning environments available, which help carry out this way of working.
There is a work team that supports the teacher, formed by teachers of other subjects also interested on applying PBL and collaborative learning, a group of senior students in mechatronics, electronics and computer engineering, mainly, who advice the students on how to manufacture prototypes and use the Arduino platform (mechanisms by which they will work the PBL), previously trained in this matter. In order to do this, 12 extra-class hours, spread over 3 weeks with 2 classes of 2 hours each, are spent in a computer lab.
Arduino is an open source electronics platform which is used to make prototypes, it is inexpensive and its usage is easy to learn. It has an open source software known as the Arduino IDE (integrated development environment), which eases writing code for prototype control.
As it can be noticed, the teacher is not the only person who works with the students, meaning the teacher may or may not know how Arduino works, because there are other people teaching the students. Another aspect to keep in mind is that students are going to develop a methodology used by engineers for problem solving, which is almost unknown to the students.
The teacher is in charge of the prototype the students must work on for his/her subject (with the help of senior students, to prevent the design cannot be built), as well as the final assessment for the course and the construction of the prototype. We have had very satisfactory results, but we also have had other experiences worth to comment.