University of Málaga (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 6614-6619
ISBN: 978-84-615-3324-4
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain
Collaborative learning is a class of social learning where the exchange of information inter-students is a priority. The teacher controls and conducts the learning by designing specific objectives, but it is a student responsibility improving its own-learning (autonomous learning) and the learning of its workgroup, the government of this one throughout democratic processes, etc. [1]. Furthermore, from a pedagogical point of view, the benefits of collaborative learning are clear: firstly, it allows students to develop a wide range of both specific and generic skills; secondly, these collaborative activities, in comparison with the traditional ones (based on lectures), are especially attractive and motivating for students, resulting in improved academic results [2].

The experience carried out in the course Computer Vision* of the Computer Engineering degree of the University of Málaga (Spain) is based on collaboratively solving a real problem (problem-based learning -PBL-) using a low-cost computer vision system. The purpose of the experience was twofold: getting the student to assimilate and put an acquired knowledge into practice (specific skills) and develop generic skills such as planning and conducting their learning, defend their work in public, etc. With this aim in mind, we proposed a set of projects consisting of the design and implementation of a software application to solve a central computer vision problem: detecting and classifying objects in images.

To address the proposed task, students could use the reading material or others that they could be able to get from the links (to software repositories, research groups’ sites, courses in other universities, etc.) hosted in the own web of the course. On the other hand, it is very usual that an experience that should collaboratively resolve a problem degenerates in a “classical” work in group where the whole task is divided into sub-tasks which are individually resolved by the group members in a “no coordinated” or isolated way. To prevent that to occur and to ensure the proper development of the experience, a set of periodic goals (milestones) were established in the practice sessions and regular meetings with the groups were planned along the semester. Furthermore, the students were encouraged to make intensive use of virtual facilities such forums and wikis (used as portfolios) to store their work and collaterally helping us to supervise them and the projects on a weekly basis.

The collaborative PBL experience was evaluated according the following criteria: the degree of students' satisfaction and the students’ academic results. The results yielded by the analysis of the material produced (portfolios, forums, etc.), students' self-assessments and evaluation accomplished once the experience finished are very promising: a high degree of satisfaction and involvement by students, better academic outcomes (compared to previous years) and solutions to the problem, in some cases, really creative.


[1] Bruffee, K. A. (1999), “Collaborative Learning: Higher Education, Interdependence, and the Authority of Knowledge” (2nd Ed.). Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

[2] Boud, D. and Feletti, G. (2001), “The challenge of problem-based learning” (2nd Ed.). Routledge.

* This course consists of 6 ECTS credits and is part of the pilot plan of ECTS introduction started by the Technical School of Computer Engineers with the aim of adapting to the European Higher School Area.
Collaborative Problem-Based Learning, Computer Vision, Computer Engineering Degree, Virtual Learning Environments.