Universidad Miguel Hernández (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN12 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Pages: 2791-2795
ISBN: 978-84-695-3491-5
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2012
Location: Barcelona, Spain
The SF method is meant to take some actions and to apply software tools, with two purposes:

1 - to make the practical work of technology subjects (in a broad sense) to resemble as much as possible the actual work in business or industry.

2 - to spread the use of Web tools that allow new flexible and dynamic forms of work, such as teleworking, mobile working and remote collaborative work.

The methodology proposed in this paper aims to simulate in the classroom, as realistically as possible, the working conditions of a software development company carrying out projects in a modern and well defined environment. The goal is to prepare students for job placement in the real tech/business world.
Although it has been created for the practical sessions of Software Engineering and Project Management courses, this methodology is applicable to the practical teaching of other subjects, primarily of technological or business type.

Detailed objectives:

- The overall objective is to simulate in practical classes, as realistically as possible, the working conditions of real company projects.

- To prepare students for integration into working life.

- To capture requirements simulating real business situations: the use of artificial classroom problem-statements will be avoided (employers and customers in real life do not explain their requirements by means of written statements). Students will "capture" requirements for the definition of their classroom assignments. The lecturer will play the role of the customer for such purpose. Real companies can be approached when possible.

- Assignment of roles: role-playing where the teacher/trainer acts as a customer, boss or employer, and students, organized in development teams, assume different project roles and responsibilities which should be clearly defined using work breakdown structures (WBS).

- Use of technical inspections: the development of the classroom projects is controlled by regularly scheduled inspections performed by the teacher/trainer, targeted to evaluate expected results and milestone accomplishments of the assigned projects.

- Actual software implementation or functional prototypes are expected (not just theoretical developments or non-functional prototypes).

- Integration of skills and knowledge from several subjects: the proposed project topics should involve knowledge of several subjects (as in real life), avoiding being too focused on the subject-matter of the actual course the assignment belongs to.

- To foster teamwork, and the development of a "business culture": The notion of mutual responsibility as a need for the success of a project, and the development of intercommunication and coordination skills should be specifically addressed by the teacher. These skills are within the most important teaching goals of the method.

- Dedicated development platform for each project team: for the duration of the practice (usually several months), each project team, will be responsible for maintaining the hardware and software assigned to them for exclusive use (without the aid of the lab technicians). If available hardware is not enough, virtual machines can be used.

- To promote teleworking and colaborative work: the use of communication tools for remote working, collaborative environment for teamwork, and social networking applied to lab projects will be encouraged.

The full paper will describe the experiences of the authors using this method, as well as the conclusions reached.
Software Factory, realistic practice, telework, teamwork, project management, colaborative work.