University Miguel Hernandez of Elche (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN11 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 5531-5535
ISBN: 978-84-615-0441-1
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2011
Location: Barcelona, Spain
The European Higher Education System represents an opportunity to develop novel teaching-learning methods more focused towards an active participation of the student in order to reinforce the understanding and learning of technical concepts. These methodologies are bound to play a very important role in engineering education that increasingly requires the understanding of highly complex systems characterized by the constant and dynamic interaction of its elements. In this context, this paper presents an innovative teaching laboratory designed to reinforce the understanding of the theoretical concepts taught in lectures, and the understanding of the operation of mobile communication systems. To this aim, the laboratory uses advanced professional network testing tools (i.e. Nemo Handy and Nemo Outdoor), and is designed around the active participation of the students in field trials.
The Mobile Communications course at the University Miguel Hernandez of Elche (UMH) is organized as follows. The course first explains in lectures all basic concepts behind the design and operation of mobile communication systems, before introducing the most common communication standards, i.e. GSM and UMTS. The course continues then with the laboratory presented in this paper. The first sessions of the laboratory are devoted to introducing to the students the professional tools they will use in their measurements and field trials. The students conduct then, together with the course supervisors, a measurement campaign where they learn how to analyze the operation of a mobile communication system by testing the performance of base stations in a particular area of the city of Elche. The campaign is conducted following a guide provided by the lecturers that includes a detailed list of measurements and effects to analyze, for example, signaling messages exchanged between a mobile phone and the network, or handovers between cells, among others. The guide also includes the location and identification the students will need to analyze the particular base station under study. It is important to note that the laboratory here presented has attracted the interest of the mobile phone operator Orange, which provides all the necessary information about its network to conduct the measurement campaigns. After the measurements are done, the course supervisor will teach the students how to process, analyze and understand the conducted measurements. The students are then divided in small groups, and are assigned different areas of the city of Elche to measure and analyze. The laboratory ends with an oral presentation where the students explain the measurements conducted, the effects they have observed, and their main conclusions about the current operation of Orange’s mobile communications network.
The presented innovative laboratory, designed to foster the understanding of a highly complex technological system through the active participation of students, has been implemented and experienced over the past two years in the Mobile Communications courses at the UMH. The laboratory has resulted in a better understanding of the technical concepts taught in lectures, and a more dynamic and enthusiastic participation of the students in the course. In addition, the use of professional tools within the course has further motivated the students, since they see it as an opportunity to improve and differentiate their curriculum as they are ready to enter the job market.
Innovative teaching laboratory, professional tools, engineering education.