1 University of Granada (SPAIN)
2 University of Almeria (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN23 Proceedings
Publication year: 2023
Pages: 2662-2671
ISBN: 978-84-09-52151-7
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2023.0763
Conference name: 15th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2023
Location: Palma, Spain
The digital transformation experienced by society makes it necessary that students acquire skills in computer programming and information technology development. Specifically, the students of the Degree in Computer Engineering at the University of Almería must be able to apply the acquired knowledge about hardware, software, and networks to solve problems with reasonable cost and quality. The students of the Master’s Degree in Computer Engineering at the University of Almería must learn about how to apply mathematical, statistical, and artificial intelligence methods to model, design, and develop optimal infrastructures for the Internet of Things. They also design and implement systems, applications, and informatic services on embedded and ubiquitous systems.

However, there is a global shortage of chips due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This crisis persists mainly due to the high demand for integrated circuits with sophisticated architectures, such as x86 and ARM (Advanced RISC Machines). This situation has caused significant increases in the prices of microprocessors, shortages among providers, and waits among customers to buy PCs, Raspberry Pis, Orange Pis, etc. Currently, it is easier to acquire SoCs (Systems on a Chip) with simpler architectures and low costs, such as ESP8266 and ESP32.

Low-cost SoCs are attractive due to their price, below USD 3, and compatibility with Arduino. They do not have an operating system but feature firmware that can be programmed using free software. Besides, their high availability in markets makes it possible to acquire as many units as needed by groups of students (between 25 and 30) for practical lessons.

In this paper, the authors present the adaptation of the practical activities of different subjects to include the programming of SoCs instead of simulators. The activities teach the students how to work with WiFi technology by implementing simple web servers, clients, and access points, as well as designing mesh networks. Moreover, they also use Bluetooth technology to create piconets and interconnect Bluetooth scatternets.
ESP32, Low-cost chips, SoC, System on a chip, digital skills, WiFi, Bluetooth.