IMPROVING THE STUDENT’S GENERAL ICT SKILLS IN ENGINEERING EDUCATION
University College of Southeast Norway (USN) (NORWAY)
In engineering education, the use of digital tools is extensive. Although young people today use computers a lot, both at school and at their leisure time, many of them do not have skills related to the use of software in an effective work manner. Due to this, it is very important to establish a good fundament as soon as the students enter their studies.
The University College of Southeast Norway, Faculty of Technology (USN–FT), has an engineering education based on Problem-based Learning (PBL). The students are introduced to this pedagogical model in their 1st year through a 10 ECTS course named "Project Methodology, ICT Tools and Finance".
The course has approximately 200 students. Lectures are given by both external partners and internal professors. The class is divided into project teams to facilitate collaborative learning. Each team is assigned with a dedicated supervisor. The teams consists of 5-7 students.
The students achieve knowledge and practical skills on how to work project oriented, how to deal with financial aspects related to projects and how to use Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in an effective manner to facilitate the working process.
The students are obliged to bring their own laptops to their engineering studies. This makes it both possible and necessary to use ICT as a means to develop good learning processes. The students are supported with a portfolio of software, and a Learning Management System (LMS) to tie it all together.
The learning and use of ICT-tools in this course serves two purposes. ICT is in itself a useful engineering competence, but in addition, it can also be considered as a mediating artefact regarding the student’s project work. A teaching model based on Activity Theory is designed and presented to illustrate the use of ICT-tools in this pedagogical context.
Surveys show that most of the students find the ICT-part relevant both to their engineering studies and to their later work life.
Due to the disparity in prior ICT-skills, the use of digital learning elements have become more extensive to even out some of the differences. Production of video solutions to help students to solve ICT-exercises have been prioritized.
In an anonymous survey in the middle of the 1st semester, 54 % said they had used the videos much or very much, while 36 % said they had used them to some degree. 85 % said they would use the videos to prepare for their exam. There were also many positive comments regarding the videos.
91 % of the students would like to have video summaries of the ICT-lectures, but 80 % said that they wanted this as an addition to the lectures, not as a substitute.
The course, the pedagogical model, surveys and results are presented in the paper, and possible course improvements are discussed.