A. Flores

Universidad de Talca (CHILE)
The paper presents three years of a teaching and learning experience which considers a closed University/Industry cooperation. The experience has been based on a teaching and learning methodology which consists of an abstract conceptualization of learning components, their experimentation, and the application of those components in real projects which are carried out with the active participation of regional and national companies. The goal is to take the study program into the business reality and, in this way, facilitates the student learning process by actively using a situational learning model.

The situational learning model, which considers the active participation of students in the development of IT solutions, is governed by an abstract conceptualization, experimentation and reflective observation. In this learning process, the projects, in which students are involved, are closed followed by the teacher and tutors in order to ensure that students achieve the goals of the course as well as to guarantee the commitment of the students in reaching the objectives imposed by the participating companies.

The goals, contents and expected results of the projects are closed related to course’s objectives, contents and learning methodology. In this way, the application of a learning component by a student will require its previous discussion during the lecture and its exploration during workshops and tutorials. Only then, the component may be applied to the project depending on the specific requirements expressed by the partner company. Therefore, students no only required to learn and experimentally apply a learning component, but also they will be required to decide if that component should be applied to the practical experience and, if that is the case, why it should be applied, when and how that component would be utilized. Finally, the results of the practical experiences are included in project reports and assays which are focused on a reflective observation of the students’ accomplishments during their participation.

The application of this learning methodology has allowed students no only to acquired knowledge but it also has facilitated the transition of that knowledge to its practical application by answering needs and requirements expressed by real companies and organizations. This has result in the understanding by students that any application of contents thought in the course requires its adaptation to the needs and requirements of real world projects.

Finally, this collaborative partnership between companies and the University has been a learning experience not only for the students but also for lectures, tutors and the participating companies and organizations. In fact, after three year of been working with this collaborative methodology several issues have arose. Most of them are centered on the expectations of companies and the commitment of students in providing a viable solution to their requirements. These issues have been iteratively solved by including restrictions in the selection of the projects and by adding more instances of participation between students, teachers and company representatives in order to canalize their expectations and requirements. The finale results have been the achievement of a enriched teaching and learning environment in which student are allowed to experience real world situations in which they can actively participate.