FAST KNOWLEDGE BUILDING BY CROSS-DISCIPLINARY COOPERATIVE LEARNING
This paper describes a new methodological experience in Higher Education developed in the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) based in a cross-disciplinary cooperative learning between alumni from different Schools. In the academic years 2008/09, 2009/10 and 2010/11 a collaboration between the studies “Máster en Tecnologías, Sistemas y Redes de Comunicaciones” (Master degree taught in the ETSIT-Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros de Telecomunicación) and the studies of “Grado en Ingeniería de Sistemas de Telecomunicación” (Bachelor degree taught in the EPSG-Escuela Politécnica Superior de Gandía) has been performed. This collaboration between the two grades allows creating cooperative learning groups in a laboratory session including students from different disciplines with a common background as stated in the studies curricula.
This cross-disciplinary innovation permits the Master-level students “to teach” their Bachelor-level colleagues the theoretical basis of the laboratory experiments they are performing together, always supervised by the teacher. This approach effectively speeds up the knowledge building process as the Master-level alumni have to prepare themselves (study, synthetize and prepare self-materials) for this activity. The Bachelor-level alumni also speed-up the learning because they feel more motivated in the learning experience. They feel more freedom to ask the aspects not clear to a colleague rather to a teacher.
The cross-disciplinary laboratory session involves two subjects: First, the “Seminario de Redes Ópticas de Acceso de Nueva Generación” (New Generation Access Optical Networks) -Master level-, and the “Sistemas Digitales de Televisión y Vídeo” (Television and Video Digital Systems) -Bachelor level-.
The Master-level seminar include topics as the architecture of new generation access networks, the technology used, the most relevant standards and the network architecture in the access part and in the bone network for the transmission of digital video. This seminar includes a laboratory lesson where the students can develop a small passive optical network evaluating the pros and cons and the technical performance of the network.
The Bachelor-level subject addresses the processes applied to the television signal from its digitalization to the presentation of the information in a TV monitor. It deals with the source code, channel code, the associated modulation and network design. In this last topic, the design of networks for the television signal transmission, the new innovation technique is applied.
A common laboratory session is suitable for both subjects. In order to develop this experience, a manual guide has been prepared. It takes into account the cone of learning proposed by Edgar Dale which divides the learning methodologies in two main groups: the active (doing) and the passive activities (verbal and visual receiving). According to the National Training Laboratories (NTL) for Applied Behavioral Science only a 5% of what we hear is remembered after 24 hours while a 90% of what we say and do is remember. The innovation technique proposed is centred in the levels based in “learning by doing” and “teaching others”.
The results of this cross-disciplinary experience indicate that the alumni learn very fast with no need to further prepare the materials for the final exam. Also, the pass-rate of both Master-level and Bachelor-level are very high. These results are promising and the experience will be repeated in the following academic years.