Polytechnic University of Madrid (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 7434-7443
ISBN: 978-84-613-2953-3
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
This communication presents the development of a Web-based tool to help in the definition and management of courses to be included in a plan of studies.

A plan of studies is made up of a set of courses. Each course is defined by a set of information that is divided into different sections: management, required knowledge, required competences, provided knowledge (course contents), provided specific competences, provided generic competences, teaching methodology, knowledge evaluation, skills evaluation, and bibliography.

The use of a web-based tool for helping to define, manage and coordinate all the information linked to each subject allows accelerating the process, analyzing the impact of changing courses (e.g.: the topics to be taught in each course), improving the process of verification and certification of plan of studies and having a more open access to non-confidential information.

Prior to the software development the following actions were undertaken: definition of a working group to coordinate course content, definition of a card to compile all the info associated with a subject, planning of the ECTS of each subject in the plan of studies, definition of competences and skills, and manual application of the plan of studies definition process.

Based on such antecedents the software development was defined. It was also considered that future users of the tool would be of four types: developers of plan of studies, academics, students and external evaluators. Academics would have two main roles: define their courses and populate the database, and to query the database to visualize information. Prospective students, current ones, and external evaluators could visualize all the info related to the Plan of Studies. The information should be accessible via Internet.

The kernel of the tool is a database where all the information related to plan of studies can be stored. The conceptual structure of the database was defined using IDEF1X and it was implemented in Microsoft SQL Server. The tool was defined to be integrated within the systems currently used by academics. With this objective, Java, ASP and SVG were selected to carry out the development. A set of utilities were developed to populate the database, to automate queries (e.g.: content dependencies, courses contributing to a specific competence, etc.), and to visualize the results of the queries. Making use of SVG, the Plan of Studies and the results from the queries are visualized in a graphical way. In particular, the graphical solution adopted has proved to be quite useful to carry out coordination of contents of the different courses.

The communication will show in detail the basis of this development, the database data structure, and the functionality of the developed tool. The tool is being used to define the Industrial Engineering Plan of Studies.
plan of studies design & management, course content management & coordination.