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Appears in:
Pages: 4061-4070
Publication year: 2011
ISBN: 978-84-615-0441-1
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2011
Location: Barcelona, Spain

WHEN HARRY MET SALLY: EXPERIENCES WITH INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDENT TEAMS

A. Tam, A. Song, F. Feltham

RMIT University (AUSTRALIA)
Effective interdisciplinary collaboration is one of the keys for success in business and science, as well as in education. This is particularly true in the field of computer science and information technology (IT) where the main task is to develop solutions for other fields such as commerce, engineering and design.

The importance of interdisciplinary collaboration is well recognized, but implementation remains a challenge. Most higher education units are designed for specific disciplines, with discipline-specific learning outcomes and objectives. While students may choose to enrol in units from different disciplines, integrating what they learn from these units is usually something they must do for themselves.

Recently, we have explored the use of student project courses to experiment with interdisciplinary collaboration. We created teams of students from different disciplines, each enrolled in their own capstone project course; each team had one clearly defined goal, but the tasks for each team member were different, and the team had to learn to work together to produce a satisfactory outcome.

The teams consisted of IT students working with design students to implement their final-year design projects. There were two types of design students: architectural design and industrial design. Collaboration with the architectural design students was more successful than collaboration with the industrial design students: the goals of the architectural design projects were clearly defined at the outset, enabling the IT students to make immediate contributions, obtain immediate feedback on their work, and rapidly adapt their programs to meet the teams' goals. In contrast, the goals of the industrial design projects were still evolving during the semester, and the IT students had almost no concrete tasks to occupy them, and then only delayed feedback on the effectiveness of their work.

It became clear that the conceptual gap between architectural design and IT students is smaller than that between industrial design and IT students: the architectural design students work only with the output of computer programs on computer screens, while the industrial design students aim to create and actuate physical objects. We are devising methods to better prepare the industrial design and IT students to communicate with each other, and will test these in the second half of this year.
@InProceedings{TAM2011WHE,
author = {Tam, A. and Song, A. and Feltham, F.},
title = {WHEN HARRY MET SALLY: EXPERIENCES WITH INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDENT TEAMS},
series = {3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN11 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-615-0441-1},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {4-6 July, 2011},
year = {2011},
pages = {4061-4070}}
TY - CONF
AU - A. Tam AU - A. Song AU - F. Feltham
TI - WHEN HARRY MET SALLY: EXPERIENCES WITH INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDENT TEAMS
SN - 978-84-615-0441-1/2340-1117
PY - 2011
Y1 - 4-6 July, 2011
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN11 Proceedings
SP - 4061
EP - 4070
ER -
A. Tam, A. Song, F. Feltham (2011) WHEN HARRY MET SALLY: EXPERIENCES WITH INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDENT TEAMS, EDULEARN11 Proceedings, pp. 4061-4070.
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