University of Aveiro (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN16 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 4705-4713
ISBN: 978-84-608-8860-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2016.2133
Conference name: 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2016
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Advanced courses at graduated level – Doctoral or Master – dedicated to technological problems often require multidisciplinary knowledge and, in areas such as Computer Science and Informatics, may require learning skills many software tools. Moreover, the topics covered can be recent, developing fast and yet not covered in previous courses. Concrete examples of such courses are:
(1) information extraction from unstructured text sources (Rodrigues & Teixeira, 2015) which includes syntactic characterization of texts, semantic analysis of content, and the design of ontologies and respective reasoning rules; and
(2) multimodal interaction (Sebe, 2009), that integrates different topics such as speech communication, speech technologies, touch, body gestures (Saffer, 2009), and new technologies like Microsoft Kinect or Virtual Reality glasses.

A major problem to address when planning this type of courses is how to provide an overview covering the most of the area, guaranteeing that students have a complete view and understand how each topic contributes to the area, while covering all topics with appropriate depth. In the area of informatics, a tangible formulation of this objective is how to assure that students have a comprehensive view of the area and at the same time are able to produce useful applications in the end of the course.

The approach we propose and have being following with good outcomes involves a double passage over the course content and a balanced combination of practical assignment(s) with expositive parts. The first passage is very fast, taking typically a class of 3 to 4 hours, and provides an overview of the area. The overview is supported by a hands on tutorial designed for experimenting the most significant topics and associated tools, its inputs and respective outputs, and some representative combinations that produce useful results. The tutorial leads to a toy application with real world data. The second passage lasts the rest of the course, or almost, and each class focuses one or two course topics. The second passage is supported by practical assignment(s) to be developed throughout the course and in synchrony with the topics covered in classes.

The complete paper will present two case studies, one of a Doctoral program and another of a Master program. Each case study presents the course content and discusses the implementation of the double passage, including a description of the tutorial that supports the first passage and, in the second passage, the organization of the topics in order to facilitate synchronization with students' assignment evolution. Where relevant, it is discussed how the course design fits a visual, aural, read/write, and kinesthetic (VARK) learning style (Fleming, 2001).

[1] Rodrigues, M., & Teixeira, A. (2015). Advanced Applications of Natural Language Processing for Performing Information Extraction. New York: Springer.
[2] Saffer, D. (2009). Designing Gestural Interfaces: Touchscreens and Interactive Devices. O’Reilly.
[3] Sebe, N. (2009). Multimodal interfaces: Challenges and perspectives. Journal of Ambient Intelligence and Smart Environments, 1 (1), pp. 23-30.
[4] Fleming, N. D. (2001). Teaching and learning styles: VARK strategies. IGI Global.
Multidisciplinary, advanced courses, informatics, higher education.