1 University of Thessaly (GREECE)
2 Institute for Research and Technology Thessaly, Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (GREECE)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2017 Proceedings
Publication year: 2017
Pages: 5370-5374
ISBN: 978-84-617-8491-2
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2017.1252
Conference name: 11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 6-8 March, 2017
Location: Valencia, Spain
Higher education prepares students for their future role as professionals and active citizens in multiple ways: it develops field specific knowledge; it builds learning-to-learn capacity that empowers students to continue learning independently throughout their careers; it prepares students to effectively transition from the educational environment into the professional world. According to the Modernization Agenda for Higher Education, the sector faces multiple challenges in its quest to build critically thinking, creative, and adaptable adults (Vassiliou A.). These include the economic crisis, youth unemployment, integration of new technologies and modes of working, and more. On the other hand, the Communication on Opening-up Education highlights the need to stimulate innovative ways of teaching and learning through new technologies and digital content, to alleviate the “new digital divide” which has led to 50-80% of students never using digital content, and to exploit the opportunities of the digital revolution in educational contexts

In engineering principles, the knowledge students build while enrolled in higher education may become to a large degree irrelevant a few years after graduation as a result of the fast evolution of technology in innovation related sectors. In this context, the capacity to think critically and to learn-to-learn are as important, if not more, as the base knowledge developed through formal curricula. In addition, to facilitate an effective transition to the professional world higher education must expose students to industry practices and processes rather than be limited to the development of core knowledge. This exposure may be achieved to a certain degree through specific courses; more effectively, it may be achieved through the integration of industry processes into curricula thus enabling students to use new skills and competencies in a learning environment that simulates the way industry deploys knowledge.

Project LEAP promotes the linking of learning to industry practices in engineering higher education with the objective of preparing students to effectively transition into the professional world. The project further aims at closing the new digital divide by promoting the development of high quality digital content for higher education linked to both academic and industry needs. Specifically, the project promotes lean and agile learning design. Lean practices encourage students to design solutions that meet needs while minimizing the deployment of resources. Agile practices expose students to industry cycles in which design is integrated throughout production processes, as opposed to only in the early stages of production, ensuring that the final product effectively addresses consumer needs.

LEAP designs and develops serious games that encourage learners to adopt industry roles, to think critically for addressing community and societal needs through agile engineering solutions, and to practice on the application of industrial process management in the context of higher education curricula. Recognizing the importance of supporting educators on integrating the proposed innovative learning methods and tools into their teaching practices LEAP further develops good practice guidelines and instructor support content. The outcomes will be validated in real-life contexts in classrooms in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Estonia, and the UK. The LEAP is funded by ERASMUS+ KA2.
Serious games, engineering, higher education, agile, lean.