1 University of Thessaly (GREECE)
2 Porto Polytechnic (PORTUGAL)
3 University of Malaya (MALAYSIA)
4 Tribhuvan University (NEPAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN20 Proceedings
Publication year: 2020
Pages: 6531-6536
ISBN: 978-84-09-17979-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2020.1710
Conference name: 12th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-7 July, 2020
Location: Online Conference
Active learning aims to build knowledge and skills by doing going beyond traditional, passive classroom instruction. The advantages of active learning are many. It facilitates the retention of new knowledge. It goes beyond the goals of memorizing and understanding concepts, building student capacity on analyzing new information, applying it in practice, and explaining it to others. It builds high order thinking skills that are transferable to the real world.

Despite the advantages of active learning it, is not widely applied in practice. This is particularly the case in South East Asian countries. Lack of or inadequacy of physical infrastructures is a significant obstacle. Even when labs do exist the equipment is outdated and limited in the software that it can support. Labs often include only computers as workstations and not emerging IT such as VR, robotics, and more. There is a lack of openly available software applications that can be deployed in educational contexts as complementary learning tools. Lack of instructor training on how to exploit IT and to combine it with emerging learning pedagogies further discourages the deployment of active approaches in the classroom.

This work presents an educational intervention that aims to introduce active learning as a strategic educational approach in engineering higher education in Europe and Asia. The educational intervention has a vertical design and aims to address the obstacles that inhibit the wide spread adoption of active learning. The intervention is introduced in universities in Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Pakistan, Nepal, Greece, Bulgaria, Portugal, Estonia, and the UK.

The intervention includes the development of digital active learning labs at 12 universities in Asian countries that provide students with rich collaboration and exploration capabilities through computers, robotics equipment including Arduino ® and Rasberry Pi ®, smart TVs as a means for sharing information in class, digital whiteboards, VR equipment and supporting software, digital pads, 3D printers, and more. The physical labs are setup in a manner that encourages student collaboration in round stations at which students work on joint projects. The intervention further includes the development of a digital active learning platform that acts as a repository of active learning activities based on digital applications such as learning games and simulations accompanied with guidelines for educators on how to best integrate them in the classroom. And finally, it includes instructor training on active learning concepts as well as the use of the physical labs in educational contexts. Instructor training takes place at the individual universities through face-to-face training sessions and through on-line webinars.

The labs and digital services have been used in diverse courses that range from mathematics to software engineering, game design, databases, educational technologies, electrical circuits, and more. Experiences from the deployment of the proposed intervention demonstrate that when adequately supported through infrastructure and training the introduction of digitally supported active learning practices contributes to the development of industry demanded skills among students while it builds instructor capacity on innovative learning design.

The work is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Capacity Building in Higher Education Programme through project ALIEN, that is implemented from 2017 to 2020.
Active learning, problem-based learning, game-based learning, serious games, simulations.