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MANAGING THE CHALLENGE OF TEACHING IT IN AN INTERDISCIPLINARY ENVIRONMENT – AN APPROACH IN THE DEGREE PROGRAM INTELLIGENT TRANSPORT SYSTEMS

H. Wahl, C. Kaufmann, A. Mense

University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien (AUSTRIA)
The University of Applied Sciences (UAS) Technikum Wien offers several, mainly technical oriented course programs. Some of the course programs concentrate on a single field like “Electrical Engineering” or “Computer Science”, whereas others are characterized by highly interdisciplinary topics. The curriculum of the bachelor degree program “Intelligent Transport Systems”, for instance, consists of a variety of different disciplines. Beside transportation science, automation (including sensor technology and control engineering), telecommunication engineering, mathematics, and information technology (IT) are the most important topics. During the last few years it turned out that students are sometimes really overextended by this multidisciplinarity, which leads to high drop-out rates. Especially the IT courses, i.e. computer programming and database systems, cause problems. Students complain that the understanding of IT topics highly differs from other topics in the curriculum, so for them it is extremely difficult to learn and to understand.

The proposed paper illustrates the didactic approaches to meet the requirements of teaching IT in a highly interdisciplinary environment by the example of the course program “Intelligent Transport Systems”. The students of this degree program rarely see the IT courses as their main focus, so the motivation to learn these IT topics is often minimized to the basic needs. However, computer programming, for instance, can only be learned in a self organized way. It is nearly impossible to learn this subject just by listening, so traditional ways of teaching will not succeed. In most cases the factor of success can be a method combining increase of motivation and force to continuous learning. The paper shows ideas to overcome the difficulties in the IT courses and it explains in detail the new teaching concept.