June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Electrical and Computer
13.59.1 - 13.59.12
Mobile Studio Experience of Experiential Learning in Electrical Engineering Class
All core courses in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Howard University and, at certain extent, in most engineering and science disciplines everywhere, are each taught by a combination of lecture and laboratory. The idea behind the lecture-lab combination is to help bridge the gap between the classroom knowledge of theory and the practical aspect in real world. The good idea, however, has failed to produce the necessary practice and intended result. Lecture and lab are seldom taught in the same class and, therefore, different topics are covered in two separate classes. Often, lecture and lab are taught by different instructors. Consequently, the intended learning reinforcement by active experimentation of lectured abstract concept is not realized. Theories and applications have been divided; simulations and implementations, alienated. Great is the need of lecture/lab hybrid class that unifies two components together, and equally high is the demand of experiential learning in which introduction of theories and their experiences are instant and dynamic. Behind this persistent disunity between lecture and lab, there is a practical reason: the daunting task of bringing lab into class. Traditional labs are equipped with workbenches and expensive bulky instruments.
Technology development and miniaturized packaging, however, enabled to produce palm-sized instrumentation interface boards which can replace most of the Electrical Engineering lab equipment and thus can bring lab into class. A computer with the interface can become a portable lab or Mobile Studio. Mobile Studio is philosophy and pedagogy which intends to bring laboratory into classroom with a mobile, portable set of computer and scope software provided with similar functionality to that of the traditional laboratory equipment. The Mobile Studio enables the experiential learning for students in classroom through instant experimentation and verification of the classroom knowledge by producing waveforms, measuring and recording signals, and analyzing recorded data. The Mobile Studio class at Howard University made a great impact in learning enhancement of for the students.
The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Howard University launched the Mobile Studio classes in 2005. This paper details the experience of the Mobile Studio classes, including the hardware implementation and the throwing of students into the new environment, and discusses the impact of the Mobile Studio in the classroom environment in two aspects: the students' attitudes toward the new learning environment and the students’ learning in core knowledge and concepts.
The paper is organized as follows. In the next section, we discuss about the pedagogy of Mobile Studio in regard to experiential learning and the effect on learning and faculty pedagogical practices. In section III, the experience of the mobile studio is described. The lengthy section IV reports the evaluation results of the survey for acceptance and learning enhancement along with comments on the problems and difficulties, and offers suggestions for smooth transition from traditional, split lecture and lab courses into Mobile Studio-based lecture/lab hybrid courses for experiential learning practice. Conclusions are drawn in section V.
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