IGIP Newsletter - Issue 02 - 2019

12th September 2019

IGIP Newsletter - Issue 02 - 2019

Editor Column

By José Marques and Teresa Restivo

This issue of the IGIP Newsletter is being published after the summer holidays, at the start of a new academic year for most of us. The range of topics covered is very wide and so we expect to provide a generous sample of interesting reading material. We wish you all a very successful and fruitful activity.

President's Column

By Hanno Hortsch, President of IGIP

In the current edition of the IGIP Newsletter, I would like to turn to a topic that I think is very meaningful. Before that, I would like to emphasize that only through its members has our IGIP achieved the significance and recognition that it has today.

A special feature in the work of the IGIP are the existing successful workshops. At each national or international conference, the workshops will present their scientific findings for discussion. Many high-quality publications result from the activities of the workshops. Representing all active members in the workshops, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Teresa Restivo, Diana Urbano, Tiia Rüütmann, Matthias Utesch and Stefan Vorbach for their work in recent years.

Nevertheless, I would like to point out that in the past a larger number of IGIP members were active in the workshops. We should think about setting up such other scientific platforms in IGIP work. Unfortunately, so far there is no workshop that deals with the further development of engineering education as a discipline. For example, if you think about the changing study behavior of our students at our higher education institutions or the new types of engineers, such a workshop should be initiated very quickly. This would also make the IGIP, the only engineering pedagogical society, a scientific background. Furthermore, I could also imagine that the technical language of the engineer is an interesting field of research. Ultimately, as well as linguistic, socio-economic, and ethical aspects, many interested colleagues from the technical sciences could be interested in. Ideas for further contents of new workshops are very welcome.

I hope that many IGIP members will find their way to our annual conference. Let us talk about our work at our annual meeting, which takes place in Bangkok on 25.09.2019, and develop new ideas. I also hope that the National Section of the IGIP will report on their activities.

The IGIP Executive Committee meeting will take place during the IGIP / ICL 2019 meeting in Bangkok on 25.09.2019. In this session, especially a modified prototype curriculum of the IGIP will be discussed and eventually decided. We will inform you in the next Newsletter.

Executive Board Column

By Teresa Restivo, Past President of IGIP

Today, we are reaching the 9th issue of the IGIP Newsletter in the present format.

We have envisioned this as a powerful tool for promoting the possibility of sharing ideas. For those not able to be in the IGIP Annual Conference, this should be the way to keep your connection to the Society and to “meet” many of us, periodically, in a distant but active way. Only friendship between us permits to feed each Newsletter issue, using our free time without any other profit. Being always knocking at your email inboxes, this constant type of contact is a boring, unpolished, inconvenient and abusive activity. However, the positive side of the coin is that I am in close contact with many of you! In this Issue, we are getting contributions from different places in Europe, but also from Russia and from the United States.

I wish that the IGIP Newsletter could also spread some discussion, but I have not been expert enough to promote this more active type of participation. I am open to receive advice to foster the Newsletter as a wide open Forum.

The Working Groups (WG) are also another tool of the Society. We have been able to carry on small but dynamic groups during the last more than two years. In the next three months, all the WG reports will be collected in our Newsletter. And new members will be welcome.

With these tools, we hope to help the International Society for Engineering Pedagogy to be more effective, linking distant people from the academia world.

Before finishing these lines, I would like to ask you to have a look at EDUCON 2020, organized by IGIP members: Alberto Cardoso (University of Coimbra, Portugal), Gustavo Alves (Instituto Superior de Engenharia do Porto, Portugal) and myself (University of Porto, Portugal). We will do our best to welcome many of you in Porto and to bring to IEEE EDUCON 2020 the quality we all need.

Thank you to all of you for helping IGIP. Please, provide further support!

University Corner - TalTech's New Generation Student Satellite Koit Launched Successfully

By Tiia Rüütmann (ING.PAED.IGIP), President of IGIP IMC

On July 5, at 8:41 a.m., the Soyuz rocket with TalTech’s new generation student satellite Koit (Dawn, in English) was launched from the Vostoschnoy Cosmodrome into Earth's orbit.

The launcher Vega will take the second TalTech satellite Hämarik (Dusk, in English) to space on September 5, 2019 at 4:45 a.m. Estonian time, from Kourou Cosmodrome in French Guiana.

TalTech implements the student satellite project together with Datel, an Estonian company operating in the space sector.

The TalTech student satellite took the Estonian Song Festival beloved song He Flies Towards the Beehive to space and will start observing the Earth with a dithered colour and near-infrared camera.

According to Rauno Gordon, Head of TalTech Space Centre, Koit and Hämarik will be able to make detailed colour pictures of the Earth from space and map the globe with these images. “We can monitor in more detail the changes taking place in a region, such as geological processes or weather events. Near-infrared and colour cameras provide an opportunity to track vegetation, i.e., what is the condition of plants in certain areas - whether they grow well or have dried up."

The most important and innovative test is the use of high-frequency data communication on such a small satellite. The satellite has a small x-band radio transmitter and there is a large 5-meter diameter high frequency parabolic antenna at TalTech Mektory on Earth as a receiver.

Another important test is trying out a fail-safe computer architecture, which should be able to continue to work despite computational errors caused by radiation in space. In addition, the satellite has devices for testing optical communications and data security.

Talking about Teaching: Motivational Strategies for Learning

By Susan M. Zvacek, Teaching and Learning Consultant, Castle Rock, Colorado

Several ideas show up repeatedly in the research literature about how to motivate learners, and three are especially applicable to the use of electronic resources for instruction. The first emphasizes the importance of gaining and holding onto student attention, the second focuses on the relevance of course content to the “real world,” and the third stresses the role of student confidence. How can we use a variety of technologies to take advantage of these ideas?

Gaining student attention is not terribly difficult. As humans, we’re all attracted to unfamiliar stimuli and we can use this novelty effect to our students’ advantage by providing a variety of materials – in class and out – that stimulate the senses.  Holding onto attention, however, requires a careful balance between the unexpected and the potentially distracting. The judicious use of color to highlight specific areas of a graphic, audio clips to accompany visuals, or short video clips to display processes can all be used to hold onto student attention, without exposing them to “PowerPoint poisoning,” when attention (and motivation) begin to wane. Instructors must first identify the key concepts learners should attend to, and then determine how they might draw attention to those ideas with carefully selected media.

Another important key to motivation is helping students to see the connection between what they’re learning and the world beyond the classroom. Online resources will help to build this sense of relevance by providing access to current ideas, up-to-the-minute news, and research reports.  Obviously, the web also provides access to inaccurate, outdated, and biased documents, as well, but providing students with the skills to evaluate these materials and determine their value extends simple comprehension of course content into higher order thinking. If students are expected to find examples (good or bad) of how the concepts they’re learning have been utilized by others, they’ll begin to see the links between abstract ideas and concrete application of those ideas.  This can be a powerfully motivating experience and one that will keep students engaged in studying material that might otherwise be considered uninspiring, when considered in isolation.

Early examples of computer-assisted instruction often were simply drill-and-practice programs that helped to create a foundation of basic declarative knowledge (the multiplication table, for example) from which students would later draw to learn more advanced topics. While hardly motivational in themselves, they did demonstrate an idea that has since been championed as a motivating force: self-confidence. Today’s apps can be infinitely patient tutors and provide an environment in which learners may try out newfound skills and knowledge in a relatively non-threatening manner.  Even the most basic use of practice quizzes in an online environment can encourage students to keep up with their reading or other out-of-class work, while also allowing giving them (and the instructor) important feedback about their progress.

Although motivation (like learning) occurs within an individual and isn’t something that can be “done to you,” instructors can design an environment that captures and holds attention, is relevant beyond the classroom, and provides a boost of confidence. Tech tools, from plain to the fancy, can make this happen.

The Inclusive Classroom

By Teresa L. Larkin, American University, Washington, DC

Topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have risen to a level of prominence at institutions of higher learning around the globe. Many institutions have undertaken real and significant efforts to address these important issues. In fact, many institutions have hired Chief Diversity Officers (CDOs) to help influence positive change across the DEI landscape. The focus of this article is to spotlight ways in which those of us that spend a good deal of our time teaching can be instrumental in affecting change at the grassroots (i.e. classroom) level.

To begin let’s talk about the meaning of the terms diversity and inclusion. These terms mean a lot of different things to a lot of different folks. Diversity often recognizes differences. For example, one might say that a typical college classroom is “diverse” when it includes people from many different countries. We might think of a diverse classroom as being one that includes a good “mix” of people. Inclusion goes beyond and involves embracing the diversity. Inclusion involves action. Within the classroom this means creating a safe space where diverse perspectives are respected and valued and where every student has the opportunity to be successful at their highest possible level.

There are many things we can do to ensure an inclusive and safe space for our students to learn. I would like to highlight a few examples that can be used to create a more inclusive classroom and one that is based on mutual respect. These examples include such things as before class starts taking the time to welcome students when they walk in the door of the classroom. Maybe shake their hands and ask them how they are doing. In addition, learning our students’ names can go a long way to building a classroom environment centered on inclusion and mutual respect. Students are often sensitive to our body language and facial expressions. A genuine smile goes a long way. We can let our students know we’re happy to be their instructor and that we are glad to have each and every one of them in class. Take the time to tell them! Remind them often! It’s important to welcome students’ questions and acknowledge them when asked. Thanking a student for their question or comment is an important factor in making that student feel valued.

I have found that playing music before class starts is often welcomed by my students and often serves to encourage them to engage in conversation with one another. Music is a bit like food in many ways – it’s something literally all of us like and have in common. I use a mix of many musical genres and often engage students that come early to select the music we will listen to for a few minutes.