Integrated Concept of Robotic Studies

Today's engineering studies cannot rely only on one specific teaching method any more - such as classical university lecture-practicum. Today's learner is not satisfay with fixed time lectures and labs. Most young people (and also grown-ups) are living solid information society era life, by spending much of the time on Internet. This means that classical study methods do not confirm the learners way of studing any more. Based on that, the engineering studies needs to be brought into Internet environment and made more attractive, but without losing the quality and practical hands-on experience.

The integrated concept of robotic and mechatronic study incorporates the standard teaching and studying aids and novel approaches, which are integrated into one methodical unit.

The following example can help schools to initiate the robotic studies or give an idea how to apply different studying concepts into practical learning in the technology field.

The concept includes the following teaching and studying aids:

  • Conventional textbook, e.g. “Integrated Systems & Design” ISBN:978-9985-59-850-4.
  • Practical Hands-On Exercise book.
  • Robotic HomeLab.
  • DistanceLab.
  • The Network of Excellence of Robotic and Mechatronic community

Theoretical study aids are conventional textbooks and exercise books which can be accessed in addition to paper version also electronically.

Practical part consists of Robotic HomeLab and DistanceLab - over the Internet robot programming environment. HomeLab, combined with DistanceLab forms a solid solution, meaning that the learner can practice the single functions of robotics (i.e. sensor readings, motor control etc.) from home and at the same time apply his/her acquired knowledge on the robotic system. The robotic system can be accessed over the DistanceLab solution which consists of real equipment. The system is built up from the same components included in the HomeLab mobile case. This way the user can test each single learned skill immediately on the bigger system. The feedback of the robotic system is provided over the video stream.

The sequence of one study process/labwork is described on the next picture.

The topic begins with introduction which can be a classical lecture, distance online lecture or video lecture. The recorded video lecture is important also on the conventional lecture case as this enables to re-watch the lecture in case of something left unclear or in case the student wasn't able to participate in the lecture. The introduction lecture gives an overview of the problem and along with the teacher the practical example can be gone through supported by teachers comments. The theoretical part is supported by the textbook and hand-on exercise book.

After the introduction lecture the individual practical work is carried out. Practical work is about running the example code solution in the beginning and later modifying the example case according to the first “Warm-up” exercise. This is followed by the more complex exercise which is assigned by the teacher for every person or team individually from “Exercise” pages of each topic. The practical work is carried out with the HomeLab or other robotic kit which is supported by the exercises and DistanceLab. An important role is played here by the Network of Excellence environment which supports individual studies providing the communication environment and help for the learners and teachers.

The results of practical work are concluded in the report and this is sent to the supervisor. If the e-environment supports automatic report uploading, it can be used instead of sending e-mail. In addition to text report the working machine code HEX file is also included. The report includes typically the description of the work and full, clearly commented source code of the solution.

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