Conference Paper

PBLMaestro: A virtual learning environment for the implementation of problem-based learning approach in Computer education

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Abstract

Teaching Computer has led to the design of an educational model that is increasingly making use of market practices linked to business corporations. Within this scenario, a practical and dynamic learning system is being fostered that allows simulations to be carried out in real contexts through problem resolution. Based on constructivist theories, PBL (Problem-Based Learning) is a teaching method that is focused on the students and its main characteristic is that it uses real-world problems to create the learning content and teach the skills required for their solution. However, the adoption of this approach is not an easy task, since it is accompanied by abrupt changes in the traditional paradigm of education, which require changes in the attitudes of the actors involved. In addition, the planning and monitoring of the PBL, involve complex activities that are difficult to manage, especially with regard to determining the quality and compliance of the processes used for problem resolution. Additionally, the Computer Science courses require working on projects provided by real clients, within a dynamic and iterative development process. This strengthens the need to introduce strategies and technologies to support the implementation and management of the method and, enable its effectiveness to be monitored In addition, it provides continuous feedback, and assesses the results generated from the evaluation of the solutions produced during the teaching-learning process. Thus, it is essential to adopt strategies that allow a better management of teaching practice, improved learning by the students and a means of validating the clients involved. From this perspective, this paper presents a virtual teaching and learning environment, called PBLMaestro, which has been designed to support the workflow of a methodology for the implementation of PBL in teaching Computer Science, called xPBL. With the aid of xPBL, it is possible to perform the management of courses using the dynamics of a cycle and series of stages to allow a better control of management processes, by linking real problems to well-defined educational goals. In the case of teacher planning, we were used elements described in xPBL methodology, aligned with educational goals defined from the Bloom Revised Taxonomy. With regard to student tracking, we used the authentic assessment model and mechanisms of Learning Analytics. Gamification strategies were included to increase engagement, retention and motivation, and push notification messages were displayed in a mobile application the PBLMaestro was validated by means of application the environment in the context of the discipline “Network Design” of Computer Science Course, and the results are analyzed in this study. In addition, semi-structured interviews were conducted with the teachers and there was a high degree of satisfaction among the tutors, students and customers who used the service, with regard to the usability and consistency of the proposed environment as well as with its improvements and changes. Although the environment was improved in the area of computer science, it is possible that it can provide support to the STEM context with some customizations.

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... While not much research has been carried out to gauge the impact of immersing VR technique, the feedback and assessment results from the students suggested that the overall quality of team work improved and that the students were highly motivated during the course. The research in [11] presented virtual teaching and learning environment to support the deployment of PBL in teaching "Network Design" for Computer Science. They leveraged gamification strategies in order to boost engagement, retention and motivation. ...
... To summarize, the previous literature identified many aspects where using 3D and VR technologies in engineering education can enhance learning. It can enhance the development of both spatial thinking and communication skills [18,36], improve the learning efficacy [3], increase the motivation [16], and it can support the deployment of PBL in teaching [11]. Nevertheless, the VR technology is already presented as an efficient paradigm for education [5,11,18,33]. ...
... It can enhance the development of both spatial thinking and communication skills [18,36], improve the learning efficacy [3], increase the motivation [16], and it can support the deployment of PBL in teaching [11]. Nevertheless, the VR technology is already presented as an efficient paradigm for education [5,11,18,33]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Prior studies on the use of digital prototyping and virtual reality (VR) in designing as well as evaluating new products have shown that VR reduces both development time and costs whilst augmenting student motivation and creativity. The current study demonstrates that VR and 3D prototyping in the context of project-based learning (PBL) promote effective communication, increase problem solving skills, and enhance learning outcomes. VR and digital prototyping have been extensively used in industries for the purpose of product design and usability evaluation. In the context of engineering education, many research studies have attempted to explore the effect of VR on teamwork, engagement, retention, and motivation. In this paper, VR is used in conjunction with PBL in self-directed approach to design and implement a product using 3D software whilst also using virtual reality immersive CAVE display to evaluate their design. The hypothesis is that the use of VR with a project-based-learning approach to facilitate the attainment of desirable goals in the engineering design project, improved achievement of course learning outcomes and promoted effective communication. According to the research findings, VR approach significantly affected the distribution of cumulative project grades. Students’ project grades improved, particularly the implementation component. In addition, the course outcomes related to project design were better achieved in VR approach. The communication and problem-solving skills were improved in the VR approach as compared to traditional approach.
... Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) can be considered as powerful aids to education due to two reasons, the first one by improving communication and interaction between people, and the second one, for providing a powerful tool for controlling educational activities and processes [1]. VLEs can be considered as a tool to potentiate learning competences [2]- [7] based on the understanding of behavioral attitudes related with the interactions teacher-to-student and student-to-student [8]. ...
... Although, VLEs can be considered as a potential and innovative tool in education, it is confronted in practice to several issues such as: (1) the need that the learning environment should reflect a real problem and invite the learner to appropriate it [1], (2) the lack of indicators for monitoring the progress of the students in their courses [1], (3) the lack of implementation of well-defined evaluation parameters [1], (4) the difficulty for evaluating the collective and individual contributions while the students handle tasks [9], (5) the problems related with knowing what is happening within the VLE to identify conflictive user behaviors [10]- [12], (6) the need of mechanisms for tracking students' interactions with elements of the virtual world [13], [14], (7) the difficulty for keeping students engaged and motivated [15], (8) a very time-consuming teacher's supervision in the search for signs of doubt, frustration, stress or fatigue from students [15], (9) the existence of pedagogical issues that are inherent to conventional learning [16], [17], and (10) the absence of tutors with experience to guide the learning process [17], [18]. These problems raise the need to pursue the quest of mechanisms to improve the use of VLEs in education and guarantee the effective fulfilment of learning objectives [19], [20]. ...
... Although, VLEs can be considered as a potential and innovative tool in education, it is confronted in practice to several issues such as: (1) the need that the learning environment should reflect a real problem and invite the learner to appropriate it [1], (2) the lack of indicators for monitoring the progress of the students in their courses [1], (3) the lack of implementation of well-defined evaluation parameters [1], (4) the difficulty for evaluating the collective and individual contributions while the students handle tasks [9], (5) the problems related with knowing what is happening within the VLE to identify conflictive user behaviors [10]- [12], (6) the need of mechanisms for tracking students' interactions with elements of the virtual world [13], [14], (7) the difficulty for keeping students engaged and motivated [15], (8) a very time-consuming teacher's supervision in the search for signs of doubt, frustration, stress or fatigue from students [15], (9) the existence of pedagogical issues that are inherent to conventional learning [16], [17], and (10) the absence of tutors with experience to guide the learning process [17], [18]. These problems raise the need to pursue the quest of mechanisms to improve the use of VLEs in education and guarantee the effective fulfilment of learning objectives [19], [20]. ...
... Considering the student level, the focal point of this work, five aspects were defined: "content", considering the understanding of concepts and fundamentals of the knowledge area; "performance", interpersonal characteristics; "process", regarding the way to solve a problem; "output", considering the proposed solution and; "client satisfaction", with respect to the quality of the proposed solutions. This model has been applied to undergraduate courses in Computing in the last five years [3], [4], [5], [13], [14], [15]. ...
... In order to manage this complexity, an assessment model based on authentic assessment was defined [12]. This model has been applied in last seven years in computing courses, in both, academic and business contexts [4], [5], [12], [14], [15]. From these experiences, new challenges have been found, as discussed in section III. ...
... An effective assessment process allows both teachers and students themselves to plan educational goals, track their progress through practical activities, and make decisions that can enhance learning throughout the problem-solving process. With this motivation, the NEXT (iNnovative Educational eXperience in Technology) research group has been working with authentic assessment models, considering several levels and aspects of evaluation applied to computer teaching [4,5,14,15]. From the experiences of applying this model over more than seven years, it was perceived the need for an integrative interface, which facilitated the monitoring of student progress. ...
Conference Paper
This Research to Practice Full Paper presents a proposal for monitoring student progress in Problem-Based Learning (PBL). The adoption of the PBL approach has been growing in computer education, where problem-solving and group work are essential. Despite the compatibility and benefits of PBL, some challenges remain, in particular, with respect to the assessment process. For an effective assessment process, it needs to be well defined and managed by both teachers and students themselves, considering that, in PBL, the students are at the center of the teaching and learning process, they are active, and self-regulating. In this context, this paper proposes an interface for student progress monitoring (a "student board") based on an authentic assessment model called PBL-SEE. Constructed using the Design Science Research (DSR) method, this interface was initially prototyped and validated by PBL specialists. The results showed a good acceptance of the student board and important recommendations for improvements.
... When that environment is a virtual learning platform, it allows students to remain immersed in practices, facilitating communication between the whole group and the exchange of feedback between all involved in a much more agile and continuous way. It is also worth mentioning the concern of some studies with specialized learning environments in PBL [PS3], [PS4], [PS61], [PS66], [PS94], which incorporate collaborative methodologies and facilitate the dynamics of the method, reducing the effort of the pedagogical team in the configuration of generalpurpose environments. ...
... Considering the effort required to implement PBL and the need to use environments to improve this point, many studies have recommended the use of virtual environments [PS7], [PS25], [PS66], [PS72], learning management systems [PS61], tools [PS33], and technologies to facilitate student collaboration, communication, content sharing, and interactive resolution task [PS31], [PS42]. In addition, studies have also recommended the use of tutorials, software artifacts, and subject integration to facilitate the use of content as support for problem solving. ...
Article
Contribution: This article adds to the results of previous systematic mapping study by addressing a more ample context of problem-based learning (PBL) in computing education. Background: PBL is defined as an instructional method of constructivist teaching that uses real problems as a motivating element for learning. Although PBL was born in medical education, it has been used in computing education to facilitate the students' engagement and learning capacity, contributing to developing skills, such as teamwork, holistic vision, critical thinking, and solving problem. Considering that approach much more descriptive than prescriptive, it favors the implementation of diverse methodologies on its behalf.
... Even though the use of Virtual Worlds in education has become almost ubiquitous, it is confronted in practice to several issues such: problems related with knowing what is happening within the virtual world to identify conflictive user behaviours [7][8][9] or tracking the students' interactions with elements of the virtual world [10,11], lack of indicators to follow up the progress of the students in the courses [12], lack of implementation of well-defined evaluation parameters [12], difficulties for evaluating the collective and individual contributions while the students handle tasks [13], difficulties for keeping students engaged and motivated [14], a very time-consuming teachers' supervision in the search for signs of doubt, frustration, stress or fatigue from students [15], pedagogical issues that are inherent to conventional learning [16,17], absence of tutors with experience to guide the learning process [17,18]. These problems raise the need to pursue the quest of mechanisms to improve the use of Virtual Worlds in education and guarantee the effective fulfilment of learning objectives [19,20]. ...
... Even though the use of Virtual Worlds in education has become almost ubiquitous, it is confronted in practice to several issues such: problems related with knowing what is happening within the virtual world to identify conflictive user behaviours [7][8][9] or tracking the students' interactions with elements of the virtual world [10,11], lack of indicators to follow up the progress of the students in the courses [12], lack of implementation of well-defined evaluation parameters [12], difficulties for evaluating the collective and individual contributions while the students handle tasks [13], difficulties for keeping students engaged and motivated [14], a very time-consuming teachers' supervision in the search for signs of doubt, frustration, stress or fatigue from students [15], pedagogical issues that are inherent to conventional learning [16,17], absence of tutors with experience to guide the learning process [17,18]. These problems raise the need to pursue the quest of mechanisms to improve the use of Virtual Worlds in education and guarantee the effective fulfilment of learning objectives [19,20]. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The use of Virtual Worlds in Education is becoming an innovative alternative to traditional education. However, these solutions are confronted to several issues such as: lack of indicators to follow up the students’ progress, lack of well-defined evaluation parameters, difficulties for evaluating collective and individual contributions, difficulties for keeping students engaged and motivated, a very time-consuming teachers’ supervision, and the absence of tutors for guiding the learning process, among others. In this review, we explore and describe academic contributions focused on the application of Learning Analytics to improve Virtual Worlds in Education from three perspectives: Personalized Learning, Adaptive Learning and Educational Intervention. Our results highlight that most of the research focus on support decisions whose nature concerns operational non-real-time issues. Additionally, almost all the contributions focus in solving only a few issues, but none of them offer a holistic framework that could be used by teachers or pedagogical personnel for decision making.
... This paper reports a second round of PBL-Maestro tests, for the same course. The first can be observed in [15]. In this work we are giving a greater emphasis on the evaluation process, client participation and the laboratory environment with the use of real equipment. ...
... This section examines PBL-Maestro, a Learning Management System that was developed based on the xPBL methodology. Details of the analytical stages of the project, implementation and software architecture, can be found in [15]. In this article, stress is laid on their applicability in the teaching/learning process included in this approach, with an emphasis being given to the main environments. ...
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The area of Computer Networks requires an educational model based on real market practices that can provide students with consistent technological training. However, it should be noted that a Network Project is subject to a wide range of restrictions (such as time constraints, budgeting, and the use of other necessary resources) which means there is a need to work with real cases and in the presence of a client. The purpose of this paper is to describe the effects of the application of PBL‐Maestro in the area of Network Design. PBL‐Maestro consists of a LMS (Learning Management System) that has been designed to underpin a methodological workflow for implementing PBL (Problem‐Based Learning) in the teaching of Computing, called xPBL, which provides support for Authentic Assessment. By taking xPBL as a benchmark, the course management can be carried out by following the dynamics of the cycle and stages. The topics was taught in an entirely ̈hands‐on̈ format with the use of real equipment installed inside the classroom, and it included situations and problems arising from real circumstances. Clients took part in the whole process and took on the responsibility of making requests, monitoring, guiding, and evaluating the development of the problem solution, together with the teacher. In addition, the fact that they were immersed in a practical environment and could make use of the devices employed in companies enabled them to solve problems when requested, with more facility and assertiveness. Semi‐structured interviews were conducted with the users who used the LMS.
... From this motivation, this paper describes a case study of an Enterprise Management Systems (EMS) course, part of an undergraduate course in Information Systems (IS). In order to align the purpose of this course to labour market demands, we chose to adopt the Problem-Based Learning approach (PBL), considering its increasing popularity in this area (Martin, 2005), (Tuohi, 2007), (Peng, 2010), (Zaharias, 2012), (Oliveira, Santos and Garcia, 2013), (Panwong, 2014), (Santos, Figueiredo and Wanderley, 2013), (Santos, Furtado and Lins, 2014), (Santos, Alexandre and Rodrigues, 2015). ...
... As points of improvement for the Framework, we highlight the need to use information technology to support their models, as well as a more procedural view of their implementation. These initiatives are being developed by the authors of this work, from the proposal of a PBL planning tool based on canvas and instructional cards (Alexandre and Santos, 2018); a Learning Management System (LMS) to conduct the evaluations of the PBL-Test model (Oliveira and Santos, 2016) and; a website as a guide to support the application of the Framework, allowing the access to its artifacts and systems. ...
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The dynamism of the global economy and its growing dependence on Information Technology, more complex and integrated, has required a transformation in the education of software professionals with the focus on the development of skills such as teamwork, real practice of problem-solving, managerial profile and analysis of solutions. In this context, the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) approach falls as a glove for the training of professionals in these competencies. From this motivation, this paper describes the application of the PBL approach in an Information Systems course. Aiming the effectiveness of this approach, the Framework described in (Santos and Rodrigues, 2016) was applied, which proposes tools for the planning, execution, monitoring, and improvements of PBL. The results showed the suitability of the Framework for this purpose, describing how it was applied and how the PBL can be managed, besides emphasizing main benefits and improvement points from this application.
... As a student-centered approach, the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) method allows an active and collaborative attitude of students during problem-solving, promoting multiple learning and allowing interpersonal aspects as well be developed and/or improved. Because of this, there is a need to develop an appropriate assessment, in all of these aspects, as implemented in the context of computer courses, the PBL offers students problems of complexity similar to real [3]. ...
Conference Paper
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this paper is to provide a clear link between the theoretical principles of constructivism and the practice of instructional design and the practice of teaching. We will begin with a basic characterization of constructivism identifying what we believe to be the central principles in learning and understanding. We will then identify and elaborate on eight instructional principles for the design of a constructivist learning environment. Finally, we will exam what we consider to be one of the best exemplars of a constructivist learning environment -- Problem Based Learning as described by Barrows (1985, 1986, 1992) at the Southern Illinois University Medical School and at the Problem Based Learning Institute for high school teachers .
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