Education, further education and training in the field of microelectronics/computer and communications technology are currently at the focus of public interest. Highly qualified experts are desperately needed in these areas which have an excellent future market potential. Future-oriented approaches for university and school courses and for home study and exploratory learning are, however, non-existent.
A science that people can understand
When students chose their subjects they generally shun those which involve the theory and the technical aspects of the field of signals – processes – systems. These subjects have a bad reputation because they are regarded as "difficult" and because there are many hurdles to overcome, both with regard to the preparation for a degree course and to the course itself.
Universities and industry have done very little so far to remove these obstacles, although the above-mentioned field is connected with the most important, high-turnover industry and service sector.
As a instructor for teachers, the author was shocked when he found that worldwide there was apparently no convincing basic didactic concept in the field of microelectronics, computer-, communications- and automation technology for those preparing to study these subjects or already attending a university course. He asked himself why university courses overemphasised the theoretical aspects, whereas job training was practice-orientated. He arrived at the conclusion that, particularly in the above- mentioned field, theory and practice must form an integrated whole.
The following anecdote highlights the theory/practice dilemma: 14 trainee teachers are taking part in a seminar on telecommunications/technical informatics. All of them are engineers with university diplomas, some of them even have practical job experience. One of them is faced with the problem of having to conduct a sequence of lessons on control engineering at a vocational school. Consequently, the agenda of the seminar is changed to "didactic reduction and elementarisation". All the trainee teachers attending took part in lectures, seminars and practicals on control engineering as a part of their degree course. When the trainer asks them if they remember a basic term or concept in control engineering they hesitate and eventually come up with Laplace transformation. When they are asked what the term is about they have to admit, rather sheepishly, that they can do calculations using the relevant formula, but do not really have any idea about the fundamental background.
It cannot be denied that topics that are taught at universities are largely taken in as mere facts and then applied without reflection and a deeper understanding of the subject matter. But there are alternative ways of teaching topics to improve the efficiency of the learning process and use the time involved economically.
In short: the learning system presented here uses various different methods aimed at
- providing access to the fascinating discipline of Signals – Processes – Systems even for those who have not had any previous scientific experience in this academic field.
- improving the symbiosis of theory and practice while taking a degree course
- facilitating the transition from university to job life for graduates to avoid a "practice-shock".
- This book has an interdisciplinary approach and involves sciences which deal with communication in the widest sense if they are of didactic relevance in the achievement of an objective.
Teaching and learning are communicative phenomena. This book considers the findings of recent brain research on visual learning and the development of consciousness (by interaction with the outside world) and the findings of the psychology of learning. Over two hundred high-quality illustrations and designs for transparencies, simulations and experiments form the core of this learning system.
The subject matter is illustrated and backed up mainly with reference to physics. Electromagnetic oscillations, waves and quantums are information carriers; there is a physical exchange between transmitter and receiver. The technology involved here is defined quite simply as the sensible and responsible application of the laws of nature because in technology – including the field of Signals – Processes – Systems – nothing works unless it is in accord with these laws.
There is a wealth of specialist literature in all languages available using mathematical models to explain phenomena in signalling systems. This approach is also very popular with university lecturers. But instead of adding yet another publication based on this approach, the most important methodological measure in this book is to avoid using mathematical models. This methodological approach aims at removing obstacles for learners and facilitating access to this discipline.
This learning system thus complements in an ideal way the materials used by university lecturers. In addition, it caters for the vast number of people for whom access to this discipline has been very difficult.
The central idea of this system of learning is the implementation of a professional development environment for the graphic programming of signal processing systems. In accordance with this further obstacles have been removed along with algorithms and programming languages whereby it becomes possible to focus on signal processing itself.
DASYLab working in the background makes real signal processing and simulation possible. The software provides an almost ideal and complete experimental laboratory with all imaginable "equipment" and measuring instruments. DASYLab is distributed worldwide by National Instruments Services GmbH & Co KG (Moenchengladbach) – a subsidiary of National Instruments in Austin, Texas – in many countries and languages with great success and is used in the field of measurement and automatic control technology. Whereas the individual industrial licence is by no means affordable in the context of training or education programmes this educational system comes with a study version which has the same performance and which is supplied practically free of charge. It is very easy to operate and offers all the possibilities of developing, modifying, optimising, discarding and redesigning one's own systems or applications.
The electronic document
The CD contains the complete electronic document – plus multimedia and interactive features – including all the programs, videos, handbooks etc. The learning system SiProSys.pdf is identical with the book.