Paper ID 114

A Course Concept to Support the Globalization in Higher Education

Axel Hunger, Stefan Werner, André Bresges and Frank Schwarz

Gerhard Mercator University Duisburg

Department of Dataprocessing

Bismarckstr. 81, 47057 Duisburg, Germany

e-mail: {hunger | swerner | bresges | schwarz}@uni-duisburg.de

 

 

A Course Concept to Support the Globalization in Higher Education

Axel Hunger, Stefan Werner, André Bresges and Frank Schwarz
Gerhad Mercator University Duisburg

Abstract

A new international degree course in "Computer Science and Communications Engineering" (CSCE) at Gerhard-Mercator-University (Germany) has started very successfully. The curriculum covers new media and communication technology. Further steps are added to expand the globalization of this new degree course. A virtual information and consulting center, which prepares the students for their study, is set up. The offer for students to stay abroad is improved. In order to develop and test new kinds of teaching and learning in multimedia environments an international university co-operation network is being established.

International degree course in Computer Science and Communications Engineering

The Faculty of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Gerhard-Mercator-University Duisburg in Germany first offered the new international degree course during winter semester 1997/98. This degree course is equally aimed at Germans as well as foreign students. The course curriculum focuses on the new media and communication technologies that have evolved over recent years through the fusion of computer science and information technology. The degree course has been designed to serve two purposes. Firstly, to make it easier for foreign students to study at the Gerhard-Mercator-University Duisburg. Secondly, it is concerned with providing German students with an opportunity to qualify for the global labour market. The course covers a minimum of 9 semesters, during which time students are also required to complete six months of industrial training. After successful completion of the course, students have the choice of graduating as a German Diplom-Ingenieur or Master of Science. For foreign students entering at higher level, such as Bachelor of Science, graduation as M.Sc. is possible. [1]

The international flair of the degree course results from the addressed target group, the offer of German- and English-language lectures, studying in a multicultural surrounding and the obligation for German students to study abroad.

A Concept to support globalization

The establishment of international degree courses is a first step towards the globalization of university education. The Gerhard-Mercator-University Duisburg plans to complement this first approach with the following measures:

(a) Setting up a virtual information and consulting center in the Internet to prepare the students for the study.

The informing and consulting of students has an outstanding importance concerning the globalization of studying. Within the degree course CSCE, the applicants from foreign countries get into first contact almost exclusively by e-mail. They also get their first information about the program via the internet. The task of the CONGA-Project is to develop an information and consulting center in the internet, which provides the students with all organizational and competent information. This system takes over the ‘standard consultation’ and supports the students in choosing their subject and place of study. For this purpose, the establishment of an intelligent WEB-information system is planned. This system comprises of a web-site, a web database and a knowledge base, including rules.

The web site and its agent lead the student through the internet, detailing the offerings of the international degree course. The web database includes the curriculum and a textual description of all lectures of the degree course. To compare this curriculum with those of other universities it is planned that the database will contain the curricula and the description of the lectures of the other universities, too. The knowledge base contains conversion tables for different credit points systems and rules for the acceptance procedure. By means of this system, interested students are able to inform themselves in advance. In the next step they are advised interactively after entering information about their personal background. Students who have already achieved a degree can use the system, its database and the knowledge base to get a non-binding classification and an individual degree course scheme. All additional formalities, e.g. application form, assistance for visa application etc. can be received by the system as well.

(b) Improving the offer for the students to stay abroad.

An international degree course also requires a stay abroad beside other measures. The examination regulations of the degree course CSCE demands staying at least one semester abroad. During this time the student can perform a practical training in the industrial field or can study at a partner university and take examinations. Concerning this, we are establishing an international university network (see below) and we are looking for further contacts to foreign industrial companies. At the same time, we produce an offer for students of other degree courses abroad who want to spend their stay in Germany. This offer is a packet which is made up of several modules.

(c) Origin of an International University Co-operation Network (IUCN) with mutual acknowledgement of curricula and degrees.

From the reform character of the new degree course results demands and opportunities for the development of new teaching concepts. For this reason, we are engaged in building up an International University Co-operation Network (IUCN) to realize common projects for developing and trying out new kinds of teaching and learning in multimedia environments. The main activity within the IUCN is the development of methods and tools for joint courses with a view of different regions, times and cultures. Every partner brings in his results from research and development projects.

The student who studies abroad at a foreign university gets credits points at the home university, because of mutual acknowledgement of chosen lectures. Global offers for these lectures (e.g. via CD-ROM, Internet, videoconferencing etc.) support the student during the stay abroad.

At present, universities and institutes from Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia and the United States of America. have signed to join the International University Co-operation Network. And we are going to extend this concept to a broader spectrum of international university partnerships.

(d) Introduction of forward-looking communication and working methods in the study, e.g. video conferencing and telecommunication.

The ‘Passenger’ project represents one of our pillars in research activities. Within this project we develop new concepts and tools for the university education in the subject Software-Engineering. [2]

The Passenger project consists of the following modules:

Our main activities concentrate on the Passenger Case & Video Tool (PCVT). It is currently being developed for a practical training on software engineering. A group of three students who are distributed all over the world communicate with this tool via an audio and video conference and use an additional case tool to design models carrying out the methods to design Real-Time-Software.

It is a tool which differs from other available systems in the market. In comparison with others it uses a session control in order to assign the users special permissions to act. The students meet once a week to discuss items on the developing project. A tutor joins the session in order to support the students. He joins the conference via the audio- and video conference, too. The developing charts are presented, discussed, and changed during the session using the common shared case.

Conclusion and Prospect

In this paper we described the successful start of the new degree course in "Computer Science and Communications Engineering" at Gerhard-Mercator-University Duisburg, Germany. Further we showed the development potential and steps toward a course concept to support the globalization in university education.

References

[1] Hunger, A.; Werner, S. "A Course Curriculum and a Multimedia Concept for an internationally orientated Degree Course" In Proceedings of the CATE '98, IASTED/ACTA Press, ISBN 0-88986-258-3, Page 25-28,

[2] Hunger, A.; Werner, S.: "Possibilities and Limitations of a Computer Supported Cooperative Learning Environment within a Spatially Distributed Practical Training" In Proceedings of the Euromedia '98, SCS Publishing, ISBN 1-56555-140-0, 1998, page 235-237.