Diagnose, Analysis, and Proposal of Project Based Learning (PBL): A Case for Analog Communications Course
A. Fernandez, Eduardo
R. Martín, Carolina
Fernandez Samacá, Liliana
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This paper makes a diagnose, analysis, and proposal of PBL, focusing on different strategies to overcome weakness in the theoretical background of signal and systems curriculum crucial for an analog communication course. The strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) matrix was used as a tool to diagnose the results on learning using the traditional curricula. An analysis of surveys to students after finish their courses during three semesters, suggests that due to the lack of context applications using concepts such us Fast Fourier Transform, forced the students to face difficulties in understanding the basics of signal parameter measurements like the application of Rayleigh and Parseval theorems to characterize and model signals typically used in communication systems and their effects after operation with signal information. With this diagnosis, the stage was possible to identify that some facts could be used to improve the learning process. Therefore, a design of PBL for an analog communications course consists of math procedures applied to solve organized and small sequential tasks, to implement a radio transmission system through different operations and modeling of distortive phenomenal on signals as key elements to approach real-life scenario and looking for enhance their knowledge and skills. In a first trial the students understood how to obtain the energy and power of signals using theorems, properties, plotting the spectrum of signals, introducing noise to model the channel, measuring effects on signals, and performing the modulation and demodulation process to recover information over the different stages of the communication system. Besides, the course demanded concepts on information digitizing because the final project required specific knowledge of analog-to-digital conversion at the transmitter side, and digital-to-analog at the receiver side. The demonstration was achieved by programming Universal Software Radio Peripherical (USRP) devices and GNU Radio to validate the transmission for amplitude modulation (AM) and frequency modulation (FM). This proposal as a first trial in the telecommunications area will motivate and give the answers to define the adoption of the PBL methodology in our teaching and learning process. The trial for two more semesters will look to consolidate the theoretical and experimental skills through validation of the fundamental concepts used in an application case for analog communication systems.