Basic information

The Interactive Course for Control Theory directly addresses the sectoral priority "Supporting the use of digital technologies to improve pedagogies and assessment methods". Based on the surveys we have made, it is the most desirable way for students to study Control Theory related subjects. When checking student forums for various courses, one of the most common questions is: "Does anyone have any previous exams". This means that students find it very useful to know, how the exam will look like. They namely often get surprised by the type of question and not by the matter itself. So, the assessment might not be done properly because of that. By the inclusion of the Exam examples into the interactive course we think the assessment process will be improved

The horizontal priority "Open education and innovative practices in a digital era" will also be directly addressed because the final version of the Interactive Course for Control Theory will be made available for anyone on project homepage. It will be available in english and in the languages of the partners. Interestied parties will be able to download it freely and translate it into their own language. We intend to develop and extend the Interactive Course for Control Theory after the project completion as well. The project homepage will function as a forum, where good ideas and practices which can be incorporated into the Interactive Course will be shared

1. The context of the project

The idea for the project first appeared during a conversation of the former members of the Intelligent Control Sytems lab (Hashimoto lab) of the University of Tokyo. Primož Podržaj, Peter Korondi, Michelle Lanzetta, and Dražen Brščić are now namely all lecturers of Control Systems’ related topics at their universities. The problem was brought out by Primož Podržaj, who is lecturing two courses directly related with Control Theory and one which is more related to practice. Each year student surveys are made for all the courses and all the grades for theoretical courses are being significantly lower than the ones for the practical course. The students can also write comments for each subject. Based on them, it can be concluded that many of them fail to recognize the purpose of the subjects. This problem existed to a much smaller extent in the past as well. But in recent years it is becoming more and more pronounced. In recent years (Bologna reform) the study programs were modified in such a way, that the emphasis (contact hours) shifted from mathematics to more applied courses. This can be understood because the industry needs engineers with new expertise (computer programming, finite element modelling, etc.) which was not needed to such an extent 10 and more years ago. During the conversations among the above mentioned lecturers, it was established that we all share the same problem. The Control Theory is namely a very specific topic which can only be build upon a solid knowledge of mathematics. All the systems are dynamic and therefore modelled by differential equations. Students are familiar with differential equations for simple (at most second order) systems. But when such systems are interconnected they start lacking solid knowledge. When later during the course they encounter Laplace and Fourier transforms, frequency plots etc., they simply give up and just say that the course has no applied value. This dissatisfaction is then also expressed in the surveys

2. The needs

Control Theory is a topic that finds a widespread application throughout engineering and natural sciences. It is very common in electrical, mechanical and process engineering. Especially from the point of view of Industry 4.0, it is clear that a thorough understanding of the concepts lectured within Control Theory related subjects is needed. In order to offer further help to students, when they study Control theory, the following survey was made (two questions with possible answers):

1. How would you rate the difficulty of Control Theory in relation to other courses?

  • Much easier

  • Easier

  • Approximately the same

  • More difficult

  • Much more difficult

2. What is/would be you preferred way of studying it:

  • Lectures

  • Reading a textbook

  • Interactive course

  • Consultations

The survey clearly shows that Control Theory is difficult and that an interactive course for Control Theory is needed

3. The objectives

The main objective of the project is the development of an interactive course for Control Theory mentioned above

During the development of the course an exchange of ideas and good practices of all the stakeholders (students and teachers) from various countries and various background knowledge will be obtained

4. Target groups

The project will directly involve:

  • teachers and researchers of partner universities in the relevant fields,

  • students of partner universities studying in study programs that include “Control theory” courses

After the project is completed, the interactive course will be made available for students and teachers of other universities as well. We namely plan to keep enhancing it even after the project completion based on the feedback obtained by people not directly involved in the project