Hewlett Packard (The Interdisciplinary Learning Laboratory)

Developing a Distributed Environment For Collaborative Learning

This project develops an innovative, technology-based, and interdisciplinary approach to learning in a distributed laboratory environment. Through the Interdisciplinary Learning Laboratory Program, the Colleges of Engineering and Business Administration at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) expands and leverages their technological resources to better prepare graduate and undergraduate students for the new demands of the high-tech, collaborative workplace.

This project has been supported by a significant number of HP employees from local offices in Southern California who are involved in recruiting and participate on campus boards at CSULB. With HP support, CSULB launched a new, integrated and collaborative curriculum that enables students from the College of Engineering’s Computer Engineering and Computer Science Department and from the College of Business Administration’s Information Systems Department to collaboratively learn the hard skills of software development, and also acquire those increasingly critical soft skills of project management and interdisciplinary teamwork. CSULB augments the resources available for student use by integrating and expanding the existing Rapid Applications Development lab and Networking and Telecommunications lab.


 The Interdisciplinary Learning Laboratory Program

In today’s work environment of self-managed, interdisciplinary teams and movement of specialists between teams, new employees are only partially prepared, even if they bring highly developed technological skills to the organization. The new academia must provide opportunities for its computer science and information systems students to appreciate their distinct, but mutually beneficial expertise—long before they work together on collaborative corporate projects.

The College of Engineering’s Computer Engineering and Computer Science Department, and the College of Business Administration’s Information Systems Department developed the Interdisciplinary Learning Laboratory Program (ILLP) with the lead of the Center for Information Systems and Technologies (CIST). This Program has two comprehensive goals: (1) foster an opportunity for learning through an innovative pedagogy that allows students to develop hard technological skills of computer science and management information systems, while they gain experience in the human interaction skills needed for user requirement analysis, design, project management, risk evaluation, and collaborative teamwork; and (2) to provide interdisciplinary teams of students with a hands-on, distributive laboratory environment in which they can work to achieve collaborative goals.

The Colleges of Engineering and Business Administration reaches these goals through three objectives that reflect the University’s support of leveraged technological and human resources. First, we have coordinated existing, upper-division undergraduate and graduate classes between the CECS and IS departments. This coordination allows students from these classes to share physical and networked lab space and to collaborate on student projects. For example, a CECS basic course in database systems was matched with an IS course on systems analysis and design; an advanced database implementation course in CECS is matched with the IS course on data mining, data warehousing and marketing applications of massive data;

As the second objective, we used the best technology currently available in existing labs as a base, and provide technology to equip two additional labs—one in each of the two colleges. Engineering developed another RAD lab with small HP servers and high-end clients; Business creates another networking and telecommunications lab with HP clients for additional and varied capabilities.

Students in each of the collaborating courses can communicate with their team partners via the Net and through group meetings.   In addition, faculty, graduate and undergraduate students conduct research experiments and other projects in these labs. The ILLP is directed by Dr. H. Michael Chung, Director of the CIST and Professor of Information Systems.

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