Title: Exploratory learning of electronic systems based on finite state machines

Authors: Domenico Ponta, Olga Beltcheva

Addresses: Department of Biophysical and Electronics Engineering, University of Genoa, Via Opera Pia 11A, I-16145 Genoa, Italy. ' Department of Biophysical and Electronics Engineering, University of Genoa, Via Opera Pia 11A, I-16145 Genoa, Italy

Abstract: The paper presents a computer-assisted methodology for teaching the design of digital systems based on finite state machines (FSMs). Exploratory learning can be helpful in this process because design skills come usually after repeated practice and analysis of existing implementations. The basic methodology is to build a software model that shows the same behaviour as the system to be taught. The model provides three different representations of the algorithm: state, time, network. Exploring the model means to stimulate the system with inputs and observe the resulting changes in the outputs and the system state. The level of interactivity may vary from a simple animation of a fixed behaviour to active simulation of more complex systems and interactive construction of algorithms. Experience of using this methodology helps the introduction of active simulation of systems designed by the learner and the transition from exploratory learning to real design practice. The presented environment supporting exploratory learning is currently used in Electrical Engineering courses.

Keywords: digital systems; exploratory learning; finite state machines; FSM modelling; learning environments; simulation; animation; electrical engineering education.

DOI: 10.1504/IJCEELL.1999.030154

International Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life-Long Learning, 1999 Vol.9 No.3/4, pp.262 - 274

Published online: 11 Dec 2009 *

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