Arm Education Media Textbook Added to Jisc Further Education Offerings

Arm Education Media’s textbook, Embedded Systems Fundamentals, has been selected by Jisc, via competitive tender, for its e-Books for FE program.

Arm Education Media was recently selected as one of several publishers to contribute to Jisc’s ongoing e-Books for FE program.  The successful title was the textbook, Embedded Systems Fundamentals with ARM Cortex-M based Microcontrollers: A Practical Approach, by Professor Alex Dean from North Carolina State University. 

Jisc is a not-for-profit organisation that provides technology solutions for the UK’s education and research sector.  Amongst its catalogue of services specific to FE is the e-books collection, which comprises a range of free, curriculum-mapped text books.

Jisc’s endorsement means that students at every FE college in the UK can now access this foundational textbook in Computer Science and Informatics.  This represents an important milestone for Arm Education Media as a new publisher, launched in late 2016.  Working in partnership is part of our DNA, and our agreement with Jisc represents the latest in a wide range of collaborations we are striking globally.

The story so far

For readers who are not familiar with Arm Education Media, here’s a summary of our story so far:

There is a growing gap between what educational institutions are teaching, and the knowledge and skills required in today’s job market, especially in engineering disciplines. This gap is often referred to as the “education gap”, “skills gap” or “skills mismatch”. The gap is exacerbated by the unprecedented pace of technological change and the pressure on many academics to balance teaching with research.

To help address this gap, Arm launched Arm Education Media, a new publishing operation within Arm Ltd, the world’s leading semiconductor IP provider.  With our ecosystem of partners whose hardware and software reach 80% of the global population, Arm is very well placed to play a leading role in addressing the electronics and computing skills gap. 

 Arm Education Media’s participation in Jisc’s e-Books for FE program was driven by three trends currently dominating the UK’s engineering education discourse:

Lowering the cost of engineering education

The 2016 Gatsby Charitable Foundation / Royal Academy of Engineering report on Engineering facilities in further education colleges in England has called for increased collaboration between employers and colleges to address, and mitigate against, the spiralling costs associated with delivering engineering education.[1] 

Addressing declining participation rates

Engineering UK has highlighted that the recent ten-year high in engineering-related apprenticeships in England has been offset by a 25% decline in UK domiciled engineering graduates since 2014 / 2015.  This represents an annual shortfall of about 20,000 graduates per year.

Addressing the ‘skills gap’ in electronic engineering

Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, autonomous cars and the Internet of Things are forecast to have a transformative and disruptive effect on the global economy over the next ten years.[2]  The successful implementation of these technologies relies heavily on the next generation of engineers having a thorough understanding of these new ‘digital skills’, whose foundations are addressed by Arm Education Media products.

 Addressing the ‘skills gap’ in electronic engineering

The fourth industrial revolution

In order to be at the forefront of this ‘fourth industrial revolution’, it’s imperative that the UK not only increases participation rates in engineering, but produces a workforce with the requisite skillsets.

It’s an area that the current government has already begun to address, especially at the school and college level, in its “Digital skills embedded in education” policy as part of the UK Digital Strategy 2017 document.  Both the micro:bit and Raspberry Pi (both Arm-based) have been referenced as two platforms that could deliver these new digital skills to students.[3]

We believe that the pedagogical outcomes of the textbook, and our publishing program more broadly, are specifically aligned to address some important challenges presented by these trends, namely:

  1. Enabling an educational eco-system in which industry can contribute to the education of the next generation of STEM pupils through the delivery of up-to-date and relevant teaching materials.
  2. Creating affordable, relevant and easy to understand textbooks and online courses that remove entry barriers to teaching electronic engineering, based on ubiquitous Arm-based IP and systems.
  3. Attracting new participants and increasing diversity in engineering, via accessible teaching materials.

Addressing the points

How does Embedded Systems Fundamentals with ARM Cortex-M based Microcontrollers: A Practical Approach, specifically address these three points?

The author, Dr. Alexander G. Dean has developed various courses on embedded systems at North Carolina State University since 2001. The pedagogy of the textbook is based on his commercial experience as a consultant on over 70 industrial embedded system software design reviews and training engagements. As a result, the materials presented in the textbook focus on the appropriate skillsets that are industry relevant, and highly desired by companies using microcontrollers and embedded systems to deliver their technology solutions.

The textbook uses a a sub $20 Arm Cortex M0+ microcontroller platform to demonstrate fundamental embedded systems design and programming concepts and techniques. The low cost and rich feature set nature of such platforms puts them in easy reach of most students and colleges looking to learn and teach embedded systems. Additionally, students and educators can take advantage of the thousands of pre-written software applications which can be easily downloaded onto the board via Mbed.com.  This opens the world of microcontrollers and embedded systems to students who would otherwise not engage with this technology.  

Summary

In summary, we believe Embedded Systems Fundamentals provides students with a low cost and accessible entry point into the world of embedded systems, microcontrollers and coding. Most importantly, by enabling universal access to this content within the UK FE community, we believe this will introduce the subject area to a wider and diverse cohort of students who would otherwise not have access to, or be inclined to access, this material. 

We look forward to hearing feedback from the FE community on our content, and welcome any suggestions on how we can continue our partnership with UK academic institutions.

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[1]
Royal Academy of Engineering - Engineering facilities in further education colleges in England (PDF)
[2] World Economic Forum - Future of Jobs
[3] Department for Digital, Culture Media & Sport - Policy paper - UK Digital Strategy 2017

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