Creative Education
2012. Vol.3, Supplement, 141-144
Published Online December 2012 in SciRes ( DOI:10.4236/ce.2012.37B037
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Investigate on the Teaching Method for the Course
“Embedded System”
Shurui Fan1, Jianfei Liu1, Yanfei Zhao2
1School of Information Engineering, Hebei University of Technology, Tianjin, China
2Office of Information Dissemination, Water Authority of Tianjin, Tianjin, China
Received 2012
Embedded System is a course which has a close relationship with the embedded operating systems, em-
bedded software course and hardware for Electronic Information Engineering Specialty. We reform sub-
ject “Embedded System” with the rapid development of Internet of Things around the 32-bit ARM pro-
cessor and Linux operating systems, combined with the embedded industry and analysis of personnel
training requirement. Practice has proved that we can obtain a significant effect by a variety of ways prac-
tice teaching methods such as formation of interest groups, the use of race to promote education, race and
promote, to point to an area of practice teaching model, learning by doing.
Keywords: Embedded System; Internet of Things; Curriculum Reform; Learning by Doing
Since 1990s, under the traction of the huge demand for dis-
tributed control, flexible manufacturing, digital communica-
tions and digital home appliances, the embedded systems
hardware and software technologies accelerate the development
of further expansion of application fields. Mobile phones, digi-
tal cameras, VCD, digital televisions, routers, are embedded
systems. The most luxury sedans each with about 50 embedded
microprocessors. About 1000 microprocessors assembled in the
latest Boeing 777 wide-body airliner. Tens to hundreds of em-
bedded system for you at home can be found in the near future.
The development of IoT requires huge mass of microprocessor
[1,2]. Powerful, highly integrated, a wide range of inexpensive,
low-power 32-bit chips have been widely used in a variety of
military and civilian equipment.
The Requirement Analysis of Embedded
Systems Industry
At present, the embedded system has been widely used in
consumer electronics, communications, automotive, defense,
aerospace, industrial control, instrumentation, office automation
and other fields. Embedded System has brought more than $ 1
trillion [3] for industrial output value.
The Basic Requirements of Embedded Systems on the
Human Capacity
Embedded systems application developers in the future work
have to face a wide variety of development tools, all kinds of
RTOS performance mixed a variety of unique application re-
quirements [4]. When developers face any specific application
requirements, select the right platform from the existing prod-
ucts to cater for the final application and how to plan, design,
and divide the hardware and software to shorten product de-
velopment cycle and improve product reliability, how to inte-
grate existing technologies and effective cooperation with other
collaborative units, is the highest requirements of embedded
systems developers.
The basic requirement is skill C or C + + language and Java,
assembly language programming for embedded application
developers [5]. To deal with hardware, assembly language and
C language should be mastered by programmers of embedded
systems. Java is generally used to write applications. Java is
cross-platform and easy to transplant which characteristics
demonstrated unparalleled advantages in embedded applica-
Classification Requirements of the Personnel
Based on the embedded system personnel training, personnel
can be divided into the following categories:
1) System integration and design staff
Such people must be familiar with the various RTOS and
associated tools, and have deep research on the hardware, oper-
ating system and application software design. They should
participate and presided over product development, who are
familiar with the development process, skilled use of debugging
tools with solving the debugging more experience. The basic
requirement is a strong foundation of professional knowledge
and clear thinking to solve problems.
2) Driver writers
Write device drivers, embedded software engineers will
consume a lot of time. Because the embedded system is a tai-
lor-made system, the application may be faced with a different
hardware environment, needs the different configuration what
leads to the applied difference. You need to write the appropri-
ate driver when the system to add a device, so the workload is
relatively huge. In the process of the development process,
some companies do not assign dedicated driver programmer,
but appeal to do related work by the company offering RTOS,
its benefits are written procedures more professional and better
co-ordination with the operating system, but this also takes a lot
of money costs. In desktop applications, application software
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
programmers do not need this type of programmer, because the
equipment used are mostly standard equipment and the equip-
ment for writing drivers is less because of that the driver have
been provided by the manufacturer. The device driver is a spe-
cial class of programs which is hardware-oriented. Program-
ming methods also has its own characteristics and requirements,
but also for programmers should be familiar with the hardware
3) Application writers
They write applications in the embedded system develop-
ment platform. Access to relate equipment has also been im-
plemented by the device driver because of hardware layer has
been managed by the embedded operating system. Application
programmers only need to be familiar with the API functions
provided by provided by the operating system and drivers by
which can control and use the related hardware, and program-
ming in the desktop system is no more different. The main dif-
ference lies in the future code debugging. We nurture talent in
this area, requiring the application requirements of different
industries to the preparation of related application software.
Status Quo of Nurturing the Talent of the
Embedded System
Defined by the IEEE (The Institute of Electrical and Elec-
tronic Engineers), embedded system is devices used to control,
monitor or assist the operation of equipment, machinery or
plants. At present, a widely recognized definition is: Applica-
tion-centric, based on computer technology, software and
hardware can be cut to meet the stringent requirements of ap-
plication functionality, reliability, cost, size, power consump-
tion dedicated computer system. Embedded systems are gener-
ally composed by four parts of the embedded microprocessor,
hardware peripherals, embedded operating system and user
applications, roughly divided into hardware and software.
Complete curriculum system of "embedded systems" should
also contain an embedded processor, the processor interface
design, embedded operating systems, application design, and
software and hardware are closely related to guide program
Analy sis in Offered Courses
The partial focus of the course in domestic colleges and uni-
versities is slightly different, divided into full-and focused type
according to the professional background of the students.
Course modular of Nanjing University Software College set
of three modules: embedded hardware platforms (microproces-
sors, memory, I / O, ARM and XScale-command system and
the system structure), embedded operating system (the charac-
teristics of process scheduling storage management, μC / OS,
Linux porting, device drivers and application development,
embedded application development (based on μC / OS, Linux,
WinCE, etc.). Department of Computer Science of Tsinghua
University divides the curriculum into five parts: an overview
of embedded systems, hardware environment, software envi-
ronment, development tools and debugging techniques for em-
bedded applications. Two school curriculums can be seen as a
comprehensive type. The holistic curriculum requires the stu-
dents be familiar with the principles of operating system, but
also to have some knowledge of the processor interface, and a
higher demand for teachers. However, in the view of embedded
system courses afford mostly for electronic information and
computer science students, relatively few comprehensive edu-
cation. Limiting course hours, more comprehensive under-
standing at the same time, they take the form of a slightly fo-
"Embedded systems" courses in School of Software and Mi-
croelectronics of Beijing University include: embedded operat-
ing systems, embedded systems design, embedded software
development, this is the type of a focus on software develop-
ment. More schools adopt a focus on embedded processor to
carry out teaching, such as the Chengdu Institute of Information
Engineering, Sichuan University, School of Electronic Infor-
mation, and Tongji University, Computer Science and Tech-
Where the School of Electronics and Information students
have a good hardware development background and have solid
C programming language based, but relatively unknown oper-
ating system, so the curriculum to avoid the principle of the
embedded operating system. The definition of an embedded
system, which also determines the embedded systems courses
also application-oriented curriculum development mode. The
embedded systems course content includes four major compo-
nents of the embedded hardware, embedded software platform,
embedded development tools and embedded application devel-
opment, content organization and selection can not only dem-
onstrate to the students the whole picture of the embedded
technology and unique knowledge, and other professional
courses complement each other, to avoid duplicate content. In
addition to imparting knowledge, this course has special em-
phasis on training and individualized, the ability of students to
practice in the course on the experimental aspects of the design
contains more than the basic experiment, and optional big ex-
periment, so that students in one semester full contact with the
actual system hardware and application software code to over-
come the current professional personnel training the application
of the "principle of light" the outstanding problems, dig out the
students courage to the potential for hands-on practice; This
course is also individualized educational philosophy as a guide,
students can choose from the creative big experiment a most
interesting experiment, give full play to the wisdom and talents
of all students, so students can get exercise and harvest.
The Special Requirements of Embedded Systems
Personnel Training
The field of embedded systems is very large, it needs know-
ledge not only contains the microprocessor, computer architec-
ture, micro-computer theory, computer interface technology,
circuit and electronics technology, integrated circuit technology,
operating systems and RTOS, digital signal processing and
human-type intelligent, firmware, and middleware design and
integration of sensor technology is also included in the applica-
tion, data acquisition, detection, control technology and net-
work programming and other related professional knowledge.
1) Embedded systems both software and hardware
Research and development of embedded systems requires not
only investment in software talents, but also need the hardware
platform to achieve its function. This requires that the software
talents have a certain hardware background, even more than the
operating system's own research and development background
of the hardware. From the current status of the domestic point
of view, the real thinker and programming but also understands
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
the hardware really is rare . Some engineers active in this in-
dustry use 8-bit microcontroller a dozen years ago, but the
knowledge of these engineers have also been aging, 32-bit mi-
crocontrollers for them or a new topic. At present, the applica-
tion stuff of embedded systems is very scarce, and many em-
bedded systems are also aware of this problem is restricting the
development of the company are actively looking for such tal-
2) Requirements of embedded systems course teachers
Embedded systems R & D personnel need not only under-
stands programming but also understands the hardware and
corresponding software and hardware combination of teachers
needs. Curriculum for students of information engineering
should be partial to hardware-oriented system and teachers also
need to have some basis of the operating system, at least have
engaged in the development of complete embedded systems.
Otherwise, techers do not quite understand the process of em-
bedded development tools how the students play the role of
teaching doubts.
2) The special requirements of embedded systems laboratory
Desktop development in embedded systems development
process is much more difficult, although the code generation
process is not very different, but debugging there night and day
points. Embedded systems programming is completed in the
host, but the code running on the target platform. Download
from the host after the completion of the program compiled and
linked to the target platform to run on and debugging of the
code must be by virtue of a variety of different tools and
equipment to complete. Code debugging of embedded systems
will account for most of the time of the entire development task,
so a good development tools have a huge impact on students’
learning. In the laboratory building, enterprise-level debugging
and development platform should be established so that the
students are still on the job to be able to use out of the school
development tools and development platforms after school.
A Discussion on the Teaching Meth od
The embedded system consists of computer software and
hardware technology, communications technology and semi-
conductor microelectronics technology constitute and the cor-
responding computer directly embedded into the application
system for the practical application of system requirements.
Embedded system design requires designers with strong theo-
retical knowledge and practical ability, comprehensive ability
of the designer, especially the innovative ability of the test.
"Embedded systems" course is an extension of the ability of
basic courses and specialized courses for undergraduate before
three years. Embedded system is involved in a wide range of
knowledge in particular. The more study, the more enigmatic
students feel. In the traditional teaching mode that talk about
the concept of that principle, you must have a wide range of
expertise, especially need to know a lot of hardware and soft-
ware knowledge to learning, and students mistakenly think that
embedded is an advanced course unattainable. Embedded sys-
tems cover a wide range of knowledge points. The pre-course
requirements relatively higher, the practice teaching is an ex-
cellent carrier, which can improve the ability of the students'
comprehensive application of knowledge and practical ability.
Teachers can carry out the engineering practice project to in-
crease the interest of student learning embedded systems, de-
velop students' practical ability. Schools organize students to
participate in the contest can enrich the campus academic at-
mosphere and develop students' ability to innovate and team
spirit. School-enterprise cooperation," make the students learn
more "targeted". Such three-dimensional practical teaching
system trains talents to meet the needs of society, to enhance
students' employability and competitiveness.
4) T he formation of interest groups, to guide students to par-
ticipate in the project of engineering practice
This paper proposed the new mode of practice teaching that
teacher guidance, students' participation in the project of engi-
neering practice which emblazes the students' enthusiasm. Em-
bedded system itself is a relatively comprehensive curriculum
which requires a higher level of student software, hardware and
hands-on ability. The students generally agreed that this course
is difficult, so to change the concept of student learning to mo-
bilize their learning enthusiasm to make it active learning. In-
terest groups play an important role in personality growth of
students with that classroom teaching can not be achieved or
can not be well reflected in the role of the effect. Use of good
quality teaching staff. The creation of interest groups, the
school must take advantage of a good school teachers of teach-
ers to promote personality development of students, teacher
personality. Observe, analyze, and take advantage of good stu-
dent's personality will enable students to get healthy and effec-
tive development in the creation of interest groups. Schools
make external personnel as teachers of the interest groups and
make good use of social advantage, open the world of the
second class.
5) Study a nd practice a new model "Race to promote educa-
tion, in order to point to race and promote learning,"of teaching
"Embedded system" is a new course in recent years, emerg-
ing, domestic and foreign university in the embedded teaching
is already in full swing. Ministry of Education attaches great
importance to college students in theory courses in embedded
systems and practice, especially in the National Undergraduate
Electronic Design Contest set Embedded Systems Project Invi-
tational, and the strong support of the Intel Corporation, the
National Development and Reform Commission also attaches
great importance to teaching and training in embedded systems,
and Microsoft Research Asia, jointly launched the "national
Development and Reform Commission - Microsoft embedded
system teaching package" program. In the international arena,
some internationally renowned organizations, such as IEEE,
Intel, Microsoft, are also introduced and embedded sys-
tems-related university programs and competitions. In accor-
dance with the requirements of the nationwide embedded com-
petition, they project development training. With new teaching
models in the "religion, race and promote the game to promote
learning, in order to point", they organize competitions and
development of engineering practice projects. The basic pur-
pose of the contest is to promote teaching. Requiring students
to master basic textbook knowledge can turn the knowledge
into practice.
The new teaching mode “race to promote education, race
promote learning, in order to point” can give students enough
space to develop their independent thinking, the ability to re-
solve and solidarity.
6) “Lea rni ng by doing”
Learning by doing”[6]is first proposed by the U.S. Carne-
gie Mellon University, aiming to strengthen the engineering
student practical ability and engineering literacy teaching mode.
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Learning by doing, the name suggests, is to enable students in
the process of "doing" in their own hands-on experience,
through their own knowledge acquisition, inductive and sum-
mary, to achieve the purpose of "learning" which is the biggest
difference between the students' class attendance and the tradi-
tional classroom the teacher teaching. Advanced teaching con-
cepts "Learning by doing" is introduced into the teaching em-
bedded courses in traditional endorsement of teaching model
for comprehensive reform and bold practice. Courses take a real
embedded project development process and methods as the
main line, "Project-driven, Case-oriented”[7] model as heuristic
teaching. In this way, students not only to deepen the under-
standing of embedded concepts and principles of the original
stay on the books, but in the end be able to complete a full, or
even creative embedded software works. This makes embedded
truly become a student tangible real lively courses.
Teaching of embedded systems reflects a basic, comprehen-
sive and practical characteristics and it is a combination of
theory and practice of courses. There is no unified teaching
system and norms because of domestic colleges and universities
embedded system education courses in the initial stage of the
newly opened and short multi-content class. Most teachers still
follow the traditional teaching model that first on the theory
class, and after the experiment instructions to experiment.
Many areas of teaching need to be further research to explore
and prac tice test.
Here and now, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all
those who have helped me make this thesis possible and better.
Firstly, I am deeply grateful to my honorable dean, Liu Jianfei,
who have encouraged the course improvement with patience
and given me instructive suggestions, and he also played an
important role in indicating a bright road in my career. Then
thanks to the professors, Jia Zhicheng and Zhou yatong, who
have helped me over the past decade years of working. Finally,
I am very grateful to my lovely friends and colleagues who
have offered me quiet situation to compose my thesis and dis-
cussed with me about my thesis.
Song Jun, Wang Yixiong, Xu Feng. IoT Oriented Reform in Embedded
System Experiment Teaching.Microcontrollers & Embedded Sys-
tems. 2011,4:1~2,22.
SONG Jun, WANG Yi- xiong, XU Feng. Reform of embedded system
expermients teaching oriented IoT. Laboratory Science. 2011, 1:
He Limin. Embedded System for Internet of Things. Microcontrollers
& Embedded Systems.2010,10:5~ 8.
He Limin. Age of the Internet of Things: Opportunities for Embedded
System. Microcontrollers & Embedded Systems.2011,3:1~3.
SUN Jing-wu, FAN Xiu -pin g, MA Ya-chao. Embedding teaching mode
and the applications in the software major. JOURNAL OFHEBEI
NORMAL UNIVERSITY/Educatio nal Science Edition . 2009, 11(2):
Zha Jianzhong. On CDIO Model under Learning by Doing Strategy.
Research in Higher Education of E ngineering.2008,3:1~6,9.
Wang Wenfu. Rational thinking of teaching reformation based on re-
markable engineer training demands CDIO-oriented teaching refor-
mation conception of cartography. Science of Surveying and Map-