Online education is continually evolving and as such, institutions are constantly looking for ways to improve the educational experience for students and ease the burden on professors. This becomes more critical when dealing with complex course material. For science, technology, education and mathematics (STEM) courses, finding the right tools is essential. When Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg in Sweden began offering mathematics courses online, they chose Möbius Courseware, the online courseware platform from DigitalEd, to enhance their online learning offerings.
Chalmers and Gothenburg University introduced a joint massive open online course (MOOC) in 2007, their first online offering. It has proven to be a popular course, with more than 13,000 students enrolling to date. The bridging course, which prepares high school students for post-secondary studies, consists of 19 tests in Möbius Assessment, DigitalEd’s testing and assessment software, that summarize and deepen the knowledge students received in high school. Students are given print and .pdf versions of a course book and have access to instructional videos, a message board, and teaching assistance via online chat or phone.
In 2016, Damiano Ognissanti, a lecturer at Chalmers and Gothenburg Universities, was introduced to Möbius Courseware at a DigitalEd user conference in Vienna. Möbius Courseware, DigitalEd’s courseware platform, includes the testing and assessment capabilities of Möbius Assessment, as well as supporting lessons, videos, and interactive explorations. He was immediately impressed with its capabilities and decided to use it to digitize some of the school’s courses to increase their online course offerings. One of the courses Ognissanti teaches is a two-week introductory course for math and physics students, which covers high school mathematics with some additional theory and concepts. He decided this would be an ideal course to introduce Möbius Courseware at the university. In 2017, there were 90 students - 53 mathematicians and 37 physicists - taking the course.
The introductory course consists of 10 lectures and 10 compulsory homework assignments, one for each day of the course. Students watch a video lecture from home to prepare them for class discussions, and then come to school to participate in a lab. They discuss the lesson and the teacher answers questions on materials and theory to ensure students have a firm grasp of what is being taught. “Students come to lectures prepared and aware of what is going to be covered each day, which optimizes that time for everyone,” Ognissanti said. “They are then able to do a homework assignment after class and begin preparations for the next lecture right away.”
At the end of the course, students are given a three-hour final exam in Möbius Courseware, consisting of 10 questions randomly selected from the homework assignments - one question from each assignment. In 2015 and 2016, 52% and 61% of students who took the exam passed, respectively. In 2017 and 2018, after the introduction of Möbius Courseware, 92% and 96% of students who took the exam passed, respectively, and the average score also increased. In addition, Ognissanti noted that students were returning to view the video lectures after they had moved on from the course. “What’s interesting is that after this course ended, they started taking their first calculus course and I could see the viewing numbers for these lectures rising,” he said. “Some of the students were coming back to watch the lectures because they continued to see value in them after the fact. With Möbius Courseware, we can measure that engagement.”
Möbius Courseware presents many benefits to institutions and students, including an intuitive and an easy-to-use interface. In addition to easing the burden on instructors with its automatic marking feature, Möbius Courseware properly prepares students for assignments and exams, Ognissanti said. “We conducted a survey at the end of the course and students were very happy with Möbius Courseware,” he said. “They were satisfied with both the lectures and the homework assignments and there has been no complaining about grades.”
Of the students who responded, 91% gave the course a high overall rating. On specific features, 77% said the video lectures had been a significant help, 91% found complementary theoretical lessons to be of significant benefit, and 86% found the homework assignments to be very helpful.
Due to the positive impact, the school plans to expand its use of Möbius Courseware going forward. “Möbius Courseware is a very powerful and easy to use tool,” Ognissanti said. “We will definitely use it for other courses in the future.”