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  • Download this new whitepaper to discover how incorporating an effective automated grading tool in your grading mix can improve the learning experience for your STEM students.
  • Explore what it would take for an automated assessment tool to be truly effective when used with STEM courses.
  • Learn how the modern assessment tool, Maple T.A. meets the needs of automated testing and assessment for STEM education.

Are you grading your math tests and assignments exclusively by hand? If so, your students may be missing out!

This wasn’t always the case. Until recently, automated grading systems have been very limited in the questions they could ask, which made them of dubious value in STEM courses (science, technology, mathematics, and engineering). A multiple choice question just couldn’t tell you if the student understood how to solve the problem, and even that’s assuming the system could handle the mathematical notation and the plots needed to ask that multiple choice question properly in the first place. These systems simply could not provide you with a reliable view into your students’ comprehension, and as a result, it was a bad idea to rely on them. And so STEM instructors avoided these systems, or if forced to use them, grumbled and did their best to keep the grading system’s limitations from hurting their students.

But today’s grading technology has advanced to the point where you are arguably doing your students a disservice if you don’t include a good automated testing and assessment tool in your grading mix. In this article, we’ll examine some of those arguments, consider what characteristics would go into an effective assessment tool for STEM, and then take a brief look at how one such tool, Maple T.A., meets those requirements.

Download this whitepaper to read more.

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  • Download this new whitepaper to discover how digital learning tools enhance the educational experience.
  • Learn how the University of Birmingham used digital tools to improve teaching and learning.
  • Examine new approaches based on research and experience with Maple T.A., Maplesoft’s testing and assessment software.

As technology expands, it is changing the way education is delivered. Institutions have new tools for engaging students and providing them with access to digital educational materials. As these new tools are implemented, it is essential to ensure efficiency and optimise time and resources. How is this achieved?

The University of Birmingham began researching this question after implementing Maple T.A. several years ago. They discovered that the use of Maple T.A. improved the learning experience for students and optimised instructors’ time for working with students. To maximise their efforts, faculty made it a priority to develop high-quality customised content specifically designed to meet the needs of their students. The university was also able to integrate Maple T.A. with their learning management system, CANVAS, which allowed them to offer more thorough assessment and improve teaching and learning initiatives.

Download this whitepaper to view examples and learn how the University of Birmingham used Maple T.A. to develop unique content and new approaches for delivering education online.

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“Maple T.A. allows us to better refine our questions, save a great deal of time on marking, and ultimately maximize our educational offerings.” - Dr. James Brooks, Lecturer in Distance Learning, School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering, University of Manchester.

Challenge
Faculty at the University of Manchester wanted a tool to support their new distance learning approach and make the delivery of a fully-online course a reality.

Solution
The school adopted Maple T.A. to address the critical assessment and testing portion of a Master of Science online course.

Result
Student performance and engagement increased after course worksheets were converted to assignments in Maple T.A. The school is continuing to refine their online learning approach to maximize on Maple T.A.’s capabilities and the most efficient learning experience for their students.

 Read the full story here

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“With Möbius it has been possible to demonstrate innovation in teaching… - we’re not limited by the technology. We’re only limited by imagination.”

Dr. Tim Jackson, Senior Lecturer, School of Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering, University of Birmingham

 Challenge

Dr. Tim Jackson wanted a tool to simplify a first-year engineering course for incoming students. He needed a solution to effectively teach a large number of students, especially those who have not previously studied the subject matter in-depth.

 Solution

Jackson selected Möbius, the online courseware environment from Maplesoft, to help his students bridge the gap between high school and university course material, helping them develop a better understanding of core concepts. Möbius also allowed Jackson to connect the theoretical and laboratory components of the course by providing customised background materials and pre-lab quizzes for students to review and complete on their own time.

 Result

Jackson found that nearly 100% of students were completing the preparatory work, leading to a strong level of competence during lab work compared to previous years. Möbius has also allowed Jackson to better allocate his time, interacting more with students face-to-face. Jackson hopes to expand the use of Möbius in his courses and at the University of Birmingham as a whole.

 Read the full story here

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This article by Dr Robert J. Lopez examines the rise, decline, and resurgence of the use of computer algebra systems (CAS) in the mathematics classroom. From the excitement surrounding the technology's potential to revolutionise the teaching of mathematics, it explores the difficulties that prevented this vision from being fully realised, and then introduces a fundamental advancement in the CAS world that finally puts the dream of modern, effective mathematics education within our grasp.

Dr Robert J. Lopez, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana, USA, is an award winning educator in mathematics and is the author of several books. For over three decades, Dr Lopez has also been a visionary figure in the introduction of math technology into undergraduate education and has received numerous awards for outstanding scholarship and teaching.

Download this whitepaper to discover what happens when maths software is truly easy to use.

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As the delivery of education continues to evolve, it is essential to develop technology tools that offer access to a wide range of information and learning materials, presented within a convenient and user-friendly environment. Using the best tools can save a great deal of time for students when it comes to completing course work, refining their study habits, and identifying areas of strength and weakness as they seek to lay a foundation for professional growth. This is especially true for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses. 

Maple offers instructors and students thousands of unique features, covering a variety of STEM disciplines, to enhance learning and deepen understanding of concepts and materials. These features allow students to work quickly and efficiently to solve complex problems in an environment that is easy to navigate, reducing the time required to carry out various tasks. This benefits students by:

  • Simplifying calculations for complex equations
  • Reducing time needed to create plots and graphs
  • Enhancing knowledge and understanding with an easy-to-use interface
  • Streamlining the problem-solving process with customised tools, menus and built-in tutorials

Maple has value beyond the classroom as well, offering students training, access to experts and various network features that enhance learning, create valuable discussion and help them form connections to benefit them in their academic, professional and personal lives. 

Download this whitepaper to learn how you can improve the academic experience for your students by incorporating Maple into your teaching.

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With growing class sizes, it can be a challenge for instructors teaching complex courses to effectively engage their students. It is essential to find tools that provide an optimal balance between efficiency, interactivity and functionality. For Dr. Tim Jackson, a senior lecturer in the University of Birmingham’s School of Engineering, the solution was Möbius, Maplesoft’s online courseware environment.

As an instructor in the Electronic and Electrical Systems Engineering department, one of Jackson’s classes is a common electrical, mechanical and civil engineering first-year programme for 370 students. Some of the new students come in without having studied physics in depth, and Jackson wanted teaching resources to help those students bridge the gap and understand background concepts more effectively. That’s where he relied on Möbius and its ability to help students study more successfully. So far, the results have been positive. “We’ve gotten very good feedback from students,” he said. “They can navigate the Möbius environment easily and learn the tools quickly. I’ve had no complaints from anyone saying they don’t know how to figure it out.”

For Jackson, ease of use is a key benefit to using Möbius. In addition to lectures and theory, the first-year course includes a practical lab component. “Before, theory and the lab component were disconnected in students’ minds. We were spending a lot of time in labs explaining the theory and teaching the experiments,” Jackson explained. “With Möbius, students get material in advance, they come prepared, which then frees up time for quick practical work in the limited lab hours.”

In order to prepare students for class, Jackson and his colleague, Dr. Mahvish Nazir, developed background materials and pre-lab quizzes in Möbius. The students use the material to study and review on their own time to gain a better understanding of what they will be doing in the labs. Pre-lab quizzes, also developed in Möbius, help to ensure the students have a good grasp of the concepts before they go for their lab classes. These pre-lab materials are optional, but since implementing them, Jackson said he has noticed greater student engagement. “The optional pre-lab work is being completed almost 100%,” he said. “We’re seeing a good level of competence in students with the lab equipment compared to previous years.” Students also complete a summative post-lab quiz using Möbius that goes towards their grade.

Ultimately, Möbius provides a deep and enhanced learning experience for students that allows them to achieve a deeper level of learning, Jackson explained. “Möbius is an environment where students can learn quickly and relate it to their previous experiences,” he said. “It provides a great way to understand complex concepts through superior visualisations and animations. We are happy with the way students are able to discover basic subject concepts and develop a deeper understanding of the material.”

Jackson refers to this kind of learning as interactive independent learning. The ability for self-evaluation and self-improvement is a point he emphasises often. He believes technology gives students additional flexibility for studying, and with that comes the responsibility and eagerness to master the material. When concepts are laid out in a variety of interesting ways, it stays top of mind for students. Möbius also allows students to attempt quizzes multiple times, revisiting materials to identify areas of weakness and strengthen their knowledge base. “A lot of universities are now trying to develop strategies for building independent learners; with Möbius, we’ve found a way to work that into the course framework,” he said.

Möbius also allows Jackson to better allocate and maximise his own time. With growing class sizes, Möbius helps Jackson manage a large number of students. No longer encumbered with countless hours of marking assignments and tests, he can interact with students more and provide them with one-on-one support as required.

With such a positive initial response, Jackson soon wants to begin using Möbius to cover more of the syllabus, helping more students bridge the gap between theory and practical application. Using Möbius, he will be able to educate students on how to use a variety of electronic and electrical equipment by constructing virtual lab experiments. He also plans to use Möbius to integrate physics laws into his courses, using math apps to create more in-depth simulations and allow students to solve complex problems.

The University of Birmingham is investing in innovative teaching, and has a group of interns to help professors develop content using Möbius. These interns, who routinely go on to become highly sought-after graduates, were critical in helping Jackson develop his course material quickly and efficiently. “With Möbius it has been possible to demonstrate innovation in teaching, and I am glad the University has recognised that in our work,” said Jackson. “With Möbius, we’re not limited by the technology. We’re only limited by imagination.” 

Learn more about Möbius and request a personalised demo at www.maplesoft.com/mobius

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More and more, institutions are finding that they must provide digital education options if they want to meet the needs and expectations of their students, and that using the right digital assets has the potential to vastly improve student outcomes in ways other technologies have not been able to.

Modern online learning tools – such as Maple T.A., Maplesoft’s testing and assessment software, and Möbius, Maplesoft’s online courseware platform – are now interactive and adaptive, and can be personalised to student needs. This leads to competency-based learning, which allows instructors to assess exactly where students are in the learning process. For first time, we don’t have to teach the same way to each student. We can assess where they are and adapt the materials to their particular needs. This allows instructors to teach at the maximum speed possible while ensuring students understand what is being taught.

Maplesoft offers unique solutions for online learning, designed specifically to address the specialised requirements for delivery of STEM courses. Our software is currently used by 90% of higher education institutions across the world – a reflection of the strength and effectiveness of these solutions.

Learn more by visiting https://education.maplesoft.com

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Online testing and assessment has opened up great opportunities for the modern educator. Good automated assessment tools can help consolidate student understanding, support self-directed learning, give instructors more time to focus on other teaching tasks, make it easier to manage growing class sizes, and much more.

While these systems are of tremendous use in some subjects, initially their benefits were not readily available in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses, because the assessment systems could not meet the specialised needs of these subject areas. However, Maple T.A. can provide the benefits of automated assessment to STEM instructors and students.

Download this whitepaper to explore the features of Maple T.A. that are designed to meet the specialised needs of STEM courses.

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What’s in this episode?

The benefits of digital education are many: Enrichment materials. Preparatory resources. Rich visualizations. Distance learning. Blended learning. Remedial Support. Ease-of-delivery. Consistency. Innovation. Automatic grading.  Competitive opportunities. Powerful assessments. Philanthropic initiatives. But, there are challenges to overcome. In this podcast, we hear from Jim Cooper, the President and CEO, of Maplesoft and Nicola Wilkin, Director of Education College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, at the University of Birmingham to explore benefits, challenges and a few best practice tips for embedding online education (including co-creating edtech materials with students).

Online education has seemingly exploded in recent years and is a staple subject on The Edtech Podcast. We’ve looked at online tutoring with the CEO of VIPKids Cindy Mi in episode 83, and we’ve reviewed higher education and MOOCs with Class Central and Future Learn CEOs in episode 67. But how much is really changing on the ground for universities and colleges?

The aspirations of UK body FELTAG or the Further Education Learning Technology Action Group to have 50% of teaching online by 2017 were never really met and now seem wildly ambitious. Among UK universities, the introduction of the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework Specification (TEF) in 2016 has placed emphasis on student learning and student outcomes as opposed to purely research excellence.

In this newer context, TEF GOLD – the highest standard – is awarded to those which recognise the following aspects of quality: Teaching Quality (TQ), Learning Environment (LE), and Student Outcomes and Learning Gain (SO). Where does online fit in with all this? Well, it doesn’t dominate, but it does feature. Teaching quality refers to seminars, tutorials, project supervision, laboratory sessions, studio time, placements, supervised online learning, workshops, fieldwork and site visits. The emphasis is on teaching that provides an appropriate level of contact, stimulation, and challenge, and which encourages student engagement and effort.

Outstanding physical and digital resources are those which are recognised to be actively and consistently used by students to enhance learning, and if we look at one of the TEF Gold standard universities such as Coventry, their report shows that they used a comprehensive and embedded approach to personalised learning which maximised rates of retention, attainment, and progression. They also used outstanding physical and digital resources which pervaded all aspects of the student experience, including state-of-the-art integration of learner analytics, student support, and timetabling.

But how pervasive is this experience? I still hear university insiders vent their frustration against massive budgets immediately spent on bricks and mortar lecture halls instead of expanding online learning opportunities. Should we be concerned about this? In this episode, I chat to a provider – Jim Cooper, Maplesoft’s President and CEO – and another Gold standard TEF university – represented by Nicola Wilkin the Director of Education at the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Birmingham – to explore the challenges and opportunities of online teaching and learning. 

People

Sophie is the founder of the iTunes new and noteworthy, The Edtech Podcast. The mission of The Edtech Podcast is to improve the dialogue between ‘ed’ and ‘tech’ for better innovation, through storytelling. The podcast is downloaded 1500+ times a week, from up to 109 countries with the UK, US & Aus in the top 3. Sophie is a mentor and advisor within the edtech community. If she’s not interviewing a University Lecturer, School Leader, Ex-Angry Bird, NGO, or Investor about education innovation, she’s chasing her three year old around the park or binge-reading Homo Deus. 

Twitter: @podcastedtech

James (Jim) Cooper has successfully built Maplesoft into the world’s premier advanced mathematics, modeling and simulation software provider. He is responsible for the company’s financial performance, and oversees all aspects of the company’s operations including strategic business planning, product direction as well as sales and marketing.

Cooper brings over 20 years of experience in corporate management of advanced technology business ventures to his role as President and CEO of Maplesoft. Prior to joining Maplesoft, Cooper co-owned WESCAM, the highly successful manufacturer of gyro-stabilized camera pods used extensively in both the security and entertainment industries. In addition, he successfully started and developed Puppetworks.com, makers of motion capture devices for the 3D animation industry. Cooper has held senior positions with a number of high technology companies. He was Worldwide Director for Intelligent Networks with Sema Wireless Group; Divisional Manager at Alias-Wavefront, a world renowned 3D graphics company; and Development Manager at CAE, makers of advanced aircraft flight simulators.

Cooper graduated on the Dean’s honor list from the University of Waterloo in 1980 with a Bachelor’s of Engineering and started his career as a control engineer, developing advanced control systems for aircraft flight simulators.

Twitter: @maplesoft   

Nicola Wilkin is a Professor in the School of Physics and Astronomy. Her research is in the areas of ultracold gases (three citation classics) and the flow mechanisms of vortices in mesoscopic superconductors.

Nicola is Director of Education for the College of Engineering & Physical Sciences. Particular focus is on the creation of a platform for self-paced, automatic learning for mathematically based modules. This work is being undertaken in partnership with the software developers, MapleTA.

Nicola has a long standing interest in improving the representation of Women in Physics and has been Hon Secretary of the Institute of Physics Women in Physics Group as well as being a member of the University Diversity Forum. She co-chaired (alongside then Head of School, Prof Andy Schofield) the School’s successful equality awards: Institute of Physics JUNO Champion and Athena SWAN Silver submission.

Nicola co-ordinates the current topics in theoretical physics module, including the mock interview process which is provided in partnership with Forresters the intellectual property firm.

•    She is the local organising Chair of the International Conference on Women in Physics, 2017

•    She is the Academic Advisor for oSTEM (Out in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths)

 Twitter: @nicola_quantum

For full references for this episode, and to subscribe to The Edtech Podcast, visit the website here

Tell us your story


We’d love to hear your thoughts on online learning. Leave your stories in the comments below. Alternately, record a quick free voicemail via speakpipe for inclusion in the next episode. Finally, you can post your thoughts or follow-on links via twitter @podcastedtech @maplesoft or via The Edtech Podcast Facebook page.

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'Ultimately, our objective was to ensure the University's educational reputation with undergraduate students was enhanced by the power and suitability of the software solutions used. This was the driving force behind the school adopting both Canvas and Maple T.A.'

Professor Nicola Wilkin, Director of Education for the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Birmingham.

Challenge
The University of Birmingham wanted a way to integrate Maple T.A. with their existing Learning Management System (LMS), Canvas, to streamline delivery of education and create one point of access for faculty and students. 

Solution
Jonathan Watkins, a PhD student at the university, developed a Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) connector - the Maple T.A. LTI Connector - allowing the school to eliminate an intermediate server to provide a single, direct point of access. This also provided faculty with more flexibility in content development. 

Result
The Maple T.A. LTI connector allowed the university to create content customised to meet its needs and provided greater confidence in the system they were using to deliver materials to students. The school is able to take advantage of both Maple T.A. and Canvas, while students are able to access everything from one environment.

Read the full story here

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Download this new whitepaper to learn how to make your students actually pay attention in their online STEM courses and explore how you can offer an online learning experience that emulates, and even improves upon, a good classroom environment. 

Online courses have become a key part of the instructional offerings of most learning institutions, from prestigious universities to local schools. They allow students greater scheduling flexibility, reach a broader geographic pool, and reduce costs. Schools today have to offer online courses and supplementary resources to stay competitive. But the fact remains – these courses can be really dull. 

Anyone who has tried to teach themselves new STEM material by sitting quietly and reading a textbook can tell you that this is a very difficult way to truly absorb most STEM concepts. Even bright, motivated students will find it challenging to maintain sustained concentration on this content, never mind fully understanding it. Students can skim, skip ahead before they are ready, and not even notice that their attention has wandered and they are not taking in what they are reading.  Adding videos to online courses appears to be a natural solution, and it helps, certainly. But many students find it hard enough to pay sustained attention to a lecture even when they are physically in the same room with the lecturer. When the lecture is in the form of a recorded video, the temptation to switch to another tab, check social media, send a quick text, rummage through playlists, and even get up to get a cup of coffee, all while the lecture is playing, can be overwhelming. 

So how do you get your online students to pay attention and actually learn?

In this whitepaper, you will learn how Möbius, and especially the Möbius Active Slideshow, provides the same experience students would get with a good instructor, with the additional benefit that each student receives a tailored experience based on their individual needs. With high levels of engagement, relevant interactivity, and integrated instant assessment, your students will be forced to sit up and pay attention to their online courses - and learn something in the process!

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  • Download this new whitepaper to discover how incorporating an effective automated grading tool in your grading mix can improve the learning experience for your STEM students.
  • Explore what it would take for an automated assessment tool to be truly effective when used with STEM courses.
  • Learn how the modern assessment tool, Maple T.A. meets the needs of automated testing and assessment for STEM education.

Are you grading your math tests and assignments exclusively by hand? If so, your students may be missing out!

This wasn’t always the case. Until recently, automated grading systems have been very limited in the questions they could ask, which made them of dubious value in STEM courses (science, technology, mathematics, and engineering). A multiple choice question just couldn’t tell you if the student understood how to solve the problem, and even that’s assuming the system could handle the mathematical notation and the plots needed to ask that multiple choice question properly in the first place. These systems simply could not provide you with a reliable view into your students’ comprehension, and as a result, it was a bad idea to rely on them. And so STEM instructors avoided these systems, or if forced to use them, grumbled and did their best to keep the grading system’s limitations from hurting their students.

But today’s grading technology has advanced to the point where you are arguably doing your students a disservice if you don’t include a good automated testing and assessment tool in your grading mix. In this article, we’ll examine some of those arguments, consider what characteristics would go into an effective assessment tool for STEM, and then take a brief look at how one such tool, Maple T.A., meets those requirements.

Download this whitepaper to read more.

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Educators from around the world use Maplesoft technology for teaching, learning, and assessment of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses. From teaching calculus to 11-year-olds to correctly placing thousands of students into courses best suited to their background and abilities, Maplesoft solutions apply to every aspect of academic life.

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