Formulating and testing guidelines for online learning in support of mathematics learning in a diverse student group
Professor Martin Anthony, Department of Mathematics, London School of Economics
Professor Jan van den Heuvel
Dr James Ward
Mr Mark Baltovic
Overall, the aim of this project was to investigate ways of designing web-based “virtual tutors” for mathematical subjects. It was our intention that each such virtual tutor should perform the tutor-driven functions of diagnosing a problem, providing help and materials that are tailored to resolving the problem, and then consolidating the material related to this problem in order to increase the student’s confidence.
To do this, we aimed to investigate both the pedagogical and the technological aspects of virtual tutor design. The intended outcomes were examples of ‘microsites’, (which can be thought of as virtual tutors that tackle a specific topic’ with the idea that these would, in some way, be the components of a ‘full’ virtual tutor which would deal with a course as a whole) and general guidelines that could inform the future development and implementation of such virtual tutors (in the External System and the LSE) in mathematics and, with further work, other quantitative subjects.
Twelve microsites have been produced and these are being made available for ongoing use by LSE students taking the LSE course MA107 Quantitative Methods and by around 4,000 External System students on EMFSS programmes studying 05A Mathematics 1 and 05B Mathematics 2.
In the process of creating these microsites, we investigated some of the available technologies and have made use of several tools (see Appendix 3), and as a result of their creation, we have begun to formulate some general ideas about how they should be structured (see Appendix 1). But, of course, although our discussion can inform teachers about what such microsites can achieve, any teacher who wishes to create one for a specific purpose would have to utilise their own teaching experience if they want it to actually address that purpose.
During the course of the project, the microsites were made available to relevant LSE and External System students so that we could assess (via both direct feedback and indirect monitoring of how the microsites were used) whether each microsite served a useful purpose and whether changes to the design of future microsites were necessary.