Math-Bridge: European Remedial Content for Mathematics (Math-Bridge)

Published on: 23/06/2011
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Math-Bridge: European Remedial Content for Mathematics

The project MATH-BRIDGE will provide multi-lingual and multi-cultural semantic access to remedial mathematics content which adapt to the requirements of a learner and the subject of study.

 

Math-Bridge will provide multi-lingual and multi-cultural semantic access in a sustainable Pan-European learning service for remedial mathematics content that tailors to the prerequisites of the learner and her study-subject. It will bring together content from different European sources and offer it in a unified way. A Pan-European learning service for remedial mathematics is obtained by collecting appropriate learning resources, extending them with structure, metadata, maths semantics, interactivity, and multi-linguality where necessary. The extended formats of the content will make use of standards, and hence be re-usable and interoperable. For an adequate infrastructure we will adapt our semantic and multi-lingual search software, customize assessments, customize the ActiveMath learning environment to the remedy-scenario which includes specific diagnostic means and decision making for remedy, and determine the culturally determined incoming competencies (of students who start the remedy) and the (target) competencies required for the target study subjects. Moreover, Math-Bridge will develop a process model for collaborative authoring, determine Creative Commons license for content (IPR), and adapt tool-support for collaborative authoring that respects the semantics and metadata of content. This will support collaborative production and assembly of (educational) content, which we think is a future must. The results will be usable way beyond mathematics.

Policy Context

Many European economies rely on a highly skilled labour force with knowledge workers such as engineers, physicists, and many other knowledge-intensive disciplines. To maintain or even improve current standards, many European countries want to increase the enrollment and output of engineering studies, and they face the problem of high drop-out of engineering students. For instance, in Germany the drop-out rate sometimes goes up to 35% and one of the primary reasons is the lack of needed mathematical skills. This caused the industrial Arbeitgeberverband Gesamtmetall to raise alarm. Drop-out rates in engineering studies are high Europe-wide.

An important reason for these high rates is that engineering students are often not appropriately informed and prepared for their studies. In particular, they lack the necessary mathematical competencies. In traditional remedial courses, individual treatment of competency gaps is impossible and such courses rarely solve the problem. From our experience at universities and colleges we know the high demand for tailored remedial maths content. Existing portals for such content have a restricted amount of content which is mostly in a single language. On-line mathematical education content is available only scattered, in multiple formats, in various notations, badly searchable, in a single language rather than multi-lingual, and cannot be tailored to the learners needs. Math-Bridge aims at changing this situation and help to bridge the gap between schools and higher education in Europe.

Description of target users and groups

Students, teachers, university representatives

Description of the way to implement the initiative

Math-Bridge will provide multi-lingual and multi-cultural semantic access, e.g. through search and course generation to remedial mathematics content and adapts to the requirements of a learner and his/her subject of study. It will bring together content from different European sources and offer it in a unified way.

  • Remedial content from several European countries is represented and presented to the user in a unified way and translated into different languages. The student can choose between these languages. Content of the Math-Bridge service will be available (at least) in Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, and Spanish. Math-Bridge addresses multi-lingual and multi-cultural issues in a number of innovative ways.
  • Math-Bridge can adapt the presented remedial content to the competencies, language, and the field-of-study of a student.
    Math-Bridge will be evaluated at a number of universities/colleges and user feedback matters.
  • Math-Bridge's remedial courses will offer first year students the chance to detect their knowledge gaps and close them. Math-Bridge will adapt to the country of the learner. The system supports students in different languages and, thus, also supports the mobility inherent in the European Bologna process.

Math-Bridge is an EU-Project and part of the program eContentplus. 10 partners collaborate in interdisciplinary work.

Math-Bridge has an inherently European dimension because it tackles a problem of all European countries, it supports studying in another country, it takes content from several countries and makes it accessible online, it collects user feedback from several European countries, and the resulting service will be a Pan-European one.

Main results, benefits and impacts

Math-Bridge is the first Pan-European e-Learning platform for online bridging courses in mathematics. It has been developed as a joint effort of nine universities from seven countries. Math-Bridge allows teachers and students to interact with thousands of mathematical learning objects available in seven languages. Users of Math-Bridge can select one of many pre-defined courses, build their own courses or use the adaptive course generation tool. Math-Bridge supports rich educational experience by serving many types of learning objects: from theorems, proofs and definitions to instructional examples and interactive exercises.

Available Content

  • 6 collections of mathematical learning content
  • 7 languages (English, German, Spanish, French, Dutch, Finnish, Hungarian)
  • 9 pre-assembled bridging courses
  • 100 test questions
  • 600 mathematical concepts
  • 1500 examples
  • 2500 interactive exercises
  • 10000 learning objects

Students can:

  • Learn what you need with the Math-Bridge adaptive course generator
  • Learn interactively with Math-Bridge dynamic exercises
  • Learn towards mastery with Math-Bridge tracking your progress
  • Learn in several languages and perfect your mathematical vocabulary

Teachers can:

  • Choose from a set of pre-assembled courses
  • Assemble your own courses from available content collections
  • Extend your courses with automatically generated exercises
  • Adapt your courses to the needs of your students
  • Provide your courses in several languages
  • Build online tests that are automatically evaluated
  • Track your students' progress

University representatives can:

  • Become an associated partner and get access to Math-Bridge services:
  • Online bridging courses
  • Content encoding using Web-standards
  • Platform for content sharing
  • Local installation or hosting
  • Server management and technical support
  • Training for students, teachers, authors and administrators
  • Statistical evaluation of bridging courses
  • Integration of Math-Bridge with your LMS (Moodle, Ilias and CLIX)

Lessons learnt

  1. The project has already demonstrated an extraordinary value of international collaborative efforts and integration of European expertise and resources in a single team pursuing common goals critically important to the Europe's education system. The main project outcome - the world's largest multilingual and multicultural collection of the remedial math content and the most advanced service delivering the content to users - became possible only thanks to such an effort. At the same time, multilinguality and multiculturality come with the price - the project had to invest heavily in ensuring the quality and completeness of translations, as well as in investigating cultural differences in teaching math across Europe.
  2. On top of such tasks as pedagogical preparations, content transformation and improvement, technology development, etc., a critical role in the project's success plays dissemination and uptake stimulation activities - activities laying a fundamental for the sustainability of the project results. Very often eLearning projects driven by technology people and pedagogues do not pay sufficient attention to these issues. In order to avoid such mistakes Math-Bridge approached ca. 500 Universities world-wide, major publishing houses, associations, other potential uptakers and multipliers to ensure the use of the final project results. These efforts require special expertise and particular attention.
  3. Significant multilateral projects require significant attention to project management and coordination. One of the particular management-related problems identified in Math-Bridge was the participation of industrial partners in such projects. Only those companies seeing clear business prospects and added value of the results they obtain thanks to the project are really committed to working in eContentplus projects. Within the project lifetime the Math-Bridge consortium overcame 2 changes always linked to the departure of small companies, which underestimated the efforts and investments they have to provide in such projects. The conclusion is that all project partners committing them selves to projects where they have to invest must clearly identify the reasons for their participation and see the prospects of exploiting the project results.

 

Scope: International