Best in eLearning 2012-13 – Mathematics

Title: MATH10141 Probability
Tutor: John Moriarty

1. Course Overview

MATH10141 is a first year Mathematics unit on “Probability”. It has 369 enrolments and received 12 nominations.

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2. Comments from students

Student 1
Online assessment every week on blackboard with feedback; Course notes available on blackboard; Discussion board available for all students and course postgraduate tutor and lecturer; It has been great.

Student 2
We have tests on every week to revise and evaluate our understading. To prepare tests, we could try pratice versions of them many times if I want. When we face a difficulty to sort out, we used to use discussion board so that we could compare our thoughts and processes. It was very helpful because we could compare each other’s idea and figure out which one is the best. So that were good points of e-learning tutorial.

Student 3
This resource can be found on blackboard. There was a very active discussion board, personalised feedback for wrong answers on online assessments, podcasts available if you missed lectures/prefer to listen to them afterwards, lecture slides uploaded timely, lecture notes on top of that- Moriarty supplied as many resources as you could wish for.

Student 4
The probability quiz each week was helpful as it was a form of revision, so I was revising all the way through the teaching of the course. Also the discussion board was of great help when stuck either on one of the practice quiz questions or actual past exam papers, because fellow students could explain questions to me in a way easy to understand as they were encountering it for the first time as was I.

Student 5
John always kept a close eye on the discussion board which was always helpful as if a question was too difficult then it was easy to ask him. The tests each week were also excellent as they encouraged more probability work to be done each week so you kept on top of your work without even realising. Being graded for these weekly tests was extremely motivating as it allowed us to compete with our new found friends at university.

Student 6
He provided podcasts of each lecture so I could rewatch them during revision. The online course tests made sure you kept on top of the work and the practice tests were a good idea as you could review your progress on questions that would come up in the assessment.

Student 7
Lecturer used microphone and recorded each lecture. The podcasts are posted on the course content section of the course on Blackboard. It provides student with a convenient way to review the lecture as many times as they like.

Student 8
By using the testing facilities in Blackboard, it was possible for us to regularly practise and improve our evaluative techniques ready for formal online test. having the podcasts made available on Itunes and Blackboard meant it was possible to clearly recall everything covered in the lectures to a level of detail perhaps not managed by taking notes or try to memorise the information. Because the resources were so well organised and categorized, it was simple and easy to navigate and use, making learning more enjoyable and more accessible. I would have to say though that the general interface of blackboard is not as appealing and user-friendly as it could perhaps be.

Student 9
I found the podcasts were very useful. Since my first language is not english, sometimes it’s hard for me to understand what the lecturer’s saying. But with the podcasts provided online, i can listen again to what the lecture had said in case i have missed it in the lecture.

Student 10
I really appreciate about what the e-learning resources helped me. I found it on Blackboard and i’s right on the left hand side in the page of probability. When I cannot attend to lecture on time, then I can download it in my ipod and have a second  lecture  which is really useful to me.

Student 11
My tutor used the elearning resources to assess us weekly and to allow all the students on the course to communicate with each other and with him via the discussion board. The discussion board was particularly useful, as I was able to receive hints on how to solve the problems set in the practice test, therefore allowing me to prepare for the weekly assessment to the best of my ability. The online assessments were helpful as an indication of how well I had understood the previous weeks material and also acted as an incentive to revise from the beginning. The elearning resource can be found in blackboard under the MATH10141 page, titled  Discussion Board . The elearning resources were invaluable to my progress in the module and I am very grateful that John Moriaty made use of them.

Student 12
Weekly online assessments and a practise assessment for each of these with marks and feedback. This made me feel well prepared for the exam. All lecture slides online in advance and all lectures on podcast afterwards helped with revision and catching up if we missed a lecture. A discussion board which helped when doing practise tests and past exam papers for revision. The lecturer responded to questions if no one else could help/answer.

3. Comments from Dr John Moriarty

The motivation for the most successful aspect came from ‘Student P’, a student with distinctive purple hair. She had not attempted her Probability 1 tutorial questions, which were not collected or marked due to large group sizes (70 students per tutorial, 400 per lecture). She was lost and falling further behind, but still showing a commitment and turning up (she attended the tutorial to copy down the answers).

So I set up peer-to-peer learning: online quizzes and instant grading to show students their progress with an accompanying discussion board to allow them to give and seek help. Posts could be anonymous and always received answers as students would chip in with a hint or details of their own attempts, or I would help. Struggling students benefitted from extra explanations and strong students stretched themselves by explaining their reasoning.

International student Zack said the discussion board helped him overcome his shyness towards other students and even teach them! There have been over 400 posts and 60,000 page views in each year of this project. Examination performance has improved in both years, and also in the follow-on course Probability 2. This was the original rationale: to address Student P’s difficulties by peer-to-peer learning through students like Zack. There were unexpected benefits like breaking social and language barriers for Zack and highlighting exceptional talent in another student, but most satisfying was the student who commented in feedback that ‘peer to peer education is perfect!’

Best in eLearning 2012-13 – Mathematics

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