Items tagged with stem-education

 

I am pleased to announce the public release of Möbius, the online courseware environment that focuses on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. After months of extensive pilot testing at select leading academic institutions around the world, Möbius is now available to everyone for your online learning needs.

We are very excited about Möbius. As you can imagine, many of us here at Maplesoft have backgrounds in STEM fields, and we are truly excited to be working on a project that gives students a hands-on approach to learning math-based content.  You can’t learn math (or science, or engineering, or …) just by reading about it or listening to someone talk about it. You have to do it, and that’s what Möbius lets students do, online, with instant feedback.  Not only can students explore concepts interactively, but they can find out immediately what they’ve understood and what they haven’t - not a few hours after the lecture as they are reviewing their notes, not two weeks later when they get their assignments back, but while they are in the middle of learning the lesson.

During its pilot phase, Möbius was used by multiple institutions around the world for a variety of projects, such as preparing students in advance for their first year math and engineering courses, and for complete online courses.  Over one hundred thousand students have already used Möbius, and the experiences of these students and their instructors has fed back into the development process, resulting in this public release.  You can read about the experiences of the University of Waterloo, the University of Birmingham, and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics on our web site.

We are also happy to announce that Maplesoft has partnered with the University of Waterloo, one of the largest institutions in the world for STEM education, to provide institutions and professors with rich online courses and materials that enable students to learn by doing.  These Möbius courses are created by experts at the University of Waterloo for use by their own students and for their outreach programs, and will be made available to other Möbius users.  Course materials range from late high school to the graduate level, with initial offerings available soon and many more to follow.

Visit the Möbius section of our web site for lots more information, including videos, whitepapers, case studies, and upcoming user summits.

From October 19-21, the third installment of the Maple T.A. and Möbius User Summit took place. Making the move back to Europe this year, the three-day conference was held at the beautiful Vienna University of Technology in the heart of Vienna, Austria. The scope of this year’s event expanded to include Maplesoft’s newest product, Möbius, an online courseware environment, which is designed to help academic institutions move their STEM courses online.

This year’s Summit brought together participants from 20 countries, including Australia, the Czech Republic, Poland, China, Norway, India, Egypt, Japan, the Netherlands, and many others. Needless to say, there is great interest in learning more about how Maple T.A. and Möbius can play a role in shaping the educational landscape.

Video recordings of each presentation will be made public soon, so keep an eye out for them!

Conference attendees take in the sights on the veranda at TU Wien

Getting Down to Business

Presentations were divided into 5 overarching themes as they relate to Maple T.A. and Möbius: Shaping Curriculum; Content Creation; Experiences Using Möbius; Integrating with your Technology; and The Future of Online Education. Presentations were given by representatives from schools across Europe, including DTU (Denmark), TH Köln (Germany), Imperial College of London and University of Birmingham (UK), Vienna UT (Austria), KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden), Université de Lausanne (Switzerland), and others.

Many talks showcased the impressive versatility of Maple T.A. as a online assessment system, and Möbius to have practical applications in all STEM subjects, from Nuclear Engineering to Operations Management and many subjects in between.

Perhaps the discussion that gave Maplesoft the most feedback was led by Steve Furino from the University of Waterloo, who divided attendees up into groups to formulate a wish list of what they’d like to see in a courseware authoring environment. The list had over 40 items.


Linda Simonsen, Country Manager in the Nordic, records a group’s wish list

Notable Quotables

Many thought-provoking statements and questions were posed, but the following few stood out above the rest:

  • “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could take the best course from the best instructor anywhere in the world?”
  • “With Maple T.A., we can divert resources away from grading and over to tutoring.”
  • “Möbius rescued us!”

Get the party started!

While each day was full of invigorating conference discussions, evenings provided ample opportunity to ditch the suit jacket and tie, and enjoy the lively Austrian atmosphere. The first evening at the Zwölf Apostelkeller was the perfect venue to break the ice while satisfying those taste buds longing for some traditional Viennese cuisine. Once Schnitzel, Käsespätzle (a delicious German version of Mac and Cheese), Strudel, Kaiserschmarren (shredded pancake), and a glass or two of wine hit the table, people soon forgot about the pouring rain outside.

The evening reception took place 3-4 levels under ground

Michael Pisapia, VP of Europe, serves digestifs to guests

It would have been hard to top the social in the Apostelkeller, but the next evening sure tried.

Day 2 finished with an impressive formal dining experience at the historic Gerstner Beletage in the Palace Todesco, built in 1864 and situated directly across from the Vienna State Opera House. The 500-room palace was home to Eduard Freiherr von Todesco, a well-known Viennese banker.

View from the palace of the Vienna State Opera House

Jonny Zivku, Maple T.A. Product Manager, gives opening remarks at the Gerstner Beletage im Palais Todesco

Jonathan Watkins from the University of Birmingham and Michael Pisapia - both dressed to impress

The skies finally cleared enough to take some photos, but only after most people had gone home. Thankfully Aron Pasieka, Möbius Project Manager, was still around to get some great shots of the city. Enjoy!


Before the skies cleared vs. after the skies cleared

From beginning to end, the entire Summit was very well received by everyone who attended.

We would be remiss if we did not thank our incredible hosts at the Vienna University of Technology. Stefanie Winkler, Professor Andreas Körner, and Professor Felix Breitenecker were beyond helpful in bringing many of the finer details together, as well as helping many people overcome the language barrier.

We can’t wait to do it all again in London, England in 2017, and hope to see just as many new faces as familiar ones.

 

Photo credits: A. Pasieka, A. French, H. Zunic, J. Cooper

 

Update: The conference presentation recordings are now available here on our website.

This MaplePrimes guest blog post is from Ian VanderBurgh, the Director of the Center for Education in Mathematics and Computing (CEMC) and a Lecturer in the Faculty of Mathematics at the University of Waterloo. He has been overseeing a project to develop online, interactive mathematics curriculum for high school students, and has been integral in the development of Möbius, Maplesoft's online courseware environment.

Start with one part interest in online education, add one part increased functionality for developing online content, and mix with one part increased focus in the media and elsewhere on mathematics education.  What does this produce?  The perfect time to create high-quality online resources to support learning and teaching in mathematics.

The Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing (CEMC) at the University of Waterloo aims to increase interest, enjoyment, confidence, and ability in mathematics and computer science among learners and educators in Canada and internationally.  For more than fifty years, we have been working with teachers to support the important work that they do in the classroom.  When online courses rose to prominence several years ago, we felt that this gave us the perfect opportunity to create materials to better support the curriculum being taught across Canada and around the world.

The content for what we now call “Phase One” was planned: Advanced Functions (Pre-Calculus) as well as Calculus & Vectors.  These materials would support the education of students in their final year of secondary school, and also provide materials to reinforce concepts for students in STEM programs at the post-secondary level.

After deciding on the content, we needed a platform.  We knew that we needed one with exceptional mathematical capabilities.  Thus, we have been working hand-in-hand with Maplesoft ever since.

With content and platform established, the style began to take shape.  It is based around what one of my colleagues calls “the five Es”: Exposition (onscreen text with synchronized audio), Experimentation (worksheets where users can manipulate mathematical objects), Evaluation (re-generating quiz questions), Exercises (with answers and solutions), and Enrichment (application and extension problems and solutions).  Have a look at the materials and watch a video about the courseware.  After less than two years of “public life”, Phase One has received more than 2 million page views and usage is accelerating.

But why stop there?  Through the development of Phase One, all of the stakeholders realized that, while what we created was great, we needed better and more efficient development tools.  Thus, Möbius was born.  (In the meantime, the CEMC separately launched Phase Two of this ambitious initiative: resources in computer science to support the teaching and learning of programming concepts.)

Now, using the full capabilities of Möbius, we are developing Phase Three, a parallel set of resources to Phase One that will support mathematics at the Grade 7/8 level.  Why Grade 7/8?  We believe that these are very important years in education, that it is vital to future success in STEM disciplines that students flourish in these years, and that we should do whatever we can to support this.

What comes next?  Time will tell.  But, the CEMC will be there supporting mathematics and STEM education.  STEM disciplines will drive almost everything in the twenty-first century, and we have an obligation to do whatever we can to give young people every possible chance for success.

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