m-learning: ESkaLATE

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Development ofa  software environment for  course-integrated,  adaptive learningofferings on mathematical  topics of Electrical Engineering

Aim of the project

The aim of the project is to develop a software environment for learning and practicing elementary correlations in the mathematics bridge course. The Mathematical Bridge Course of the Department of Electrical Engineering/Computer Science teaches and repeats the mathematics of the upper secondary school and partly also of the middle school in order to consolidate the basics for the understanding of the regular courses for the first-year students. It compensates for existing deficits, which is an essential prerequisite for further academic success. Comparable offerings exist in many STEM disciplines.

The bridge course, which has so far been based on conventional classroom instruction and limited use of the Moodle learning platform, is to be expanded here to include a tailored e-learning component. The aim is to deepen the learning process and to increase the motivation of the participants in a playful way to deal with mathematical issues. 

The planned software environment for prompt practice of the material currently being covered is to be usable at any time and any place and adaptively adjust to the individual learning level of each user. It consists of a smartphone app for the location-independent solution of short tasks according to a multiple-choice method specially modified for this purpose, a central server for the coordination of the exercise process, which allows an overview of the overall status of a cohort at any time, and a module for the topic-specific creation of exercises with the possibility of generating a large number of task variants semi-automatically.

Initial situation

Mathematics is a major hurdle for success in the introductory phase of studies and later events in the study of electrical engineering at the University of Kassel and at other universities. In recent years, therefore, numerous voluntary support measures have been developed in the area of basic mathematics. These include a pre-course extended to six weeks, a learning center, and a greatly expanded office hours system. As a special feature, the Mathematical Bridge Course, which was also initially voluntary, was made compulsory for those who were unable to successfully complete a school-level entrance exam. The reason for this was the apparent lack of motivation on the part of the students concerned to participate. However, even compulsory participation can only lead to success if the students concerned approach their learning task with motivation. 

In order to achieve this, and at the same time to establish a repetitive practice, a possibility is to be created here to integrate the practice in playful form over the personal Smart phone into the everyday life. Based on the previous experiences from the mathematical bridge course, a suitable e-learning offer was planned, which is now to be implemented. The basic conceptual design of the system has already been completed; this project proposal is intended to realize the practical implementation and optimization of the user interface during an introductory phase. 

In recent years, the Department of Electrical Engineering/Computer Science has gained extensive expertise in the development of cross-platform smartphone apps and the associated database-supported client-server systems. In particular, the OLIF project should be mentioned here, in which a system for online lecture surveys is being developed and made operational with great success in cooperation with the Service Center Teaching at the University of Kassel. 

Project history

2016-12-22: Detailed implementation planning based on a requirements analysis for the server side has started.

2016-12-01: Work on the project has started, the first step is a technical requirements analysis for the server and client software.