At SOWISO, we believe in collaborative partnerships and personal communication channels with the universities we work with. So on May 23rd, we organized a user day with the theme “Math for Economics.” We invited first-year mathematics teachers who work at different Business and Economics Faculties from universities across the Netherlands to talk about teaching strategies, digital learning content, student engagement, testing, and more.
There was a great diversity of teachers present who all used SOWISO in different ways: some used us for summer courses, some for regular courses, and some were interested in testing functionalities. Getting all teachers together in the same room allowed us to do 3 very important things in education innovation:
- Have educators share their strategies, experiences and inspiring stories with one another. For example:
- Radboud University showed that the grades of students who pass the course went up by one whole point (on a grading scale from 1 to 10)!
- Erasmus University College showed that the same year they started using SOWISO, student appreciation went up almost 4 points, from 3.6 to 7.5.
- Maastricht University achieved success by being able to target weaker students early in the course;
- Really understand the challenges all teachers face, and brainstorm together on how to solve them;
- Allow teachers to share opinions and influence the development roadmap of SOWISO, both as a digital publisher and learning software developer.
What we learned
There were three topics in particular we kept getting back to: social interaction, open education and learner engagement. Interestingly enough, those topics are not at all specific to Economics.
The topic perhaps most often touched upon was the question of social interaction and peer-to-peer learning. How can you get students to interact with each other more often, and in a way that is beneficial to the learning process?
A bunch of great ideas came from these discussions, for example:
- A chat function for groups of students. This would be beneficial for summer programs where students don’t know each other (yet), but where this bonding is seen as an integral part of the experience for incoming students.
- Allowing students to see (the number of) forum questions already asked on an exercise directly when working on said exercise, to allow for easier peer-to-peer learning. Students can currently only see forum questions when asking one themselves.
- Creating more mastery-specific achievements and allowing students to share these with other students (we’re already working on this!)
Perhaps also an example of social interaction, but definitely befitting it’s own category is the wish from educators to create a teacher community. Having a platform on which every SOWISO teacher is active allows for the creation of new ideas, open sharing of content, collaborative projects, and better support.
This is of course a great idea, so we’re currently figuring out how best to approach this.
This is a topic every teacher is always struggling with: how do you engage students in learning activities? Add technology to the mix, and the amount of different strategies might dazzle you. So an opportunity to talk about them with colleagues all across the country can be a huge help!
One of the things we learned was implementing small formative tests, which motivate students to practice, and teachers an insight in the overall mastery of the classroom. Implement these at the end of the week, or at the start of the lesson!
We hope to organize more of these events, for different groups of teachers. Are you interested in one, or would you like to learn more? Shoot us a message at at firstname.lastname@example.org or through our contact form and we will share the details.