First of all, SOWISO wishes you happy holidays and all the best for a wonderful and healthy 2019!
We wanted to take this opportunity to give you an update on what we have been up to in the last year, and share some exciting developments we will be working on in 2019.
Looking back: new content
We spent a lot of time this year re-writing our Basic Math course, which contains topics ranging from Algebra to Integration. The goal was three-fold:
- Simplify our explanations to make them more accessible to learners of any level. We use simpler language, use colors to show correlation, and simplify and generalize our theory lay-out.
- Add more interactivity. We have partnered with GeoGebra to create many beautiful and interactive visual representations of the theory. Basic Math now also has multiple-choice questions within theory pages so students can immediately check if they understood the topic.
- Add more topics. We have vastly increased our algebra, trigonometry and integration topics!
This course is now perfect for those at any level of higher education who are looking for a less rigorous approach to algebra, precalculus and calculus material.
We also branched out of mathematics this year by developing a Statistics course, which covers the first-year of a university-level (WO) statistics course, or the first two years for universities of applied sciences (HBO). It’s currently a general, domain-agnostic course which can be used by anyone. However, we have big plans for expanding going forward, for example:
- Adding applied examples and exercises based on different domains, e.g. economics or health sciences. We want to allow teachers to choose (on the fly) which domain flavor to incorporate in their classes.
- Developing exercises based on working with SPSS, R, and/or Excel. This allows for interesting data-analysis questions, based on randomized data sets.
We already had some chapters on Linear Algebra we were very proud of, but we’re happy to have extended that list. New topics are:
- Vector spaces
- Linear maps
- Matrix calculus
Looking back: SOWISO usage in 2018
Students have made a whopping 5.2 million exercises on SOWISO in 2018 (calculated on December 11th)!
But that’s not all, this year we have heard from teachers that:
- Increased usage results in an increased grade. Almost 10% of the grade could be explained using progress on the SOWISO learning platform, with a correlation coefficient of 0.3 (p<0.001);
- Using SOWISO increases students’ rating of the course;
- Students are more motivated to do their homework on time if teachers use small (formative) tests, to be made either at home or in the classroom.
Looking back: Online Mathematics Placement Test
This summer was particularly exciting for SOWISO, as we partnered with Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Maastricht University and Amsterdam University College to create the Online Mathematics Placement Test (OMPT).
OMPT offers upcoming first-year students an online mathematics test to show that their mastering of mathematics is sufficient to be eligible for enrollment. This test was used as a convenient and safe alternative to on-campus tests or overseas summer school institutes.
Tests work as follows:
- Students can take the test online at their convenience, choosing both time and location.
- To make sure there’s no cheating, tests are remotely proctored. Students will be guided by a real person during the set-up. They are asked to show their ID and room before the test starts, and are monitored by their webcam during the entire exam. Screen activities are also recorded.
- These recordings are checked for fraud both automatically through a sophisticated algorithm, and manually within 24 hours.
- We offer additional online mathematics courses which help students prepare for the test. 83% of students who took the test during the summer of 2018 had access to OMPT practice materials. On average, students made 888 exercises.
- OMPT will provide universities with their own online portal, where they can find more detailed information on every student such as score breakdown on topic, number attempts, score per attempt. This way, universities can easily verify students’ score.
The project was such a success that we’ve decided to broaden its use and offer it as an option to every admissions office in the Netherlands (and abroad!).
Coming in 2019
- Geogebra exercises. We’re hoping to extend our GeoGebra functionalities to also include exercises. This means that we will be able to evaluate input given by the student and give feedback. This allows us to extend our list exercise types, allow students to more easily draw objects and graphs themselves.
- Test functionalities. We’re working on revamping our existing testing environment to allow for easier and even more secure testing. Some functionalities we’re building are:
- Allow teachers to select test questions directly from the course material.
- Allow teachers to group exercises. These groups can be scored separately and reported on after the test has been submitted.
- It will be possible to have SOWISO automatically choose a number of random exercises from these groups when a students start the test. This allows for even greater randomization as students will get different selections of questions from a common pool.
- Test analytics. One improvement for teachers that SOWISO is working on is providing more analytics surrounding assessment data. Teachers will be able to view psychometric data for each exam question as well as statistics for the assessment overall. Psychometric values such as item-test correlation, question discrimination, and cronbach’s alpha for test reliability will be calculated. Additionally, a customized question analysis will be generated by SOWISO to give teachers insights into how students performed on each question and whether the question should be reviewed.
- Gamification. In 2019, our new gamification system will see the light of day. We will introduce experience points and profile levels, which will give students a better estimate of their progress. Profile levels and ranks will be shown on forum activities to offer students a sense of prestige. Badges will be more meaningful, and serve as a milestone towards the end goal, which is of course mastering the course.This will make rewards more tangible, and will motivate students more to practice a lot and score well.
- Assignments. The assignments feature for SOWISO will allow teachers to group content together and create custom assignments for students. Teachers will have the option to choose students to assign and set options such as start date, due date, and passing score. From the students’ point of view, working on an assignment will create a filtered view with only the theory and exercise pages that are relevant. The assignments feature will also include reporting on assignments’ score and progress for each student
Best regards and warm season’s greetings,