Blended learning at TU Delft: open exercises to engage math students
Campus wide Math for
TU Delft is one of the leading technological universities in Europe. In line with their mission to stimulate the use of openly licensed course material and to motivate their students, the Maths Department joined forces with Grasple. Now, TU Delft successfully creates interactive math exercises for its students, while sharing their knowledge and material with universities all over the world.
About TU Delft: the Delft University of Technology, locally known as TU Delft, is the largest technical university in The Netherlands. Here, over 24.000 students receive top-notch engineering education, and more than 2,900 scientists are currently employed. As of 2020, TU Delft is ranked by QS World University Rankings among the top 15 engineering and technology universities in the world.
The goal: At TU Delft, the Math Department provides math education to 15.000 bachelor students each year. Every student enrolls in math courses, including Analysis, Probability and Statistics, Linear Algebra Differential Equations, and Numerical Mathematics. The goal for TU Delft is therefore to provide their students with quality education at a large scale.
CC BY-NC 2.0 by Gerard Stolk
The challenge: Annoesjka Cabo is director of studies Interfaculty Education at TU Delft’s faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics, and Computer Science. As a mathematician, her responsibility is coordinating the interfaculty education. With 15,000 students, the challenge in providing quality education is one related to interactivity and engagement. “Results have shown that students only grasp the concept of mathematics when they practice it frequently. We wondered: how can we activate our students and stimulate them to practice more?”
At TU Delft, lectures build upon each other, so if students lack to master the previous lectures, it’s hard to catch up. To tackle this challenge, the team at TU Delft developed Programme Innovation Mathematics Education (PRIME), a blended learning environment to help transform the traditional courses to a more activating format. The aim? To provide students with more immediate feedback, so they are motivated to practice and learn from their work.
The solution: To fulfill their need for immediate feedback, Annoesjka and her team searched for online practice tools that could support their goal. A key requirement for the tool was the ability to use and reuse open educational resources. This has been a longstanding movement at TU Delft, as they were the first Dutch university to open course videos through Open CourseWare, following the initiative by MIT. They compared multiple practice platforms, and After careful consideration, a committee of teachers, students and managers finally selected Grasple as their open education solution of choice.
“Grasple contributes to our mission to make an impact for a better society, and aligns with our core values, meaning we wholeheartedly support Open Education. On top of that, we searched for a solution that is user-friendly and allows us to activate our students when learning mathematics,” Annoesjka explains.
Image by Jeswin Thomas via Unsplash
The results: By 2021, TU Delft has rolled out Grasple for the entire campus. Due to COVID, education at TU Delft shifted from on-campus to online, and the team has successfully used Grasple for more than 35.000 remote exams. According to Annoesjka, Grasple seamlessly integrated with their blended learning environment PRIME. “The way in which Grasple has been thinking along with us – and sometimes even ahead of us – helped us a lot in achieving our goals regarding open education.” As a result, TU Delft frequently creates new exercises that are all openly licensed and accessible for other teachers at universities worldwide, as sharing their knowledge is high priority here.
Available open exercises
At Grasple, we’re all about sharing resources. Together with TU Delft we’ve made Linear Algebra content openly available to educators worldwide. 535 online exercises are now available under a Creative Commons license, and can be accessed by anyone without the need to login.