Aalto University (FINLAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN16 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 898-904
ISBN: 978-84-608-8860-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2016.1178
Conference name: 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2016
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abacus [1], based at Aalto University, is a major international project which aims to facilitate use of use computer aided assessment in higher education. It is based on problems predominantly implemented by using STACK [2,3]. The project is motivated by the fact that a serious obstacle to the use of STACK has been the lack of available learning materials and associated support services. For this reason, many teachers opt for commercial solutions, despite their relatively high prices and other shortcomings, or simply decide not to use computer-based materials and learning environments at all.

In order to address these obstacles in higher education, the Finnish technology universities founded in the beginning of 2015 a mathematics e-learning cooperative material pool Abacus, which ultimately aims at establishing a national and even international standard for open source e-learning software in mathematics and STEM education. The initial aim has been to establish a database covering Bachelor level engineering mathematics: single and multivariable calculus, ordinary differential equations, matrices and linear algebra, vector analysis, and basics of probability and statistics. The focus has been in assignments designed to train procedural and conceptual skills of the students where [4,5] the system has shown great promise. Our aim is to expand possibilities of the system in the near future to the direction described in this proposal, which would allow more sophisticated assignments [5,6].

Importantly, from the beginning Abacus Material Bank has been designed as a project that would allow new national and international partners to join in the future. Since the project inception several Finnish universities as well as two international partners, Polytechnic Institute of Leiria (Portugal) and Tallinn University of Technology (Estonia), have joined the pool, and the project is actively looking for further international partners. The project involves training a substantial number of staff in development of STACK assignments, and the development and deployment of comprehensive learning materials. In Finland, the project already involves collaboration with practically all higher education institutions offering degree programs in STEM topics, and we expect its use to expend in high schools as well in the near future. In this presentation, we discuss rationale of setting up the Abacus consortium, our experiences on national and international collaboration in development of e-learning materials, and opportunities for partnerships with other institutions.

[1] Abacus material bank (referenced 31.3.2016)
[2] C. J. Sangwin: Computer Aided Assessment of Mathematics. Oxford University Press, 2013.
[3] STACK demonstration server (refereced 31.3.2016)
[4] A. Rasila, L. Havola, H. Majander, J. Malinen: Automatic assessment in engineering mathematics: evaluation of impact. In In Myller, E. (ed.), ReflekTori 2010 Symposium of Engineering Education, Aalto University School of Science and Technology, 2010, 37–45.
[5] A. Rasila, J. Malinen, H. Tiitu: On automatic assessment and conceptual understanding. Teaching Mathematics and Its Applications TEAMAT 34 (3) (2015), 149–159.
[6] A. Rasila, C.J. Sangwin: Development of STACK Assessments to Underpin Mastery Learning. To appear in Proceedings of the 13th International Congress on Mathematical Education, Hamburg, 24-31 July 2016.
Mathematics Education, Automatic Assessment, STACK.