Mathematics and statistics distance learning: more than just online teaching

Hilliam, Rachel; Goldrei, Derek; Arrowsmith, Gaynor; Siddons, Alexander and Brown, Cath (2021). Mathematics and statistics distance learning: more than just online teaching. Teaching Mathematics and its Applications: An International Journal of the IMA, 40(4) pp. 374–391.



At the Open University, where students learn online and at a distance, the School of Mathematics and Statistics has for many years provided innovative ways of supporting students outside the ‘classroom’ environment so was well prepared to support students during the COVID-19 pandemic. These forms of support include online forums to help students with module choice and taster resources including diagnostic quizzes for students to self-assess their readiness to study individual modules and receive targeted support. Since 2017, these resources, and more, have been incorporated into a multi-functional student-facing website. The website enables all units, both academic and non-academic, to provide consistent academic, pastoral and social support to students studying mathematics and statistics modules online. By focusing on the different stages of a student’s journey, the website provides a one-stop shop for students to self-serve and obtain appropriate support at each point in their own student lifecycle. Data gathered on the frequency of use of the website, together with the results from staff and student questionnaires, have provided insight into how students and staff use the website. The evaluation highlights the need for clear signposting to such resources. In addition, the wide range of resources which enable students to make informed module choices is shown to be particularly important for staff who provide pastoral and academic support to students.

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