Online education for mathematical modelling in Finland

Seven Finnish universities have joined their efforts to teach mathematical modelling in Finland with the help of the World Wide Web. By bundling the resources and expertise, they managed to offer modelling courses that would otherwise be beyond the capabilities of the individual universities. The collaboration started 2002 as a pilot project of the Finnish Virtual University, supported by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture.

In the project Web-based learning and teaching methods have been developed, content production for mathematical modelling has been supported and administrative measures needed to facilitate web-based learning and teaching have been put into practice.

Each web-based course features streaming video lectures, student teamwork and peer review in a browser-based learning environment, local tutoring, and videoconferenced presentations of term projects. Some of the student project reports have been extremely good, like the one on parliamentary elections seen in the figure.

During this academic year students may study a basic course on mathematical modelling (5 cr), and courses on methods of data-analysis in modelling (4 cr), and modelling and optimization (4 cr).

So far about 2000 students have passed these modelling courses. Along with the courses, a book titled “Mathematical Modelling” has been prepared and will be published by Springer. Until now the language of instruction has been Finnish. In the future the courses will be given also in English. This opens up a perspective for extending the national modelling education network to a European network.

The attached figure shows a student project work on parliamentary elections in Finland. Upper left hand corner presents project titles that student groups may select, lower left corner describes the modelling problem, upper right corner shows results of one project: dependence between consequent elections. The lower right corner presents feedback on the project. All the material and communication takes place in Moodle.


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