Finnish-Chinese eLearning on Mathematical Modeling: modules on PDE’s and ODE’s.



Mathematical modeling and simulation form a crucial method for applying mathematics in practice. With the development of computers and software it has grown into a pivotal R&D-method throughout science. The importance of modeling has been internationally recognized and it has been included into the curricula of many universities.

The project on “International e-Learning of Mathematical Modeling between Finland and China”, supported financially by the Finnish National Agency for Education (EDUFI), Asia Programme, aims to build lasting collaboration between the Finnish and Chinese universities on online teaching of mathematical modeling. The project builds on the Finnish tradition of teaching modeling using online courses that make use of online learning materials, video lectures, investigative learning techniques, and peer assessment between the teams of students.

Mathematical modeling has an important role in the Chinese university curriculum in mathematics and engineering sciences. Thanks to the current project, the Finnish universities will be able to benefit from the long-standing experience of the Chinese partners, and the sharing of ideas will help further develop the Finnish national online courses.

Two Finnish (Tampere University of Technology and Aalto University) and two Chinese (Shanxi University and Hunan First Normal University) universities participate in the project and the teachers of the universities are responsible for teaching certain parts of the courses and for producing the corresponding courseware. Students from participating universities can study mathematical modeling both individually and collaboratively.


The course is intended for Finnish and Chinese science, engineering and mathematics BSc or MSc students. The Finnish and Chinese students study mathematical modelling by studying lectures, solving assignments, and commenting other students’ solutions and responses. The solutions to the exercises are located in the Moodle learning platform, where they may be commented. Studying will be made as group work and students will form groups of 2-3 students. The working language is English. The grading depends on the quality of solutions of exercises (70%) and commenting other group’s solutions (30%).



Figure 1: Video lectures on partial differential equations with teacher’s “talking head”.

Fall 2017 two one week modules on mathematical modeling are being taught jointly in Finland and China. The first module consists of Ordinary Differential Equations (ODE) and second on Partial Differential Equations (PDE). Figure 1 shows a video lecture from Finnish teacher. The progress of studies is shown in Figure 2, where students have uploaded their solutions on a bulletin board (left) for receiving comments and reviews from their pears (right).


Figure 2. Bulletin board with students’ solutions (left) and pier review (right).

Students will receive a certificate on their success. Currently there are 85 students from Finland and 44 from China. The best two Finnish students will receive a week’s visit to China and the best two Chinese students will receive a week’s visit to Finland. The visits are related to modelling activities in China and Finland summer 2018.