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Collaborative learning at the Norwegian School of Economics

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Jan Ubøe is a Mathematics professor at the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH), one of the leading business schools in Scandinavia. NHH is renowned for its high academic standards and contributions to international research.

Jan currently teaches a course in statistics which is comprised of 16 lectures. He records the lectures and uploads them to the statistics course page on itslearning.

In addition, he makes five-minute summary videos of the lectures. These are recorded in NHH’s media room, with the help of the IT team. During the recordings, Jan’s statistical equations are projected onto a green screen behind him. These summary videos are uploaded to itslearning as well. They are a great help to students who can’t make the lectures, as well as those who prefer studying at their own pace.

Technology improves communication

Around 450 students attend Jan’s statistics class – which makes it hard to form personal relationships – but itslearning helps. Because it’s is cloud-based, students can access the course calendar, class material and communicate with their professors whenever they like. Jan gets questions from students right on his cell phone.

Collaborative learning

Jan recently started dialogue-based sessions, in which students are divided into small groups led by teaching assistants (TAs). At the start of each session, the TAs hand out papers with a bit of theory and some statistical problems. The students try to solve the problems through discussion while the TAs offer hints and advice.

Jan is a bit surprised that these sessions are going so well. “It actually goes against the laws of gravity, but the students think they’re fun! The majority said they were much more interesting than regular classes. I attended quite a few of the sessions and saw that the students were discussing so eagerly that they didn’t want to take breaks!”

Jan reports that about 80% of students attend these group discussions regularly. One of the advantages is that students are activated to take ownership of their learning. Jan adds, “It also prepares them for the working world, where communication and teamwork are extremely important skills.”

About halfway through the course, students must pass a multiple-choice test on itslearning. Jan explains, “You can make up extremely intelligent questions using multiple choice. Students can’t just guess the answers – they have to solve the problems.”

A long history with itslearning

NHH has been using itslearning for over 15 years. Around 3,900 full-time students currently use the platform. Every class taught at NHH has a corresponding course site in itslearning. Professors and their teaching assistants populate these courses with content.

NHH uses itslearning’s:

  • planner & calendar
  • tests & assignments
  • discussions & message boards
  • blogs & ePortfolios
  • pages, files, folders
  • project spaces

Students are free to create their own project spaces within the platform, and many do. They use them to collaborate on assignments, thesis work, etc.

Executive program

NHH offers an Executive program which allows working professionals to attain MBAs through part-time study. Around 700 participants from around the globe have enrolled. Participants meet in person a few times, but do most of their studying online, using itslearning and the flipped classroom approach. You can read more about NHH’s Executive courses here.