Alberta Trade School Uses Möbius to Improve Efficiency and Deliver Specialized Education

Alberta Trade School Uses Möbius to Improve Efficiency and Deliver Specialized Education

Challenge

Mark Schneider, Education Technology Specialist at NAIT, noticed an overlap of published curriculum content among different courses, and a lack of communication among faculty in differing departments.

Solution

Schneider realized that by using Möbius NAIT would be able to create more authentic, industry-specific learning environments for their students.

Result

NAIT is now able to better serve their students by providing industry-specific assignments and tests while providing instructors with an efficient method of creating and managing their content.

Case Study: Alberta Trade School Uses Möbius to Improve Efficiency and Deliver Specialized Education

Post-secondary institutions serve many students in a variety of disciplines. It is often a challenge to have efficient communication between departments and avoid overlap of content and resources. In trade schools, where students need to learn highly-specialized skills in preparation for their chosen careers, developing customized material specific to each discipline is crucial. The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) has one of the largest trade apprenticeship programs in Canada. It offers training and education in diverse disciplines, including Applied Sciences and Engineering Technologies, Corporate and International Training, Health and Life Sciences, Business, Skilled Trades, and Culinary Arts. The institution needed to find a tool to host assessment content and make resources more openly available across departments to improve efficiency. They quickly identified Möbius, as the solution that would meet their needs.

Mark Schneider, Education Technology Specialist at NAIT, noticed inefficiencies created by an overlap of published curriculum content among different courses, and a lack of communication among faculty in differing departments. At the time, tests and assignments were not specific enough to each industry, which is essential for a trade school. In addition, faculty at NAIT were using various content publishing products, which resulted in the institution paying for overlapping resources. The school identified Möbius as a solution to get all departments on the same page, to improve the development and sharing of content, and to eliminate overlap. “If multiple instructors are leveraging different publishing tools, the result is more textbooks or resources to keep track of, more costs for students. The propensity to share between multiple publishing products just wasn’t there,” Schneider said.  “Möbius allows users to create new, customized content with relative ease. The ability to quickly create and share interactive content across the institution held tremendous appeal for us.”

One of NAIT’s visions is to create authentic assessment which ensures they are asking questions that are specific to the industry of each student, Schneider said. “I was educated in the university model, which is more of a blanket approach where you get a math concept that has several different applications and deliverables because of an unknown destination for the student at that time,” he said. “Polytechnic is very different. When a student comes in, they are entering a program with a very specific industry in mind and very specific applications.”

Many of the resources the school was relying on were too generalized. Most of the textbooks used at NAIT were geared towards one industry but were being used to cater to 15-20 different industries. This created a lot of inefficiencies when students entered the workplace or when faculty wanted to develop customized content, Schneider said. “There was an inability to customize content that is tailored to a specific industry. I quickly realized that with Möbius we would be able to create a more authentic environment for assessment,” he said. “As a polytechnic college, this rings as the foremost priority of our institute. We need to create assessments that are tied to industry, that target very specific objectives and can’t be modified or levelled down to multiple-choice or numerical responses. We often need more simulation-driven environments. Möbius can leverage some of the content we’ve already built and allow instructors to modify questions that benefit from simulations.”

The school had been working with two different learning management systems (LMS): The Learning Manager and Moodle. While in the process of merging the two together, they discovered more than 10,000 duplicated questions. With Möbius, the school was able to transfer more than 60,000 questions into one centralized database within 30 days. “We’re trying to harmonize everything under one umbrella with Moodle,” Schneider said. “Möbius has been an invaluable tool in that regard, because of its seamless integration with other tools, including Moodle.”

Another motivation the school has for using Möbius is the flexibility it offers, especially for students who have other commitments they can’t work around easily. The school wants to be able to reach out to students who work full-time jobs and are raising families. “We need to reach out to them in a way that doesn’t force them to come to campus at awkward times, either for feedback or even for the assessment itself,” Schneider said. “With the Möbius platform, we can leverage an at-home study environment and even an at-home assessment environment that allows students flexible pathways so they can spend more time with their families, at their jobs, or working on other courses that aren’t as flexible.”

So far, the results have been overwhelmingly positive. Both students and instructors love Möbius due to its ease-of-use and accessibility. “Users can build questions that are very visual and very dynamic in a matter of minutes,” Schneider said. “We can also move beyond basic question types and allow students to actually interact with the content. We can build something for a specific trade or industry that they’re going to need to know how to do when they leave.”

Ultimately, NAIT wants to maintain its status as a world-leading polytechnic institute, which requires them to create pathways for students that lead to success in industry. “Unless the school can customize content specific to each student’s industry, there’s going be a guessing game on whether or not the student will be successful post-graduation,” Schneider said. “If we have the ability to build our own content or modify someone else’s content, that will afford us the confidence of producing graduates who enjoy what they do and who create ideas in their industry right from the get-go,” he said. “Möbius is a critical tool that allows students to see a direct link between how they’re being assessed and what they’ll be required to put into practice in their careers.”

While Schneider acknowledges he isn’t an expert in all of the disciplines taught at NAIT, he recognizes something special in Möbius and its applicability to a range of industries. “I know enough about technology to see the potential of Möbius in catering to some really dynamic subject areas,” he said. “I do believe that mathematics drives everything, which is why I believe Möbius can drive everything that’s assessment orientated across our entire institution. I’m looking forward to seeing that vision continue to grow at NAIT.”

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