Teaching Statistics and Operations Research Online: Experiences at the Open University of Catalonia

Teaching Statistics and Operations Research Online: Experiences at the Open University of Catalonia

A. Juan (Open University of Catalonia, Spain), J. Faulin (Public University of Navarre, Spain), P. Fonseca (Technical University of Catalonia, Spain), C. Steegmann (Open University of Catalonia, Spain), L. Pla (University of Lleida, Spain) and S. Rodríguez (University of Lleida, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-942-7.ch020

Abstract

This chapter presents a case study of online teaching in Statistics and Operations Research (OR) at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC). UOC is a purely online university with headquarters in Barcelona, Spain, with students from many countries. As common to most math-related knowledge areas, teaching and learning Statistics and OR present difficult challenges in traditional higher education. These issues are exacerbated in online environments where face-to-face interactions between students and instructors as well as among students themselves are limited or non-existent. Despite these difficulties, as evidenced in the global growth of online course offerings, Web-based instruction offers comparative benefits to traditional face-to-face instruction. While there exists a plethora of literature covering experiences and best practices in traditional face-to-face instruction in mathematics, there is a lack of research describing long-term successful experiences in Statistics and OR online courses. Based on the authors’ experiences during the last decade, this chapter aims to share some insights on how to design and develop successful online courses in these knowledge areas.
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Benefits And Challenges Of Online Education

Most universities worldwide are currently integrating e-Learning Management Systems (LMS) –like Moodle (http://moodle.org/), Sakai (http://sakaiproject.org/portal) or Blackboard/WebCT (www.blackboard.com/), among others– in their higher education programs. These Web-based tools can be used to develop both alternative and complementary strategies to traditional face-to-face learning systems. These approaches permit delivery of instruction to students who are time- or place-constrained (Seufert, Lechner & Stanoevska, 2002). As Howell et al. (2003) also point out, in some developed countries the current higher-education infrastructure cannot easily accommodate the growing educational demand due to significant enrolment increases. Online education can be a useful and efficient means of mitigating this problem.

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