The challenge

Low maths ability is a barrier to work for many adults in the UK. An estimated 10 million have numeracy levels lower than GCSE level C. To help tackle this problem the idea of Citizen Maths, a free online course for adults wishing improve their maths, was born.

Funded by the Ufi Charitable Trust with Calderdale College leading the project, a team of education experts was formed to develop the course.

What we delivered

Citizen Maths went online in 2016 and since then over 18,000 people signed up. Learners could work their way through the course in any order, at their own pace. Videos were used to explain key maths concepts and learners completed short tests as they progressed. Each of the five sections was expected to take between five and ten hours to complete.

We were responsible for developing the technical infrastructure, in particular the Google Course Builder and Google Cloud Platform services. Working in partnership with Seb SchmollerDavid Jennings (of DJ Alchemi), and DESQ we:

  • modified the core CSS and HTML templates to apply bespoke designs for the course dashboard, lesson layouts, student profile and completion certificate
  • extended the Course Builder codebase with new features such as email alerts for project leaders about learner feedback, and notifications for students about their progress
  • built CRON jobs to archive user information, send emails to inactive users, and check the status of integrated third party services (e.g. example Scratch and Geogebra)
  • configured the GITKIT module to manage: student account creation, access rights, and progress monitoring
  • configured the APIs and credentials needed for Course Builder on the Google Cloud Platform
  • wrote custom queries for Google BigQuery to analyse course usage data
  • kept the Google Course Builder application up to date with new releases

All of the new functions that we developed for Google Course Builder are freely available and can be accessed in the Citizen Maths repository on Github.

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