BI Norwegian Business School is among the three largest business school in all of Europe, with 20,000 students across four campuses nationwide (and one in China, working towards undergraduate, graduate, and MBA degrees. Plus, a blend of in-person and online classes in both English and Norwegian.
Needless to say, providing consistent quality and support (normally found in a small class) to all those students is no easy task. But they’ve consistently been rated in the top 20 business schools in Europe by Eduniversal, thanks, in part, to their commitment to making sure no student gets lost in the shuffle.
As part of that effort to support large-class learning experiences, they turned to Eduflow’s interactive learning tool.
Mega-Classrooms Make Individual Connections Difficult
In many higher education institutions, a large class is considered to be 300-400 people. BI has courses that max out at 4,300 students. One course might be run by seven different faculty members across four campuses in 17 separate classrooms with dozens of student assistants. Many courses are also available partially or completely online.
Very large class sizes create unique challenges. Students often feel like they aren’t getting the proper feedback and guidance in their studies. This is reflected in the national annual student survey, “Studiebarometeret”, commissioned by the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research to evaluate the quality of student programs. This has been true for students at BI, and something that BI wanted to address.
Students need feedback on their work in order to succeed, but giving personalized feedback to over 3,000 students in a single class requires massive amounts of time and manpower, even with the help of 30 student assistants. This feedback, often produced by overworked grad students who had to assess hundreds of papers, wasn’t as comprehensive or nuanced as the students needed.
The answer seemed to lie in a peer review process, where students could critique each other’s work. A manual peer review scheme was already being used in some smaller classes, but there was no way to effectively scale it up or anonymize the feedback. BI needed a way to organize, assign, and track student reviews on a much larger scale. They needed a way to make students feel seen.
Eduflow Connects Students, Fosters Collaborative Learning
Olaug Nørsterud Gardener is the senior advisor to BI’s Learning Technology Team. In her quest to make sure that each student feels heard, she is constantly asking herself: “How do we create a more active learning journey for our students?”
In search for solutions, BI’s learning centre came across Peergrade, Eduflow’s predecessor. BI began using it in 2015 with good results. When Eduflow debuted in 2019, they began migrating classes there instead. “We needed something more flexible,” says Gardener, “that you could customize to specific learning activities in different contexts.”
BI primarily uses Eduflow to automate the peer review process for large classrooms. Eduflow connects students so that they can both give and receive individualized feedback on their coursework. After students submit their work, they are automatically provided another student’s assignment to review. Students assess their peers’ work according to the criteria provided by the professor, and, in turn, receive their own personalized feedback from another anonymous classmate. “The students learn a lot, both from the feedback that they receive, but even more so from giving feedback to others,” says Gardener.
BI also uses Eduflow’s live presentation features in their smaller masters and doctoral classes. A few faculty members are even using Eduflow to guide their students through the thesis writing process.
Eduflow doesn’t just help students learn; BI’s in-house pedagogical development team is using it to help sharpen the faculty’s skills as well. “We’re running internal courses on pedagogy for our faculty,” says Gardener, “and participants are using Eduflow for peer-review and to put together a portfolio of proof showing they have implemented the theories we’ve shared into their practice. The educators have improved their courses with the theories that they've learned from this course.”
Positive Responses from Students and Educators
Although they are still waiting to see if their Studiebarometeret scores have improved, feedback from students has been positive. “It solves a very practical problem,” says Gardener, “in that we needed to get better at seeing the individual student. This is helping us improve student culture by asking students to become active, engaged participants in their own learning journey.”
Instructors and administrators have also bought into Eduflow’s utility and ease of use. “Faculty can pick up and go with this, and it's quite user-friendly,” says Gardener. “We try to be there to guide and to assist them, but we see that, for the most part, they work it out themselves and even contact the Eduflow team directly if they get stuck.”
Eduflow Contributes to BI’s Greater Vision
Increasing student engagement and giving them detailed feedback helps make massive classes feel small, but it also contributes to the larger goal of changing the way students look at the learning process. Instead of just sitting in lectures and taking notes, students are forced to play a more active role in their education through peer reviews.
“Part of our job is to educate the students about what learning actually involves,” says Gardener. “Lectures can be a great medium for aspects of it, but it’s not the only way, or the most effective way, to learn. So we need to break it up and have more active learning modes as well.”
Moving forward, Gardener plans to expand the use of Eduflow throughout the university as the designated peer-feedback tool. “I’m a strong believer in niche platforms that do one thing extremely well and an ecosystem of specialized tools to help meet learning objectives. My goal is for Eduflow to be our expert tool in terms of facilitating this collaborative learning experience. Then we can combine it with other expert learning tools to create a cohesive whole that provides a valuable learning experience for the students.”