New app to help adults use maths everywhere

10th December 2013

A new app to help adults – half of whom in this country only have the level of skills expected by 11 year olds – solve everyday maths problems and improve their skills, was launched at NIACE’s Learning at the Digital Frontier conference in London.

The app – Maths Everywhere – has been developed as part of the partnership initiative Maths4Us, which included a competition for learning providers and app developers to work together to develop a brand new maths app to help adults to see how relevant and useful maths is to everyone, everyday and everywhere. Funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Maths Everywhere won a public vote and was designed and developed by Bolton College and Modern-English – who have previously worked with Kylie Minogue and the University of Oxford – in partnership with NIACE.

Free to download for Android and Apple phones and available online at www.mathseverywhere.org.uk, Maths Everywhere has three different sections offering helpful tools, video tutorials and practice questions to help adults improve their skills and become more confident.

The three sections of Maths Everywhere are:

1) Everyday Tools – A range of tools are provided to help people solve the maths problems they encounter every day, like splitting the bill at a restaurant, working out the fuel costs for a journey, calculating childcare costs, converting currencies, increasing or decreasing recipe quantities, figuring out the best discounts and much more.

2) How to Work It Out – Through a series of short video tutorials, the next stage of Maths Everywhere helps users improve their skills so they can confidently solve problems themselves in the future. Users are guided through three different levels of maths challenges.

3) Have a Go – Users can put their new and improved skills to practise, earning a badge for each topic by answering all of the questions correctly. If an incorrect answer is given, users have the option to refer back to the appropriate video tutorial. Once badges for each section and level have been successfully earned, a new ‘Challenge’ is unlocked. Badges are prominently displayed to help users keep track of their learning.

Carol Taylor, Director of Development and Research at NIACE, said:

“Maths crops up many, many times each and every day, everywhere, in everyone’s life. And far too many adults find everyday maths tasks – from budgeting and sharing the bill after a meal to getting the best deal when shopping or banking – challenging. Adults need a range and choice of opportunities to use and improve their maths skills, in ways and times that work best for them.

“One of the main issues is that many adults don’t think maths is a part of their everyday lives. People see maths as something very intelligent people ‘do’. They don’t see maths as an essential set of skills for work, family and health. We want to engage people through showing how everyone uses maths every day. It’s also vital to show that it can be fun, save you money and that it’s not something to be scared of. Ultimately, this will help people from all backgrounds, their families and their friends become more confident and happier with maths.”

Pat Harrison, Director of 14-19 learning at Bolton College, said:

“As one of the core subjects here at the college, there is a strong emphasis on maths and I’m in no doubt that this app is going to inject some fun into what is a stereotypically dry subject.

“By helping to improve maths skills through day-to-day problem solving, we hope it will encourage the study of maths at a higher level, providing adults with greater confidence in their numerical skills at home and at work, while giving young people a vital grounding as they embark on their career.

“Maths is a fundamental skill that employers expect their staff to have a good grasp of, regardless of their profession. That’s why we embed the subject, as well as English, into all our programmes. This ensures that all learners understand their relevance and can see firsthand how the skills they’re acquiring will help them in their future careers.”

Bruce Thomas, Director of Modern-English, said:

“We’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with Bolton College on this project and we’re very proud to have created an innovative and exciting piece of educational software.”