Online Homework Systems

by Bradley Rose 4 years, 9 months ago

Can anyone point to online homework systems that they utilize, like, and do not cost very much (meaning approximately $20 or so a semester). The costs are difficult to determine without requesting information for the currently listed 15 providers.

The online homework resources I have looked are cost prohibitive and/or poorly integrated with Openstax. If your goal is to get course material cost to $0 or close to it, paying $60 for access to an online homework system seems to defeat one of the reasons for using OER.

Aaron Collins 4 years, 9 months ago


I currently use WebAssign. It is about $30/semester through my bookstore. I think it is just OK but enables me to teach over 100 students a semester without TAs. I do like that is aligns strongly with Openstax. Recently, I have been demoing CHEM 101 and think it has a lot of potential.

Good luck!




Pascal Meier 4 years, 9 months ago

I use Knewton Alta, which is a homework system based on mastery. Students have to complete work until mastery of a topic is shown. If a student struggles, he or she will get material to study from. It will even send students back to algebra textbooks if they have issues with solving equations. It does not matter how many times students got something wrong on the way to mastery, only that mastery was shown.

Since everything is broken down in topics to master, the system is exteremely refined in terms of goals, which means that students have about 80 assignments in a term. This can seem like a lot, but some of the mastery goals are very simple and quick to achieve. Instead of giving a larger assignment with lots of topics being covered, each topic is its own little group.

The cost is not bad at all: $44 for four semesters and it covers both Chem I and Chem II, so students pay once for a full year of classes.

This is the cheapest I have found. I hope this helps.

Allison Soult 4 years, 9 months ago

It may also depend on the number of students.  I am at a large state University with a large program so we get discounted rate on Sapling because of the number of users.  There is also a significant difference between the bookstore and online purchase prices.  

Erika Merschrod 4 years, 9 months ago

I just learned about WebWork a couple of weeks ago and have been looking into that.  Our nath department uses it, and it seems like it could be a good option for chemistry as well.

When I switched to OpenStax for our textbook in one intro chem course, I wanted to look for an alternative to Mastering chemistry, our previous system (still used for most intro chem courses).  I have been using the built-in quiz function of our LMS (Brightspace, aka D2L) this semester, but this was quite a bit of work to set up and populate with questions, and there are some constraints on the question formats (particularly around sig figs vs precision).  On the other hand, it's free.  I do agree that charging a non-zero amount for course material when moving to a free textbook is not ideal.  If there were a one-time up-front cost for the content, but then the system could be hosted locally (e.g. through our LMS), that would not be bad.  I don't like to download these costs to the students.

Patricia Takahara 4 years, 9 months ago

We have found that ALEKS is really effective. It is adaptive so it eliminates busywork for students who have the material mastered. We also tried Knewton/alta but found that the quality was fairly low and there were many typos and errors. We were not really convinced that it was adaptive either.

ALEKS is about $45 per semester but well worth it. If you are using OpenStax, you've already reduced the price to students by a significant amount, so I don't think a moderately-priced homework/learning system is unreasonable. 

Note:  I'm not paid by ALEKS - I just really like the system.