Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I've been using the open source homework system WeBWorK for the past few semesters.  The first couple of times, my classes were hosted by the University of Rochester (thanks to Michael Gage) and now by (thanks to Patrick McKeague).

The bank of problems in the WeBWorK National Problem Library is thin on the types of problems we want to use at Pierce College in our intermediate algebra class, so I've been authoring most of the problems.  The fact that all the authoring tools are made available to instructors is one of the nice features of WeBWorK, probably second only to the fact that it's free.

The downside is that without the huge work force associated with the big publisher-owned homework systems, the product is not so instructor-friendly.  We don't get all the bells and whistles that we might expect if we've only see the popular MyMathLab from Pearson.

I only just learned how to change a student's score on a graded assignment.  It goes like this:

  • Go to the Classlist Editor (the first link under Instructor Tools in the Main Menu).
  • In the row for the student of interest, click on the "Assigned Sets" value (in the fourth column--it has a form like  "m/n").
  • Click on the name of the appropriate set (in the "Edit set for..." column).
  • Find the problem of interest, and adjust the value of "status" (typically change "0" to "1") to give credit.

On the other hand, WeBWorK is (like the commercial product WebAssign) publisher-independent.  You could use it with a textbook from any publisher you use, or even (as with our program) if you are using materials that do not belong to any publisher.

The MAA is assuming the responsibility of maintaining WeBWorK ( from its original home at the University of Rochester.

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