Open Education Stories: Creating and reusing problems using OER

This is the second video in our series, which aims to share stories of how open education is transforming teaching and learning across B.C’s post-secondary sector and making education more accessible for all learners. In the first video, Dr. Jennifer Barker, a Biology instructor at Douglas College, shares how she is helping to remove barriers to education.

In this video, Dr. Jonathan Verett and Dr. Agnes D’Entremont, professors in the Engineering program at the University of British Columbia are improving their students learning experience and creating open resources that reduce financial barriers.

Post by Lucas Wright, Advisor, Open Education

To do so, Jonathan and Agnes are creating problems for the WeBWork Open Problem Library (OPL). WeBWork is an open-source online homework system for Math and Science courses that improve learning by providing students with immediate, detailed feedback and the ability to change their answers based on this. WeBWorks also provides students with individualized versions of problems which means that instructors can encourage students to work together; yet each student must develop an answer to his or her own version of the problem. For instructors, WeBWork has an Open Problem library with more than 30,000 problems that can be used in Math and an increasing number of problems that are available for other sciences and economics. In the B.C.’s post-secondary sector, it is used by many programs and at least five institutions.

For this project, the instructors wanted to create a set of problems for use in Engineering programs in B.C., North America and worldwide.

Students are involved throughout this project, creating new problems and testing and providing feedback for the problems created. This project received an Open Education Resource grant this year to supplement and extend the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund grant that the instructors received from the University of British Columbia. With these funds, a student will be hired to increase the number of problems added to the OPL, making them accessible to institutions globally, and begin a process of building up a set of open problems for Engineering.

Notable quote:

“My hope is that we plant a seed on the open problem library. We’re starting several subjects that don’t exist there now. We’re founding certain subject areas on there. And we have the capacity to build 60 – 80 problems, but what we hope is people will see that and say, “Oh, there are like-minded people… engineers using this. I could build a few problems too.” “And if 10 people build five problems each, suddenly we have this amazing resource that’s available to all of us.” – Dr. Agnes D’Entremont, professor, Engineering, University of British Columbia

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