For the past several years, commercial publishers have been marketing online tools to faculty that provide a curriculum to students, including textbooks, ancillary resources, and homework systems. These commercial platforms can impose a significant financial burden on students who are required to use them.

In an effort to reduce the cost to students for access to learning platforms and materials, BCcampus has received funding from the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training to explore open source software alternatives to proprietary commercial publishers’ homework platforms.

Project Goals

The purpose of the Open Homework Systems (OHS) project is to reduce the cost of post-secondary education for students by lowering the cost of access to homework systems.

Our specific goals are to:

  • Replace high-use, high-cost commercial homework systems used within the B.C. post-secondary system with open source alternatives.
  • Develop discipline champions and communities who can further steward the open source options once the project ends.
  • Inform and educate people in the B.C. post-secondary system about the costs of homework systems to students.

To achieve this, BCcampus will:

  • Explore the barriers institutions and faculty face when considering open source options.
  • Analyze existing open source homework systems to understand their technical capabilities and limitations.
  • Contribute to the technical development of open source homework systems to improve their functionality and make them more attractive for adoption by faculty.
  • Collaborate to create assessment content to support open homework systems.
  • Work with educators currently using commercial systems to understand what features best enable them to support student learning.

OHS Advisory Group

To help guide the work, BCcampus has put together a system-wide advisory group consisting of faculty, students, technicians, developers, and others familiar with homework systems and their use.

Name Institution Role
Agnes d’Entremont University of British Columbia Faculty (Engineering)
Brendan Hunter Langara College Course Materials Supervisor, Bookstore
Devon Keys BCNET System-wide Technology Support
Josie Gray BCcampus Accessibility
Kyle Maddox Douglas College Student (Comp Sci)
Levente Orbán Kwantlen Polytechnic University Faculty (Psychology)
Michelle Harrison Thompson Rivers University Instructional Designer
Will Engle University of British Columbia EdTech/Open Strategist


Project Updates:

Math Platform Evaluation Reports:

BCcampus conducted a comparative analysis of three open-source math-focused homework systems; WeBWorK, iMathAS, and Numbas. The evaluations occurred between January and May 2020 and were conducted by Shirin Boroushaki of the Thompson Rivers University Math department, BCcampus accessibility specialist Josie Gray, and technical analyst Alan Levine. The following reports are the results of the evaluation of the three platforms focusing on three areas; faculty and student user experience, technical setup, and accessibility.

Completed H5P Projects:

Related Articles:

For more information, contact Clint Lalonde, Project Manager