This project is now complete.

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.

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 Projects:

BCcampus awarded close to $200,000 to 12 B.C. post-secondary institutions for 19 projects over the three grants. We invested an additional $50,000 to provide support services for grantees, which included the development of the H5P Kitchen website and community support sites for H5P grantees, six open H5P support webinars, and technical consultation services for WeBWorK grantees.

The Open Homework Systems project funded the development of more than 2500 formative practice questions for five open homework systems: H5P, WebWork, PrairieLearn, Carnap, and ChemSketch.

The project resulted in 1291 H5P activities that aligned with 11 open textbooks in the B.C. Open Collection, 188 WeBWorK questions to support first-year open math and calculus textbooks, 240 ChemSketch questions to support the open textbook Organic Chemistry, 507 PrairieLearn questions to support open math textbooks and a first-year physics course, and 278 Carnap questions to support the the open logic textbook forall x.

All the activities are openly licensed with Creative Commons licenses to allow the activities to be freely copied and reused by other educators.

Summary of Projects

Type of Grant Book, Course, or Subject Area Project Lead Lead Institution Resources Created
H5P (1) Writing for Success Brenna Clarke Gray TRU 156 H5P
H5P (1) Psychology: H5P Edition Simon Lolliot UBC 282 H5P
H5P (1) Introduction to Tourism Rebecca Wilson-Mah RRU 59 H5P
H5P (1) Concepts of Biology (1st Canadian edition) Michelle Nakano and Charles Molnar Camosun 80 H5P
H5P (1) Vital Sign Measurement Across the Lifespan Kymberley Bontinen Douglas 122 H5P
H5P (2) Le Francis Interactif Mirabelle Tinio Langara 229 H5P (in final review)
H5P (2) Technical Writing Deborah Neilsen CNC 42 H5P
H5P (2) Physical Geology Karla Panchuk UBC-O 200 H5P
H5P (2) Principles of Social Psychology Farhad Dastur and Hammond Tarry KPU 25 H5P
H5P (2) Principles of Marketing Biggi Weischedel TRU 78 H5P
H5P (2) Foundations of Digital Marketing Rochelle Grayson Langara 18 H5P
STEM Organic Chemistry Jessie Key VIU 240 ChemSketch
STEM Math Stefan Luktis BCIT 90 WeBWork (in final review)
STEM Math Elyse Yeager UBC 40 PrairieLearn
STEM Physics Firas Moosvi and Jake Bobowski UBC-O 467 PrairieLearn
STEM Biomechanical Engineering Robyn Newell UBC 98 WeBWork
Other Philosophy David Gilbert UBC 278 Carnap

Totals:

  • 1291 H5P
  • 507 PrairieLearn
  • 118 WeBWork
  • 240 ChemSKetch
  • 278 Carnap

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For more information, contact Clint Lalonde, Project Manager