# Online Homework: WebAssign

Here’s this afternoon’s presentation about Online Homework Systems and WebAssign for the panel discussion at MathFest 2008 in Madison, Wisonsin.

Uploaded on authorSTREAM by wyandersen

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I have used MyMathLab and iLrn but both of those are linked to textbook publishers. How does WebAssign work if it is not linked to a specific publisher? Do they have question banks? Do they have the “Show me how to do it” and “Let’s go step-by-step” features of MyMathLab? What is the cost comparison?

As I understand it, the publishers contract with WebAssign to put up a certain percentage of the problems in their texts – different publishers make different agreements.

I use a lot of the Cengage material (which is called “Enhanced WebAssign” which has several features that students like.

Read Ittakes the students to the section of the text that is appropriate for the material.Practice Itbrings the student to a practice interface. There is also aPractice Another Problemoption which you can set up to run either anytime or after all the attempts have been used.If you are interested in more information about WebAssign, here is the link to my Online Calculus Presentation Web, which has a large section specifically on WebAssign.

Have you looked at the more open-source offering WeBWorK? I guess it’s centered at the University of Rochester, but free for anybody to use, as I understand it. We use it at the University of Virginia, and I’m personally a fan. We also use WebAssign, it just depends on the course and the semester.

http://webwork.math.rochester.edu/docs/

Also, I can’t resist linking you to a WebAssign ad I got:

http://sumidiot.blogspot.com/2008/06/funny-ad.html

[Disclosure: I was paid as part of an NSF project at UVA to do some tagging of webwork problems, to help improve problem navigation and selection. If that’s relevant.]

I’ve gotten a few odd WebAssign postcard ads myself 🙂

Two of the speakers on the panel yesterday spoke about WebWorks. I have not used it myself, but some of the functionality does seem very similar to WebAssign.

You can use WebAssign as an open-source problem builder, and you can even save copies of existing problems (ones you have access too) and then modify them for your own purposes.

I haven’t used it, so maybe you can answer this question: Does WebWorks have the capacity to do “social activities” like message boards?

First, thanks for your great blog! I used WebAssign for the first time this summer with my online statistics course with the Brase and Brase Understandable Statistics text. For the most part I liked it, but my students and I experienced a huge amount of frustration with the way that WebAssign handled error tolerance. Some students were using technology for calculations, and some students were using the statistical tables from the textbook, so there was variation in answers. (WebAssign seems to use a combination of the two methods when coding the answers–an additional source of confusion.) The error tolerance that was built in turned out to be too strict for many of the answers, and definitely too strict for small numbers like p-values. I plan to use WebAssign this fall but will have to go through the problems one by one and recode them.

This probably wouldn’t be an issue for classes where problems require an exact answer.

I do like the fact that you can modify questions (something that you can’t do in MyMathLab) and it doesn’t appear too difficult to write your own questions.

I know that WebAssign is aware of the issue in statistics where a calculator value is different than the table value. A “perfect” solution is under discussion.

They have designed a series of icons with roll-over text to alert students about tolerance in general – these should roll out this fall I think. Hopefully this will help solve some of the problems. Another option is to use the

Practice Another Versionoption.