Author Archives: The WeBWorK Project

About The WeBWorK Project

WeBWorK is an open-source online homework system for math and sciences courses. WeBWorK is supported by the MAA and the NSF and comes with an Open Problem Library (OPL) of over 35,000 homework problems. Problems in the OPL target most lower division undergraduate math courses and some advanced courses. Supported courses include college algebra, discrete mathematics, probability and statistics, single and multivariable calculus, differential equations, linear algebra and complex analysis.

Join us on Friday 2/5, 1 pm – 2pm (EST), for TWP Tea Time #2!

You are invited to our second WeBWorK Tea Time!

Our last tea time discussion touched upon authoring WeBWorK problems for checking conceptual understanding. We plan to continue this discussion and share best practices. We will offer tips for beginners through more advanced users. Daniel Garbin of Queensborough Community College and Andrew Parker of City Tech will lead the discussion and share some of their own examples.

To wrap up, we will devote a portion of our time to taking feedback from the WeBWorK community on the OPL since the next major collaborative WeBWorK community project will focus on making the OPL easier to search, use and contribute to.

Please feel free to share this invite with interested colleagues, all are welcome!

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/4079835823

Meeting ID: 407 983 5823
One tap mobile
+16465588656,,4079835823# US (New York)
+13126266799,,4079835823# US (Chicago)

Dial by your location
+1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington D.C)
+1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
Meeting ID: 407 983 5823
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kbB9C0FlXq

TWP at the JMM, Jan. 6-8, 2021

The WeBWorK Project will have a virtual exhibit as part of the Mathematical Association of America exhibit booth at the #JMM2021 American Mathematical Society Joint Mathematics Meetings. Please stop by to see us!

The following Zoom sessions are part of our exhibit:

  • WeBWorK Problem Authoring Session, Wed. Jan 6, noon-1 pm (MST), 2-3 pm (EST)
  • Introduction to WeBWorK, Thurs. Jan 7, noon-1 pm (MST), 2-3 pm (EST)
  • WeBWorK Symposium (BYOB) – meet up with the WeBWorK community, Thurs. Jan 7, 6 -7 pm (MST), 8 – 9 pm (EST)
  • WeBWorK Show-and-Tell – Share your favorite WeBWorK problems/feature, Fri. Jan 8, noon-1 pm (MST), 2-3 pm (EST)

Ask your questions in one of the Zoom sessions or asynchronously through our Slack channel (thewebworkproject.slack.com),

Join us on Monday 12/7/2020 for our first WeBWorK Tea Time!

You are invited to our first WeBWorK “tea time”! 


 As many of us are entering our final exam periods we thought it might be helpful to highlight the gateway quiz feature in WeBWorK. Whether you are new to the feature or an experienced user with tips to share – please join us! We are happy to demo, share experiences and answer questions. 

Rederly engineers are also going to share best practices for stress testing and contingency planning. Topics at the forefront of our minds as we prepare for finals!
If you’d like to take a look at the gateway quiz feature in advance of our discussion, please see our YouTube videos here:


1) How to create a quiz in WeBWorK https://youtu.be/Lj8IIdMHAAA2) A student takes a quiz in WeBWorK https://youtu.be/Gyyc219X-ew

Topic: WeBWorK Tea Time – Gateway Quiz/Stress Testing/Contingency Planning DiscussionTime: Dec 7, 2020 02:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meetinghttps://zoom.us/j/98403111524?pwd=aWFSTkJyQkttSnR6dFd6TmpZSG9pQT09

Meeting ID: 984 0311 1524

Passcode: 073419

One tap mobile+16465588656,,98403111524#,,,,,,0#,,073419# US (New York)+13017158592,,98403111524#,,,,,,0#,,073419# US (Washington D.C)
Dial by your location        +1 646 558 8656 US (New York)        +1 301 715 8592 US (Washington D.C)        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)        +1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose)        +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)

Meeting ID: 984 0311 1524

Passcode: 073419

Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/ab6LgDROcK

Join us on Nov. 4-5, 2020 for a Final Exams Conference

Join us as we come together as a community to discuss assessment. Sessions will include

  • Lessons learned from Spring 2020
  • Basic problem authoring
  • Writing solver-resistant problems
  • Exam creation and controlled randomization
  • Stress testing and contingency planning
  • Assessment best practices from ASU and SNHU
  • Short talks on various topics related to finals and assessment
  • Community discussion on future directions

Upcoming TWP Events

As we approach our 25 year anniversary we are excited to mark this occasion by creating opportunities for the WeBWorK community to come together. Please be on the lookout for two upcoming events:

  1. November 4-5, 2020: Final Exams Conference with sessions on lessons learned from the spring, exam creation, problem editing, helpful hints at managing course rosters and students, stress-testing servers and resource sharing. TWP is seeking presenters – please contact Marianna Bonanome at mbonanome@citytech.cuny.edu if you would like to present at any of the sessions.
  2. Spring/Summer 2021: 25 years of WeBWorK Conference, details to come.

Building a thriving WeBWorK community at CUNY

by Michael Gage – Friday, 7 February 2020, 3:03 PM Marianna Bonanome (MBonanome@citytech.cuny.edu) and K. Andrew Parker (KParker@citytech.cuny.edu) at CityTech (NYC college of technology) in New York City have been busy organizing a community of WeBWorK users in the NYC area among the CUNY campuses.

In 2012, driven by the desire to provide zero cost alternatives to expensive texts and proprietary homework platforms, City Tech math department faculty began authoring open source textbooks [1] and using WeBWorK to provide online homework for its students. At the time, WeBWorK problems were created by primarily relying on content shared by other WeBWorK-using institutions via the Open Problem Library (OPL). While less than ideal in some ways, this level of WeBWorK adoption represents a minimum amount of required investment – and it is essentially how all WeBWorK-using institutions get their start. Several CUNY campuses are still at this stage – where they have curated their curricula from the contributions of other institutions.

It is common for institutions to see limited adoption of WeBWorK during this phase, and
City Tech was no different. Instructors participated in WeBWorK training on a strictly
voluntary basis, with no compensation provided for trainers or trainees. Students
struggled with inconsistencies between problems – stemming from the fact that the
problems themselves came from different institutions or that the problems used
terminology aligned to a different book than the one used by their instructor. In short,
the curriculum needed revisions in order to be consistent at the problem level, and
alignment with the textbook at the course level. without external support, this revision
process moved forward at a very slow pace.

In 2015, City Tech was jointly awarded a 5 year, $3.2 million, Title V Department of Education grant with BMCC: Opening Gateways to Completion [2]. This funding was transformational in providing essential resources to faculty who were developing WeBWorK content and disseminating best practices for the use of WeBWorK in the classroom. The pace at which each campus was able to develop and align their curricula began to accelerate.

As early as Fall 2016, content for a full course of College Algebra & Trigonometry had been completed and faculty training began. Several professors were identified as “experienced” WeBWorK users, and they served as early-adopters for the new curriculum. During the limited release, lingering inconsistencies in the problems were identified and resolved, feedback from the early-adopters was incorporated, and the curriculum emerged as a polished product. In the subsequent semesters, over 100 instructors have chosen to use WeBWorK in this course at City Tech.

With the grant funding, City Tech has so far completed customized curricula for three STEM-pipeline courses. These problems have been shared back to the WeBWorK community, where City Tech currently ranks as the 7th most prolific contributor to the OPL. A similar sequence of courses has simultaneously been completed at BMCC, and their eventual contribution to the OPL will raise CUNY’s OPL ranking even higher. This collection of locally-developed content has benefited an ever-growing body of students. As of Spring 2019, 8,600 students had used grant-funded WeBWorK content across both institutions, representing a value of approximately $215,000 [3]. At City Tech, use of these materials has grown to over 100 sections and 88 participating faculty members for the fall 2019 semester. City Tech expects their impact to stabilize around roughly 9,000 students per academic year, with the majority of those enrolled in truly zero cost courses that pair WeBWorK with OER textbooks.

In Fall 2019, with the end of the Opening Gateways Title V grant looming, City Tech took the initiative to reach out to other WeBWorK-using CUNY campuses. Information was gathered on WeBWorK administration, faculty professional development, student/faculty usage, administrative support, growth and future plans. This information was shared with campus participants and discussed at meetings with representatives from City Tech, BMCC, BCC, City College, LaGuardia CC, Queensborough CC, Baruch and CSI. It was determined that, rather than moving forward separately, a cross-campus collaborative effort for WeBWorK content creation/alignment should be established along with centralized training and professional development.

In order to focus these efforts, more detailed information was gathered regarding OER textbooks/WeBWorK problem set pairings. Partners willing to align WeBWorK content to specific OER texts in current use by multiple CUNY campuses were identified. A proposal requesting CUNY OER (Open Educational Resource) funding was submitted in December of 2019 in support of this project. Since the proposal was submitted off-cycle, the request was only able to be partially granted. Re-submission in the next academic year was encouraged. These funds are supporting partners from City College, LaGuardia CC and Queensborough CC in the authoring, alignment and sharing of WeBWorK content for Calculus I (spring 2020). This content will be aligned with the free online textbook OpenStax Calculus 4 and shared back to the community via WeBWorK’s Open Problem Library (OPL).

Moving forward, it is the hope that more campuses will be onboarded as partners, widening the adoption of existing content and accelerating the creation of new content. Our ultimate goal is to build a robust WeBWorK community at CUNY with faculty working collaboratively in support of student learning while reducing financial barriers. The potential impact of a fruitful collaboration between campuses is huge as there are currently 250,000 students in the CUNY system, many of which are enrolled in degree programs with math requirements.

If you would like to learn more about our work, please contact us.

Respectfully,

Marianna Bonanome (mbonanome@citytech.cuny.edu) and Andrew Parker (kparker@citytech.cuny.edu) City Tech, CUNY

[1] Arithmetic | Algebra by ElHitti, Bonanome, Carley, Tradler and Zhou and Arithmetic | Algebra Homework by ElHitti, Masuda and Zhou; Precalculus by Carley and Tradler.

[2] https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/openinggateways/

[3] Using a cost of $25 per student – representing a direct comparison with Lumen

[4] https://openstax.org/details/books/calculus-volume-1

Release of WW 2.15 approaching – additional pre-release testing would be helpful

by Nathan Wallach – Thursday, 8 August 2019, 4:05 AM.

The release team is working on finalizing the release of WW 2.15.

The preliminary code is in the WeBWorK 2.15 branch (there is also a 2.15 branch of PG). See: https://github.com/openwebwork/webwork2/pull/948
There are still some “small” changes planned, but the core features are all essentially frozen, except for some remaining PRs under review to polish things off.
The big changes are:

  1. UTF-8 / internationalization support (several production sites have been using the current code or earlier versions already),
  2. Support for use of MathQuill as an alternative to MathView and WirisEditor as a math input and preview tool.

People are invited to test out WW 2.15 using Docker or a non-production server and to contribute to the pre-release testing in the coming few weeks.

  • Testers should pay attention to the setting of $ENABLE_UTF8MB4 in site.conf (see site.conf.dist).
  • We recommend it be set to 1 (on) unless you are testing outside Docker on a system with an old mysql which does not support utf8mb4.
  • Testing on a system with existing course database tables will require upgrading the tables (admin tables with the bin/upgrade_admin_db.pl script and courses using the admin interface).

Users of foreign languages are encouraged to help create a hard-copy theme for their language with the appropriate LaTeX headers for their language using either pdflatex + babel and/or xelatex + polyglossia. (Including a note about fonts needed and how to install them, both in the hard-copy theme file and in the pull request would be helpful.)
Moving a production site to WW 2.15 will require database table updates, and more “small” DB changes are under consideration to head off that requirement for WW 2.16, if possible. So, upgrading production sites before the formal release may require upgrading your tables again. Patience is recommended for production servers, especially on a server with many courses.