Homework Systems

What is a homework system?

  • Online tools that can grade questions asked to students as homework, track formative practice, or assess examinations.
  • Most useful in classes where students are problem solving (i.e. math, chemistry) and need immediate feedback about if they have done the process correctly. Systems also commonly used to test recall.
  • Typically tied to or integrated with textbooks.
  • Faculty can often customize questions.
  • Can be commercial, student-pay systems or non-commercial (free) systems.

What are the alternatives to commercial systems?

  • Use existing non-commercial tools that are used in other Canadian universities including UBC, UofC, McGill, etc.
  • Access funds from the Gwenna Moss Centre to support your graduate students in building question banks for integration into Canvas for automatic marking.
  • Contact Heather Ross for more information about alternatives and potential funding.


What are the benefits of commercial systems?

Faculty   Students
  • Question banks ready to use, with multiple versions and types.
  • Integrates with textbook, and often with Canvas.
  • May include flashcards or other study resources with common terms.
  • Can be set up to give immediate feedback.

What are the issues with commercial systems?

Faculty   Students
  • No faculty control of changes to homework system.
  • Variety of technical interface for instructors, may not be integrated in Canvas and gradebook (may require grade transcription).
  • Answer keys are often available online.
  • Student data often sits on a commercial server in the US. This has privacy implications, and it is not clear how long the data is stored in case of appeals.
  • Have to make a purchase in order to earn part of their grade, so some students forced to forfeit that percentage of grade.
  • Increasing cost, limited time access, and no resale.
  • Technical difficulties are often encountered by students, and vendors have varying levels of effective customer service.

Getting help

See available homework systems at USask.

The Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching & Learning

Contact Heather Ross for more information about alternatives and potential funding.