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, for example, math and chemistry, and need immediate feedback about if they have done the process correctly. Systems also commonly are 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 funding through the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning to support your graduate students in building question banks for integration into Canvas for automatic marking. Contact Heather Ross, GMCTL directly for more information about alternatives and potential funding.


What are the benefits of commercial systems?

Faculty   Students
  • Question banks are ready to use, with multiple versions and types.
  • Integrates with textbooks 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 the USask Learning Technology Ecosystem Toolkit for information on available homework systems at USask.

The Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching & Learning

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