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Aplia Inc. is an educational technology company founded in 2000 by Stanford University professor Paul Romer that offers online homework products geared toward college-level courses. In March 2007 Cengage Learning (formerly Thomson Learning) acquired Aplia Inc. Aplia was based in Belmont, California until March 2014, when it relocated to Cengage Learning's new Mission Bay, San Francisco office.


In 1998, Romer created an online experiment system for use in his economics courses at Stanford University so his students would come to class better prepared and become more engaged with the course material. After other professors expressed interest in his approach, Romer decided to turn this system into the basis for a new company. He raised $10 million in venture capital to start Aplia, an online learning system. Since 2000, it has been used by over 4,300 professors, 1,200,000 students, at 1,300 colleges and universities worldwide. [1].


Aplia’s basic product includes online homework assignments that professors can assign to students in accounting, business communication, business law, developmental reading, economics, finance, marketing, philosophy, statistics, and taxation. While the basic premise behind each course is the same, course materials vary; in many cases, Aplia problem sets are designed to complement specific textbook from a variety of the leading publishers. [2]

Aplia support representatives set up and edit courses per the professor's schedule. [3]

Assignment types include problem sets, news analyses, tutorials, and (for economics) interactive market experiments.

Aplia is often integrated with textbooks from different publishers. Aplia's questions are written by content experts in their respective fields and the problem sets match the tone, difficulty level, style, of the textbook. Aplia works with publishers, authors, and contributors, and many users believe the quality is decent. [4] [5]

In terms of pricing, many of Aplia's products have a low-cost digital textbook as well as Aplia. In the Friday, May 9 issue of The Washington Post, author Steven Pearlstein writes: "Aplia also paves the way for the textbook industry to ditch a lousy business model in which it has to charge ridiculously high prices for new books because it cannot collect anything from the students who buy them on the used-book market. Instead, publishers could move to a more sustainable model in which the textbook is priced close to the cost of printing and shipping (say, $20), while all students are charged a reasonable fee (say, $60) for what really matters, which is the content of the textbook, the labs and homework exercises." [6]

Research has also shown Aplia to be effective in the classroom, especially with keeping students on track with their assignments and increasing enagagement and participation in the classroom. [7] [8]

To date, Aplia has developed products for the following disciplines: Accounting, Biology, Business Communication, Business Law, Decision Sciences, Developmental English, Economics, Finance, History, Management, Marketing, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, Statistics, Taxation.

Aplia Features[edit]

Chapter Assignments/Problem Sets

Chapter assignments (or problem sets)--groups of questions based on each chapter of a textbook—are automatically graded and provide students with explanations for every question. All problems are randomized and written by a team of subject matter experts. Most assignments use "Grade It Now" technology. Students are given three attempts on each problem; if they don’t like their score after their first attempt, they may try a second time; if they don’t like their score after two, they may try a third; they don’t have to use all three attempts. Scores are averaged.

News Analyses

In economics and finance, Aplia regularly features economics and finance articles from new sources. Each story includes a summary and follow-up questions.


For economics, Aplia offers real-time, online market experiments to help students understand what the real market environment is like. Each experiment is supported by assignments that prepare students for this and help them analyze their results. These experiments have had proven success in the classroom as well—according to research, Aplia's methods provide college students with means to truly learn the material. [9]


All of Aplia's courses use multimedia to pique students' interest. Developmental Reading, for instance, uses audio so students can hear how vocabulary words are pronounced; Logic uses interactive Venn diagrams, truth tables, and natural deduction proofs so students keep learning the material hands-on. [10] [11]

Assessment and Grading

Aplia keeps instructors informed about student participation, progress, and real-time graphical reports. Instructors can download, save, manipulate, print, import, and export student grades. Gradebook Analytics allow instructors to monitor and address performance on a student-by-student and topic-by-topic basis.

Course Management System

Instructors can post announcements, upload course materials, host student discussions, e-mail students, and manage their gradebook with Aplia’s course management system. Aplia works independently or in conjunction with other course management systems.

Aplia Criticism[edit]

Additional course fees/Registration fees

Students are charged (per course) additional registration fees on top of their home institutions tuition or per unit fees. This may amount to more than the parent institution's total cost for the entire course when including materials fees. This has been regarded by some to be a "troubling lack of transparency regarding the total net costs associated with getting a college degree."[12]

Other e-learning platforms[edit]


External links[edit]