WebAssign

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WebAssign is the company and product name of an online instructional application for faculty and students.

Online instruction[edit]

WebAssign is one service among several online homework system providers. This particular service was developed,[1] launched and is hosted at North Carolina State University. Users create a standard personalized online account with a username and password which must be used to access assignments. The service provided cover the topics of mathematics, chemistry, statistics, physics, biology, and astronomy, as well as offering such services as secure online testing, limited student tutoring (for an extra fee), customizable questions and the option to craft entirely new questions.

WebAssign's core function is to load end-of-chapter questions from various textbooks into its archives, from which instructors may pick and choose in order to assemble a virtual assignment. Student must pay for access to their homework at a rate that varies based on the text they are accessing and are presented with multiple lengths of time for which they can activate their subscription, but are asked to pay more for longer subscriptions. The associated cost ranges widely, usually requiring students to pay between $15 and $70 per semester or quarter.

Background[edit]

WebAssign was developed in 1997 by a small group of academics in the Department of Physics at North Carolina State University. The product was piloted in several large classes at NCSU.

WebAssign became commercially available as a hosted subscription service in January 1998 under the leadership of John Risley, a physics education specialist and professor in the Department of Physics at North Carolina State University. WebAssign became one of NC State's fastest growing spin-offs.[2] Feedback from instructors and students in physics, math, statistics, and chemistry is used in expanding and refining the product.

In 1998, WebAssign incorporated under the name Advanced Instructional Systems with Risley as CEO. In 2003, the company officially spun off from NCSU and moved to NCSU’s Centennial Campus.[3]

In 2012, WebAssign reincorporated as an employee-owned benefit corporation, a hybrid between a traditional stock corporation (being for profit) and a non-profit that has a social mission.[4] WebAssign’s stated benefit is education, with all company strategy and decisions dedicated to promoting, supporting, and improving education and learning.

WebAssign was named a finalist in the “Software Company” category by the North Carolina Technology Association (NCTA); the NCTA 21 Awards is North Carolina’s statewide technology awards program, recognizing companies that have characterized excellence, innovation, and leadership in 21 categories.[5]

Effectiveness[edit]

Since WebAssign is used for the majority by university mathematics and physics departments, it has a more "concrete" knowledge base. Professors decide what questions they want their students to complete and how many questions they are assigned. This gives students a good basis of what concepts their professors want them to know and what concepts can be left aside.

WebAssign also grants help to students when they are completing their assignments. There is a "practice another version" tab which allows students to go onto a separate page and fiddle around with a separate problem and also provides them with the answer and a "show solution" tab that talks them through on how to complete that exact problem. Students can then use their knowledge of the separate problem and tailor it to the question that was actually assigned. WebAssign also allows infinite amount of submissions and tells the student if they got the question wrong or if they got it right.

These options provide students with a good homework environment that puts them on the track for success. It gives the exact questions that the student has to work out, gives them feedback by telling them if their submission is right or wrong, and also allows them to practice different problems for more practice. This differs from more traditional homework where students just go home and do assignments out of the book, not completely knowing on if they did the questions right or not, and then not getting feedback from the teacher until after their assignment has been graded.

Publishing partnerships[edit]

WebAssign has partnerships with all major textbook publishers. The company also partners with colleges and universities, such as Texas A&M University and Christopher Newport University.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Guernsey, Lisa (1999-02-12). "Textbooks and Tests That Talk Back". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2007-06-28. 
  2. ^ Price, Jay. "NCSU spinoff develops online homework service". newsobserver.com. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  3. ^ Gallagher, James. "WebAssign takes homework to the Web". Triangle Business Journal. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  4. ^ McQuaid, Annie. "WebAssign Becomes a 'Benefit Corporation'". WebAssign Wired. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  5. ^ McQuaid, Annie. "NCTA 21 Awards Finalist". WebAssignedWired. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 

External links[edit]