List of WeBWorK features:
Individualized version of the problem for each student.
Immediate feedback as to whether the answer is correct.
Each homework assignment is available as a typeset,
downloadable postscript file.
Students can use any computer and browser combination
which can access a World Wide Web HTML page.
The instructor can find out current progress of class in
correctly completing the homework.
The instructor can use any computer and browser for management of the
assignment. Certain operations require a computer and telnet client
combination which can log into the computer which hosts the server.
(This is largely a safety feature. Since HTML access of a computer is
not that secure, it is better that some operations, such as checking
grades, be done when the connection between host and user is more
There is an easy mechanism by which the instructor can view the same
version of the problem as an individual student. This makes it much
easier to answer questions via e-mail.
Any Unix box can currently act as a server, and only slight modifications will be required for the WeBWorK server to run on NT and Mac servers.
All markups (current and future) used in designing HTML pages can be used in writing problems.
Grading assignments is fast and is easily integrated with spreadsheet programs such as Excel.
Procedures are provided to easily send e-mail to an entire class reporting individual homework grades, exam grades etc.
In general, WeBWorK
and CAPA promote "mastery" of the material, since the students cannot
mislead themselves into thinking they understand a problem until the
computer accepts their answer. Without WeBWorK most students
will make a calculation, get an answer, and forget about the problem
until, under the best circumstances, their homework is graded and
returned a week later. To paraphrase the words of Tom Lehrer, with WeBWorK "it is important to understand what you are doing AND to get the right answer."
Every problem has a Feedback
button which sends an e-mail message directly to the instructor.
Students use this to communicate with the instructor in many ways; from
reporting spelling errors on the homework pages, to asking for help
when they think they have the right answer, but WeBWorK won't
accept it (sometimes the instructor has programmed in the wrong answer
for some versions of the problem), to setting up a meeting time with
the instructor or TA to get additional help because now they realize
that they didn't understand a concept which they thought they had
In our experience e-mail has a definite personalizing affect rather than a de-personalizing one, and WeBWorK's
encouragement of this additional channel of communication has been one
of the serendipitous advantages of the system.
At the price of spending an hour at 11PM the evening the problems are
due, an instructor, working from home, can answer a good many simple
questions which, unanswered, would have prevented the students from
completing their homework. In this way WeBWorK
and web technology allows one to reach students at "teachable" moments,
with only moderate inconvenience to the instructor. After the due date,
students can review the homework, including the answers expected by the