Grant Project Update: WeBWorK-MathBook XML Bridge Project Complete

By | January 25, 2016

Enabling Successful, Accessible OER in Mathematics with a WeBWorK-MathBook XML Bridge

Alex Jordan, Instructor of Mathematics, Portland Community College; Michael Gage, Professor, University of Rochester; Geoff Goehle, Professor, Western Carolina University; Rob Beezer, Professor, University of Puget Sound; Davide Cervone, Portland Community College

We’re delighted to announce that one of Open Oregon’s 2015 OER Grant Cohort projects is complete. This project aimed to build inter-connectivity between two powerful open resources for mathematics education. The work makes it possible for an open textbook author to simultaneously use MathBook XML software to write their book, while using WeBWorK to write interactive example and homework exercises.

With MathBook XML (MBX), an author writes their book in the XML file format. MBX then creates synchronized eBook and print versions of the book. Print books automatically meet typographical standards, while eBooks automatically meet web accessibility standards and use CSS and Javascript to apply universal design principles. For an example of each, see Tom Judson’s book: Abstract Algebra, eBook format and Abstract Algebra, print format. By using MBX, an OER author can provide multiple output formats (even more than the two mentioned here) that meet multiple standards of quality, all while maintaining focus on the content of their book, not the presentation.

WeBWorK is the most widely used open source online homework platform, first created in 1994 and continuously evolving its capabilities ever since. With traditional usage of WeBWorK, students connect to it using a web browser, submit answers to homework questions, and receive feedback.

This Open Oregon grant project makes it so that an MBX author can write WeBWorK exercises directly into their book. Integrating WeBWorK into Textbooks: Sample Exercises is an eBook that provides examples of how exercises can appear as interactive examples. The same exercises can easily be uploaded into WeBWorK for more traditional use in assigned homework sets.

In order to use this with your own textbook project, the first step is begin conversion to MBX. The MathBook XML site has quickstart information. MBX users also are active in a MathBook XML Support Forum, with discussion threads and users who can offer assistance. Once you are ready to begin adding WeBWorK cells to your eBook, the MBX sample documents and examples (which come with your MBX installation) will show you how. Also the members of the user forum are friendly and eager to help.