Seeking a Better Math Solution

In 2017, Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO) campus leaders were getting an earful from students and parents about the unreasonable cost of the online homework system required for math courses. Additionally SEMO math professors were dissatisfied with the reliability of the system they were using and frustrated that it was not set up to integrate well with the university’s learning management system, Moodle. When these problems became too painful to ignore, university leaders directed the math department to find an alternative.

SEMO math faculty began exploring online homework solutions designed with open educational resources (OER) because they promised both a much more affordable option and a tremendous amount of flexibility to shape the course materials to fit the needs of their students, courses, and programs.

12 Math Courses Move to OHM

After evaluating platform features and template courses available in Lumen Online Homework Manager (OHM), SEMO math faculty decided to move forward with this solution in 2018. Key drivers of the decision include its low cost ($25), system flexibility to support effective course and assessment design, excellent user support, and outstanding LMS integration. Their department-wide adoption uses Lumen OHM for 12 different math courses, corequisite supports for some courses, and a math placement exam.

“Our faculty are experts at teaching these courses, and we know what our students need,” said Dr. Tammy Randolph, Southeast Missouri State University’s interim dean of the College of Science, Technology and Agriculture. “Lumen tools give us the opportunity to organize instructional materials, choose homework problems, and have checks and balances to monitor student progress. Partnering with Lumen also gives us instructional support from a team that understands how mathematics classes work and what good pedagogy looks like.”

Win-Win-Win: Affordability, Reliability, AND Quality

During fall 2018, SEMO’s first term using OHM went remarkably smoothly. After years of frustration with a common publisher’s system that frequently experienced outages early in the term, SEMO faculty were delighted to find zero downtime with Lumen OHM, as well as a system they found easy to manage and intuitive to use. Students also liked OHM and especially appreciated its $25 price tag. The single biggest “wow factor” came from OHM’s seamless integration with Moodle, which provided easy access to all course materials and automatic grade return into the LMS gradebook.

“Affordability is a serious issue for many of our students, and the University is committed to addressing that problem,” said Dr. Dan Daly, interim chairperson and associate professor of mathematics at Southeast Missouri State University. “Fortunately, with Lumen OHM we don’t have to compromise on quality. Our faculty members get a simple start-up process and essential tools like machine grading, automatic grade return, and a huge question bank from which to draw. Students get unlimited practice to learn the math. We’re excited about how this change removes barriers for students progressing towards graduation.”

Hear directly from members of the SEMO math department in this recorded webinar where they share their experiences making the transition to Lumen OHM and advice for others exploring affordable online homework systems.


Photo: “SE Academic Hall” by Agathman, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0