Customer Story
Online Learning

Athabasca University provides math exams online without compromising quality or student integrity

Meg Tyler
Meg Tyler


Due to the global pandemic, Athabasca University (AU), the leading online institution for higher education in Canada, needed to shift assessments for high-enrollment mathematics courses from paper to electronic formats by January 2021. During the transition to electronic assessments, they discovered that their existing online homework and exam system was unable to manage and grade complex mathematical functions and equations found in their STEM programs.


Having a history with Möbius for over 10 years, AU decided to take their use of Möbius to the next level by using it for high-stakes exams during a time when other resources were not suitable for delivering a secure testing environment to students in an online format.


Since January 2021, AU’s Faculty of Science and Technology has served up to 3,000 learners online with effective assessments, making it easier for  faculty and staff to administer and mark examinations. The result has led to not only showcasing Möbius as a truly scalable and cost-effective platform for math educators but has improved the following:

  • elevate student feedback
  • increased accessibility
  • reduced administrative burden
  • enhanced exam security

The Details

AU was established in 1970 in Alberta, Canada and is considered the first Canadian higher education institution to specialize in distance education. AU currently offers hundreds of courses spanning dozens of undergraduate and graduate programs in the humanities, sciences, business, and health disciplines. 

As with every academic institution in 2020, the global pandemic introduced even more barriers to providing education; even for AU, a school whose primary offering is distance learning. Though a majority of courses were offered through distance education, many courses still required students to go to a testing center or partner institution to complete their exams in person. AU also has new enrollments every month of the year, so they needed a solution that could seamlessly work for their students. Online education is very important to AU as they serve more than 35,000 students in more than 80 countries, also allowing students in rural or remote areas to have access to a university education.

Their challenge: how could they continue to operate as the top-tier distance education provider in Canada for higher education but deliver exams fully online for math courses that promote equitable access, efficient grading, and support different exam delivery options?

AU’s strengths are in providing open and online education and they purposefully sought out Möbius as the best solution given its innovations in mathematics education and assessment. Specifically, AU needed an online tool that could handle the interpretation and grading of complex mathematical functions and equations, something their existing toolset didn’t support. Fortunately, members of AU were familiar with Möbius by DigitalEd, a learning platform for creating and deploying online STEM courses, which includes lessons, assessments and interactive learning activities to meet students wherever they are.

With Möbius, AU was able to roll out several exams for their math courses that utilized automatic grading of complex mathematical expressions and equations, algorithmic questions for ensuring academic integrity, and integration with their existing edTech stack, including their Learning Management System and remote proctoring provider.

The results were impressive. Not only has AU used Möbius to serve 3,000 science students with exams, but they’ve also created and delivered weekly homework assessments across several math courses, including statistics, calculus, and business mathematics. Delivering these exams and assessments with Möbius has provided a much-needed relief to staff members in regards to administration and marking duties.

“Möbius is a truly scalable and cost-effective platform for math educators and students that provides more efficient and effective management of educational delivery.”- Dr. Shauna Zenteno, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology and Associate Professor of Biology, Athabasca University

Furthermore, students saw improvements in not only the speed in which they received feedback, but also in the quality of feedback. Given the diverse backgrounds of the student body, as well as multiple locations around Canada and even the world, AU has been able to rely on a secure, stable, and efficient testing platform for their math courses.

“I can say that we are quite impressed with Möbius’ capacity and its ability to assess students using  randomized generative assessments.”- Dr. Vivekanandan Kumar, Associate Dean, Research & Innovation, FST; Professor – Computing and Information Systems, FST, Athabasca University

AU also uses Möbius to deliver lessons through the platform. Möbius delivers learning modules that not only present course lecture materials but also engages with students through inline practice questions that are immediately graded. This provides rich feedback and interactive elements that students can engage with, giving them a unique learning experience that takes advantage of technology.

Möbius offers an all-in-one solution for STEM course materials, and AU has seen first-hand the benefits and successes by adopting this innovative platform. As AU continues to use Möbius, they are finding the partnership with Möbius is helping to solve other challenges, such as exam security with the system’s ability to use randomized exams. They’re excited to continue expanding their usage over the next year, using Möbius to provide class resources for courses covering linear programming, data science, and geomorphology.

Read more about how Athabasca University is making math courses more accessible.