- Collaboration. I know students can still cheat by telling others what order to to put the numbers into, in fact I model it for them in a little one man drama. However, I have also model what a good discussion about a problem looks like. More often than not I see the good kind, even in places like study hall and randomly in coffee shops around town.
- Fewer problems. I assign one set a unit, about 10 or 20 problems total.
- Harder Problems. I assign the hard ones, as WolframAlpha can do all the easy ones. No, really, just cut and paste works on many one step physics problems.
- One due date usually a week or two out. This gives busy students a lot of flexibility about when to get things done.
- Help sessions. I always have the problems due on a Monday night. When I started the online homework not everyone had Internet. My principal would only let me do online homework if I held open computer lab nights. Monday from 8-10, with the problems due at 11:30 became the time. It is a wonderful time of physics learning.
- The computer tells you right away that you are wrong. One problem with regular homework sis the feedback comes too late. Students can lock in a wrong idea in the 24 or 48 hours it takes to grade regular homework, then even when confronted with correct answers they do not change the old brain pathways.
I sympathize with people who argue that we should not give homework. This is an elective class, so I feel some latitude. I also sympathize with people who do not like contrived problems and have been working hard to rid myself of them. I am assigning problems that relate to one of the goals of every unit: to match our real world experiments to what the physics books say we should have gotten. I am open to change, but this has over the years proven to be a really good part of what happens in my classroom.