Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Optimization Problem

I want to assign graded homework to my 250-student calculus class, but we have no graders.

Really, I just want to assign a few problems a week, just to keep the students on track.

The obvious solution is EduSpace, the publisher's online system for homework and much, much more.

I like the EduSpace content for the new edition of the book better than the content for the edition that we are using. Do not ask why we are using the old edition of the book. Heck, do not ask me why we are using this lousy, error-prone book at all. If you do ask, I will make snarky comments about the book-selecting committee and the rule of inertia. In any event, I want to use the new edition EduSpace. The book rep promises me that any student with a valid passkey, whether packaged with a new book (old edition) or purchased a la carte (any bundle), will be able to access the new edition's content. I'm not convinced that I believe that's true.

My options:
  1. Suck it up, write off the sunk costs that I've put into working on the new edition site, and use the old edition EduSpace content.
  2. Set up the new edition content but not release the course code into the wild until asking some student volunteers from potentially-problematic populations (used book with unbundled key, etc) to set up accounts using the machine in my office. If the system won't let them sign up, switch to using the old edition site.
  3. Unfairly overburden TAs by asking them to grade weekly quizzes. Choice of: invite wrath of independent-spirited TAs by writing the quizzes myself or invite wrath of lazy TAs by asking them to write their own quizzes.
  4. Assign no homework. Bitch to internet when non-homework-doing students perform poorly on tests.