How to render your homework assignments useful for you and the world
Homework is a word that probably very few associate with something positive, and here, I will summarize four recent (independent but converging) twists on the topic:
(1) a study by researchers at the Technical University of Dresden (see press release, German only: http://idw-online.de/pages/de/news245011 ) has demonstrated that homework assignments do indeed fail, in most cases, to help the student in learning;
(2) Citizendium, a wiki-type free encyclopedia aimed at improving general credibility and article quality with respect to Wikipedia, has launched an initiative which encourages university instructors to assign Citizendium articles as homework for which students can get credits (see press release at
(3) OpenStudents.org, upon whose inauguration I have commented previously (http://www.ways.org/en/2008/jan/31/1915/daniel/open_students_platform_st...), now features an article on a very similar approach - to let students deposit their homework in freely accessible repositories, and to give them the option to comment on such contents (cf. http://www.openstudents.org/2008/02/13/student-publishing-as-an-assessme... );
(4) As previously announced, a global initiative on Open education is gaining momentum (cf. http://www.ways.org/en/2008/jan/25/0618/daniel/cape_town_open_education_... ), and (2) and (3) are important steps in this direction.