I am thinking of writing a homework website/app for math teachers that

  • only requires the teacher to choose a subject

  • poses and marks questions on the given subject

  • sends reports to teachers

  • offers a range of question formats.

My question is how much time could this save? I am a math student and not a teacher, so I don't know.

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    $\begingroup$ Michael: Analysis, not attack. But the question is naive even as a question. First you have to consider what options are available now. Second you have to consider that some teachers grade homework and others don't. Thirdly, there are the implementation issues that George Allen's answer reflects. Fourthly, there are existing solutions like Kahn Academy or old school ideas like Schaum's for practice books. NOTE: not trying to shut you down...you are asking right question. But with a lack of depth as to make it hard to give anything helpful. If you persist, good luck. If you bail...grr. $\endgroup$ – guest Jun 1 '18 at 16:03
  • $\begingroup$ The first question when writing any app, math-related or otherwise, should be, "What problem does this app solve?" $\endgroup$ – shoover Jun 1 '18 at 17:59
  • $\begingroup$ My understanding is that a lot of math teachers spend a lot of time marking homework, which could be done automatically - especially high/secondary school teachers. Also, I have done some research into the available options, and everything I've found is far from perfect :) $\endgroup$ – Michael Jun 1 '18 at 21:06
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    $\begingroup$ Have you looked at what's already available? There are many such programs already in existence. What would make yours stand out? $\endgroup$ – Loop Space Jun 3 '18 at 5:43
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    $\begingroup$ Be aware that such systems have been in existence at least since PLATO in 1960: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PLATO_%28computer_system%29 $\endgroup$ – Daniel R. Collins Jul 2 '18 at 19:24

I think your idea has potential but I have some concerns. I really don't want to come across as discouraging so, instead, let me pose some questions you need to think about based on my teaching and software development experience.

  1. How are people going to enter equations into your app? Even something as simple as an exponent is going to require you to create a custom button or syntax, e.g. x^2. Even when I'm teaching online, I discourage my students from using that kind of formatting-based approach since an implicit goal of the class is being able to communicate technical ideas effectively using standard methods and notation. You're also going to run into formatting issues with things that are customarily not done from top to bottom. For example, solving the equation $x^2 + 3x + 2=0$ means solving two smaller equations, $x + 2 = 0$ and $x + 1 = 0$. If I were writing this on paper, I would put the two solutions side by side but that's going to be hard to do in a text based environment.
  2. How are you going to handle privacy issues? I'm not sure how much of a concern this will be depending on the specifics of your application and your market but, at least at the college level, there are some pretty strict privacy regulations that we have to follow. I'm not sure how much they apply at the primary and secondary levels.
  3. How are you going to handle data storage? Is this going to be a send and forget thing or are you going to save the student's work and the feedback so that they can go back and review it later? Having a centralized source to save the work is going to make this a much bigger operation. A potentially simpler option would be to save the data on the individual devices but then you run into a potential problem with "my phone died" scenarios. I think I would be comfortable with writing the data to individual devices, possibly with a restore option that a teacher could use to send content back to a given student, but you should have a plan in place to handle restore requests since, sooner or later, you're going to get some.

Ultimately, I think you've got an interesting idea that could be beneficial to both sides. The kinds of problem that lend themselves to this sort of auto-feedback application are the procedural ones that students can drill on on their own time which frees up classroom time for more interesting scenarios.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer, I have actually thought about these issues! For point 1, I have already written code for entering equations. I still need to do more research for point 2 - I've got some vague ideas, but I need to check the legislation. For point 3, I do intend to store the students' work on a server, allowing students and teachers to review the progress made. $\endgroup$ – Michael Jun 1 '18 at 20:57

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