Tackling low homework submission rates in the personal technology classroom

MS 101/3 Algebra and Trigonometry is experimentally operating outside of a computer laboratory. Students are working on their own personal devices, using the campus WiFi to access an OpenStax online open access textbook, Desmos graphing calculator, and Schoology's learning management system. With the first four of sixteen weeks completed, one of the areas that will need work is the homework submission rate. When compared to submission rates for a summer class run in the computer laboratory, the rate is down significantly. This comparison is problematic as summer courses are know to have higher performance metrics than regular term classes at the college. The summer homework submission rate was 75%. A submission rate of 48%, however, seems low even for a regular term.

MS 101/3 is a third section of the course. The other two sections are being taught in the mathematics and natural sciences computer laboratory by another instructor. I asked about his submission rates this fall and the instructor has 83 submissions for 140 opportunities to submit this fall, or a 59% submission rate. The instructor noted that this rate was low against prior submission rate. Fall 2016 the instructor had 273 submissions for 352 opportunities to submit, a 78% submission rate. That sounds a lot more like my summer 75% submission rate number. Thus the low submission rate might be emblematic of a broader issue.

That said, one of the challenges is submitting assignment from a smartphone. The Schoology app does not make it obvious how to submit from the app, and the app appears to be overly sensitive to limited bandwidth and network congestion.


One has to navigate to the course materials listing and click on an assignment. Once the assignment displays, click on Info, which pops up a drop down menu. Select Grades/Submissions.


At this point a plus may or may not appear: this seems to depend in part on network conditions and latency. Whatever script powers that submissions button is apparently slow to load. If the button does appear, then one might be able to submit, although in-class an attempt to Create Text Submission crashed the app on the student's smartphone. Other students could not get the "plus" sign that permits submission to appear.


Students were instructed to access desktop computers, lap tops, or use browsers on tablets to submit homework via the browser interface.

The difficulties with submitting from their personal technology devices may also be negatively impacting submission rates.

In good news, the Desmos app was upgraded from 2.6.1.1 to 2.6.2.1 last Friday in the wake of the screen locking seen when entering data into a table. Preliminary results suggest that the bug is essentially quashed. My kudos to Desmos for reaching out to me directly and for providing a solution so rapidly. Desmos continues to impress me.

Newton's law of cooling seen in Desmos on a tablet

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