The one way educators still don’t use digital submissions to help themselves

Digital homework submissions are a beautiful, but underutilized tool for educators.

While some aspects (such as TurnItIn) have been somewhat embraced, there’s one other big way that having essays and papers turned in digitally will make things easier for educators and make it harder for students to slack off and cheat.

Word counts.

Don’t give out assignments with page lengths, give out assignments with word counts.

For example, these two syllabi could, instead of listing the requirement of eight pages and fifteen pages, state that the papers must be 2,000 words and 3,800 words.  The calculation is approximately 250 words per double-spaced page.

Word count is an easy thing to check in a word processor, and it makes complaining about font sizes and margins and spacing all a moot point.  The point, after all, is to get the students able to write content about the topic; why waste your time (and theirs) with a very subjective and fudgeable metric?

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