I gave students in one of my distance learning classes a Web-based assignment, which was to locate and analyze a short propaganda film from the World War II era. I suggested a few sites to them, like this collection at the site Museum of the Moving Image, which allowed students to choose a video that appealed to their specific research interests.
So far, so good: the assignment had the highest participation of any in the semester's first five weeks, and there were quite a few lively discussions as students debated the merits and/or problems with particular pieces of wartime propaganda.
What I neglected to take into consideration was the amount of my own time needed to review some 25-odd video clips. In good conscience I could not simply read the analyses without watching the related films, and I ended up spending about three hours watching the videos so that I would be knowledgeable about the essays.
The papers themselves, of course, ate up another three hours of my time, meaning that I spent the better part of 10 hours in grading a single weekly assignment for a single class. Thus, I am torn: the assignment seemed to resonate with these students in a way that previous assignments did not, and it created some heated debate, but at the same time it is impossible for me to devote so much time to a single assignment every week.
Unless, of course, I want to work 75 hours a week during semesters and increasing the likelihood that I will be seeking out masculine versions of wrinkle creams at age 55, which I do not. I love teaching, but there are limits to the amount of time I want to spend on a job with relatively low wages, no matter how much it provides professional and intellectual satisfaction.