As a college professor, Henry Chappell has heard almost every excuse from his students for not having their homework.

As a father, Chappell became bothered by the tediousness of homework hot lines while trying to keep track of his teen-age son’s assignments. So Chappell created Homework Hero, a web site where teachers post homework assignments on the internet for free.

“I just thought there had to be a better way of keeping track of the assignments than a homework [hot line],” said the University of South Carolina professor. “Listening to assignments over the telephone seemed cumbersome at times. It’s hard to communicate quickly so the student can be held accountable.”

Since the creation of the site a year ago, schools nationwide and in Canada have signed on. Of the 70 participating schools, 60 actively use it to post homework assignments.

The site is also used by teachers to inform students and parents about classroom fees, upcoming activities, and useful web sites for further study.

In South Carolina, Keels Elementary School in Richland and Loris Middle School in Horry County use the site.

“It’s the best out of all the other ones I know,” said Michael Loser, a fifth-grade teacher at Keels. Loser is one of 10 teachers who post assignments daily on the site. “It’s less commercialized and very easy to use.”

In Bridgewater, N.J., teachers at Bridgewater-Raritan High School say the site has reduced the number of excuses for missing homework.

“Students can no longer say they don’t understand an assignment or they were unable to copy everything off the board. Everything, word for word, can be found on that web site,” said David Matonis, Bridgewater-Raritan’s English department chairman.

While the basic service of Homework Hero is free, Chappell will design a customized page for $25 a year. Other homework web sites have an annual fee of $19 or more.

Each teacher is given a password to post assignments that can be listed in as little as 30 seconds, making it less time-consuming for teachers.

“It’s easier to update than what we have now, and it offers much more security,” said Kory Kavan, who teaches American history, government, and Bible at Lincoln Christian. “The technology [supervisor] is the only one who can update the school web site. Every teacher can update on Homework Hero.”

As news of the web site catches on, Chappell, an economics professor with no formal computer training, is modest about his success. He stumbled into the idea four years ago as a way to make it easier for his students to keep up with lectures and assignments.

“As far as web sites go, this is primitive,” said Chappell, 48. “This is just one way of disseminating useful information.”

Links:

Homework Hero
http://www.homeworkhero.com

Bridgewater-Raritan High School
http://www.brrsd.k12.nj.us/brhs/hsindex.html