Yes, of course all homework matters, or all legitimate assignments anyway. But I'm reaching for something a little bit more here.
I've been a college prof since 1990 (why does that sound like such a long time ago?)
I spent five years as an adjunct (definition, academic migrant worker and part-time prof) before I started teaching full-time in '95. From the first weeks of teaching I taught a class in web development that built virtual exhibitions for our local museums and arts institutions and an external organization with the Arts Council in Rochester to work with these organizations to help them face the new digital reality.
It ran for about six years til it was no longer necessary. It generated student internships, graduate thesis projects, and several conference presentations and papers for my colleague Gordon Goodman and Myself. Even got us both “Arts Volunteer of the Year" from the Arts Council one year.
So the "homework" benefitted the community at-large, gave the students real-world experience and actual hands-on work with real clients and didn't hurt me in my profession either. Most of the time.
Teaching a class that has projects dependent on real clients is somewhat of a high wire act, and out of 30+ sites built over the years, we did have some failures, but that's the gamble. The students also learn from that, but your course evils might suffer that semester :-)
I've continued the high wire act in my teaching of game design and development. In the upcoming weeks and months I'll be detailing numerous efforts that have run this academic year.
It's not the only thing I'll write on for sure but you'll see a lot of it as I've hit a lucky streak recently. There'll be discussions of projects involving the IGDA, One Laptop Per Child and the Girl Scouts of America. I'll also want to hear about what others of you are doing in your classes.
This practice of "Homework That Matters" doesn't necessarily have to be about serious games or games for change, though some of it is. The IGDA project I'll be talking about will benefit the community of Independent developers, like many of you out there.
This practice is, most often, a hell of a lot of fun and an opportunity to make new connections and new friends.See you next week.