Bug Bounty

Bug Bounty: How to earn extra-credit by finding errors in our course materials

Major software companies pay people to report bugs in their software, especially security vulnerabilities. I like this idea. One of the reasons I teach my courses on the open web is that it makes me accountable to a wider audience than just my students. In keeping with this philosophy, I’m going to start a “bug bounty” extra credit assignment. If you find an error that compromises student learning and report it to the “Bug Bounty” discussion list, I will add 2% to your next assignment. The first person to report the error earns the extra-credit. You can earn up to 5 bug bounties. You can post what you think to be an error in a new “Bug Bounty” discussion board and I’ll respond with any corrections on my end or comments. Everyone will be able to see the bugs and my responses.

What is an “error that comprises student learning?” Here are some examples:

  • An incorrect assignment date
  • A broken link to a reading
  • A broken link to an assignment
  • A quiz question with an incorrect answer given as correct.

What are errors that don’t merit a bug bounty:

  • A misspelled word in a document: (I spell-check everything, but errors occur. Most will be cognates. You can log these errors on the Bug Bounty discussion board, and I’ll thank you publicly.)
  • A D2L, computer, or browser failure which I cannot control. For example, if the D2L server goes down, I can’t fix that and it’s not my error. Likewise, if the browser you are using fails and eats some of your work, I can’t control or fix that.
  • A inconvenient feature of the class, say a due date for an assignment that occurs during a vacation you planned.

I decide if something warrants the extra-credit or not. There’s a danger that students will focus too much on looking for errors and not enough time attending to the past, so please, don’t let this detract you from your assignments, quizzes or discussions. That said, I like the idea of inviting respectful feedback to improve the course in live, named, and focused way. Brave students have always emailed or talked with me about possible errors. I want to encourage that and give students greater ownership of the quality of the course.

Sorry, no retroactive bounties.