The education industry has a very poor record of productivity gains. In this brief article, I outline some of the ways the teaching of a college course in database systems could be made more efficient, and staff time used more productively. These ideas carry over to other programming-oriented courses, and many of them apply to any academic subject whatsoever. After proposing a number of things that could be done, I concentrate here on a system under development, called OTC (On-line Testing Center), and on its methodology of "root questions." These questions encourage students to do homework of the long-answer type, yet we can have their work checked and graded automatically by a simple multiple-choice-question grader. OTC also offers some improvement in the way we handle SQL homework, and could be used with other languages as well.
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