Some students have been asking that I release all the assignments and their due dates at the beginning of the course. I suppose that I could create some estimates, but I suspect that we will end up moving slower that I would hope (this seems to always be the case) and may even have to drop an assignment or two. I'd prefer to release the deadlines and assignments as we approach them, but the students allege that knowing this information ahead of time will help them manage their schedule.
I see no problem in releasing your estimate of related dates "as you've been asked to help some students schedule," with the same caveats you give here (which I would highlight). It's always good to be responsive to fairly easy requests by students, but it would be unreasonable for students to expect a schedule to be set in stone.
the students allege that knowing this information ahead of time will help them manage their schedule.
The students will have to cope with knowing that there will be an assignment every x days/weeks. Even if you can, most courses probably cannot provide any more precise information, even if they wanted to:
- Assignments often get defined only a short time before they are needed. Partly, this is to match them with current progress in class, but also because there is always something to change, refine, or downright replace in the assignments from last year and no-one has the time to do that en bloc for all assignments before the semester.
- Assignments might be incremental (one assignment using solutions by all students from the previous assignment).
Sure, you might decide to skip one of x assignments, but I doubt that temporary lack of an assignment will ruin anyone's planning. No-one plans that precisely a semester in advance.
With that said, it might not be desirable to hand out assignments so early:
- Having only one or two weeks to solve a task can be by design.
- You don't want students to prematurely try and solve something with a complicated method just because they do not realize the easier method will still be taught later.
It is extremely helpful for students to have a decent idea of when projects are due, especially major projects. They may be balancing multiple classes, jobs, have family situations that require them to travel, etc.
Given that, I'd try to release anticipated due dates as soon as possible, with the caveat that they may slide. Realistically, that's the best you can do, and it at least helps with some planning.
If you decide not to do this, I'd probably have a somewhat more flexible policy regarding extensions and the like.