I taught the short story twice with my non-creative writing students. The first year was wide open for the students. Almost none of them told a story, though, and I had to read the disasters.
While other teachers dealt with the ineptitude by simply adding page limits (to limit their own suffering), I decided to fix the problem. My solution was to force students to write the simplest story (the quest) with a lot of guidance in the form of an outline.
Mostly, it worked. Maybe it didn't make them great writers, but I was able to read the stories, which was a step up. Go ahead and test it out yourself: this year, let the kids write whatever they want as stories (experiments are fun). If those stories are awesome, keep doing it, but if the plots are as bad as Avatar or 2012, come back and buy this download.