Tips for Setting and Collecting Homework Online
InAdvice for Teachers, Teachers
In this article we look at some of the main considerations for setting/collecting homework online and offer advice on managing homework in a safe online environment.
Things to consider
Schools have a duty of care to their pupils, and this includes helping children and young people to use new digital technologies safely and responsibly, wherever and whenever they go online. Before you get started there are a number of things to consider:
- Remember, children may not have adequate internet access to complete homework tasks online. Therefore it may not always be a suitable option.
- Give your pupils clear instructions on how to complete the tasks online. It may also be helpful to put these instructions on a note/handout so parents can also understand the task at home.
- When setting homework, a class blog, web page, or using a shared bookmark tool like Evernote or Delicious can work well. Setting up a blog is very easy and can be a great way to show what you are doing to the wider world and keeps parents up to date also.Click here for tips on setting up a class blog: edublogs.org/curriculum-corner-class-blogs/
Using Reliable Sources
Remember many pupils won’t be supervised and won’t have content filters at home, therefore giving them direction on where to find resources will help minimise the risk of coming across any inappropriate content.
When you are setting homework or project work that requires online research, it is best to provide pupils with a list of recommended resources they can use rather than expecting them to perform searches. These can be shared via a bookmark, posted on a web page or by creating a learning path on Scoilnet . This video explains how to use learning paths for your class.
Critical media analysis
Aside from encountering inappropriate content, the biggest issue students encounter when researching online is unreliable content. Critical analysis of the media is a core literacy skill that is becoming an increasingly important aspect of the curriculum. Media literacy is covered in the English curriculum at post primary level and through SPHE at primary level.
Use every opportunity you get to encourage students to be sceptical of content they find online and always to take steps to validate its reliability. Students should ask the following questions when checking content online:
- Who owns the website?
- Why did they build it?
- When was it last updated?
- What will they do with the information I provide?
Collecting Homework Online
If your school uses a virtual learning environment such as Edmodo, Fronter, or Moodle, you can use it to set and receive assignments in a safe online space. You can also use features such as forums and message boards to share links and resources.
If you are using email to collect assignments and support students, it is recommended to use school assigned accounts and not personal ones. You can be easily found on social networks by anyone with your personal email address. Again, refer to your school’s policy in this area.
Likewise, it’s not best practice to communicate directly with students by mobile phone or social media unless you have sought permission from school management beforehand.
Finally, many whiteboards now have the capability to capture videos of the instructional parts of lessons and post them to the internet too so that pupils can refer to them as they do their homework.
If you are using services like YouTube or Vimeo, be sure to manage the comments.
You can configure your account so that only approved comments are displayed or you can disable comments completely. Make sure that videos of this kind are not publicly accessible on the internet as they sometimes inadvertently capture other goings on in the classroom.
Shared Drives and Online Portfolios
Alternatively you could use a shared drive or cloud based programmes to store and share work. There are many options available. Many of these programmes can be used to submit homework, give one on one feedback and are also very useful for sharing working with colleagues. For more information on cloud based tools and applications go to: pdsttechnologyineducation.ie/Technology/Cloud-based-Tools-and-Applications.pdf
For more tips and advice go to our teachers section: webwise.ie/category/teachers/
Recommended Resources and Useful Links
Grading offline homework is a tedious task. Just getting all the assignments home without throwing out your back or losing anything is a miracle. And half the time the homework doesn’t even get to you: you’re practically fluent in student excuses from hearing so many.
Taking homework online, however, eliminates many of these problems: students can’t leave a Google Doc at home and you can’t lose a blog post on your way to the car. There are also many apps that make grading and organizing online homework assignments faster and easier.
Like any technology integration, however, this can seem like a daunting task: Where do I even start? This transition can be as simple or involved as you want; use these tips as a guide.
Just Get Started
The best way to transition to online homework is to simply do it. But getting started doesn’t have to mean going in all at once. Start small, with just one homework assignment a week. This will give you and your students a chance to adjust.
Create an Organized System
Before giving any online homework assignments, make a plan for how you’ll organize the process. If you work in Google Classroom or Google Drive, this will be relatively simple. Here are a few tips for organizing homework assignments with the tools available through Google Drive:
- Create folders for each of your classes. If you just have one class, create a folder for each block, subject or section of class. Google Classroom automates a lot of this organization for you.
- Once students share their homework with you, highlight each assignment and click “Add to My Drive” in the top right menu (Drive icon with a plus sign). This way you can then organize them into the appropriate folders.
- You can make all edits and comments within the doc they hand to you. Consider making a copy to work off of so students don’t make edits after handing it in.
You can make your life easier by choosing add-ons that help with grading as well. A few add-ons to consider are:
- Flubaroo: Have math assignments auto-graded based on your specific requirements.
- Orange Slice: Google Docs built-in rubric.
- Doctopus: Mass homework sharing, assignment organization, and grading management.
You can also use an LMS if your school already has one or a tool like LearnBoost, which can be used within your classroom; it doesn’t have to be implemented at the school level.
Assign Homework Through Specific Tools
If you start with just one or two online homework assignments a week, you can make that homework specific to an app or digital tool. Here are a few that can be used for completing homework at home:
This online reading log, a web-app, can be accessed anywhere there’s an Internet connection. With it, students can log their reading and answer standards-aligned, higher-level thinking comprehension questions. Those questions are delivered to your in-tray, where you give them a score.
Use: Daily or weekly
The Homework: Log reading once a week and answer 1-3 questions.
This mind mapping software can also be used anywhere there’s an Internet connection and is perfect for brainstorming and connecting ideas and thoughts.
Use: As needed
The Homework: Ask students to create a mind map of the chapter they read that week, the science lesson you gave, and more. When done, students can share their mind map link with you for review. Students can even work in groups with remote collaboration features.
This website allows students to make posters that show what they know in almost any subject, in a more creative way.
Use: As needed
The Homework: Have students create a movie poster for the movie version of the book they’re reading, including images of main characters or depicting the climax scene.
Teach Students in Class
Finally, make sure that students understand how to use the various tools and systems that you put in place. Make time in class for a tutorial and practice, this way students have no excuse for not doing the homework or turning it in.
Jessica Sanders is the Director of Social Outreach for Whooo’s Reading, a San Diego-based education organization that motivates students to read more every day. It’s available to teachers, schools and districts. Jessica grew up reading books like The Giver and Holes, and is passionate about making reading as exciting for young kids today as it has always been for her. Follow Learn2Earn on Twitter and Facebook, and check out their new ebook, How to Bring Technology Into the Classroom, just $2.99 on Amazon.com.