This is the second year that I have been giving homework online. I have discovered that it has unexpected benefits.
I give homework once a week on our class site. The homework is short, highlighting one specific point each time (for instance, the phrase “in order to” which is frequently used in texts and causes confusion”). I find that it is helpful for my students to highlight isolated points.
I began giving homework online because I wanted to be able to use color, pictures and video clips.
In addition, and just as important, I needed a better way to keep track of the homework. As I teach so many different levels at the same time, I found it very difficult to check everyone’s homework when their homework assignment was a page in their course books (we have about 10 different course books in use for the different levels). There were times when I did not check homework or did not check everyone’s homework. And collecting the students books to check after school was no solution – they were too heavy to carry home!
Not only can I now report that I use pictures and video clips, every homework assignment is now checked and commented on in some way. Often the comments are short (“Excellent work!” “Keep up the good work”) but occasionally I comment on some personal content the pupil added.
But the amazing thing is, it isn’t the comments themselves that make the students feel noticed (though that certainly helps), it’s the fact that there is now a close watch on whether or not they do the homework! Obviously, I hadn’t been able to show them in the past (in a clear enough) manner that I care whether they do the homework or not. When a student got away with not doing homework because I missed him/her because of all that was going on in class, he/she did not feel noticed enough IN GENERAL, not just related to homework.
It is been less than a month into this new school year so I still remind and talk to the students who haven’t done homework before typing the information into the school online grade system. But even when I stop reminding and type the information in directly, the issue comes up in class in many ways.
Another unexpected benefit was the issue of copying. Although theoretically a student could email others the homework assignment I have not seen any indication of such behavior. Copying answers into the course book or worksheet is usually done on the same day of the lesson (think 5 minutes before class) not planned in advance. There were some students with whom such behavior was “an issue”. At home, they do the homework on their own.
There is, of course, the issue of the role Google Translator plays in their homework assignments (and whether or not my tasks are designed well enough to be effective despite of it), but that’s a topic for a different post.
last year it wasn’t easy to get the students used to the idea of online homework. Now that I have a computer connected to the Internet in class it is so much easier to get them onboard! Hurrah!