Reconceptualizing Homework in the Digital Age
Pretty soon, students will need to find a new excuse other than the proverbial, “the dog ate my homework.” After all, most dogs don’t seem too interested in gnawing on tablets and smartphones. And as homework is reconceptualized for the digital age, there is likely to be much less paper involved in the process.
How Can Homework Change?
The spread of digital tools and platforms opens up possibilities far wider and more interesting than simply transferring traditional homework assignments from paper to pixel. Perhaps the most promising model is that of the flipped classroom. In the traditional model, students receive instruction during class time and then they practice what they have learned once they are home.
But in the flipped model, they learn at home, usually using videos that are created or chosen by the teacher. During class time, they practice the skills that they learned at home. This model has many advantages, including a better likelihood of homework being completed and more support for students who do not have adequate support at home.
How Can Teachers Make It Better?
Of course, just because a student likes watching YouTube videos at home doesn’t mean that they will like watching algebra videos. There are still issues related to engagement, completion, and focus with a flipped classroom model. One very helpful tool is Edpuzzle, which allows teachers to insert questions into any video—one that they have created or one that they have found elsewhere. Edpuzzle allows for accountability, and it also makes it easier to assess learning.
What about Personalization?
Probably the best benefit of a reconceptualization of homework in the digital age is that it makes it possible to personalize assignments so that the needs of each student are met. Teachers can access open educational resources, such as CK12, and they can make different homework assignments for different students. Students can study the same content but at a reading level appropriate for their needs. They can also access text, videos, interactives, or practice problems based on their learning preferences. They can work at their own pace. In other words, homework can be specifically targeted for the student’s unique needs and preferences; it can be a custom-tailored suit instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.
Teachers who take advantage of the opportunities to re-think homework offered by the newest generation of edtech will find that their students are more engaged and have better learning outcomes. While the change to a digital model will require some effort, it can be well worth it.