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.
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