Assignments in online education - annotated bibliography

“Assessing group assignments”

In website of the Deakin University - Institute of Teaching and Learning, retrieved on November 18, 2009, from

“Assessing group assignments poses some challenges. For students who are more familiar with being assessed as individuals, the prospect of their grades being reliant on other students can be daunting. The information provided here has been developed as part of a suite of topics relating to Group assignments. As with all assessment, it is important that there is a logical alignment of learning objectives, learning tasks and assessment criteria.”

“Integrating Online Assignments into Your Course”

In website of the University of Waterloo - Centre for Teaching Excellence, retrieved on November 18, 2009, from
http://cte.uwaterloo.ca/teaching_resources/teaching_tips/tips_icts/integrating_online_assignments_into_courses.pdf (3 pages)

Some options and decision-making criteria for using online assignments in a course are outlined in this article with the purpose to help the teacher to integrate web 2.0 tools in a meaningful way with the rest of his course. The author defend that technology can be used to put almost any assignment online. The key is to have a clear pedagogical reason for using it.

For example, “beyond encouraging participation from reluctant students, online assignments can have a multi-modal design (i.e., graphics, text, audio, virtual hands-on activities) and, if designed appropriately, can also help students reach new learning levels or think more deeply or critically about a given concept.”

And “online assignments also allow for an archive to be created of relevant course information and discussions. This information can be used by students at a later date while studying for a test/exam, or by the instructor to create a Frequently Asked Questions page or to measure students’ understanding of key concepts.”

“Teaching On-line: Not Just Another Teaching Assignment!”

Roger, Hiemstra: PAACE Journal of Lifelong Learning, Vol. 11, 2002, 1-9, retrieved on November 18, 2009, from
http://www.coe.iup.edu/ace/PAACE%20Journal%20PDF/PDF2002/Hiemstra2002.pdf (9 pages)

“Of the various computer-based technologies, computer-mediated conversations (known hereafter as CMC) seem the most promising and most used technique for on-line teaching (Berge & Collins, 1995). CMC provides opportunities for electronic, asynchronous communication, real-time chatting, the delivery of instructional materials, and student-to-student and student-to-teacher electronic interactions. It is a format that provides considerable flexibility in the way instruction is conceived, delivered, and utilized.
What do you need to know to be successful with on-line teaching? It really is not just another teaching assignment, venue, or location. Converting a current course or developing a new one for an on-line format takes careful planning, good instructional design, and a thorough understanding of the various techniques that make it work.” (Hiemstra Roger)

“Interactive Assignments for Online Students

Lowry, Pam (Veraldi Instructional Technology Resource Center, Lawrence Technological), retrieved on November 18, 2009, from
http://www.iiisci.org/Journal/CV$/sci/pdfs/ZE275ME.pdf (4 pages)

This paper summarizes the faculty member’s instructional strategies involved when creating student interaction assignments. The paper also summarizes the assignments, discussion board, and trends in education from the student’s perspective.

“As the course interactive assignments were being designed and developed, it was important to keep in mind my teaching styles and my student’s learning styles. I was very conscious of this because research on learning styles and how students receive and process information should be included when instructors design courses. It is also important to include experimental activities which involve the use of reflective exercises (Western 2005). While implementing assignments for the course, I tried to keep in mind auditory, tactile, and visual learners. Since an auditory learner is an independent learner, some activities included completing some independent work as well as some teaching strategies including lecturing, discussion, verbal questioning and verbal sharing.” (Pam Lowry)

Some conclusions are:

The instructor needs to reply more on nonverbal communication cues and employ active listening skills.

Instructors can pose additional questions for clarification and summarize what is said to ensure accurate information exchange.

Utilizing synchronous technology, teacher is able to understand student’s verbal response to the content, the assignments, and to respond to their needs.

Interaction between faculty and students can take place virtually.


A well designed assignment is an excellent teaching tool and can help students develop research skills, critical thinking skills and subjective knowledge. Assignments are more challenging to grade because of the unique way each student may interpret the instructions. Therefore, the assignments require detailed expectations and elaborate rubrics. For example, providing an optional discussion forum for students to ask questions about each assignment of teacher and classmates may provide some formative feedback and reduce confusion for students. Additionally, even those who never poste to the study hall discussions benefit from the examples, instructions, and questions posted there.
Problems associated with traditional assignment management approaches contribute significantly to assignment turnaround time while much of the process of performing assessment is mechanical, repetitious and a perfect candidate for the application of information technology. It is the combination of these factors that is driving interest in online assignment management systems by many educators and institutions throughout the world.

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