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How to create and manage online assignments for learners

10 ways educators can implement Google Docs for learners in their classrooms

Developing effective assignments for online learning does not have to be daunting. Master the art of creating and managing online assignments for learners, whether you are with learners using 1:1 devices in a classroom, teaching hybrid or virtually.

One amazing benefit of today’s K-12 education community is the amount of resources, tips and tools available online from educators just like you. Tapping their experience, we’ll show how to create online assignments using digital tools that offer learners at least as much rigor as the ones you may have taught traditionally. 

As importantly, you will get tips on successfully managing your students during the learning process. Finally, this blog will give you teaching resources, including alternatives to building online lessons from scratch.  

How to plan successful online assignments for learners

An assignment lacking clear structure and substance can spell disaster. Not only will it be harder to manage, but learners may end up frustrated or fail to really learn the material. If not managed well, technology tools can turn into exciting and distracting shiny objects. 

To avoid the “edutainment” trap, ensure that onscreen activities support defined learning objectives tied to your district’s standards. Beginning with a strategically planned lesson provides the foundation for whatever digital tools you choose to incorporate. 

Know your learners and their current needs

The first step is to clarify what skills or knowledge your learners need to master before moving to the next level. Next, consider different types of assignments online for students to see how they could facilitate this learning. 

One brilliant advantage of digital delivery is the ability to tailor assignments to specific learner needs and interests. While selecting which kind of assignment to create, consider what might work best for your learners. Consider specific learners who may need accommodations in content or delivery. 

If you don’t already have data to understand the level of knowledge and prior experience learners have in the subject, consider using a Quizlet, survey or other fact-finding tool. Remember the backdrop of what is going on in the students’ surroundings and lives may have a bearing on their learning needs. Consider circumstances that may be affecting learners personally or in their community. 

Assess your resources including digital tools

Tap your personal teaching experience before exploring digital resources. Consider how your own understanding and knowledge of the subject can best shine through digital tools. 

Having strategies in place can help save time and reduce stress during the process of moving your expertise to an online format. Remember, the extra time put into initial start-up pays off in the long run because digital content can be reused over and over. Lessons in a digital format are shareable, adaptable and updateable.

How to make online assignments for learners

Consider variety and higher-level learning as you build assignments that are both engaging and contribute to long-term student goals. Once your academic aims are clear, look for digital tools designed to adapt to your needs as an educator and enhance what you would do in a non-digital format.

Provide clear and concise instruction

Make sure the assignment includes a logical flow from beginning to end. Organize content with headings and bullet points as well as multimedia that breaks up text. Include measurable objectives so learners can clearly understand expectations for the assignment. In some cases, it may be necessary to provide easy-to-understand instruction for each task learners need to complete. Remember you may not be there to fill in the blanks if you leave out an important detail.

Getting started with a few basics can simplify the process of creating dynamic digital content. Recording short videos is an excellent way to simulate actually being there, especially when teaching concepts asynchronously. To record what is on your computer screen, try a screencast program, like Screencastify or Loom for Education. Here you can include your face and help learners better understand you by watching you speak.  

Along with video and audio recordings, further support deeper understanding of the subject matter with multimedia elements. These can include graphics, animations, digital graphics, podcasts, interactive quizzes and simulations like trivia games. 

Support learners with orientation and an intuitive system

Even the best instruction and assignments won’t make the learning experience pleasant if students have to spend extra hours figuring out where to find assignments and instructions. Just because students are often tech-savvy does not mean all of them can immediately navigate your school’s LMS unsupported. 

Your online assignment at the beginning of the school term could be a simple one that orients learners while providing the opportunity to get hands-on practice using the system. That helps them get used to the workflow and setup. Frustration is easy to mitigate by structuring assignments and using an intuitive learning platform. One example is Hāpara Workspace with an easy-to-view layout that organizes goals, resources, assessments and rubrics into columns.

Hāpara Workspace

Promote interaction and collaboration

At the heart of learning is interacting with peers and collaborating. Include activities and projects that support individuals as they practice engaging and working together with other learners. Some learners who feel more comfortable working alone may need extra encouragement and support. This is an opportunity to promote deeper learning and connection by introducing resources that are relevant to students.

Teachers can quickly share resources with groups, or better yet, give learners the opportunity to add their own resources in Hāpara Workspace. Upload everything from videos, links to apps, images and online articles to Google Docs, Slides, Forms and Drawings into Workspace. Group members can access all these resources for shared activities, assessments and collaborative projects.

Managing online assignments 

Once you have a well-designed assignment with clear instructions tailored to the needs of different learners, it’s essential to give them guidance. The amount of management you need to provide can vary significantly.

Communicate effectively

Clearly communicate with students throughout the learning process all the way through to assessment. Regular communication helps students stay informed and engaged. You can manage learners as they build toward mastery in an online environment with Hāpara tools. 

They provide superior student communication tools, including date reminders for learners and online progress tracking for teachers.

Hāpara Student Dashboard is an online assignment tracker that helps learners develop crucial executive functioning skills. It will help them gain practice organizing their own time, managing and prioritizing their assignments and assessments. 

Educators can help learners build upon these skills by providing formative feedback that encourages students to take risks and learn from mistakes. Directly from Hāpara Teacher Dashboard, you can open a learner’s assignment or assessment and provide personalized support. This timely feedback helps learners move toward their academic goals more quickly and confidently.

Monitor learner progress

Monitor how learners are progressing through the assignment. This can inform you whether you need to check in with a learner. Teacher Dashboard shows each learner’s most recent files and when they last modified it. You can also send due date reminders to the class or individual learners through an instant message in Hāpara Highlights.

Provide personalized and differentiated support 

With Teacher Dashboard, it’s easy to leave personalized feedback in learners’ recent files and share differentiated resources directly to their screens.

Giving feedback on a student assignment

Pull from your own Google Drive or create a new Google Doc, Slide or Drawing on the spot to share with the class, a group or an individual learner. 

When a learner can’t find a Google file, teachers can access a learner’s Google Drive with one click in Hāpara. Search for missing files by title or content and filter to view deleted or unshared files.

Viewing Google Drive files in Highlights

Assess and give feedback

Evaluate learners’ understanding and progress with different types of assessment methods, including rubrics, quizzes, peer review and presentations. 

Assessments should provide meaningful feedback for learners and educators alike. Use learner feedback to improve on each new assignment you develop. Data on engagement, task completion rates and learner satisfaction will help you make adjustments to improve a future assignment.

Additional resources for online assignment creation

Several alternatives to building your lessons from the ground up are available. These can save time and hassle. To begin with, Google Assignments is a free online assignment solution. To make this even easier, in Hāpara Highlights, as teachers monitor what learners are doing online and offering personalized support, they can quickly share Google Classroom Assignments, Questions and Materials. 

Finding free assignments online is another option. With the Discover feature in Hāpara Workspace, you can access online assignments other educators have created from around the world. Search thousands of curriculum-aligned Workspaces by standard, subject, grade level or topic. Then copy and modify them to meet your learners’ needs. 

Use AI to plan and teach 

Teachers can also use AI to support learning content development and in class with students.

Among the many ways ChatGPT can be used by teachers is helping them create new material, and generate ideas and quizzes. They can quickly personalize the same content in several ways to reach different learners. For example, high school literacy specialist Amanda Kremnitzer told EdWeek that she used ChatGPT to create outlines for her multiple learners who require them as a supplementary aid.  

Team up on content creation

Consider shouldering the effort and building content together as a team. Individual members of departments or subject-grade level teams can develop the type of content they are best at and share. Or they can collaborate as a group. As mentioned, you can use the Discover option in Hāpara Workspace to find assignments educators from around the world have created. 

If you are looking for a way to create, curate and manage a collection of digital assignments that only your school or district can access, consider Hāpara’s Private Library. With just a click, you can easily distribute your online assignments to educators in your school or district.

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