Digital Assignments

I’m one of those people who believes that technology enhances the strategies we know work in a classroom setting. Just because you can use tech doesn’t mean you should use tech, especially if it doesn’t help to promote your overall pedagogical goals.

In “12 Steps for Creating a Digital Assignment or Hybrid Class,” Jesse Stommel does a wonderful job of posing some questions to ascertain whether or not you really need to use tech for an assignment and how to determine what those assignments might like. He starts with pedagogical issues rather than the practicalities of the tech itself.   The first two are indispensable: What is my primary goal for students with this course/assignment? What is my digital pedagogy?/How does my goal for this assignment intersect with my broader teaching philosophy?

For me, the answers to these questions sometimes relate to the materials to which I want to expose my students. For writing courses, where students are in a constant process of drafting, peer review and revising, I like students to see how this works (or, doesn’t work) in the real world. Showing my students how comments function as commentary on digital writing reveals what they might want to do and avoid in their own work. But students have to learn to navigate the Web, find comments and determine the difference between moderated and unmoderated comments. As a result, I not only have to consider my primary goal (honing their feedback skills) but also how technology intersects with that goal (information seeking on the Internet and information literacy).

In doing so, I have to allow time and space in the syllabus to do both. It is that dual-purpose that makes incorporating digital assignments different from using analog tools to do the same. But I find it rewarding, as I have developed new skills that help me in my own research, skills that I also pass on to students. At the same time, it takes different thinking, and definitely more time, especially in terms of the assessment of digital assignments.  In the future, I’ll talk about what’s being said about accessing digital assignments, and how I meet some of those challenges.

Jesse Stommel. “12 Steps for Creating a Digital Assignment or Hybrid Class.” Jesse Stommel. 18 Aug 2014. Web. 25 Aug 2014.