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Online Homework Systems: Not Just for Homework but Engaging Students


If you are using an online homework system like WebAssign and only using it for homework, you are missing out on a great hidden value. Did you know most online homework systems, like WebAssign, are also a vehicle for posting announcements, emailing students, and sharing materials?


I find that the best place to engage my students is “Where They Are.” For that reason, I repeat information and the materials that I use often.  When I make an announcement in class, I also post a reminder about that information in the LMS that I am using and again in any online homework system that I am using.  I want students to be reminded of my important announcements, where they are.  They hear my announcement if they attend class, and they see my announcement if they enter the LMS or if they are doing their homework online.  The more students are reminded about important materials related to class, the more likely they are going to be to remember an action is needed.  And when I vary the medium used for my announcements, I increase the ability to engage more students, as they have different learning preferences.


I have also noticed that students often use a different email address when signing up for a digital tool (online homework) as opposed to their campus given email. So, I find that if I really want to engage my students, I have to engage them with multiple addresses.  Just like repeating an announcement, I repeat my emails.  But most importantly, I again am engaging my students, “Where They Are.” 


When students work on assignments for class, they are accessing materials from different locations. They may be logging into Blackboard to view course materials, or they may be linking to an online homework system to complete assignments.  In the spirit of engaging my students “Where They Are,” I provide links to materials used in the course multiple places.  My students find links to videos to supplement the lectures in both Blackboard (LMS) and WebAssign (online homework system).  My students will find copies of handouts during class in both places.  And when possible, I will create an online version of an assessment or handout used so students have multiple ways to study that material.  For instance, when I provide a paper review for a test, I also create an online version of the review in WebAssign.  So I encourage you to ask, “Where are my students?” and find ways to engage them “Where They Are.”


Great idea Rochelle. I also like this idea of posting announcements or assignments in multiple places so that students are less likely to say, "Oh - I didn't see that message".