Here are some tips for alternative assignments sure to add variety and relevance to your online teaching.
Students today tire easily of the typical discussion board and essay-style course design. And as an educator, these can tax your time and patience as well. Alternative assignments use creative topics, formats, and approaches to avoid this cookie-cutter approach.
Because alternative assignments use non-standard methods, they might at first catch your students by surprise. For this reason, it’s helpful to introduce the tools and ideas you will require in alternative assessments early, so that students can tackle the job one piece at a time.
One use of alternative assessment is for formative assessments. Dr. Major shares these helpful ideas in her article about Keeping Students Engaged:
- Use a technology for students’ introductions, like Flipgrid or VoiceThread.
- Use polls through LMS tools, Poll Everywhere, or a synchronous, live video meeting, to ask students to contribute their learning goals for the course or unit.
- Use a quiz to check students’ understanding of course policies and syllabus items.
- Use a scavenger hunt activity to guide students through the online classroom and give them a content preview.
Additional creative methods can take students’ creativity even further, as shared by Dr. Melanie Shemberger, of Murray State University, at the OLC Accelerate conference November 9, 2020:
- Use infographics, created in Pictochart or Canva, so students can collect and present details from their learning.
- Allow students to present their ideas through creating a podcast, by making a “how-to” video in which they propose what their final assignment will include, or by representing the details on a mind map.
- Give students directions to present their assignment as a Pecha Kucha PowerPoint show. This makes the presentation concise, to the point, and an opportunity for prioritizing ideas.
Whatever creative approach you use, be sure to give clear instructions, tie the assessment directly to the learning objectives, and provide grading details to help students know exactly what to expect. These creative approaches open the door to creativity. And, your students will even have fun learning!