The Digital Frontier: Are You and Your Students Ready for Digital Assignments? AND Announcing the New Digital Pedagogy Faculty Learning Community


Are you ready for the brave new world of designing, assigning and assessing digital assignments?

Or maybe you are already ahead of the curve—asking your students to do podcasts for homework, or having them create a short film as a case study, or helping them create a class wiki that illuminates your course topic?

Whether you’ve embraced the possibility of digital tools, or you’re just wondering about how to refashion a primary assignment and don’t know where to start, there are many resources to help you and your students make digital assignments become an exciting and innovative learning experience.

Digital media assignments provide students an opportunity to demonstrate their learning of course content through the creation of multimedia learning objects using such formats as video, audio, still images and text (source: University of Wisconsin-Madison).

 Some of the primary ingredients of an effective digital assignment include:

  • A clearly defined learning outcome grounded in the pedagogical goals of the course
  • An assignment that defines both the product that students are to create, as well as the process by which they will access technological tools and get support in learning those along the way
  • An approach to assessment that gives the assignment appropriate weight in light of the time and energy that students will need to give to the project

What else should you consider when creating digital assignments?

The University of Wisconsin-Madision has launched a website is a primer for digital media assignments.  It offers examples, resources for faculty, and guidance for getting started.

Northeastern University Libraries has  faculty assignment planning guide with tips, links to resources, and suggestions for structuring the assignment design process.  The tip sheet includes suggestions for basic projects at the beginner level to ideas for those with intermediate to advanced technology skills.

Here at UofL, we’re launching a new Digital Pedagogy Faculty Learning Community to provide individual and small teams of faculty members an opportunity to get ongoing, hands-on training and support for incorporating digital tools into their teaching practices, assignment design, and corresponding assessment approaches.   This new FLC is co-sponsored by the Delphi Center and the Composition Program in the Department of English.

We welcome your application to this new program on or before Monday, March 18!

What are your adventures on the digital frontier with your students?

8 thoughts on “The Digital Frontier: Are You and Your Students Ready for Digital Assignments? AND Announcing the New Digital Pedagogy Faculty Learning Community

  1. I am glad to see this post and to hear about the FLC. One of the things that has surprised me in my on-line courses is how much of the content master’s students view on their smartphones. For example, I often post screencasts on YouTube (mini-lectures) to help orient students to the weekly material. It’s not uncommon for 60-70% of the students to view the screencasts on their smartphone. This has intrigued me and made me curious how I can incorporate the capabilities of the smart phone to encourage students to develop digital projects. I have been wondering how I might incorporate a digital project in my history class, for example, where I ask students to conduct an oral history interview.

    • Hi Jake — I’ve been working towards a better understanding of mobile technologies and how they might be used in a classroom with clear learning outcomes. Educause recently reported that 83% of all higher ed students in the U.S. have a smart-phone and 99% of the same population have at least a phone with texting and camera capabilities. So it certainly does make sense to begin thinking about leveraging this technology in the classroom. A social worker prof at Abilene Christian uses mobile technologies in a couple of interesting ways. He has all of his students, as an assignment, record a brief video interview with their smart-phone (if they don’t have one and can’t borrow one, a written assignment is substituted). The interviewee is someone who has felt slighted or marginalized because of their race, sex, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, etc., and then everyone brings their interviews into class — they are then shown in class and discussion about prejudices/diversity/how to work with these folks, etc. is held. Another way he uses mobile tech is during the course of the semester, two volunteer students are asked to take a city bus route and experience what it’s like not only to ride public transportation, but to experience some of the neighborhoods they go through and some of the population that typically uses such means. These students then Twitter back to the class their experiences and again, the class is talking about cultural differences, the “hidden” communities that many in college may never experience, etc.

      I don’t know what kind of history you teach (American, European, World, etc.), but there’s a cool app that I use quite frequently. It’s a freebie from the History Channel and it’s called History Here. When you click on the app, you can choose to either have the app use your current location or you can specify one. Once you do that, it brings up a map with all of the historical sites pinpointed and when you click on any of them it gives you further information about that site. Very cool! When I was recently in Boston, I did that and my page was covered with pinpoints. Maybe there’s a way you could leverage that by having students look up their birthplace and locate historical sites around them. If you want to do an oral history interview, you could use either a digital camera (checked out through the DMS) or have the student use his/her digital phone cam and then upload to YouTube. I believe U of L has a closed channel for that, so the link would have to be specifically referenced in order to be accessible.

      A podcast works well too — just have your students create an audio file and then load them into a podcast format. (One limitation is the size — most podcasts should be no more than about 10-20 minutes in length).

      Sorry for the rambling Jake — just some thoughts.

  2. Set up a Journal in Blackboard for the D4 dental students to have the opportunity to routinely assess their progress toward overall competency as they completed their requirements.They had to load the basic chart only once and chage the numbers as requirements were met. As a Senior Group Manager I closely track them. We receive many paper reports from various departments. The electronic journal was a bust! The students found Blackboard difficult to navigate. Compliance was poor. Any suggestions on a electronic way, a place, to chart their progress? They preferred paper.

  3. I liked the tip sheet. I found when making my videos (Adobe Presenter) for class this was true (for some parts) “A rule of thumb is that it will take 3‐5 hours for every finished minute of video.” I thought it was just me being overly meticulous. That time includes developing content, figuring out how to address as many learning styles as possible, and visuals.

  4. I am so intrigued by the new technology, and amazed to see my older adult students looking up an organization that I mentioned in class on their smart phones. Next semester, I will offer additional options for assignments that will include video interviews. Guess I’d best sign up now for that Digital Pedagogy FLC.

  5. I use multimedia sparingly in my courses. I want to make sure it compliments that content and is not a substitute for content. I have used Wikis and Podcasts and find that my usual audience (adult learners), in blended and online courses, do not seem as excited by or eager to try, many of the options as younger learners. In fact, they almost seem to prefer interaction in the classroom or an online discussion board instead of needing to learn some new technology. I attribute it many times to the crazy busy schedules they keep as a reason.

    However, I do play around with some different things and am interested in what others are doing to keep me up to date on what’s going on, thanks.

  6. Last week, I attended the Kentucky Commonwealth Commitment Summit in Lexington. The purpose of the summit was to support Senate Bill 1/Unbridled Learning legislation (which seeks to enhance P-12 and postsecondary alignment and improve college readiness) by showcasing “success stories” from across the state. One of the sessions was particularly intriguing. The title was “National History Day: College Readiness Through Project-Based Instruction from a High School Student’s Perspective” and here is the conference program description: “High school student Emma Roach-Barrette created a digital documentary that placed first at the state competition and 12th in the nation at finals. In this session, she chronicles the process of researching a digital historical documentary and reflects on how this process helped her gain skills and knowledge essential to college readiness.” The presentation was fascinating, especially her description of how she accessed archival information and period music, conducted interviews with content experts, then created a script and storyboard to create the documentary. Class final project, meet the digital age.

  7. I’m really intrigued about how we could support more digital media possibilities in the classroom using our new Book-in-Common (This I Believe) as a springboard. The audio files that already exist, plus possibilities for easily creating one’s own recording, are obvious go-to options. However, I’d like to create a few different templates that could be dropped into a variety of disciplines and tweaked by the instructor. One of the challenges is my own limited knowledge of all the possibilities out there, while another is the question of whether those would even be useful to faculty in the first place. How common/appealing are digital media assignments on UofL’s campus? I’m also puzzling over how we could design a 50-minute co-curricular program (such as a Conversation Cafe or residence hall program idea) that would be a quick but meaningful digital media project, particularly if attendees don’t necessarily know one another at the start and it’s a one-time program. Using digital media in our discussions almost invariably helps generate deeper disucssion and learning, but I’ve never considered *creating* a product rather than referencing one during that time period. Brilliant ideas welcomed.

Leave a Reply