by Aliyah Armstrong | staff writer
This school year, the introduction of Google Classroom has facilitated a rise in the assigning of online homework, especially in Pre-Calculus classes.
“We’re using Google Classroom to assign the homework but we actually create the homework in a Google form, so it’s all Google-based. But it’s two different apps I guess, underneath the Google platform,” Pre-AP Pre-Calculus teacher Rachelle Arechiga said.
While some teachers are just beginning to implement online homework, others have been using it for years.
“I mean I’ve done online homework for like the last four or five years, this is just the first time I’ve used Google Classroom,” Pre-Calculus teacher Kelly Parker said.
Google Classroom also has a lot of different features that teachers have used to their advantage when assigning online homework, according to Arechiga.
“Google Classroom won’t report your grade or record if it’s late or anything like that; it shows everything as late but the Google form puts all your answers in a nice, neat spreadsheet for us so we can grade them all at once, and then have it email out the answers,” Arechiga said.
In addition to these features, teachers are using online homework for other, more convenient factors in some cases.
“The first is that it’s easy to know who turned it in on time and not because it’s time stamped. The second is that even though most of the grades we’re taking are completion grades, the problems are graded and they’re [the students] emailed the answers so that they see the answers- they know which ones they missed, they know what material it is that they’re not doing well on, and they can get help on it,” Arechiga said.
Assigning homework through Google Classroom has helped teachers with punctuality which in turn benefits the students.
“In some of the teachers’ cases, they were taking too long to grade the hard copy homework to get it back to go over with kids, so this way the kids get to keep their own hard copies to go over the answers in class,” Arechiga said.
Switching to online assignments through Google Classroom has also made a difference for
students in terms of where and when they can complete their homework.
“A lot of students are involved in extracurriculars so when I assign it online they could be actually sitting on the school bus going to their trip doing their homework. I mean I’ve had kids that have done their homework at work while they’re working,” Parker said.
The accessibility of technology to students makes Google Classroom a logical choice according to some teachers.
“We’re getting into an age of computers and everybody has a handheld phone that they can get Internet access. There’s just a lot of great tools on the Internet students can use to enhance their learning. It’s just a great resource to use,” Parker said.
However, for some teachers, some complications have arisen from this online submission process.
“Once you’ve graded it and emailed out the answers, then you have to find the time to go back and have the computer regrade it and email out the answers to those who turned it in late. And so you’re still back and grade multiple sets of homework based on times that the kids turned stuff in,” Arechiga said.
Although many students have smartphones and access to technology, online homework can be problematic for those that don’t.
“There have been actually a lot of issues with it which is why I don’t use it as exclusively as she [another Pre Cal teacher] does, because we have students who don’t have access to the technology at home or they don’t have a smartphone,” Arechiga said. “They still have, you know, if they have a phone at all they may have just one of those old flip phones,” Arechiga said.
However, additional problems simply stem from the Google classroom technology itself, in addition to normal technological malfunctions.
“We have students who have trouble printing stuff off of our webpages, we have students who have trouble turning in homework electronically, taking pictures of homework and putting it on a Google Drive, we have students who don’t have printers so they can’t print out their Google form at all which means that they can’t see the questions. Because I give the hard copies even on the homework I assign online, but some of the teachers don’t so if the kid can’t print out their Google form answers and questions, they can’t see the questions or their answers ever again,” Arechiga said.
Instead of having the day to finish their homework, the online homework is due at 8:00 AM that morning, which can pose a problem for some students.
“I have [Pre-Cal] last period so I would’ve had time to do it during the day [without Google Classroom], but it’s due at 8:00 AM in the morning before so I have to get it done really fast,” junior Cassandra Conner said.
Some teachers have also noticed how the quick due date is affecting students’ understanding of the homework assignments.
“I think that it’s making kids feel too rushed a lot of the time because the teacher who creates the online assignment is the teacher who has to grade the online assignment, and she wants to go over the answers the very next day so she’s making the due date at 8:00 AM the following morning. Which means if kids have problems or questions, they don’t have time to come into tutoring and get help on the assignment before it’s considered late,” Arechiga said. “And if they come into tutoring and get help on the assignment, then they probably don’t have the ability to put those answers online anymore because now they’re at school.”
Along with not being able to receive help in time to turn in their homework, if students are able to complete their work, there are other potential challenges with using Google forms.
“It can be hard for us because we’re new to it and we don’t have much experience, and then sometimes you have to follow the exact directions so if you don’t pay attention you can mess up really bad,” junior Aasiya Punjani said.
Even with the downsides to online homework, just being able to incorporate technology into the course has even made some students more inclined to complete their Pre-Calculus homework.
“The grades are better than they were before because the work gets done. I mean, a student’s more likely to sit there and tap a computer screen more than they are to write it out,” Parker said. “For some reason they’re used to doing that.”