How to Transition to Online Homework Assignments

Grading offline homework is a tedious task. Just getting all the assignments home without throwing out your back or losing anything is a miracle. And half the time the homework doesn’t even get to you: you’re practically fluent in student excuses from hearing so many.

Taking homework online, however, eliminates many of these problems: students can’t leave a Google Doc at home and you can’t lose a blog post on your way to the car. There are also many apps that make grading and organizing online homework assignments faster and easier.

Like any technology integration, however, this can seem like a daunting task: Where do I even start? This transition can be as simple or involved as you want; use these tips as a guide.

Just Get Started

The best way to transition to online homework is to simply do it. But getting started doesn’t have to mean going in all at once. Start small, with just one homework assignment a week. This will give you and your students a chance to adjust.

Create an Organized System

Before giving any online homework assignments, make a plan for how you’ll organize the process. If you work in Google Classroom or Google Drive, this will be relatively simple. Here are a few tips for organizing homework assignments with the tools available through Google Drive:

  • Create folders for each of your classes. If you just have one class, create a folder for each block, subject or section of class. Google Classroom automates a lot of this organization for you.
  • Once students share their homework with you, highlight each assignment and click “Add to My Drive” in the top right menu (Drive icon with a plus sign). This way you can then organize them into the appropriate folders.
  • You can make all edits and comments within the doc they hand to you. Consider making a copy to work off of so students don’t make edits after handing it in.

You can make your life easier by choosing add-ons that help with grading as well. A few add-ons to consider are:

  • Flubaroo: Have math assignments auto-graded based on your specific requirements.
  • Orange Slice: Google Docs built-in rubric.
  • Doctopus: Mass homework sharing, assignment organization, and grading management.

You can also use an LMS if your school already has one or a tool like LearnBoost, which can be used within your classroom; it doesn’t have to be implemented at the school level.

Assign Homework Through Specific Tools

If you start with just one or two online homework assignments a week, you can make that homework specific to an app or digital tool. Here are a few that can be used for completing homework at home:

This online reading log, a web-app, can be accessed anywhere there’s an Internet connection. With it, students can log their reading and answer standards-aligned, higher-level thinking comprehension questions. Those questions are delivered to your in-tray, where you give them a score.

Use: Daily or weekly

The Homework: Log reading once a week and answer 1-3 questions.

This mind mapping software can also be used anywhere there’s an Internet connection and is perfect for brainstorming and connecting ideas and thoughts.

Use: As needed

The Homework: Ask students to create a mind map of the chapter they read that week, the science lesson you gave, and more. When done, students can share their mind map link with you for review. Students can even work in groups with remote collaboration features.

This website allows students to make posters that show what they know in almost any subject, in a more creative way.

Use: As needed

The Homework: Have students create a movie poster for the movie version of the book they’re reading, including images of main characters or depicting the climax scene.

Teach Students in Class

Finally, make sure that students understand how to use the various tools and systems that you put in place. Make time in class for a tutorial and practice, this way students have no excuse for not doing the homework or turning it in.

Jessica Sanders is the Director of Social Outreach for Whooo’s Reading, a San Diego-based education organization that motivates students to read more every day. It’s available to teachers, schools and districts. Jessica grew up reading books like The Giver and Holes, and is passionate about making reading as exciting for young kids today as it has always been for her. Follow Learn2Earn on Twitter and Facebook, and check out their new ebook, How to Bring Technology Into the Classroom, just $2.99 on