The New Homework System

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Have you heard about the new homework system?

When I was young, I went home and quietly did my homework in our family room. I guess I was naive to think that students still did this. Perhaps some do. Yet, many don’t…at least those I have spoken with recently.
My students informed me this week that they often do their homework using Houseparty - a group video chat app. I can see the benefits and dangers of this. Students receive a notification as soon as a friend is on. They can have up to 8 on at a time as a private or group chat. "Where this opens up an entire new circle of communication and online safety is that if one person in the chat happens to be connected to a user and the others are not friends, those connections are still able to join the conversation because of the mutual connection. Which means that kids who do not know each other have the opportunity to be chatting with people they do not know. Also of concern, is the ability to take a screenshot of the people you are chatting with, without them knowing about it "(SociallySafe, 2016 quoted from this site).

The benefits may be collaboration. It's great that kids can help each other and collaborate easily on projects.

The problem may also be cheating. Last year, simply texting was a problem.  I found that students would take screenshots of their finished work and text it to friends so that they would all have the answers. Now, students can just video chat and share the work. There is no evidence of a photo left on the phone.

My concerns are many - so many I can't write it all down in a blog post. Parents may want to consider a parental control app. Check out this post to read about ways to track what kids are doing. Teachers need to be aware. The ease of cheating using a smartphone adds a whole new dimension to the problem. (Birdsong, 2017) This site may give you a few ideas to put in place.

Along with collaboration, students just finished their stick puppet shows! They chose a MesoAmerican Folklore story to illustrate with a puppet show. We mixed a little of old fashioned with a little of technology! Students chose a story, wrote a script, drew the backdrops and figures, then recorded the shows. I must say, they were darling. 

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