Paperless Assignments, Methods, and Technologies

Considering going beyond written papers and tests in your learning assessments? It may require extra preparation up front, but alternative assessment projects can pay dividends later on.

The first step is to re-evaluate the course’s main takeaways and learning outcomes. Next, determine how outcome knowledge and skill can best be measured. Look at what practitioners in your field of expertise are producing. Chances are, they produce more than words on a page.

As digital formats have become easier and faster to create, many educators are interested in going “paperless,” and looking at technology-infused projects that allow students to demonstrate learning in fresh, engaging, and integrative ways. When assignments can become a digital showcase, rather than formal written text, everyone wins. Students can:

  • Construct learning more creatively
  • Build valuable skills in digital design, problem solving, teamwork
  • Add to their online portfolios

Educators who go “paperless” will:

  • See learning occurring in fresh new ways
  • Have more opportunities to use groups effectively
  • Enjoy grading more thoughtful and original student work

Here are eleven paperless assignment alternatives, along with the technologies, tools and methods that students can use to produce them. Note: Be sure to provide tips, tutorials and project examples to help students be successful and efficient when using new technologies.

Assignment

Tool/Method

Create a website Students can create a web-based business, or explain and apply new concepts using Wix, Weebly, Google Sites, or Jigsy
Mapping project Students can chart a course in research and global discovery using Google maps
Digital stories Create digital thought collections and blogs with BbLearn’s Blog tool, WordPress, or Storify
Stump the Expert Individuals or small groups locate an expert, ask questions, and produce an audio or video interview project
Interviews Students contact authors of relevant textbooks and articles to determine if critical theories have been updated
Video project Record events, interviews, or create a documentary using Vimeo or YouTube
Audio project Record critical thinking or analysis using BbLearn’s voice authoring feature, Podcasts,  or Soundcloud
Problem-solving Teams create a task force to tackle relevant issues and present outcomes. See Apple’s Challenge-based Learning guide
Wiki Groups contribute and build knowledge together online using BbLearn’s wiki tool or Google Drive
Simulations Use cloud-based Screencast-o-matic, Jing, or PowerPoint’s animation tools to create tutorials, simulations, and visual guides
Infographic Students can illustrate concepts and data (see these award-winning “dataviz” examples) using free tools like Infogr.am or Easel.ly

Please drop us a note at coursedesign@uidaho.edu to tell us about new types of assignments you’re using and how it’s going.