When you are teaching students online it can sometimes be difficult to find engaging assignments for Students. This article will look at some ways you can make your assignments more interactive and engaging to provide better quality training.
Here are 27 Interactive Assignments you can use to engage students online:
- Group Audio Chat
- Interview a Professional
- Participate in Forum Discussions
- Attend Online Industry Seminars
- Online Whiteboard Brainstorming
- Group Concept Mapping
- Live Group Google Docs
- Sourceforge or GitHub
- Creating a Podcast
- Starting a Youtube Channel
- Use Quora or Reddit
- Create a LinkedIn Profile
- Build a Website
- Use Simulation Software
- Research Companies In Industry
- Research Latest Technology
- Participate in Social Media
- Explore Mobile Apps
- Vendor Certification
- Create Training Videos
- Local Work Experience
- Do a Job on a Freelancing Website
- Compete in an Online Competition
- Contact an Industry Professional
- Attend a Conference
- Record Real World Event
- Record Completing Task
There are some great ideas to spice up your online training as individuals or groups but now let’s dig in deeper and review how these can be assignments for online students.
Group Audio Chat
Having Students meet in an Audio only or Audio and Video chat that they record as team meetings, or mock-up business meetings, or act out scenarios is a great assignment method. It shows to the teacher the engagement of each student and what they have learned.
There are a lot of software solutions you can use to host a free video conference. The most noteworthy apps commonly used are
- Google Duo
- GoToMeeting Free
Each option has its advantages and disadvantages. Make sure you choose one that fits your requirements. Before making a decision try the demo version of each software to give you a better understanding of whether it meets your needs. Zoom allows for 40 mins meetings for free which is all students would need to record their session in most cases.
Interview a Professional
Who can tell you more about a job than an expert? An interview that the student records with their phone is a great assignment for them not only to meet real professionals but also to learn more about the job they are training for. Students can start the assignment by locating a professional on LinkedIn and politely asking for an interview for their studies. They can then submit as part 2 of the assignment their question list. And finally the recorded interview.
Here is an article with a list of questions students could potentially ask their industry professional:
ARTICLE: Interview Questions
Participate in Forum Discussions
Forum discussions are a great way of sharing ideas and increasing student engagement. You can mark students on their involvement in your forums or industry forums. There are various methods to increase students’ participation in online discussions. This type of activity gives students the opportunity to discuss their ideas with other students or industry professionals.
During forum discussions, students get to create and enhance their social relationships with other students. This decreases the feeling of isolation when they have friends in the class they can ask questions of for social learning.
Attend Online Industry Seminars
Businesses of all types are putting on marketing and technical webinars of every subject you can think of. You can not visit a website these days without someone offering one to you. These are great places for students to get exposure to the real industry and interact with potential future industry peers.
They can chat with other participants and ask questions of the industry experts in each area. For their assignment, you can get them to write a report or record the session using screencasting software showing their engagement. These are a great learning tool for students to gain exposure to their future industry.
Online Whiteboard Brainstorming
With so many online whiteboard tools available why not have an assignment for your students to work in teams on a shared whiteboard and brainstorm their group assignments. This always makes for a good part 1 of the assignment to show group engagement. They can submit the resulting image to you. You can also use an online whiteboard during online courses. If you do not know what whiteboard to use for your online course you should take a look at the 7 best online whiteboards.
A whiteboard brainstorming session is a great opportunity for your students. It gives them the chance to combine their ideas and be more creative.
As well as online whiteboards there are also online software tools specifically for brainstorming like StormBoard which can be found on their website.
Group Concept Mapping
Nothing helps students understand a topic more than trying to map out the key concepts. Whether you get them to do this on their own to show individual understanding or in groups to allow them to socially learn from each other, it is a great idea.
There is a great online tool students can use for free and save their work online for 6 months with MudMap.
For some other great tools they can use check out this article:
ARTICLE: Concept Mapping Tools
Live Group Google Docs
While most people probably already know this one it is still worth mentioning. The ability of a group of students to edit the same document at the same time and talk with others on group audio chat or text chat is extremely engaging. If you have not tried this yet get someone to do it with you by downloading Google Docs or using it in a web browser from your https://drive.google.com account.
Sourceforge or GitHub
If you are running IT training courses the ability for your students to create a code, document, or file repository that does versioning is a useful industry skill. Not only can the students create their own repository they could also join another open-source team to help them with their documentation, planning, or coding. This is not only something they can not only show proof of as an assignment but something they can put on their resume.
Sourceforge and Github are two of the most commonly used online hosting solutions when it comes to storing project files and source code for distributed projects. Either is fine for your online class but try both and see which one you think your students would prefer.
Sourceforge is the best option if you want to develop an open-source project that involves an application targeting the end-user. On the other hand, you should use GitHub if you are planning on creating a project that comprises a collection of packages.
To learn more about the different aspects of the two source code hosting solutions click here.
Creating a Podcast
We often think of using Podcasts for disseminating information to large groups of people in an audio format. Have you ever thought of using it as a student assignment? Why not have the student start a podcast where they show what they have learned at each stage of the training?
They can record a quick session on their phone or and they can show their creativity by editing the audio if they want or getting in guest speakers or even just discussing it with another student from the class. This is a great way for students to show competence especially for those with poor written skills.
Starting a Youtube Channel
While Google is currently the number one search tool on the internet the next generation is using YouTube as their first search tool. So if this is the case why not give them an assignment that is creating a Youtube channel and uploading some content. Whether they do this in groups or alone they will learn many skills along the way that they will probably use in their working career.
This is a great way for them to start feeling comfortable on camera in certain industries or for creating screencasts of them using their computers for any task. Maybe showing you how to use a piece of software. Maybe the channel hosts all of their assignment submissions for the whole subject?
Use Quora or Reddit
Quora and Reddit are two of the most commonly used forums worldwide. You can find a lot of interesting content by searching for a certain subject.
The fact that these platforms contain tons of professionals with various areas of expertise opens up new ideas your students can research for assignments. I know the information on there is neither quantitative or qualitative but it is great for expanding what students think on a topic.
Your students will benefit from different approaches to concepts. They can read multiple points of view. This way, they will get a better understanding of the subject.
Create a LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn is the working professional social media with their resumes linked to their accounts. Setting assignments to create a profile, or if they have a profile to connect to industry professionals, join industry groups, or even join company groups is a great opportunity for them.
This allows them to start their own networks and engage in the industries they will be part of. It is also a great way to find a Mentor to guide them through their career. Obviously you have to be careful depending on the age of your students and do this only with students old enough and with their parents’ permission if required.
There are various benefits of a LinkedIn profile for a student. If you want to learn more or inform your students about why they should open up a LinkedIn account go to LinkedIn for Students.
Build a Website
More and more websites appear online every day. You can ask your students to create a website that explains the concepts you are teaching them. Say you are teaching physics. Your students can create a free website that shows how physics is related to everyday life.
Another great example of using a website during your online course is to ask your students to create an online portfolio. This works well for all students but even more so for students that need a portfolio of work like those in photography, videography, or creative writing.
This is not difficult for them to do with a free WordPress website they can literally have up in minutes.
Use Simulation Software
To recreate a real situation you can make use of simulation software. There are various domains that can benefit from simulation software solutions. This type of assignment allows students to test out their hypotheses in a semi real-world scenario.
This type of application is commonly used in:
- And more.
MatLab – Mathematics
For example, to recreate possible situations in terms of statistics, you can ask your students to use MatLab.
MatLab integrates visualization, computation, and programming of mathematical notation into a high-performance simulation tool. This would not be used for early math but for Years 10 and up you could definitely look at using this or for including into adult learning classes.
SimScale – Physics
If you are planning on simulating fluid dynamics, you should use SimScale in the Cloud. In the Cloud just means it is hosted for your online.
It can conduct graphical and numerical simulations of fluid dynamics. It is generally used for quick optimization of different systems, as well as overall improvements.
Your students can create different situations that involve fluids. They will understand how physics affects fluid dynamics. Moreover, they will be able to see in-depth stats of various liquids getting in contact with other materials.
Comsol Multiphysics – Chemistry and Physics
This software solution is definitely one of the best in terms of simulation apps. It offers finite element analysis as well as a multiphysics feature. It allows its users to simulate physic-based events. Additionally, it can provide effective simulations of chemical applications.
Among the most noteworthy multiphysics components that Comsol can handle are
- And more.
This software is easy to integrate into your students’ assignments. It will help them to understand different components of physics. For example, they will be able to learn about movement and kinetic energy using graphic simulations.
Research Companies In Industry
I have personally interviewed students in Mock Interview sessions and hired many people over the years and one of the biggest issues they have is not knowing the industry they are part of or the company they are applying to.
To help online students understand the industry they are part of you can get them to research online the top 10 companies in their industry. If they are in an Arts related field may be the Top 10 Museums or if they are in Finance may be the Top 100 shares in the market.
They can look at the current news and events related to that company and who it is run by as well as the products and services they might offer or the artwork they have.
Research Latest Technology
As well as knowing their industry, knowing the current and future technology gets them ready for their first job and shows them the gaps in their knowledge. If you combine this with the previous assignment type as Part 2 then they would already know the companies to research their latest products and services.
Looking at the latest industry trends which most people call Mega Trends if they are international in nature will add the scope to their research. Technology is a huge part of most industries these days and whether it is a new type of paint or a new type of building material every industry has them. These technologies are not just related to the Information Technology sectors.
For students this type of assignment is a research online one or if you want to make it more engaging see if they can contact someone from the business or organization that will do an online interview with them discussing this topic.
Participate in Social Media
Social media is a part of our everyday life so we should integrate it into the online learning process. You can use social media platforms in various ways to create interactive assignments for your online classes.
Engaging in Social Media for students can::
- Introduce them to Market Influencers
- Introduce them to Current Trends
- Allow them to engage in Relevant Discussions
- Keep up with Current Industry News
- Understand the role of Social Media in Business
- Inspire them with new topics
These types of assignments will encourage them to engage with their industry peers and learn from them. Whether it is on LinkedIn, Quora, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or Facebook they will have a community of people to bounce ideas off. They can then print to PDF the resultant conversations to use in their assignments.
Social media is a great way of developing communication skills. Using social platforms, your students can observe patterns that appear and understand what is trending. For instance, they can predict future trends by taking a closer look at the articles posted on social media. The trends depend on a lot of factors such as people’s interest, overall feedback on a certain subject, and the number of posts on a topic.
Explore Mobile Apps
Mobile apps are a great idea when it comes to online teaching. Mobile devices have become an effective learning tool with extended uses in both online courses and real-world learning. You can use the applications as part of your delivery content, to do assignments in or for students to research the tools related to the course you are teaching.
For example, if you are teaching physical fitness online then you can use a mobile app that tracks your students’ workout habits. These types of apps also let you analyze the results.
Tasks that can be assigned to your students can integrate mobile apps very well. For example, if you are running an online course about photo edit, you can ask your students to find out what the best mobile photo editing app is.
And finally, if you are running a course about computer programming you can get them to code and test their code in the many apps that allow for this. The resulting code could then be submitted to your Learning Management Systems (LMS).
Obtaining a vendor certification is a tricky yet useful activity for any student in lots of different areas like IT, Project Management, Industrial Automation, Continuous Improvement, Reporting, and many other fields.
The course material can align with the Vendor Certification and can either have assignments based on that material with exams to suit. Alternately you can have them passing their Vendor Certification as the pass for the subject. There are heaps of universities that already do this method.
The easiest way to see most of these certifications is to look at the testing centers:
List of Exams on Pearcon Vue
List of Exams on Prometric
There are heaps of other vendor certification for pretty much every form of software on computers so just check the vendor website.
Create Training Videos
To prove they know a subject they can always take a video on their phone to explain how to do the task in the real world. There are heaps of stands for your mobile phones from ones for the bench to ones on stands. You could also use a GoPro or equivalent.
As part 1 to the assignment, they can submit their topic and list of instructions, and Part 2 of the assignment could be the actual training video. Whether you get them to do post-production on the video is completely up to you. That basically just means use Windows Maker or a program like that to edit the video after recording.
If they are going to record what they are doing on their computer screen then check out this article:
ARTICLE: Spice Up Your eLearning With A Screencast
Local Work Experience
Even though Vocational Training has been doing this for years you could always organize with a local professional some work experience. During that work experience, they could submit their own assignment like baking a complex cake or welding something or even making a small software application.
If you are doing this in conjunction with a small business it could solve a problem that small business or non-profit has and they provide feedback on the result as well as you marking it.
Do a Job on a Freelancing Website
There are various freelancing websites worldwide and your students can try to develop their skills by doing a job on one of them.
The most commonly used freelancing websites are:
Ask your students to create an account on any of these websites and do a job to improve their skills. Apart from using the skills you have taught them they will also make some pocket money. This activity might open up new career paths for them or at least expose them to how the contracting industry works.
Whether the job they get paid to do succeeds or fails they will get invaluable knowledge on how to deal with customers. How to perform that particular task and also what the quality and expectations are for work in that industry.
Compete in an Online Competition
Competitions are always interesting regardless of your students’ age. They will definitely be interested in participating in online contests. If you are trying to get a bit of competition going there is nothing like industry professionals judging student competitions. If you can’t find one online how about making one?
Examples of competition areas:
- Photo editing
- Video editing
- And more.
There are a lot of different online competitions available in different areas. It is a great idea to find one contest that is suitable for the subject you are teaching and ask your students to join. They will work hard, being motivated by either the awards or the competitive spirit.
There are heaps of student competition websites and here are a couple:
NOTE: Make sure your students are eligible to enter
Contact an Industry Professional
It used to be very hard to contact industry professionals and it used to take a phone book and heaps of phone calls. Now with LinkedIn, you can give the students a script to follow and they can contact heaps of Industry Professionals either locally or Internationally in any company.
Obviously, if your students are under the legal age you would work with a parent or with yourself to contact the industry professional. But it is never too early to start creating an industry network of people you can have as mentors or to ask for advice or to help you with a project.
Due to this being so simple now you really have no excuse to not include it in every course your teach.
Attend A Conference
Submitting a review or article on even recording an industry event in their field of study is great for students to expose themselves to the breadth of the industry. Whether they go with their parents or if old enough on their own. Looking at events that are on at your local convention center or with your local industry groups and introducing themselves get them to engage on a whole new level.
It starts to teach them real-world skills that are taught by professionals in their industry and keep up to date with what is happening in their local area and country. Seeing all the vendors during breaks and visiting their stands opens up whole new worlds for them.
There are conferences on everything from sewing to samurai swords and you just need to look at which ones suit your audience. With Covid-19 most of them have gone online as well. So since now, they have proven to themselves how to do this there will likely be way more done this way.
Here is an article on some creative conferences you could have students visit:
ARTICLE: Creative Conferences
Record Real World Event
Every day in every town in the world you there are things happening from space launches to recording a local chef cooking a meal. With a video camera in every pocket, the student can get into the world local to them and record something actually happening.
Whether they write a report on it or a detailed set of instructions to go with the video or narrate it like a sports commentator. There are heaps of creative and engaging ways to get students to learn in this way. They can also play around the video after it has been created to make it more professional or fun.
Record Completing Task
Recording themselves while completing certain tasks you have assigned is a great idea for your students. A video recording can be rewind back and forth as many times as you need. Whether you are a student or a teacher it is a great idea to have video proof of your task completion.
This works well for every type of class and thinking of how you can add more video recording to your classes will only make it more engaging for students.