At the start of each lesson, many teachers ask for the students to take out their writing equipment and homework diaries or journals. The latter items have been part of students' lives for many years now. In them, lies the difference between homework being done or not, on time or late, done correctly or done wrongly.
It's a pity then that this item of such importance is so often lost and, with it, the chance for a student to avoid the sanctions of homework not done. It is also a shame that children's confidence in their ability to later translate the few cryptic words with which they have described their homework in their journals is rarely justified. Notes to accompany the homework are folded up and stored within the pages of the journal, falling out and deteriorating as the days pass.
Homework journals have never been up to their task of standing between a student and the steely gaze of a teacher asking where the due homework is. An app comes to the rescue in the form of Show My Homework.
Schools using this app overcome the problems with homework journals. It is no longer possible for a child to lose the record of all of their set homework. It is the teacher's words that describe the task, not the child's distracted and rushed scribble. For the conscientious student, they can't let themselves down. For the unconscientious student, there are far fewer ways to justify a homework no show.
Supporting resources are also managed by the app. Supporting notes and worksheets are appended as downloadable documents. Multiple-choice activities and spelling tests can be created by teachers using the app's website. This gives teachers the tools to create quick, self-marking homework.
Teachers benefit from an administrative point of view too. They don't have to allow as much lesson time to set it. References and helpful comments can be made throughout the lesson knowing that the task itself will automatically be pushed to children's accounts. Recording and tracking the homework is also easy in the teacher's part of the account.
Parents are also brought into the process. Children can't suggest they have no homework if their parent can see exactly what they have been set. This involvement doesn't have to be purely as an overseer either. Seeing the homework tasks might prompt an idea for parents to make children's learning more enjoyable. A piece of history homework might prompt a visit to a local museum. A maths task might remind a parent of a tip that their own teachers gave them.
The differences between how the different types of users experience the app are mostly to do with what they can update. Parents have the ability only to read what students and teachers have added. Students can check off their tasks as they complete them. Teachers set homework, upload resources and record the relevant dates. Students and teachers can also easily pass on messages about the homework to each other.
Access to the actual homework is flexible. A free to download app is available on both Android and iOS devices. A web-based version is also available and can be logged into from any internet connected computer.
Inputting and accessing the information follows commonly used conventions so there is not much of a learning curve for any moderate user of apps.
Show My Homework has been built around a clear vision of how technology can help everybody in the process of setting and completing homework. It is fully featured for its specific purpose but not bloated with superfluous features. This keeps it simple to use for everybody. Schools that adopt it will need to put a little work in at the start to ensure that it is universally supported and used by staff, parents and students. The reward will be a much more effective use of homework.