I came across an insightful blog post over at The Innovative Educator about handing-in assignments vs. publishing them. The thought had never occurred to me before, but in reading about it, it "clicked" and I think it makes perfect sense. Why would a student email their professor a Word document when they could just simply post their assignment to their blog and share the link with their professor. Obviously, there are a range of scenarios where this could be problematic, but there are just as many cases (or more) where this would make so much sense in terms of fostering students who consider the broader impact of their thinking and writing and see themselves as participating in the braoder discussion of their topic through the act of completing their homework.
As a builder of learning tools, the same tracking mechanism for collecting assignment could be adapted to support this blended model of handing-in/publishing assignments.
One thinker on the topic of education and education policy who I mentioned this to earlier today, Jimmy Dahroug, mentioned the impact that having a student's assignments available publicly online might have on them over time as the Internet remembers everything. This was seen as a possible breach of privacy or at least a risk to students who may express immature or improper viewpoints at a young age that they later regret. My response that this type of blended model should be paired with some additional curriculum about reputation management and encouragement for students to act wisely whenever they post something publicly online – whether homework or their feelings about My Little Pony.
For our readers not familiar with blended learning, it is the mixing of different learning environments to create richer educational experiences for students. It's a model that does not threaten the traditional classroom, but rather extends it.