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How to Accept Remote Assignments – without Email

Updated article originally published December 10, 2020.

For many students, submitting assignments as email attachments is considered standard practice. However, for instructors, email assignment submissions pose their own set of challenges. Some are minor, like incorrect file types or poorly-written emails, while some are major, such as lost assessments or grades.

On the students’ end, email can be unreliable, and there is no guarantee that a record of your submission exists. Fortunately, in recent years there has been a significant improvement to the types of technology available to students and teachers, which means there are more effective tools for submitting assignments.

In addition to potential errors, submitting assignments through email provides students with an easy opportunity to cheat the system by sending emails with missing attachments. This requires the instructor to send an email back and gives the student more time to finish their assignment. What seems like a harmless technical error is a common way for a student to avoid asking for an extension.

The inefficiency of email submissions

Instructors who ask their students to send assignments through their email addresses have, in effect, created a work-heavy pipeline for submissions. Each submission requires a manual time check, verification that each email has the correct attachment, then these files must be saved and organized on the instructor’s computer.

With so many steps in the submission process, the chance for both human and digital errors increases. Asking your students to send an assignment through email creates more work for yourself, increases the possibility of errors, and leaves room for students to engage in an opportunity to take advantage of the system.

But if email submissions are out, what is the best way for students to hand in assignments?

Using online learning tools to submit projects

Online teaching and learning tools streamline the submission process for both students and instructors. They reduce the risk of human and digital error and help instructors tackle distance learning challenges.

Grading tools, like Crowdmark, offer instructors a safe and organized space to collect assignments from students throughout the school year, not just for online courses. Using these tools, instructors can easily read submissions, apply and record grades, provide meaningful feedback, and track their students’ progress. There’s no need for crowded inboxes, saving hundreds of files, or searching for the elusive missing attachment.

Online educational tools are also beneficial to students feeling a lack of transparency when submitting an assignment via email, providing them with precise deadlines and submission instructions. Additionally, students can confirm when their project is submitted successfully and ensure that they never miss a deadline, unintentionally or otherwise.

While email submissions are still viable for some instructors, we highly recommend trying a distance learning tool like Crowdmark. Crowdmark endeavours to assist educators with all their teaching and grading needs.

That is why we offer an assessment and grading platform that enables educators to grade paper-based and digital exams and assignments 3× faster than traditional workflows while leaving richer feedback for students. Crowdmark also fully integrates with many LMS.