Individualize Assignments in an Online Course

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Individualizing assignments in an online course promotes student and instructor interest, challenges students to strengthen their research skills, and prevents students from paraphrasing other students’ work and presenting it as their own. This entry describes a strategy used to teach an online course in Urban Sociology, however, this strategy could be applied to many other topics and disciplines (Blumenfeld et al., 1991).

To learn Urban Sociological concepts, students in this course begin the semester by each selecting a city from the 100 largest US cities by population. Students choose a city on a first come first served basis and have their selection confirmed in their initial introductory discussion post.

By focusing on one city throughout the semester, students see how the different topics they are learning about throughout the semester connect with each another in a real environment. They are also required to strengthen their research skills and think critically as resources available to the student are different for every city.

Link to example artifact(s)

  • Instructor: Amy Donley, University of Central Florida
  • Course: Urban Society

Example Assignments

You have two assignments this week. You will do a research activity that focuses on two neighborhoods that are at polar ends of the class spectrum in your city and post in a discussion forum. Please check the due dates listed in the course schedule and on the calendar for these assignments.

  1. Complete Research Activity 9- Extreme Neighborhoods. Directions: Locate two neighborhoods in your city that represent two extremes of class (low/high). Describe these neighborhoods and how they differ (you may use a neighborhood you have used previously but make sure to present different information). An example for two extreme neighborhoods in Orlando is posted under the links to this module.
  2. What type of home a city resident can afford depends a lot on the property values within a city. For this discussion pretend that you have $300,000 to buy a home in your city (not the metropolitan area). Go to and locate the home you would want to purchase for that amount of money. Post a link to the home and describe it in the discussion board. What do you think residents of the city think about the cost of homes in their city? Discussion 9- Buying a House.

Assignment 1 Student Example

Research Activity 9 Example- The two neighborhoods I have chosen are Parramore and Windermere. Parramore is located in the Downtown Orlando area just west of the Central Business District. It was established in the late 1800s, and was known to be a once affluent neighborhood, with a majority of its population being Black/ African American. Today, Parramore is known to be an area with a high homeless population and high crime rates. Because of this, the project Pathways for Parramore was launched to revitalize the area focusing on public safety, housing, children and education, business development, and quality of life. Over 30% of the residents of Parramore live below the poverty line. Windemere is located west of Downtown Orlando, just south of Ocoee. With approximately 3,000 residents, Windermere is an affluent area with many country clubs and private preparatory schools. According to the 2010 Census data, Windermere population is predominantly White, young families with a median annual family income of roughly $100,000. Windermere is also known to be home to some celebrities and prominent societal figures.

Assignment 2 Student Example

Honolulu, Hawaii

Buying a house in Honolulu is very expensive. Many four bedroom houses range near 1 million dollars. It was very hard for me to find a house within the $300,000 limit, however I did find a 2 bedroom and 2 bathroom apartment located in the city of Honolulu, Hawaii for $289,000. It is 1,171 square feet which is a decent size. This is perfect for a couple looking to move in together, although I don’t think it is the ideal place for a married couple looking to start a family or for families that have more than one child. I think residents of the city find the cost of homes to be very expensive. If it was hard for me to find a house that had more than 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms within the budget I was given. I could imagine that many of the residents their think the prices are a high as well, especially families who have children.


In lieu of a traditional final exam, students in this course take information they have presented throughout the semester and prepare a 5- presentation of their city from a sociological perspective. Students are allowed to create YouTube videos, PowerPoint presentations, Prezis, and so forth.

Link to scholarly reference(s)

Blumenfeld, P., Soloway, E., Marx, R., Krajcik, J., Guzdial, M., & Palincsar, A. (1991). Motivating project-based learning: Sustaining the doing, supporting the learning. Educational Psychologist, 26(3-4).


Donley, A. (2016). Individualize assignments in an online course. In B. Chen & K. Thompson (Eds.), Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository. Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida Center for Distributed Learning.

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