Some years ago, there was a running joke on Slashdot that all you needed to do to get a bogus patent was to take something that people have been doing for centuries (or millennia) and append “on the Internet”. People buying food…ON THE INTERNET! People complaining about their bosses…ON THE INTERNET! You get the idea. The joke stopped being funny when Blackboard rolled out their infamous ’138 patent, which, among other things, claimed to have invented the idea that grad students can be instructors in some classes and students in others… ON THE INTERNET!
Fortunately the ’138 patent has been smacked down.
As instructors, we need to be sure that we’re making the best possible use of the affordances of the new tools. Taking existing practice and adding “on the Internet” isn’t enough. Busywork doesn’t stop being busywork just because it’s posted on a blog.
If the activity doesn’t rely on peer-to-peer engagement (or even better, peer-to-public), you may not be making full use of the advantages of networked technology.
I’ve often told my own students (who are teachers in their own right) that if their proposed lesson or activity could be done just as easily on a paper worksheet, they’re not trying hard enough.