This is an archive of the ACE Workshop website. While all of the original content is available, some features (like forms) may no longer work and there may be broken links (indicated with a strike-through). 


The ACE 

A guide for decision-making and professional development planning during times of crisis.

Reduced Disposability


Assign work that encourages students to create or contribute to the world, helping them to feel connected to the knowledge commons. Resist assigning work that leans toward busy-work or hoop-jumping, and question the necessity of any assignment whose product will end up in a physical or digital trash can.


Techniques and Activities to help you explore this practice. 

Reduce Disposability

Sometimes it makes sense to work on assignments that will be quickly discarded; for example, sometimes you want to do free writing or brainstorming that warm you up with a project but that you don’t want to constrain your next steps. But when the balance of assignments tips towards things that are quickly destined for the dustbin, the course can start to feel like a series of hoops that have to be jumped through in order to please a teacher, and this can lead to decreased motivation to engage. Try to identify at least some assignments that contribute value beyond the student and teacher to help your students understand that learning is about engaging with– not just absorbing– knowledge.

Aim for Authenticity

“Authentic Assignments” aim to offer experiences that parallel the work that scholars or practitioners do in our disciplines and fields. When you design your assignments, think about the kinds of communities (graduate schools, careers, professional service, etc.) that your students might graduate into, and design assignments that don’t just replicate those experiences, but offer them: for example, applying for/preparing conference presentations, blogging about research, submitted journal articles, creating public resources, offering outreach or services to the community.

Consider Renewability

“Renewable assignments” produce student work that is not only made available for others to see/hear/read but that is also openly licensed so that they can revise and reuse it. In order to be “renewable,” student work needs to have an open license: a license that explicitly states that others may revise and reuse the material without asking for permission from the copyright holder. Always involve your students in choosing the right license for any project, but help them understand that the work they do could be continued by others if it is shared in a certain way.

Venture Past the LMS

The Learning Management System (Moodle, Canvas, etc.) is in many ways built for disposable assignments. After each semester, faculty generally copy over the course for the next cohort of students being sure to delete out all student-produced content. The symbolics of this are undeniable. Consider using the web in ways that put your students’ work in conversation with their wider scholarly/professional communities. It is important to understand student privacy and agency, and for faculty to be knowledgeable about working in connected environments themselves; seek out help from an instructional designer so you have a partner as you imagine what is possible!

10 Simple Ideas to Reduce Disposability

  1. At the end of a course, ask students to help you identify assignments that felt purposeless, like a waste of time, or like hoop-jumping.
  2. Identify one way that you participated in a scholarly/professional community last year, and craft an assignment that extends that experience to your students.
  3. Partner on a research project with your students, and contribute it to the world in the way that you would normally do with your work.
  4. Identify an external partner who would benefit from the work that your students could do, and collaborate with them to design an assignment.
  5. Have your students contribute to an Open Educational Resource related to the course content, by creating work (test questions, videos, introductions, infographics, reflections, examples) that could be accompany or replace the main learning materials.
  6. Have your students create websites through a program like Domain of One’s Own, or contribute to a course blog or website, where their classwork could be shared with other learners and with the community.
  7. Connect one section of a course with subsequent sections by having students help design projects that will be continued from year to year by different cohorts.
  8. Work with WikiEdu to design a Wikipedia-based assignment (from a week to a whole semester) so that student research can contribute to a communal resource.
  9. Ask your students what pressing community issues need attention, and work with them to design an assignment that links one of those issues to the content in your course.
  10. With their permission, assign work that your students produced as content for the next semester’s class.


Online reading and resources to help dive deeper into this practice. 

Related Slipper-Camp Resources

Check out these PSU-specific resources generated by this spring's Slipper Camp.


A larger community of teachers and learners interested in this practice. 

Discuss on Twitter

If you are active on Twitter, we encourage you to share your thought and ideas using the #ACEFramework hashtag and the #disposability hashtag to talk about this practice, in particular. 

Join a Meeting

If you are interested in talking to people about the Connection value (for which Reduce Disposability is an ACE-informed practice), we invite you to our hosted Zoom chats. Chats are scheduled this summer on the following dates:

  • Thursday, June 18 from 1:00PM-2:00PM (EDT): Overview of the ACE Framework
  • Thursday, July 2 from 1:00PM-2:00PM (EDT): Connection Practices

Submit Your Ideas

If you find yourself working this summer on a project or approach that uses Reduced Disposability, we invite you to share what you’ve found or created, via the Submit Something button below. If you choose to publicly share your submission, it will immediately become available on this page in the Revisit section. (For particularly compelling submissions, we may also add this to the Explore section of this page.)

Hypothesize with Us

The online annotation tool, Hypothesis, is built into this Web site. Feel free to annotate this (or any page in the ACE Framework) with your own thoughts, critiques, questions, or ideas. You can easily get started with a Hypothesis account (which is free) and learn more about how to use the tool

Join Our Team

Plymouth State University community members are invited to join our Teams site for the ACE Framework. Feel free to use our discussion channel to ask questions, give suggestions, and point to new resources. 


A space for user-submitted ideas, resources, and links related to this practice. 

WikiEdu and archaeology

3 simple ideas to reduce disposability

Real World Journalism to Reduce Disposability

Rethinking a “disposable course”

About the Workbook

The Workbook is an online space for you to record your reflections and assignments for the Workshop.

Participants at PSU will be using an Office 365 Word Document (available via the “Files” section of the “General” channel in the ACE Workshop Teams space).

Participants at other institutions should check with their Workshop Facilitator(s) about where to work on their Workbook.

About the Discussion Forum

The Discussion Forum is an online space where all the members of the Workshop can share ideas and reflections and build community

Participants at PSU will be using the ACE Workshop Teams space).

Participants at other institutions should check with their Workshop Facilitator(s) about where to access their Discussion Forum.

About the VidSpace

The VidSpace is an online space for synchronous video meetings among participants (that can also be recorded and shared for asynchronous access).

Participants at PSU will be using Zoom (available via the Zoom tab in the ACE Workshop Teams space).

Participants at other institutions should check with their Workshop Facilitator(s) about where to access their VidSpace. 

About the ACE “Institutional Level”

The ACE Framework is primarily designed for faculty who are readjusting their curriculum during times of regional, national, or global crisis. But in order for the work that faculty do with their assignments and courses to be most effective, it should be aligned with the institutional mission, which should guide policy and structural planning related to curriculum and teaching.

The institutional level of the framework is a reminder to faculty that if their adjustments at the assignment- or course-level are difficult to operationalize successfully, it could be due to larger policies and structures that are mis-aligned with the ACE Framework; advocacy may be warranted to bring the institution into alignment.

The institutional level of the framework is also a call to university policy-making committees, administrators, Boards of Trustees, and legislators that there is much work to be done to prepare university policies and structures to support students and faculty who are learning and teaching through challenging times.