Online Assignment Submission Dates

I would like to discuss the submission of assignments for an online course. 


The setting is the following:  the target learners are language teachers wanting to learn how to teach onlne.  Each learner is given access to the online course learning platform on the first day of the course, and not before.  Each learner can see the schedule for the submission date of each assignment.  The course consists of four modules and there are four assignments per module.  Each learner should discuss and comment on the postings of the members of the cohort.  The course lasts six weeks. 

The Issue: Should learners be able to post their assignments onto the learning platform before the due date according to the schedule? 

My opinion:  I have been an online learner on several occasions similar to the above setting and what usually happens  is that learners cannot keep up with the schedule for a variety of reasons and these are dealt with in private with the online tutor, or sometimes online as a group activity.  My most recent experience is new to me and I find that it is contrary to everything I have learnt and experienced as an online learner and as an online tutor.  What is this recent experience? Well, an online course in which learners post Task 4 when Task 2 is only due the next day.  What does this mean in reality? For me personally, it makes me feel as if I’m being rushed through a tunnel on a high speed train.  I’m trying to do my own tasks and contribute but can’t fully appreciate the online collaborative learning experience of being a member of an interactive learning group. 

If for personal reasons, a learner cannot take part in the future and has done a task in advance, I see no reason why this cannot be posted to the online tutor who will guarantee that it is posted at the appropriate date.  This has also happened in courses I have been in and this has not caused any problem.

Request :  I would really like to hear your opinions on this issue as, in my limited experience, it seems to me that timely postings of required assignments is a vital element contributing to the success or failure of an online course for this particular group of learners, in other words, future online tutors.  I may, of course, be wrong and would really appreciate to learn more about this.