He is in an eLearning class this year and his teacher seems to have got it right. I mean REALLY right.
My son comes home at the start of each week and knows what is expected of him. He can use the tools that he needs and the search engines he requires, to find the answers to his homework. It comes in an online form - one where he has 10 questions to answer based on the news of the week. He has to look up the current events through any method he chooses, and is only required to give a multi-choice answer in most cases.
What is the point? Well, here is my child, coming home, reading the news - which is of course extremely relevant to him. Seriously, he loves this! He is motivated - self motivated in fact. He GETS why he is doing it, so the work has purpose. He can talk about what is expected of him. He is reading, using skimming and scanning techniques, understands and is required to use keywords and different search tools, can summarise, is able to locate information in a text using shortcuts and more. THIS is purposeful homework! It doesn't take more than half an hour but he enjoys doing it, he talks a lot about what he has learned through it and there is definite sense of purpose and achievement.
I may not like homework at times but that is only when there appears to be no correlation to building skills, broadening knowledge and students understanding the purpose for it. The homework my son gets for his current events ticks every box.