Google Classroom – Is it any good?

Google Classroom – Is it any good?

Google Classroom is gaining traction in schools and it’s only a work in progress!

At a simple level Classroom helps teachers to communicate with their classes, create and organise assignments and provide feedback when and where it is required. Classroom is actually an excellent example of paperless workflow and does a fantastic job of leveraging the power of Google Docs, Drive and Gmail in one platform. Take a look at this short introduction to see how quick and easy it is to get started with Classroom:

 

Advantages of Google Classroom

  • Students can be added to Classroom directly by the teacher or by entering a unique class code
  • Classroom automatically creates Drive folders for each student and every assignment
  • All assignments are available to students on the assignment page with class resources automatically placed into Drive folders
  • Teachers can share a document with a class or automatically make a copy for each student
  • The ‘turn-in’ feature allows the teacher to quickly see who hasn’t yet completed the work
  • Feedback can be received by the student as soon as it is given by the teacher
  • Teachers can make announcements or pose questions to a class
  • Students can communicate with each other and pose questions themselves

Classroom is set up to save time, improve organisation and enhance communication, allowing teachers to create, review and grade assignments. It appears to be the perfect solution, however……

Disadvantages of Google Classroom

  • No annotation tool available
  • No audio/video feedback option
  • Grading options are limited
  • No calendar integration
  • No markbook integration (although you can export grades)

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Simplicity is Classroom’s strength and it is unfair to judge a product by the lack of desirable features when the ease of setup makes it so accessible. However, it can’t harm to suggest a number of options to make Classroom the ‘go-to’ workflow tool.A pen tool that works under mouse click or touch would be a very useful feature. This would perhaps open up the Classroom workflow for those subjects where annotation is a must and numbers are central to student work. This could be coupled with an audio feature that records the voice and any actions on the screen. This is extremely useful for teachers when making a point to students and has become a feature in other use cases, particularly in workflow apps for iPad. An audio feature could also be used by students to explain their assignment or indeed to communicate with their peers. After all, the inclusion of voice messages in apps like iMessage and WhatsApp, clearly indicates that audio notes are popular and worthwhile. Finally, with most other GAFE features carefully weaved into Classroom, I can’t help but think there’s a place for Hangouts. A teacher could host reviews, create tutorials or simply communicate with students when lesson contact time isn’t possible. To have all your resources available to you within a controlled environment where you can speak to students as required, now that is a very powerful tool for learning.

I’m already sold on Classroom as a tool and I hope Google maintain their interest in developing a product that the world of education is crying out for. Watch this space.

 

 

 

6 Comments

  1. One major downfall you missed is that you can’t have multiple teachers per class. I am a specialist teacher (it integrationist) and in Edmond the ability to have more than one teacher is what made it so good.

    Reply
    • Thank you Cary. You’re right, Edmodo is a much more mature platform.

      Reply
      • In terms of multiple teachers per class, what might stop one teacher from sharing their ‘login’ if you will with the other tutors? If this is an absolute must, then please do feedback directly to Google as they will likely consider it.

        Google Classroom per se does not have annotation tools, however Google Docs does in terms of marking an up an assignment, commenting upon it, suggesting edits and so forth. In addition, one could add the Input tool that allows for handwriting (found here: https://support.google.com/docs/answer/2720937?rd=1) and in terms of mathematical equations, a solution can be found here (http://www.mousewhisperer.co.uk/drivebunny/mathematical-equations-in-google-docs/).

        Reply
        • Useful points Dustin – thanks for this.

          Reply
  2. Classroom does what it does very well. For me, it just doesn’t do enough yet. Hopefully Google will rapidly develop the product.

    Reply
  3. As a former user of Edmodo (I currently have a position out of the classroom), schoology and moodle (I now coach teachers on using Classroom since we are a GAFE district) I can speak to all of them. I began using Edmodo back when they were still in beta and were LMS infants. I hadn’t begun using it with my middle school history students yet; as I used it for connecting with other teachers (eventually as the communities grew) for a couple of years. The staff connection and collaboration was great PD for me and helped me tremendously in my classroom instruction with resources and curriculum ideas. Then Edmodo got funding and exploded globally. They grew (IMO) partly due to their educator friendliness and extremely easy UI. The majority of teachers have little time to sit and learn one program as the demands of their time grows exponentially in the face of common core, new teacher evaluations and SGOs. Schoology came on and was Edmodo’s younger sibling as they basically did the core of what Edmodo did but didn’t have the apps, large teacher communities or worldwide reach yet. I personally liked that they had integration with our districts SIS Powerschool; thus making the assessments easily available to our grading platform. But I didn’t go there on my “free” time seeking teacher connections or resources, I still went to Edmodo. Now I am in elementary with teachers who haven’t used any type of LMS or technology in many years (yes same district but the levels are like islands); so Google’s Classroom with it’s super simple UI and few features makes it so that even my 8-track clutching teachers are slowly seeing that “they can do this”, as it get’s my 2nd through 5th graders used to being in a digital environment in school (I remind the teachers that most students in their school are used to navigating digital environments out of school, and they just need to help them bring and use those skills in school). We got early access to Classroom last June, so I had all summer to play with it and map its features and weave them into my PD plan for teachers. I also saw features being added that hadn’t existed in late June, and if it follows the model that I have seen in GAFE (we have been using for five years) I foresee rapid evolution as they listen to and get feedback from educators. More importantly when they open the API to developers, many of whom are educators (Andrew Stillman) and have a history of taking the raw ingredients of Google tools and transforming them into real solutions that help teachers on the front lines (Doctopus, gClass Folders, Goobric), Classroom will begin to evolve into a full fledged LMS with features that make the teaching and learning process more efficient and easier for all involved.

    Reply

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