School admins, and sometimes teachers themselves, fall for the hype around digitizing classrooms, and adopt tech tools hastily.
Before you go ahead and adopt any new tool, always ask yourself:
(a) How much time would it take for us to get used to?
(b) How different is it from our existing workflow?
(c) Do we need to spend time and effort trying to learn it?
If the answers do not match your expectations, or make you feel uneasy, you’re better off not using it at all. You don’t have to do it just because everybody else is.
The key here is to adopt something that makes teaching easier without a lot of getting used to — exactly what Google Classroom offers.
It is designed to simplify classroom workflows by enabling teachers to replicate classroom actions and activities on an online platform in a hassle-free manner. The fact that most people are already familiar with the Google interface only makes things easier.
Despite all the bells and whistles, just like every other tool, it might or might not suit your needs. In this post, we answer the questions you might have before you start using the Google Classroom.
1. What is Google Classroom?
Google Classroom is a web-based platform that lets teachers create online classrooms where they can distribute, collect, and manage classwork. It also allows teachers to communicate and collaborate with students and their guardians.
2. What does Google Classroom do?
Here’s what you can do with Google Classroom:
Distribute resources: It can be used as a platform to share study materials and other relevant documents with your students. It allows teachers to share files from their computer, YouTube videos, Google Drive links, or any other relevant URLs. As it is stored online, students can access it from anywhere, and even on mobile devices.
Manage assignments: Google Classroom allows teachers to create, distribute, collect, and grade assignments right within the platform. That’s not all, you will be able to do things like:
(a) add helpful links along with assignments
(b) set different permission levels for documents you distribute along with assignments
(c) set up due dates using the Google Calendar integration
(d) reuse the same assignment again
(e) schedule assignments for a later date
Make announcements: Teachers can also make announcements through Google Classroom. This will automatically be emailed to all the students in the class. They will also be able to view it in the respective Classroom’s Stream tab. Stream tab is the Google Classroom equivalent of the Facebook newsfeed.
Note: Google Classroom also allows teachers to schedule when an announcement, post, or an assignment shall appear in their student’s Stream tab.
Store classroom materials: When you sign up for Google Classroom, it automatically creates a Google Drive folder called Classroom. Then, as you create a new class, a new subfolder gets created. All the assignments you distribute will automatically be stored in these subfolders.
You can also share your Google Drive folders or files with your students by simply pasting the link in the ‘About’ tab or by adding it to an assignment/announcement/question.
Summaries for guardians: Google Classroom also allows teachers to send feedback to guardians about the student’s performance. This will be sent via emails. It includes details such as missing work, upcoming work, and class activity.
3. How can teachers sign-up for Google Classroom?
To use Google Classroom at a school with students, your school must be signed up for a free G Suite for Education account. If your school already has an account, it might look like this firstname.lastname@example.org.
But, if you are an educator who conducts out-of-school courses, you can also sign up with your personal account (email@example.com). A G Suite for Education account is not mandatory in such cases.
4. How does Google Classroom relate to G Suite for Education?
Google Classroom is a learning management system that forms a part of the G Suite for Education platform. It is fully integrated with other G Suite applications like Docs, Slides, Drive, etc.
5. What are the specifications or requirements for using Google Classroom?
Some of the major highlights:
Google Classroom requires an active internet connection to work
All the data is stored on your Google Drive, local servers are not required
Google Classroom apps are available on both Android and iOS devices
6. How to set up your Google Classroom?
Google Classroom is fairly easy to set up. Here are the steps involved:
Create a class by clicking the ‘+’ button on the top right of the home screen. You will have to add the corresponding class name, subject name, and section.
Click the 'About' tab to customize the course description or add course materials, such as links and syllabi.
Click the 'Students' tab to invite your students to join the Classroom - either send invites or give them the ‘Class code’.
Choose a level of student participation from the 'Students' tab.
Add co-teachers by visiting the 'About' tab.
You can then select a theme for the Classroom and also, upload a cover photo.
Review your notification preferences by accessing Settings. You can do so clicking the Tribar button on the extreme left.
Click the '+' (bottom left) icon to access the platform's core features: Reuse Post, Create Question, Create Assignment, and Create Announcement.
7. What are the services and integrations available in Google Classroom?
Google Classroom is fully integrated with the Google ecosystem. That means, teachers and students will be able to access other Google services like Gmail, G Suite, Google Calendar, etc.
Besides that, there are many third-party add-ons that you can try, here are a few useful ones:
Hiver: With Google Classroom and Gmail practically sharing a symbiotic relationship, your inbox can end up overflowing. Hiver will allow educators to keep their Gmail inbox organized and also, collaborate with colleagues and school admins easily.
Actively Learn: This tool is aimed at improving the reading skills students. Its integration allows teachers to import Classroom rosters to Actively Learn. This way you can centralize where you share your reading assignments.
GeoGebra Classic: This tool helps students create mathematical models, graphs, spreadsheets, etc. GeoGebra Classic integration allows teachers to push relevant materials as assignments to their Google Classrooms.
Share to Classroom Chrome extension: This extension allows teachers to share relevant web pages with their students in a matter of few clicks.
Google Classroom is free for all the schools that are using G Suite for Education. However, some of the Google Classroom integrations and add-ons may come at an additional cost.
Google Classroom can add value to all sorts of educators, be it a school teacher, an online coach, or a private online educator. It allows users to go completely paperless. Moreover, it is part of the Google ecosystem. This means - regular upgrades, a huge library of third-party extensions, and the flexibility and safety it offers.
All in all, if you are looking for a simple yet powerful tool to manage your classroom, Google Classroom is definitely, worth checking out.
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