Around the summer of 2014 Google launched a new app specifically for education, Google Classroom. If you are a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) school, you very well may want to give this a try.
About Google Classroom
Google Classroom, still in its infancy (at the time of this writing), is a very simple app that provides a great deal of communication/assignment management. Once a teacher’s classroom is setup, and students have been invited, teachers can post announcements, assignments, and questions to the classroom’s “stream”. Students can comment and post to the stream (depending on permissions granted), and can create/upload documents to submit their assignments. Assignment’s can be graded and returned to the students, with private feedback as well.
Who Should Consider Using Google Classroom?
If you are using an LMS or CMS (Learning/Course Management System) such as Moodle, Blackboard, or Schoology, then Google Classroom may seem like a very light tool. However, even as a Moodle and Schoology user myself, I still see benefits to Google Classroom.
If your school is not using an LMS, and you are a GAFE school, then Google Classroom should receive some consideration. The posting of class news and the posting, collecting, and grading of assignments in a single user interface can truly benefit all teachers.
My Favorite Feature
One of my favorite features of Google Classroom lies in the assignment area. When adding an assignment Classroom allows me to attach a number of items to the assignment, even directly from my Google Drive. But, that is not my favorite aspect. What I love about Classroom is that if I attach a Google Doc, I can then choose to make a copy that document for each of my students. If I do this, my students will then see their own personal version of the Doc in Classroom and can start editing it immediately. I as the teacher actually own the document and can view it at any time (even as they are working). I’ve used this feature alone more than any other.
What To Remember
If you give Google Classroom a shot, remember that it is a young product, it is likely to evolve. For example, during the 2014-15 school year, I couldn’t post questions; that feature was added later. During the 2015-16 school year, I was able to repost an item I had posted in another class (current or archived).
Also remember that it is likely not intended to replace your LMS altogether. If you are happy with the all encompassing nature of your LMS, then stick to it. This is a free app for GAFE customers; it’s not going to compete with your expensive and complicated LMS. At least for now.