3 Different Things You Can Do With Google Classroom

Google’s advance in the education field has brought to schools around the globe affordable devices and effortless access to educational content. Google’s latest solution for learning is called Google Classroom. Although Google Classroom will be available at the beginning of the school year to all schools that have adopted Google Apps for Education, the Mountain View based company granted access to Google Classroom to a select few individuals in July. I was fortunate enough to be one of these early adopters/testers of Google Classroom, and I can honestly say that I am impressed by its simplicity, and its ability to seamlessly integrate Google Docs, Sheets, Drive, Gmail, and more in order to provide a wonderful and highly productive user experience.

google classroom

Overall Design & Purpose

Google Classroom’s design is absolutely stunning. Following the latest design trends, the interface is simple, elegant, and free of unnecessary distractions, created to help the user focus on productivity. Google Classroom features some of the best tools teachers can use to manage and distribute assignments and class announcements. Also, it provides teachers and students with a safe environment to communicate with each other and exchange ideas and comments on educational content. Of course, all these perks come absolutely free, and because this is a Google product, you are guaranteed a user experience of superb quality.

Paperless Classrooms

Regardless of the subject you teach, Google Classroom is a fantastic tool for teachers who wish to create a paperless classroom environment that allows the teacher to have instant access to student work, and manage every aspect of the classroom workflow digitally. With Google Classroom a teacher can manage multiple classes. Within the Google Classroom environment, the teacher can create and distribute assignments and announcements to each class, edit and return student work for revision, grade student work, initiate and participate in whole class or private discussions, and have overall a seamless paperless assignment workflow that eliminates all the tedious and time consuming tasks that take up a lot of instructional time. This extra time can be allocated to learning.
The true power of Google Classroom lays in the fact that it weaves together Google Docs, Sheets, Gmail, and Drive to eliminate the need for hard copies. This allows teachers to:
• Create a document, a spreadsheet, a presentation, or a form
• Distribute this assignment to students
• Customize due dates, organization of content, and copies of the assignment for every student

Obviously, Google Classroom can be a useful tool for 1:1 and BYOD settings, where every student is able to access class content on his/her device, and receive real-time feedback from their teacher.

 

Flipped Classrooms

Google Classroom may be the perfect tool a teacher can use to flip a lesson or an entire class. The flipped classroom’s ability to personalize learning to all students and make them take ownership of their learning can be greatly enhanced with Google Classroom. For instance, videos, presentations, and other material can be delivered to students outside of class using Google Classroom. Students can not only access and review content, but also have a safe avenue for online discussions with their teacher or other students that can clarify misconceptions and help students master the content. In addition, due to the fact that often many students have the same questions, Google Classroom’s discussion threads, which are visible to all students, can be a lifesaver for many students, especially for the ones who are too shy to ask questions overtly.

Professional Development

Google Classroom’s primary purpose is be used in the classroom by teachers and students, however, nothing can stop us from finding more creative ways to take advantage of such a wonderful tool of content delivery and organization. Since we are approaching the beginning of the school year, naturally, professional development might be one of the areas that comes first to mind.
Google Classroom can be used by schools and districts to organize and deliver professional development content for teachers. In fact, our school will be one of the first schools in the country that will use Google Classroom for this purpose this coming school year. Trainers/presenters can create a class/training and import the participants/teachers in the class, or simply send them an email with the code to access the class. Before, during, or after the training, the presenter can share with the participants a number of resources such as presentation slides, multimedia files, and other documents. The participants can communicate live with each other during the training, exchanging ideas and working collaboratively on projects. Finally, after the training, due to the fact that when someone uses Google Classroom, a folder is created in their Drive and all content is saved in that folder automatically, the participants will have access to all of the materials they used or developed in the training, not to mention the fact that during the training they will have gained a lot of knowledge about how to use Google Classroom with their own students!

Nikolaos Chatzopoulos currently teaches 4th grade Math and Science at Plato Academy, in Clearwater, Florida. He is a technology enthusiast, and enjoys discovering ways to incorporate technology in the classroom in meaningful ways, in order to provide opportunities for authentic learning experiences.

Nikolaos can be reached at chatzopoulosn@platoacademy.net and on Twitter @chatzopoulosn

21 Comments

  1. Peter Vogel

    August 25, 2014 at 12:57 am

    Good article. One small typo: “lays” should be “lies”.

  2. Daryl Cavender

    August 25, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Thanks the videos were useful.
    There seemed to be a lot like Hapara. Perhaps not as feature rich but possibly easier for some teachers. Hapara does have a management console to setup classes and to import classes, teachers and students. Does Google Classroom have similar features?
    Do you know if Google Classroom works on an iPad? This has been a bit of a problem with the new apps and Hapara.
    Thanks
    Daryl

    • Nikolaos Chatzopoulos

      August 25, 2014 at 2:31 pm

      Hello Daryl,

      I am not familiar with Hapara, so I don’t think I am in a good position to compare the two platforms. As I show in the video, in Google Classroom you can add students in your class manually, or, you can send your students an email/invitation with your class code, so that they can add themselves to the class. A quick way to import classes in Google Classroom would be to organize the students’ email addresses and create a group in your contacts, and then Google Classroom will allow you to import your students in a particular class with a couple of clicks.
      Google Classroom does have a management console that you can use to setup classes, but the beauty of it is that you can manage classes/assignments/announcements in different ways, using the console or via your Google Drive.

      Yes, Google Classroom works perfectly on an iPad. We tested that with a couple of my colleagues here in our school, and we were all very happy and impressed by how good Google Classroom works on an iPad. If you want to know more about that, check out Greg Kulowiec’s article here on Edudemic, http://www.edudemic.com/ipads-with-the-new-google-classroom/

      I hope this helps :-)
      Nik

      • Luis Matos

        August 29, 2014 at 11:32 pm

        Google Classrooms would be much easier to use if they provide an app for the iPads. My colleagues and I ran into the problem of double “log-ins” that our students had to navigate each time they access our Google Classroom. This was due to some of the filters that our District have in place. Also frustrating was the time lost on making sure that student gmails & passwords were correct, and that appropriate folders were set up on Google Drive. When we compared this with our experience with Edmodo, we discovered that the app to Edmodo made the access experience so much easier. After experimenting with Google classroom during our first week of school, we decided to stick with Edmodo until Google Classroom develops an app for the iPad. We felt that the more time we spent on teaching, the better.

        Luis Matos
        5th Grade Dual Language Teacher
        Texas

        • Nikolaos Chatzopoulos

          August 30, 2014 at 6:59 pm

          Luis,

          Thank you for your valuable input. Edmodo has been around for a while and it is definitely a more “mature” platform than Google Classroom. In my opinion, Google Classroom is far from perfect at this point, but it is a solid platform, introduced by a company who is very serious about investing in education. I believe that Google is going to keep improving Classroom, and maybe they will introduce an iPad app sooner than later.

          It may very well be that Edmodo fits your needs better. I personally tried Edmodo, but I did not like it because of its “Facebook-like” view. Also, I found Edmodo’s interface a bit too busy for my fourth graders, who would do much better in the Classroom’s “flat” and less distractive environment. I do see however, the value of Edmodo, and how appealing it can be for teachers who teach older students. I guess the point I am trying to make is that Classroom is a great tool for some of us, but there might be other tools out there that might be better choices for others.

  3. dave

    August 25, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Does Google Classroom integrate with Google Calendar?

    • Nikolaos Chatzopoulos

      August 25, 2014 at 7:24 pm

      Hello Dave,

      I don’t believe it does, but I might be wrong on that. I think that’s because Google Classroom utilizes its own system of keeping track of assignments. For instance, within the “Assignments View” in Google Classroom a student has access to an overview of all of his/her assignments and their respective due dates.

      Thanks
      Nik

      • Dan Rose

        October 1, 2014 at 5:57 pm

        While I understand the idea of keeping all the class information in one spot. I think being able to link assignments to google calendars is really a necessary step. Especially for schools like mine who have been using google docs, google calendar for years to teach.

        It has the added benefit of letting parents know due dates without having to sign in as their child.

        cheers,

        Dan

        5th grade

  4. BobG

    August 25, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    The challenge with Google classroom is that it likely violates the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, by giving student educational records to a 3rd party commercial advertising company, one that stores those records offshore in jurisdictions not subject to U.S. law.

  5. Sam Sinclair

    August 27, 2014 at 1:44 am

    Thanks Nikolaos. I have loved using Google Drive for the last 2 years with my students, it’s so simple, easy to share & collaborate and even better, free! So I am delighted that Google have tweaked this great resource for schools. I believe my school has a Google Apps for education account so I am keen to try it out!
    At my school in the UK, we have been trying to use a bespoke school VLE called Fronter, but I find it completely counter intuitive and thus very frustrating compared with the simple user interface of Google. I understand the concerns about students online, but I cannot help but think that this handbrake on progress is driven more by fear of change in general than fears over Child Protection.

    • Nikolaos Chatzopoulos

      August 28, 2014 at 12:17 pm

      Sam,
      Thank you for your input. You are right, Google’s solutions for classroom workflow management and document creation are very simple and work seamlessly. I am not familiar with Fronter, but there seems to be an explosion of educational VLE software these days. I have tried some of them, and I suppose they all have their pluses and minuses. I do like Google’s solution because of the Google Docs, Drive, and Gmail integration.
      Thanks again
      Nik

  6. Dave Richards

    August 30, 2014 at 4:07 am

    Does anyone know if you can send different versions of assignments to select students, the way I currently use gdrive is to manually copy and paste a version of a lesson document into each students folders on drive, which allows me to differentiate what version of the lesson each student gets. Is there a simple way to do this in classroom or is it only going to allow me to issue a generic assignment/lesson to all students in the classroom?

    • Nikolaos Chatzopoulos

      September 1, 2014 at 8:04 am

      Hello Dave,

      I am not aware of a solution to this problem, however, that does not mean that a solution does not exist. I think your best bet for now would be to still go through the process via your Google Drive, as you described it in your post.
      I hope this helps
      Nik

  7. Allison

    August 30, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    In my initial tests of Google Classroom, I have found that a person can’t be both a teacher and a student. If you provide professional development with your teachers, they will be labeled as students in Google Classroom and won’t be able to create classes and use it with their students at the same time. Have you found a way around this?

    • Mike

      September 10, 2014 at 8:56 pm

      I’m having the same problem Allison is having. I tried to log into a colleague’s classroom as a student, and I can’t change back to a teacher account. This is very frustrating!

      • Nikolaos

        September 12, 2014 at 9:42 am

        Mike & Allison,

        I just delivered a Google Classroom training to my faculty yesterday, September 10. None of the teachers had these issues. At the training, I asked the teachers to go to classroom.google.com and then scroll down the page. On the bottom right corner some of them had two options “I am a student” and “I am a teacher”. I asked that they specify that they are teachers first, before they started using Classroom. HOWEVER, some of the teachers at the training, although this was their first time visiting that url, they did not have the two options. Still, they were registered in the system as “teachers”. We know that because when they clicked/tapped on the “+” button at the upper right corner, they were given the choice to “Create a class” or “Join a class”.

        I am terribly sorry to hear that you guys are having these issues. It is very frustrating indeed! Perhaps this is a system glitch or we (my school) did something that yours didn’t? Just a though. I will look into that and I will post a solution here if I find one.
        Nik

        • Allison

          September 17, 2014 at 12:50 pm

          I talked with some of my coworkers, and I think the key is to set yourself as a teacher first! Then you can become a student later.
          Mike, the Google Apps admin for your district should be able to switch you back to a teacher.
          Thanks for the feedback!

    • Nikolaos

      September 17, 2014 at 5:42 am

      Allison & Mike,
      Here is a solution to your problem
      http://electriceducator.blogspot.com/2014/09/google-classroom-resetting-teacher.html

      I hope this helps
      Thanks
      Nik

  8. Nikolaos

    September 2, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    Hello Allison,

    Thank you for taking the time to write. I have to say, I have never run into this problem. In fact, in “my classroom” currently I have four courses: I have a teacher status in two of the courses, and in the rest of them I am a “student” in courses of two of my colleagues. 2-3 weeks ago several of us were testing Google Classroom, and we all were students and teachers of each other. We never run into the problem you described. I apologize for not having an answer to your problem, but as I said earlier, this has not happened to me, or to any of the other two teachers I was trying Classroom with in my school.

  9. Jim Sprague

    September 29, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    I have been using Google Classroom for three weeks now and I am about to quit! All my students are listed in alphabetical order by their FIRST NAMES! Who does that? I have to transfer their grades to my gradebook which is alphabetized by their last name as any sensible program would do.
    Is there any way to change Google Classroom before I give up on it?

  10. Jenny Wirtz

    October 24, 2014 at 10:49 am

    Is there a way to make small groups within a Google Classroom? For example for a class that has a group project, can you assign or have the kids grouped within the classroom?

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