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’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.
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 lies 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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @chatzopoulosn