If your school is a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) school there is really no reason you shouldn’t use Google Classroom. However, things get more complicated if you are already using a Learning Management System you like. LMS Systems like Schoology, Canvas, Haiku, and Edmodo already fill some of the needs you would use Google Classroom for.
Therefore, you might be questioning why you need to use “just another LMS.” It is a fair question and one that I asked myself. But I think that there are A NUMBER of good reasons why you should be using Google Classroom but I am going to give you just 1.
First off…Yes, Google Classroom is missing a LOT of features!
Google Classroom is not the same LMS as the other powerhouses like Schoology. There a number of features it is missing right from the start. It is missing a centralized grade book, so all grades need to be transferred to your own grade book. This is done assignment by assignment. It doesn’t currently have any API support so you will be transferring all the grades manually. This also means that there are no term statistics for students within the Classroom.
Again, this will need to be handled by your own LMS or Student Information System, like Powerschool. It lacks any independent discussion board feature. Besides “classes”, there is no feature to create student groups. Also, there are no badges, no built-in quizzes, and no Android or iOS app. By the look of it, it would be true to say that Google Classroom does not even begin to compete with other LMSs. But that is the point.
If you are using another LMS there might not be enough “features” for you to make the switch. However, if you are looking for an easy online classroom to use or are deeply involved in Google’s apps. There is just
Besides “classes”, there is no feature to create student groups. Also, there are no badges, no built-in quizzes, and no Android or iOS app. By the look of it, it would be true to say that Google Classroom does not even begin to compete with other LMSs.
But that is the point. If you are using another LMS there might not be enough “features” for you to make the switch. However, if you are looking for an easy online classroom to use or are deeply involved in Google’s apps. There is just 1 reason why you need to use Google Classroom.
The One Reason.
The purpose is clear: Teacher distributes assignments, students complete/submit, teacher gives feedback. That is it. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. It does this BETTER than ANY other LMS now available. This is simply because it works seamlessly with Google Drive and Youtube.
Google Classroom does not need to compete with other LMSs in the task of distributing and collecting writing because it was built with this purpose in mind. Google Classroom won’t currently replace your heavy-hitting LMS; it solves a number of problems teachers face when using Google Apps.
How does it help make the classroom more efficient? 2 Ways.
Distributing And Collecting Assignments
There is the problem of distribution of assignments, readings, and resources. I use Google Drive for all the files I use for teaching. I have come up with a couple different ways to distribute them to students. In the end, the result was always the same. Students would have to be logged into their school Google Apps account (as opposed to personal) and click “Make A Copy”. But that lent itself to a whole new host of problems.
By the end of the year, my inbox looked like it was getting spammed by Google Drive share emails from students. Every time a student completed an assignment and shared it with me, I would receive a notification email. This was a nightmare.
By May, with research papers, worksheets, reflections, essays my inbox was so cluttered that I could not even find my ordinary email. My solution was to sort the share notifications into inbox folders. This was still difficult to know who exactly passed an assignment in.
If I collected the paper assignments in class, I could know instantaneously know who did not pass in their assignment. With the inbox folder technique, a student could be unnoticed for days. I have Schoology but when students submit assignments in Schoology’s dropbox it is automatically converted to a .docx file. This defeats the purpose of a Google Doc that is meant to be edited and revised.
Revisions And Feedback
One of the best ways students can improve their writing is going through the process of revisions. Research has shown that editing, feedback, peer editing, and revisions improves student writing. Assuming that you want to take student writing into the 21st century, there are many platforms that teachers can use to help improve student writing.
Students can usually write directly in their LMS’s but there is not a single one out there that can handle student writing, feedback, editing, and revisions, as smoothly as Google Drive. In my history class this year, writing is going to be a constant process of improvement. No more “one and done” essays.
This is a method that I am sure many of you use as well. I don’t want spend more time than I have to dealing with the paperwork side of this method. Instead, I want to spend more time giving feedback to students as quickly as possible.
In the Google Classroom, assignments are distributed to students and when they are ready, they submit them back to the teacher. At the time of publishing, students can not revise their document further until it has been seen by the teacher. This prevents students from trying to meet the deadline by submitting incomplete assignments.
Students can then submit the assignment again and again after each teacher revision. All of this is tracked with a student assignment “feed” that keeps things orderly. The assignment also has a space that teachers can message students privately and students can then respond.
How to get started.
Easy! Go to Classroom.google.com and click sign up using your school’s Google Apps account. Only teachers and students whose school has Google Apps can get access to the classroom. Outsiders are not welcomed! After, create your first class, and either enlist students directly or give them the class code on the left-hand side box. After that, simply distribute your first assignment and teach!
Verdict: Use it!
Google Classroom solves many classroom problems by making the distribution and collection of Google Apps assignments seamless. If you are in need of an LMS or are looking for one that more closely aligns with Google Apps for Education, Google Classroom might be for you!
After 3 years, I am deeply embedded with Schoology and so, for now, I am going to have to skip Google Classroom. I planned this summer to use both but after starting the year with Schoology as I anticipated, I am reluctant to make the switch. I still use Google Drive for student writing, revising, feedback, and student collaboration.
I then have the students submit their document link into Schoology. Google Classroom is not off my radar just yet. Why not? I am already signed up, the students already have Google Accounts, and my Google classrooms took 30 seconds to set up.
Once Google Classroom matures a little and offers the same or better features as Schoology, the transition will be easier. As of now, I still use the rubrics in Schoology to grade assignments. I do this so that students don’t have to worry about paper rubrics and the grading is all calculated for me.
I have used Google Drive in the past for collection and grading of written assignments. My district uses Powerschool for my SIS. So I still continue the “grade hopping” from Google Drive to Schoology (Rubrics) to Powerschool. This is a prime example of a blended classroom inefficiency that needs to be done away with. Lest, I become a really overpriced data entry professional.
*Google Classroom has changed a lot since launch. To see a list of updates click here.
Question: What is your opinion of Google Classroom so far? Impressed? Disappointed? Let us know in the comments below!