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How Has Google Classroom Improved In The Past Year?

Google Classroom has been updated a lot since launch in August 2014.

Google Classroom _ How Has It Improved_

Google classroom has come a long way from where it started. Every teacher can engage students better by using a Learning Management System (LMS) in today’s school. Google Classroom has a lot of potential given the shift to Google Apps.

First Impressions

I am lucky that I can choose my LMS. When I was one of those selected to beta test Google Classroom last summer I was pretty excited. But when I checked it out, I was pretty unimpressed.

I mean this was Google, right? One of the great gods of the internet?

Let’s just say that I was already using Schoology and found no reason to switch. You can read my initial thoughts about Google Classroom by clicking here.

But a year is a long time. Maybe you are already using Google Classroom and are familiar with all these changes. Maybe there is something in this list that you missed.

If you are just checking it out now or are curious, you definitely want to check out this list.

Either way, we should take a look at how far Google Classroom has come to give it a fair evaluation.

All Updates*

August 2014

Classroom launch: Classroom is designed to help teachers create and collect assignments paperlessly, including time-saving features like the ability to automatically make a copy of a Google document for each student.

October 2014

  1. +Mentions: You can +mention classmates or your teacher in comments and posts.
  2. Invite students more easily with Groups: If you already have a Google Group set up for your class, you can now use that group to invite students to Classroom.
  3. Mark assignments as “done”: Not all assignments require students to submit work online — like reading a chapter or conducting an experiment — so students can simply mark assignments as “done” if there’s nothing to turn in.
  4. Stream controls for teachers: Teachers can set permissions for whether or not their class can post or comment in the stream, mute individual students from posting or commenting, and view previously deleted items in the stream.
  5. Export all grades: Teachers can download grades for all assignments for a class at once, making it easier to export assignments to a gradebook.
    Sort by first or last name: Teachers can also choose to sort students by first or last name, depending on their needs.

December 2014

  1. Attach multiple Drive files: Teachers can attach multiple Drive files to an assignment.
  2. Profile pic in Settings: Teachers and students can easily set their profile pictures in Classroom.
  3. Teachers are editors: Teachers are added as editors to Drive files attached to student assignments, so they can see revision history and provide feedback before assignments are turned-in and after they’re returned.

January 2015

  1. Mobile app for Android and iOS: The Classroom mobile app allows students to do their work anytime and anywhere. It is designed for schools with iPads or 2. Android tablets, schools with BYOD policies, and students’ personal devices. Here are a few of the mobile-specific features available through the app:
  2. Photos: Students can attach photos to assignments or posts, sharing them with the teacher or the whole class.
  3. Share from other apps: Students can also easily attach images, PDFs and web pages from other apps to their assignments.
  4. Offline: With offline caching students will be able to access their to do list even when they don’t have an internet connection.
  5. Archive a class: At the end of the school year or a semester, you may want to archive a class to preserve the class materials, any assignments, and any postings to the class stream.
  6. Assignments page for Teachers: On the Assignments page, teachers can review student work for any assignments as well as any grades or previous comments.

February 2015

  1. Upload your own class theme: Teachers can use their own photo or other image as the theme for their class in Classroom.
  2. Updated mobile apps:
    1. iOS: Students can view the class resource page and share images/pdf/videos to Classroom assignment submissions.
    2. Android: Students can view the class resource page. Teachers can add attachments to new announcements and view the number of turned-in assignments in the class stream.

April 2015

  1. Support for multiple teachers: Teachers can invite other teachers to join their classes.
  2. Draft posts and assignments: Teachers can save their work on an announcement or assignment and post it later once it is ready to go.
  3. Draft grades: Teachers can save grades for an assignment and return the graded assignments to their students later.
  4. Email notifications: Teachers and students can receive email notifications when someone creates a private comment for them.

May 2015

  1. Updated mobile apps:
    1. Teachers can create assignments
    2. Teachers can review student work and provide grades
    3. Additional teachers can view and take action in their classes

June 2015

  1. Classroom share button: Teachers and students can share links, videos, and images from other websites or products to Classroom.
  2. Classroom API: Allows administrators to provision and manage classes at scale, and lets developers integrate their applications with Classroom.
  3. Set Classroom data access: Administrators can decide if users in a domain can grant access to their Classroom data to other applications
  4. Mobile notifications: Mobile notifications for iOS and Android apps allow students to see immediately see when they get a new assignment or grade or a comment from another student or teacher.

July 2015

  1. Whitelisted domains: Now you can whitelist other Google Apps for Education domains so students, teachers or staff in different domains can effectively work together in Drive and Classroom.
  2. Mobile notifications: Students can see immediately when a teacher creates a new assignment or announcement, comments on a student’s post, or grades or returns an assignment. Teachers can see immediately when a student comments on a post or sends the teacher a private note and when the teacher is invited to teach a class.

Has Google Classroom Improved In The Past Year?

I am still undecided on the question. For now, let me just say that I am sticking with Schoology.

Question: Have you been using classroom? What do you think of the changes made so far? Let us know your answer the comments below!

*This list was derived from the official Google Classroom site.

5 responses on "How Has Google Classroom Improved In The Past Year?"

  1. I just started using Google Classroom for my class this year. I’m very impressed. I have Schoology available, and I found it to be buggy and clunky. Ultimately, my take is this: Classroom has less features, but that’s actually the beauty of it. It’s simple to use and it’s simple to navigate. It’s like cleaning out your classroom, paring down, and getting back to the basics. Using Classroom, I feel I am a better teacher, and I feel my kids are getting better feedback from me. I’m sold.

    • Wow! Well said! And to be honest, I do agree with you that there is a real need to not overburden our students with technology when it isn’t needed. Certainly Schoology goes by the idea that more is better. To be honest, I never looked at Google Classroom’s essentialism as positive until you just said that.

    • @disqus_XGmWXTIEpk:disqus Can I ask also, what do you think about there not being a quiz feature? I know that google Forms can work for quizzes but I always felt that a basic LMS should include a quiz feature built in.

      • I’ve used Google Forms for tests and quizzes long before Google Classroom was around, and I plan to continue doing that this year. But I’m glad you brought up the idea of Classroom as an LMS. Although it is, in part, a learning management system, it’s really not a traditional one — and it’s quite obvious that Google isn’t attempting to make Classroom into a traditional LMS. It’s almost like we need to redefine what an LMS is…

        Yes, it would be nice if Google Classroom had a test function to go alongside the assignment function … but there are so many other options out there for testing. I thought about using Schoology to do tests (and there really are some nice things about Schoology’s tests), but since I’m already set up using Google Forms, I’m going to continue using Google Forms.

        Ultimately, Classroom isn’t a perfect solution. But Classroom knows what it does well — distributing assignments and giving teachers a way to collaborate and give feedback to students — and it does it the best of anybody around, by far! I’m excited to see how Classroom evolves as it enters its second year. But even just a week in, I’m sold on where they’re at, and I’m happy to be on board with where they’re going. 🙂

        • @disqus_XGmWXTIEpk:disqus Very well said! I wrote a similar post when Google Classroom first came out. If teachers are just looking to assign work, have discussions, and are not looking to go fully online, Google Classroom is definitely the best around. I completely understand what you are saying about already being invested in google forms. And would continue it myself, I never used Google forms for quizzes before I used Schoology but I can definitely see the potential there.

          I also liked what you said about it being an LMS. Maybe we do need to redefine if it is an LMS or what an LMS is supposed to be. I think a lot of people still hold LMS to the standard of Blackboard. I am using Classcraft this year and that has an LMS included with it too but by no means would the developers consider Classcraft an LMS, just a place to post quizzes, discussions, and assignments.

          One thing I am anxious to see is how Google Classroom incorporates a parent portal as well. Does having one define Classroom as an LMS? For me, it is a must.

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