Saturday, June 21, 2014

My Google Classroom Thoughts

Over the last couple of days, I've been fortunate to be able to test drive the future release of Google Classroom.  You've seen some advertisements - click here - and you've seen some video reviews - click here.  I thought I would share my initial thought with you.

Google Classroom seems to be very intuitive in it's design and ease of navigation.  It is very easy for a teacher to create a class.  One suggestion I would have is that the teacher name each course uniquely.  If you teach multiple sections of Algebra II, you might consider combining all sections into one course or naming your courses Alg II-1, Alg II-2, and so on.  The section number you place in the name of the course does not get used in the folder creation, just the name.  Here is a picture of how easy it is for teachers or students to add a course.  When a teacher creates a course, it is assigned a course number so students can join using the course number.

Once the students are in the course the teacher has the task of posting announcements or assignments.  This has been made quite easy.  The teacher click a selections, adds the information, and posts.  The teacher can attach files, add materials from their own Google Drive, add videos from YouTube, or add links to other websites.  See below.

When an assignment is created, Google creates a folder in the teacher's drive (an in the student) for each assignment.  The teacher's drive has a new classroom folder and inside it, a new folder for each class, and inside it, a folder for each assignment.  This helps with the organization of the teacher's documents being turned in and distributed.  Google names the folders with the course name, so pay attention to what the name of you course is - name wisely.

As assignments are created, the teacher will have choices as to how to give visibility of the materials. If the teacher wants each student to have their own, they can distribute copies to each student, or they can make things viewable or editable.  Google is great about ease of choice.  It is a pull-down menu right where the materials are chosen.

When the students do their work, they can easily submit to the teacher.  The teacher then has a an update on their class timeline, with how many have completed and how many have not, as well as, having a sheet with a list of students and their status.  This is where the teacher can add grades, comments, and email the students directly from a class roster.

There are a couple of features I'd like to see, but for organization and distribution, Google Classroom seems to be a good starting place for Google.  It is not a full LMS, it is just an straightforward way for teachers to work with students.  It is not a grade book, your grades must be moved to your current grading program.  My guess is that Google will add features and this project will grow into quite a nice, easy, and functional way for teachers to utilize Google in the classroom.  

I can't wait for this to come out in the fall.  I think teachers will find it quite useful.