Google Classroom is a free web service developed by Google for schools that aims to simplify the creation, distribution and grading of assignments in a paperless way. The primary purpose of Google Classroom is to streamline the process of sharing files between teachers and students.
The program combines Google Drive for assignment creation and distribution, Google Docs, Sheets and Slides for writing, Gmail for communication, and Google Calendar for scheduling. Students can be invited to join a class through a private code, or be automatically imported from a school domain. Each class creates a separate folder in the respective user’s drive, where the student can submit work to be a graded by a teacher. Mobile apps, available for iOS and Android devices, let users take photos and attach to assignments, share files from other apps, and access information offline. Teachers can monitor the progress for each student, and after being graded, teachers can return work, with comments.
Google Classroom is an example of Learning Software, which aims to harness the power of technology to make the learning experience of students deeper, and to enhance the relationship between teachers and learners.
The main benefits of such programs are:
- Learning software make teaching and learning more interesting and goal orientated.
- Learning software develops interest and curiosity among the learners.
- Programs can save the teaching and learning time of teachers and students.
- Such software programs can save the efforts, time, and resources of the schools.
- Learning software can be used in every school subject area.
- It enables the academic performance of students to be checked.
- Students’ records can be maintained.
- It stimulates the thinking and senses of the learners.
What’s in it for Google?
As the program is a free app, the question might be asked as to what is in it for Google? The answer is simple. The company regards it as a long-term investment because it gets children and teenagers used to using their products. They, in turn, will grow-up more likely to be consumers of their paid products and services in future.
Ten benefits of using Google Classroom
There are a number of benefits for students, teachers and parents from using Google Classroom.
1. No more piles of paper
As everything is online, there is no longer any need for teachers and students to carry piles of paper around with them everywhere.
2. Easy Assignment management
Google Classroom makes it much easier to keep track of assignments, and to follow-up with students who are missing work. Everything is timestamped, so late work is easily identifiable.
3. See Real-Time Progress
Google Classroom makes it easy to check in on student work. From the Student Work screen, a teacher can click on any student’s assignment thumbnail to view real-time progress. From there, it is easy to provide targeted feedback using the comment feature in Docs or Slides. They can use the handy revision history feature to track changes since their last view, which also allows then to see how productive a particular student was during class time.
4. Work is never lost
Since Google apps are cloud-based, work in Google Classroom saves automatically and is accessible from any device. Students can work seamlessly wherever they are, without worrying about flash drives, emailing files back and forth, or losing progress due to computer malfunction.
5. Mobile App
With the mobile app, both students and teachers can enjoy the full functionality of Google Classroom on a mobile device. Students receive notifications on their phone when assignments and announcements are posted, making it easy for students to stay on top of classroom happenings. It also means teachers can post from their phones.
6. View all work by a single student on one screen
Teachers can view a single list of an individual student’s work from the entire year. This means they have easy access to all the work from every student all year long, which is ideal for student and parent-teacher meetings, and departmental reviews.
7. Facilitates online discussions and questions
The “Create Question” feature of Google Classroom enables a teacher to post a question to the classroom stream. It can be set to private so that they can only see the responses, or they can allow students to respond to one another.
8. Keep Families Informed
Guardian Summaries will send families a weekly overview of a classroom stream, including announcements and assignment due dates. It will also show if a student is missing any work.
9. Differentiate Instructions
When creating an assignment, teachers have the option of sending it to the whole class or individual students. This means they can easily differentiate instructions, materials and due dates without having to single anyone out.
10. It is constantly improving
Google Classroom is constantly improving based on the feedback of its users, which they can submit anytime in real time on the screen.
Alternatives to Google Classroom
There are a number of alternatives to Google Classroom. Amongst the best are:
Blackboard Learn is an interactive learning management system (LMS) suitable for schools, higher-education universities, and a number of other learning environments.
The suite features content authoring and virtual classroom capabilities, along with certification management, extended enterprise, and social learning functionality. Available either in managed hosting, self-hosting or software-as-a-service (SaaS) deployments, Blackboard Learn also works on mobile devices so learners can access courses on the go.
The system features an in-system calendar so that users know due dates, along with an activity stream so important messages, projects, and courses that need attention surface to the top.
Canvas is a cloud-based learning management system (LMS) suitable for schools and higher education institutes. Canvas learning platform offers core LMS functionality including online grade books, testing, course authoring and integration with other teaching tools. Over two hundred learning tools allow teachers to customise courses and monitor engagements with their class or individual students.
Edmodo is a cloud-based learning management application for teachers to connect and collaborate with parents and students.
The program allows teachers to create academic groups, distribute assignments and homework, schedule online tests and track student performance. Edmodo also offers collaborative tools for students to post questions conduct polls and interact with each other. Teachers can award certificates and badges to students based on their performance in online tests and exams.
The snapshot feature allows teachers to monitor academic progress, track student performance and view upcoming sessions. Parents can also register with Edmodo and track the academic progress of their child in real time. With Edmodo, educators can categorise their content and can also sell premium educational content and request information from students or parents.
Moodle is a free, open-source learning management system (LMS) available to users in corporate and academic settings. It allows course administrators to extend users’ education beyond the classroom or office. Private websites can be created and customised to include dynamic courses that engage learners and allow their progress to be tracked and reported.
The program includes customisable themes and a wide range of modules and features. Individual learners can be tested through assignments and quizzes, and collaboration can be promoted through user-generated wikis, workshops and forums.
Schoology is a cloud-based learning management solution specialising in curriculum management, course instruction and system-wide resource sharing and collaboration.
Users can upload course content and assignments into the database to create their website, which is hosted by the vendor.
Tools are used to keep lessons as visually simple or complex as desired. From the website, each student’s profile can be viewed to gauge progress. Colour-coded workload thresholds will show if any students are overloaded.