Many of us have been inching our way closer to a paperless classroom for years now, but the limits of current technology haven’t always made that easy or desirable. The release of Google Classroom last year, however, takes us one step closer to that reality by making it significantly easier to manage student work in an online environment.
Perhaps going paperless is nowhere on your personal radar, or perhaps the very thought of it nearly launches you into an angry rant about the good ol’ days. Still, whether or not going paperless is your goal, Google Classroom is an easy and powerful tool that has some features that can be useful for any teacher, and it is worth exploring.
What It’s Not
Firstly, I should point out that I don’t view Google Classroom as a sufficient replacement for a learning management system like Moodle, Edify, or a Google Site. It is not a great place for students to access your classroom resources and it is not easy to organize and customize a Google Classroom page.
What it is
I realize that after hearing that I don’t view it as a good replacement for your Moodle page, some of you may have checked out. You might not even be reading this anymore! You remember how much work it was to get your Moodle site put together and you just don’t have it in you to start all that setup with yet another tool. Well, you’re in luck. Google Classroom will take you all of 5 minutes to set up. Not 5 minutes and then countless hours uploading resources, keeping it all up to date and organized. Just 5 minutes.
Where Google Classroom really shines is as an environment for making announcements, and assigning, collecting and grading student work in a very quick, easy, and intuitive way. It requires very little time and effort and for me the benefits have been huge.
The Best Feature
I won’t get into all the features (there really aren’t that many, actually) but I will highlight one feature that has had a huge impact on the way I manage student work. In creating an assignment, a teacher has the ability to link to a Google doc. If the teacher selects the ‘each student will get a copy’ option on the assignment, when a student clicks to begin the assignment Classroom automatically makes that student
their very own copy of the document. That document is immediately shared with the teacher and is easily accessed either from Google Classroom or from Google Drive (in a new ‘classroom’ folder that is automatically created for both). If you ever have students submitting work via Google Docs, this one feature makes Google Classroom a nearly essential tool.
For more details click on the video tutorials above, or talk to your friendly tech coach. We’d love to help you get started!