The digital transformation in schools makes them become more and more paperless; teachers have to start finding new solutions to manage their classroom, to communicate with students and to hand out assignments. Some of them found the right solution with Google Classroom, a free web service for classrooms, schools and educational institutes who have a personal Google Account. Let’s learn more about it.
What is Google Classroom?
Google Classroom makes it easy for students and teachers to connect and communicate, inside and outside of schools. It is a very intuitive free application – designed by Google and released on August 12, 2014 as a feature of the G Suite for Education – that helps instructors to create, organize, manage and distribute assignments in a paperless way.
Google Classroom combines Google Docs, Sheets and Slides for content writing, Google Drive for assignment creation and distribution, Google Calendar for scheduling, and Gmail for communications.
As reported by eLearningIndustry, which tested and made a review of Google Classroom, there are many positive aspects in the app. Among these, the best are:
- ease of use;
- universal device accessibility;
- paperless process (end of printing, handing out, losing work);
- quick content sharing;
- fast feedback system between students and teachers.
Google Classroom is full of surprises and, above all, it is completely free! No pro version is required to access premium features, no mandatory subscription after a free trial period, nothing at all.
Things you can do with Google Classroom
Digital learning improves educators’ ability to communicate, plan and teach, and Google Classroom is one of those advancements that contribute to these progress.
If you’ve never used Google Classroom, here you can find a list of things you can do with it.
Add and share announcements and material
With Google Classroom you can give your students announcements about your lessons, adding learning materials in the announcements. Your students will find everything quickly, without the risk of losing important documents or information. It is simple: you can add any materials from a Google Drive that is connected to the Google Classroom lesson concerned, you can upload files and images, videos from Youtube, and any other link you think could be useful for your students.
Add and grade assignments
After you added an announcement, you can go on adding an assignment to your course, following the same procedure but with a plus. When you add an assignment, in fact, you can set a due date that will notify your students when they have to make it, and it will also appear in their Google Calendar.
Once your students have handed an assignment, you can check it and grade it. Google Classroom offers you the opportunity to use a dedicated “feedback room”, so you can comment your students’ work and then send the assignment back to them.
Manage your students
Even your students can have the possibility to share comments and questions, but you will be in charge of managing permissions, giving them the opportunity to post and comment, only comment, or nothing at all.
If you want, you can also contact your students individually, through a dedicated email.
Add a co-teacher
If you’re working with a colleague on the same group of students, you can add a co-teacher to your Google Classroom course. Co-teachers can do anything the teacher can do, but they can’t delete a class. Do you want to have your colleague at your side in Google Classroom? Simply add him through the “About” menu and click “Invite Teachers”.
Keep parents in the loop
Google Classroom offers the “Invite Guardians” option, a link next to any student’s name that allows teachers to add his parents (or “guardians”). Once you added them, they will receive email summaries about learning activities, progress, upcoming work and so on.
Simple tips to begin using Google Classroom
Google Classroom is a very simple and intuitive solution to exploit the potential of the digital transformation for an educational purpose. If you have decided to start your Google Classroom experience, here you will find some tips to start the journey.
Set up you Google Classroom teacher account
Go to classroom.google.com and start using it by logging in with a G Suite email address; if you prefer, you can use it without “claiming” to use it for education.
Create your class
Choose “Create a class” starting from the “+” button you find in the right upper corner. Fill in some detail information about your class, choose a proper name and section, and then click on “Create”.
Invite your students to your class
Now that your class is ready, you can invite your students. Give them the unique code you can find in your created class: they will use it to sign in the Google Classroom app. You can also invite your students one by one by entering their email address. The tab “Students” will allow you to manage the students’ list.
Create your assignment (or make an announcement)
Go to the “Updates” tab and click on the “+” button at the bottom. Always number your assignments so your students will easily understand which one comes first. When you click on the title of an assignment, you will be able to see if any students have handed it, giving grades and feedback.
Add your lesson materials
You can enrich your assignments by adding some useful lesson material. You can start from your Google Drive account or you can add a YouTube video, a file from your computer, an external link. Choose the function you need clicking beneath the “due date” of the assignment.
Starting from the tab “About” you can also share some material which is not linked to an assignment, like a presentation of your class, some slides, any interesting articles, and more.
Access the Drive folder
When you create a new class, Google Classroom creates a Drive folder for it. To access these folders, you just need to go to all your class tiles; on each tile you will find a folder icon. Click on it and that’s it! Don’t forget that all your students assignments automatically end up in the Google Drive folder: this simplifies your life, because you will find it back whenever you want!