With schools closing for the foreseeable future all around the world education is being jeopardized by the coronavirus pandemic. Many students will not see their teachers for months on end and they are missing out on crucial learning. Enter Google Classroom; a virtual teaching platform for students and teachers.
Google Classroom may not replace a modern curriculum, but it can work as a great asset to teachers for sharing materials, distributing assignments and marking work. It works best when used in collaboration with G Suite Education and Google Hangouts.
A online vault of productivity tools for schoolteachers and students alike
Classroom in the cloud
Google Classroom is the latest weapon in the G Suite arsenal. For teachers working remotely or students unable to get to class this online tool is a wealth of resources for studying from home.
This program is simple to set up and easy to navigate. If you have a Gmail account simply login through your email address. If you are a student, you simply paste in the code for your online lesson. Teachers will need to create their own classroom. You can choose the name, upload a photo or select a theme. From here, you will set assignments, communicate with your students and mark homework.
Unlike more a management oriented LMS (Learning Management System), Google Classroom is really aimed at facilitating learning. It does this well through easy access to assignments, sharing of educational material between students and teachers and the simple upload of files.
For users who are already deeply embedded within the Google sphere then Google Classroom is a seamless move. Teachers can organize their syllabus in Google Sheets, students can write an assignment in Google Docs, and both can present topics using Google Slides.
Where can you run this program?
You will need some sort of Google account (either a Gmail or G Suite for Education) in order to start your Google Classroom. Students can submit work in other formats (Microsoft Word documents or PowerPoint presentations).
From the teachers’ perspectives however this makes the internal commenting more complicated. Google Classroom could save some precious teaching time by accentuating the benefit of uploading directly through one of the Google tools.
Is there a better alternative?
Google Classroom is great – but not perfect. One other chink in the Google Classroom chainmail is that the code needed to start or access a class can be used by anyone. There is no 2FA (two factor authentication) meaning that should a student “accidentally” share the code classrooms could be easily disrupted with spam. Also, an in-built Plagiarism checker would be useful (Grammar.ly is to be incorporated into the platform so this could be in the pipeline).
As society moves online so there is huge competition for learning platforms. Worthy contenders include Moodle, Schoology, and Blackboard. Canva also has a learning section for upcoming designers and graphic artists. For virtual “face-to-face” learning Zoom is also leading the race for high quality video calls.
Should you download it?
Google Classroom cannot replace modern education – nor is it claiming to. It is however a great temporary band-aid for the conventional classroom and student-teacher relationship. It enhances home productivity and it is a goldmine of resources for students and teachers alike. Do sign up and start or join your first class!