The guest post below is on behalf of edtech enthusiast Alice Keeler. Alice Keeler is a Google Certified Teacher, New Media Consortium K12 Ambassador, Microsoft Innovative Educator and LEC Admin & Online and Blended certified. To learn more, check out Alice Keeler’s Teacher Tech blog at alicekeeler.com or follow her on Twitter @alicekeeler
Google Classroom is a new tool for use in schools. While mistaken for a Learning Management System (LMS), Google Classroom is more of a file management system. Classroom simplifies the distribution and collection process of student work. The teacher is able to compile a collection of documents, videos and resource links into an assignment. The students can view the document, edit the document, or receive a copy of the document depending on the settings set by the teacher.
Restricted to the Domain
Google Docs are both COPPA and FERPA compliant when using a Google Apps for Education (GAfE) account. Google Classroom restricts participation in the environment to staff and students on the domain. Under GAfE students and teachers are given a Google account login that is specific to the school’s domain. This may look something like firstname.lastname@example.org. Students and teachers would need to be logged into and utilize their GAfE accounts to participate in the Classroom environment. This protects student information from outside users since regular Gmail accounts or other GAfE accounts from different schools could not be added into a teacher’s Classroom.
Prior to Google Classroom teachers had to figure out potentially complicated workflows for having students receive assignments and turn in work. Placing a Google document in a common folder and relying on students to locate the file and make a copy of it. The teacher lacked a record of who had made the copy and relied on the student to properly share the document to turn it back in. Turn in procedures may have included creating a universal folder with each student having rights to add into the class Google Drive folder. This allowed students to see, and potentially copy, the work of other students. Alternatively a separate folder might have been created per student. This then required the teacher to go into each student’s folder individually to locate a students completed work.
Google Classroom eliminates all of these issues by allowing the teacher to create an assignment that consists of a Google Doc template. This template is replicated for each student in the class automatically. The students will be able to easily access their copy both in Google Classroom and in a folder in Google Drive. This file is not shared with the other students in the class.
For each assignment a folder is created that contains all of the students files for that assignment. This allows the teacher to have one location to find the files but not worry about students accessing the work of other students.
One system for distributing collaborative Google documents to students is to post a link to the document on the class website. This would allow anyone who has access to the class website to have access to the work and information of students in the class. Instead, teachers can direct students to go to http://classroom.google.com to locate the collaborative document.
One of the options in Google Classroom is to share a document with students so that they have editing access. Sharing a Google Slides presentation allows each student to create their own slide in a single presentation. The link to this document is protected within Classroom, thus student work is not linked publicly on a teachers website.
An additional feature of Google Classroom is the ability for students to receive feedback and to respond to the feedback. This feedback is not publicly posted. When a teacher leaves comments in the Google Doc, that document is potentially shared with other students who would have access to those comments. Google Classroom allows for back and forth between the teacher and student but not reveal these comments to classmates.
Embedded within each assignment or announcement is the ability to comment or ask questions that are viewable by the class. These comments are not visible to people outside of the class, thus protecting students and making this a safe place to ask a question. Responses to a question can come from the instructor or another student. Since these comments are open to the entire class, everyone benefits from the question and the answer.
For more tips on successfully using Google in your school, check out our Mastering Google in the Classroom eBook. (It features Alice Keeler so you know it’s good!)