What’s in your classroom: Is Google Classroom ready to take over?

Google Classroom, Google’s tool for managing, sharing and collaboration in your classroom, has had an important update in the last month. A teacher can now assign a task to specific students, something we can all do ‘in real life’ but teachers who have found Google Classroom to be a time-saving effective tool for sharing content and accessing work have been calling for this feature for some time. To see the other updates, including usage statistics in admin panel click here.

When I presented a Google Classroom session for the first time at an Appsevents summit it solved many problems for teachers who already used Google Drive with their classes but those using Edmodo, Hapara Teacher Dashboard, Moodle liked the interface and usability but when they asked if it:

  • Can share information with parents like show my homework
  • Sync with markbooks like…
  • Work on iOS and Android
  • Annotate student work like…

It didn’t, but it does now! What we have learnt is that the feedback button was worth pressing. Google’s team of project managers and developers read every piece of feedback and have aggregated the main requests to regularly improve the product based on user’s requests. If you appreciate being able to sort by first and last name, you’re welcome.

All the items I listed in my training slides that Classroom couldn’t do have consistently been crossed off. Third party tools have made Classroom even more effective, more and more of your favourite web tools and apps work seamlessly with Classroom. Here are a few of my own favourites:

  • Geogebra
  • Share to Classroom
  • Desmos (sort of)
  • Peardeck
  • Smartamp
  • Texthelp

More and more providers of educational tools are taking advantage of the API access to integrate their tools with Classroom so your favourite may be linked soon if it is not already. Check out the ones that do here.

For admins, some who eagerly await more integration with the tools teachers want to use, others who have used a lack of integration as a reason to deny teachers use of it, there are now ways to sync users, create classrooms for the whole school and monitor usage. Parents can get updates on assignments and a calendar is created for every class.

Chromebooks are getting android apps and a stylus to make it even easier for teachers to annotate work submitted, which for me leave one last request…

Google, please can you develop Google drawings to work seamlessly with touchscreen, stylus and interactive whiteboards?

Ben Rouse, 2017

For schools looking to harness technology for learning, can they really look much further than GSuite and Chromebooks?




Going Google – Google Classroom Review

I started to write this post a few weeks ago…

  • You can’t share a class between two teachers
  • There is no gradebook created for each class
  • Formative assessment is a bit of a work around
  • We can’t use our class groups to add a whole class to a classroom
  • It doesn’t link assignments to calendar

Since I started it some things have changed with Google Classroom. The feedback button worked!

  • You can’t share a class between two teachers
  • You can now download all assignment grades (not a ‘gradebook’ but something you can use in that way)
  • Formative assessment is a bit of a work around (doctopus and goobric can be used for formative feedback and grading)
  • You can now
  • It doesn’t link assignments to calendar
I was sitting in a Swedish airport when I took this screenshot.
I was sitting in a Swedish airport when I took this screenshot.

I have enjoyed using Google Classroom with my classes because:

I can share with my class in one place and they have started to have conversations about the work and students from my class are answering each other’s questions.

I get a copy of a template document created for every student with the same naming convention.

I set homework that doesn’t need to be handed in during a lesson. I can set a deadline for a day before our lesson and plan for that lesson based on their actual strengths and weaknesses.

It is easy to learn so other teachers can get started quickly. Here are the slides from my training session on Google Classroom. When I run the session it is a hands-on hour where delegates join my classroom as students before developing their own. You will not be able to do this via the link but I would happily discuss providing training for a group of teachers.

Note: Google Classroom is only available to educational organisations that have Google Apps for Education (GAfE) accounts. If you don’t they are free to set up. You can read about my own school’s journey transitioning to Google Apps here.

If you are looking to “Go Google” then you can get training from Google Education Trainers, who can train staff and students and help guide you on a strategy for effective implementation.





Google Classroom – an overview

Google have taken on board feedback from teachers about using Google Apps and have created a tool to tidy up sharing with your classes and administering assignments and marking online.

Here are a selection of posts, videos and links that provide you with everything you need to know to use Classroom effectively in your schools.

Setup for GAfE Admins:

Google’s full help guide can be found here but I have found Ziggy Dzeigman and Michael Fricano II to be most helpful via the Google Classroom community on Google+

Resources for Training and Supporting Teachers to get started.

This is a pretty comprehensive video that guides you through creating classes and adding assignments.


Training Materials

Appsevent’s Sarah Wood has created a six part blog to guide you through Classroom.

Carolyn Wendell was part of the Google Classroom team and she shared some training materials to help deliver training to teachers.

Kasey Bell has contributed a number of resources to a Pinterest board on Google Classroom

This could be the only printing you need to do all year!

What it doesn’t do…yet

All users have to be on the same domain. (teachers.domain.com and students.domain.com would not currently work but this seems to be something Google are looking into)

Adding groups via their email address (I have not been able to add students in one go using classcode@domain.com but hopefully this will be resolved soon.

Grading is only summative but formative grading can be applied in other ways. I tried to summarise this in a video but I think it might be a bit too swift. The idea is that is tracks an assignment transferring from teacher to students and vice versa.

Comparisons to other LMS (Learning Management Systems)

Google Apps for Education is free so that gives it a significant advantage to start with even if you haven’t realised that the tools provide a fabric for learning better than other technology available to schools. However, to make the process of using GAfE seamless there are a range of free and paid for additions you can add to Google Apps to make it work even better. On the initial announcement of Google Classroom questions were asked about whether it was the end for these tools. The developers and users of these tools have been quick to dispell this idea. Here are a couple of posts to help you get an idea of the arguments.

Andrew Stillman explains his view for Classroom and Doctopus etc. here.

Hapara’s Teacherdashboard is an impressive management system for Google Drive. Here is their own take on Google Classroom.

As I get the chance to work with my colleagues I hope to feedback on the impact of using Google Classroom in our school and add it to the “Going Google at my school” series.



Ben Rouse