Google manages your classroom
Google Classroom is a free education tool from Google that simplifies the process of creating, distributing, and grading assignments. With 40-100 million users worldwide, the app integrates Google Documents, Sheets, Slides, Gmail, and Calendar into one cohesive platform.
Students can join classes via private code. Anyone with an account can manage streamlined student-and-teacher communication with ease and reliability.
A free and familiar LMS
At its core, Google Classroom is a learning management system (LMS). It aims to make accessible, useful tools that are compatible on desktop, iOS, and Android. The app complements online learning every step of the way and on any level of education. The incorporation of ubiquitous Google facilities like Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides transforms Google Classroom into an intuitive conglomerate that makes the most of familiar tools.
While its immediate familiarity is one of the app’s strengths, you may consider it an unfortunate roadblock: If you’re new to Google, the software may be confusing. There are several icons, for example, that only Google users would immediately recognize. It also means that you’ll be using YouTube for video sharing, as support for other tools is not built-in. Word documents will need to be converted to Google Docs.
Assuming familiarity with Google products, however, teachers will find that Classroom makes it easy to manage lesson plans and assignments within the Google ecosystem. Classes are divided into separate folders in the user’s Drive, and the teacher can monitor each student’s progress. It’s also a smart financial move, because it cuts back on paper and resource costs.
Save money, save time
The constant printing (and often reprinting) of worksheets, calendars, homework packets, tests, reports, and more is a major budget-eaters for teachers and other administrators. Classroom makes much of this process paperless, meaning that not only are you saving money, you’re saving time printing - and reducing the chance of students losing material. Classroom also helps keep any assignments organized, which students have turned in.
Having everything on file makes it much simpler for teachers to navigate assignment records, confirming who has yet to turn in their work on time, and whether students have acknowledged or made any revisions to their work. Each class created with Google Classroom creates a separate folder in the respective user's Google Drive, where the student can submit work to be graded by a teacher.
Since Classroom is part of the vast Google suite, the tool is both easy to use (assuming both the teacher and student are relatively familiar with the corresponding Google programs), and universally accessible. Google Classroom can incorporate Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Forms, Google Sites, Gmail, and more together - a functioning, paperless ecosystem that maximizes efficiency and works intuitively.
Google Classroom is easy for teachers to set up. Adding students is as simple as inviting them through either the database used by either the school or non-profit. A private code is then automatically imported from the school domain or you can add it in the student’s user interface. As with many modern remote teaching tools, teachers can also just choose to share a code or link so the whole class can join.
Once the class is in session, Google Classroom has a variety of tools to help keep students on track and engaged. Teachers can send announcements directly through the interface or kick off a group discussion with no preparation. Students can share photos, videos, and other class materials amongst themselves, or answer questions on the stream. You can even use it to remind students of due dates, set up class speakers, and arrange field trips.
Your data stays protected
Google Classroom is free and open for anyone with a Google account to access and begin using. Being under the might of the Google banner means that it takes its safety and security seriously too. One way it achieves this is by only allowing a class to be created when a school or university has signed up for a free G Suite for Education account.
In this regard, the institution is the one that gets to make the decision regarding which services students will have access to. Each user has a unique sign-in that keeps their personal accounts secure, protecting student privacy and restricting Classroom activity to only people within the class. Student data is never kept or used for advertising purposes.
Google Classroom is ad-free and comes with a suite of privacy personalization options. There’s a variety of security settings the host can manually adjust. Students cannot use their personal accounts to access the service. Rather, the accounts are set up for students beforehand. This limits access to the virtual space, keeping it secure.
Google Calendar vs. Canvas
Google Classroom is one of the simplest, streamlined solutions for classroom management, but it isn’t the only option. There are other Learning Management Systems on the market, such as TalentLMS, SAP Litmos, and especially Canvas. Compared to Google Classroom, Canvas provides a more feature-packed experience. These include the exporting of created and curated content year-to-year, as well as more direct online class discussions.
While it may have more features, Canvas is not as user-friendly as Google Classroom. Its familiar UI makes the latter option more intuitive. Teachers have enough to worry about without having to scale the steeper learning curve of Canvas, particularly if they’re simply looking for an easy, reliable means to virtually organize their classes. Unlike Google Classroom, Canvas isn’t free.
The short answer for how Google Classroom stacks up to the competition is this: It is a more bare-bones LMS. As such, it only takes about half an hour to learn. If you have a personal Google account, you might figure it out faster than that. Classroom is to the LMS market as Windows Defender is to antivirus software; it might not offer the winning features of the competition, but it works - and it’s free.
Connect, organize, and move forward
Google Classroom is an efficient and easy way to manage online learning and remote studying. Totally free, it is the face of the G suite for education, as it makes the most of the incorporation of its broad ecosystem of tools. Docs, Slides, Sheets, Gmail and more are seamlessly integrated to round out an LMS both accessible and flexible. It’s not a full classroom replacement, but if you’re dealing with a limited budget or infrastructure, it's a solid choice.