Research and exploration of Google Classroom

When it comes to choosing what learning management system, social media or any other tool you want to use with your classroom, the possibilities and choices are not missing. In September 2014, Google were launching there learning management system; Classroom. This service already helps many students and teachers in various ways and I decided to do some research about its different aspects. In my opinion, Classroom’s service is almost impeccable and the reasons to use it are not missing.

First of all, the use of this service is available to all institution registered to Google Apps for Education. It is free, but the institutions have to register. Some service are available without this kind of registration but Google made the process pretty simple and easy to use like pretty much all of their services.

Once the registration and installation process is over, you have access to a very nice interface’s design. The interface is clear, simple and created to help the user focus on productivity rather than distractions. On the official Classroom website, this interesting video is shown to explain how the service works and different things you can do with it.

The simplicity and the extent of possibilities are aspects that i really appreciate from this service.

For teachers of ESL, as well as teachers of other subjects, giving homework online have some advantages on giving paper homework. First, it saves time because the teacher can distribute an homework in one clic, then start correction as soon as students start giving their copy back, and give feedback to all of them out of class time. Also, giving homework online with Google Classroom will make it easier for teachers to organise and have all of their students’ works in one place where it is easy to find what they are looking for. As a student, I think that it can as well save a lot of time and help with organisation. Having a saved copy of everything I have done so far helps me for revision. Also, I can have access to them from different places so I can’t forget them home.

Another aspect that makes the strength of Google Classroom is that it works with others Google Apps for Education. For example, assignments are given on Classroom but done on Google Docs, students are identified by a Gmail address and mailbox, hard copies are saved on Drive. All those apps are very useful each in their own ways and having them automatically working together is useful because teachers and students don’t have to go multiple places online to do what they need. Also, with the Google Apps for Education, teachers can prepare activities and assignments that follow the three competencies targeted by the MELS’s ESL program.

Furthermore, The SAMR Model, designed by Dr. Ruben R. Puentedura explores how the technologies have outcomes on students. He explains how you can evaluate the level on efficiency of an app by looking at what the app allows you to do. The grades are going from Substitution, Augmentation, Modification to Redefinition. On the SAMR scale, Google Classroom would reach the level of Modification because it makes the tasks easier or different, but the hearth of the tasks is the same. For example, communication with the students has always been part of classroom management, but now with new technologies communication is done online by posting message on your class’s page or by sending alert to the cell phones of students.

Last but not least, Google classroom is a good choice because of its availability. There is an app for mobile devices so that you can receive notification and check your assignments from anywhere. It is also a Google service so you can  trust  it. Google has made its name through the years and we know the quality of their service. This is important because you don’t want your classroom to be managed by a software that is buggy or that could crash tomorrow.

Even if this service requires your institution to subscribe, the design of the app, the way it helps organize works and save time, its variety of related educational apps, its outcomes on students and its availability makes this service a great technology to integrate to classrooms.

EDIT(01-04-2015) :

The  learning management system (LMS) Google Classroom  is described by Michael Mussman, an Editor of Forward Thinking, the Ashford University blog, as a nice, user-friendly, convenient addition to the LMS industry.  In his blog article, Mussman explains that the interface is split between announcements and assignments. Attachments like YouTube videos, hyperlinks, or Drive documents can easily be added to your posts. This is observable on the slideshow prepared by Meg Tufano at McDermott MultiMedia Group. Mussman also report in his blog that the commenting system of Google Classroom is greatly developed. For example, students can write comments on a specific point within a picture and teachers can create URL to link back to comment later. In addition, teachers will appreciate how easy it is to create and manage assignments. A list of all assignments is available in one click and how many students turned in each one is displayed.  There is an option that allows teachers to repeat an assignment each week without having to create a new one every time.

More recently, Classroom updated their system and added some new features to it. Aaron Svoboda, of the Nebraska Educational Technology Association, wrote about those new things in his blog article.  In January 2015, the ability to archive classes was added. This ability allows teachers to remove of their home page classes from past semesters and keep them as read-only. Archiving a class will prevent the teacher from posting new assignments and students from turning them in, but the access to resources and works is still possible. Another feature added to upgrade Classroom was the assignment page for teachers. This page allows teachers to see assignment from every classes in one place instead of separate pages for each class and assignment. It is also possible to  »Mark as reviewed » each assignment to move them from the main list to the  »Reviewed » list. This make correction process faster and easier for teachers because they can see what they have done and have to do.

 This is what the assignment page looks like

Benjamin Banneker, a grade six teacher in Cambridge, MA, published a review of Google classroom.  He reported, as other teachers using this system, that he enjoyed the simplicity and usability of the platform. This is something particularly important when teaching to younger children from elementary and middle school.  This teacher explains how he created  several classes per subject. For example, for his math class he created a class consisting of my most advanced math students, a class consisting of students who are on grade-level, and a class consisting of my struggling math students. The reason he did that is that  students enrolled in a class all receive the same assignment so he had to separate the class in order to differentiate work.

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