Google Classroom. No. I never received an invite. But I forgive you.
Curse you Google.
I have consistently pledged my allegiance. Starting with Search, jumping into Google Earth, then Drive, and continuing through Google Plus and Hangouts, I’ve been a fan. Even when you discontinued Notebook, Wave, and Reader, I stuck around. (Okay. I’m actually fine with your Wave decision. That was not the best use of your 20% creative time.)
So I was a bit dismayed that I haven’t yet received my invite to Google Classroom. Seriously? Where’s the love?
Of all of the present and past Google Tools, Classroom seems like one that could be incredibly useful for teachers. And I’ve been waiting all summer for my beta invite. But all is forgiven. Starting this week, Google Classroom is open to all users of Google Apps for Education.
If you haven’t been waiting all summer like me, you may not know much about Classroom. Think of a simple marriage between Edmodo and Facebook, add a direct connection to Google Drive shared folders, and you get an idea of what Classroom looks like.
According to CNET,
Google Classroom is an online tool which integrates Google Drive, Docs, and Gmail in order to encourage teachers to use the services for assigning and collecting work online, as well as boosting communication channels for teachers and students in and outside of the classroom. Classroom is offered as part of the Google Apps for Education suite.
The tool allows educators to assign and collect work, view who has and has not tackled an assignment, make announcements, and create separate Drive folders for each student. In addition, in a similar way to Google+, students can post to a “stream” of content to connect with other classmates. The part I like? It’s ad-free. It also seems to work well on mobile devices.
And because I must have missed my invite somewhere in my Spam folder, I haven’t had a ton of time to mess with it. But Dan McDowell from Grossmont Union HS District has already jumped feet first and has posted some very useful screencasts that walk you through Classroom step by step. You can get simple YouTube playlist here.
There are tons of Learning Management Systems out there. Many of them are actually useful. But very few are practical. The interface is confusing. Setup is difficult. Communicating with students isn’t easy. Google Classroom seems like a tool that solves those sorts of problems. If you and your school is using Google Apps for Educators, Classroom is a no brainer.