I have had some time to spend looking at the Google Classroom preview since I was lucky enough to be invited to take part. I have found a number of things, some good and some bad. The main point however is that this is a game changer, it links flawlessly into Drive, allows a workflow which is childs play and gives an interface which is attractive and easy to use. Carry on reading to find out the rest…
The first thing that I found was that I was unable to log in to classroom, but you can solve that little problem pretty quickly, and you can read more about that here.
Once you are in you get a splash screen which welcomes you an encourages you to make your first class. This is the only time that you are going to see this screen, from this point onwards, you are presented with your classes shown as a collection of boxes
You can alter the colour, the name and the section (so in this example I have Test Class as the name and the section as 400, this would be if you had more than one group, or a group code), it also shows you here if you have upcoming assignments and provides a link to the class folder within Google Drive.
Clicking on the class takes us into the class and allows us to give announcements, provide assignments and to give out the class code so that students can join by visiting classroom.google.com signing in with their Google Apps account (they have to be on the same domain as the teacher at the moment) and entering their class code.
You can also see that we get to see sample assignments that are due today, and that we can click on the Students tab at the top to see the students that are registered, and we can also manually add students within our Google Apps domain here.
For each assignment, students are given the option to create a new document, or attach something that they have made in Drive or that they have on their computer. This is where the workflow become a lot simpler.
So by clicking on create assignment we get a window into which we can type our assignment, set a due date and time and attach a range of files, from our computer, from Drive or from YouTube.
Once the assignment is assigned it appears in your assignments list and in the students assignment list. Once the student logs in they will see that they have an assignment and they will be able to complete it.
Here we can see that the assignment is open, it is due on the 20th August and we also have an option to share a comment with our class or with the teacher. We can then click on the assignment to complete it.
So we can see here that I have already sent a comment to this student asking them if they are struggling. The student can reply, or they can choose to Add, Create, Turn in, or simply comment. When we click Add as a student we get a range of options of Drive files. This will create a new file in the students drive and allow them to complete their assignment.
Here you can se that I have written my short story for my teacher, I can use editing, suggested edits, or add comments, and I can also save my document for later, change the sharing settings, or simply ‘Turn In’. The Turn In feature allows students to submit this document to their teacher as their assignment, it simplifies the workflow and only appears when students are in a document that originated from an assignment window.
Once the assignment is turned in, you can no longer edit it, but the teacher can re-enable editing by changing the sharing settings in the document.
As a Teacher the assignment now shows that 1 assignment has been turned in and that I can view it and grade it. The first time I looked at this view I was a little confused, but you need to click on the writing in the middle which is green, this will expand the view for the student allowing you to see their submissions.
Here we can see before the submission, and now after…
Now by clicking on ‘No Grade’ I can assign a grade out of the maximum that is chosen in the Points box at the top of the screen.
Clicking on the check box next to the student and clicking return, brings up the return assignment pop up box, which allows us to return the assignment to the student, for their mark to appear and enables them to resubmit the assignment.
Students also get a view which allows them to see their assignments and their current grades. By clicking on the three lines at the top of the screen, they open a menu which gives them access to their assignments.
All in all I think that there is a lot of promise in Google Classroom, there are some kinks which need to be ironed out, and there are missing features such as being able to schedule a post, or being able to edit a grade once it has been returned to a student. There is also no central markbook, so for those of you used to using Edmodo, you might not want to jump ship quite yet if you use the gradebook feature a lot.
If you want to find out more about classroom, or register for the preview, visit http://classroom.google.com