Google Classroom has become the hub for many teachers around the world.
According to an article on the TechCrunch blog, Classroom usage by teachers, students and administrators grew from 40 million to 150 million users between 2020 and 2021.
That is why, in this article, we are going to explain the meaning of Google Classroom, its most important benefits, how to use it and the most useful Classroom apps.
What is Google Classroom?
Google Classroom is an online platform that allows students and teachers to share a common space to organize and visualize the information and documents of each class.
One of the purposes of Classroom is to connect the Google Drive accounts of the users (students and teachers) with a more friendly and centralized interface where they can obtain ordered information about the class in which they participate.
What is Google Classroom for?
Classroom is a storage and communication space for all participants in a class. Here is a list of the 4 most important benefits of Google Classroom:
1. It saves time and simplifies tasks for teachers
Given its ease of use, both teachers and students can save hours when it comes to preparing, assigning or submitting tests, assignments and grades.
Some advantages of Classroom for teachers:
- Track student progress on the grade sheet.
- Option to export grades to the student information system.
- Space to display test and assignment rubrics.
- Ability to create a bank of key words and concepts used in class.
2. Improved student learning experience
In Classroom, students can replicate the experience they would normally have organizing their educational materials in a physical classroom, now moved to a virtual environment that is more flexible and less complicated to manage.
Some of the benefits of Classroom for students are:
- Option for students to customize access and visibility of their documents.
- Space for the student to view to-do lists and activities.
- Function to recommend citations from hundreds of pages and books that students can use in their work. This function was especially helpful when I needed to write my essays online using different literature sources.
- Option for students to take screenshots and upload evidence of completed assignments.
3. Provides easy-to-use tools
Google Classroom features are not designed for the exclusive use of teachers and students. They can also be leveraged by educational supervisors or administrative staff with certain responsibilities within the educational environment.
This allows them to visualize technical problems and gain insight into the pedagogical performance of the participants in each class.
Some Google Classroom features and tools for monitoring and supervision:
- Administrator panel to investigate events in detail and analyze performance or security issues.
- Access to reports to know and solve errors such as blocking a student’s account.
- Storage capacity to manage educational communities of any size.
4. Offers security and privacy
The issue of privacy in online classes and distance education is a concern for many parents. Many times, they fear that their children’s educational information will be exposed in virtual environments that can harm them.
However, security in Google Classroom is guaranteed by the reputation of Google’s technological ecosystem.
Some data protection measures in Google Classroom are the following:
- Advertising-free system with no risk of using student information to create profiles for advertising purposes.
- Restriction of access to the classroom environment to those who are invited members of the class.
- Respect for global education standards in relation to security and privacy.
- Regular auditing by external organizations with proven reputations.
How to start using Google Classroom?
If you are wondering whether Classroom is free or paid, the answer is a resounding “no”. It means that you can start using Classroom for free.
Thanks to the massive use of Google tools, it is quite likely that you have some Gmail, which means that you have an account on the platform.
If so, apply the following steps to use Classroom for the first time as a teacher.
1. Go to google.classroom.com
When you enter this address, you will see the following image, from where you must choose the account you want to associate with Google Classroom.
2. Choose the type of access to Classroom
Then, you will see a panel to select between two options:
Join class: for students (you need a class code given by the teacher)
Create class: for teachers
3. Define individual use or as part of an educational center
A window will appear for you to choose whether you are going to use Google Classroom as part of your work in a school with students or not.
If the option is the former, then you should leave the box unchecked. If it is the opposite, you must first ask the school where you work for access to the Google Workspace for Education account they have created.
4. Write the class information
At the end, you must write the information of the class you are about to create. You will have to write the name of the class (required), section, subject and Classroom.
5. Google Classroom features
After creating the class, you will have access to the Classroom control panel. This is basically divided into 4 sections visible on the menu at the top of the screen.
What’s new: This space allows you to view the class code, future activities and, above all, to set up a bulletin board in Classroom.
Classwork: Here you can create assignments, quizzes, questions and materials. In addition, you can associate them with Google Calendar and a Google Drive folder.
People: In this section, you can add other teachers and also manage invitations to students in Google Classroom.
Grades: This is where all students’ grades are placed and you can manage access for students to view them.
Google Classroom integrations
This Google educational platform, which is part of the educational section of Google Worspace, offers a simple interface with the minimum functions required by students and teachers to manage classroom assignments and activities.
However, depending on the functions you need as a teacher, it is likely that you will require integrations to enhance the potential of Google Classroom.
Here is a list of some of the best applications for Classroom:
Schoolitycs: This is a tool that allows you to collect information about the student’s learning process, connecting data between Google Drive, Classroom, Meet and the proposed activities.
Hapara: Offers a dashboard with a mobile interface that responds to students’ needs by linking their Gmail, Classroom and Meet accounts.
Listenwise: Provides a collection of podcasts and radio programs to promote audio-based learning.
Quizlet: Allows you to create different learning materials for free and easily, such as flashcards and interactive games.
Nearpod: Offers the option of creating videos, images, surveys, quick quizzes and even web content.
Plagiarism Check: Provides the possibility of detecting redundancies and literal copies of texts and allows you to enrich your work with synonyms or word reordering.
Disadvantages of Google Classroom
Although the advantages of Classroom are varied and quite convenient, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect.
There are some negative aspects of Classroom that may lead to think about more powerful or more complex alternatives for a classroom.
Among the most important, there are 3 disadvantages of Google Classroom that stand out:
1. Need for Google account.
Each user needs to have their own Google account to join Google Classroom. That is, it is not possible to join without an account, as it is possible in other platforms that do not require registration.
2. No video service
Although it may seem like it, Google Classroom does not deploy an option for video conferencing, so useful for online teaching. What you can do is connect to tools such as Google Meet or external companies to start a video call.
3. Difficulties for external users
In Google Classroom, connecting with users who are not part of a class is quite difficult. If parents of students need access to their children’s grades, there is a somewhat complex process to allow them access.
As you have noticed in this article, the possibilities and options of Google Classroom are diverse. It is a platform that, being free, already offers many features that facilitate classroom management for the teacher and participation for the student.
The fact that it belongs to the Google Workspace ecosystem (formerly Google Suite) means that you can take advantage of all the Google tools.
And Google Classroom, as part of Google Workspace for Education, certainly reflects this feature very well in the collaborative relationship between student and teacher.
Now that online education has gained popularity, it is clear that platforms like Google Classroom are powerful alternatives for learning.
We hope this article has helped you to learn how Google Classroom works, the benefits it offers and, of course, its disadvantages.
Do not stop your professional growth!