Google Classroom, so far

Posted: December 6, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

So, I’ve been thinking about Google Classroom. Since we already use Moodle and I had set up folders in Google drive for my students, I have to admit I was skeptical as to just how useful it would be.

Oh, it is useful.

My Google Classroom homepage

My Google Classroom homepage

As a school, we use Moodle, and Classroom is not a replacement for all things Moodle. Yet. There’s a lot I use Moodle to do, and I don’t use it to its full potential, but it’s just not attractive in any way. Classroom lists assignments in a stream. Each assignment can have documents associated with it. These documents can be viewable to students, editable by students, or, and this is the big one, copied and distributed to students. Or, students can create and upload their own documents. So classroom manages document collection and distribution. When it creates a copy of a document for students, it names it with a standard naming convention. I know Doctopus made this possible too, but with Classroom there is no extra script and the students see the assignments listed and organized in the stream, like Edmodo. I see the documents organized by assignment. In addition, it also lets me manage editing rights on the various assignments very easily. There are plenty of videos out there explaining how to set up and use Classroom. I won’t reinvent that wheel.

I found it interesting that several folks in #1to1techat on 11/19/14 were dismissive of Classroom. The complaint being that it is not a tool that fundamentally changes education for students. Fair enough. It is a very structured, teacher driven tool.  And, it’s very useful for organizing document distribution and collection. For teachers in the classroom, in many classrooms, with many students, a tool that is well designed, easy to use, and does something useful is a win. It is not high up on the SAMR model for sure. What it is doing is helping teachers manage practical tasks. It’s a facilitator.

As a teach coach, I’m supposed to be a facilitator too. I want to help both kinds of people in the classroom: students and teachers. Very few teachers’ class size is getting smaller, hence facilitating organization can go a long way. Very few kids are coming to class more organized than they used to, they’ve got so much going on, another chance to facilitate organization.

Sharing something that is useful and easy to learn means I will be able to share it widely. I also can feel confident that teachers will have some early success. Quick success with a tech tool that proved useful for the teacher means that next time I can come in with something that is much more disruptive to status quo education for students. One of my main tasks as a tech coach is to support teachers in their personal path towards more substantial and authentic tech integration. So my first step is to get a teacher thinking positively about the potential of integrating technology. No one is moving up the SAMR model if he or she technology integration is going to destroy education. Unless a teacher has a growth mindset, I can suggest or offer to help all I want. It’s just me beating my head against the wall. Besides the ugly bruises, it gets demoralizing.

Clasrroom gets even better. My friend @TeacherDebra shared this video by @MsMagiera with me. The video demonstrates how to integrate Classroom with Doctopus and Goobric for a truly amazing workflow situation. Again, I will not reinvent the wheel. Just watch the video. It’s worth the 10 minutes and then some.

Did you watch? Seriously, if you didn’t, watch it. And, the spreadsheet with the links to all the documents gets even better. The program adds another sheet with all the names listed and the scores by rubric category and comments. Any tool that is going to organize student work, student data, and not make me sweat about it, that’s a tool I’m going to use again and again. I have shared this video with a number of teachers and the response has been universally positive. Just yesterday I showed the very tech savvy @inveterategeek this combo and in moments, she knew with how she could use it in her very student driven, differentiated, standards based grading physics class.

Now, I’m thinking what else should Classroom do for me? Here’s my idea. I am already thinking about snow days. I love them. And, we had so many last year that it was a problem. What I want is for classroom and Google Hangouts on Air to snuggle up together. They’re family already. I would like to be able to set up a hangout in classroom which would automatically invite all the students as participants not just viewers. Then, once the hangout is over, the link to the recording would be in the stream in classroom for anyone to view. Seriously how hard would that be? If a googler would get on that, I’d be appreciative.

Good idea, yes?

Anyone else using Classroom and have ideas for what it should do next or want to debate Classroom as a useful tool?

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