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Is Google Classroom good enough for schools?

Yes. Oh yes! Well, yes, based on decades of having used overly complex VLEs, VLE-wannabes like SharePoint and of courses those on those schools who put so much effort into Moodling!

When we think about the most simple of processes in the classroom that technology has hoped to improve and enhance, the art of setting an assignment, setting a deadline, collecting work in and then providing feedback has been turned on its head over the past decade time and time again. Be it “rooms”, folders, upload areas, lack of sharing and collaboration controls, the process has been far from simple. With the demise of the traditional VLE as we know it – so few new schools are even bothering, and the failure for PLEs (Personalised…), ILEs (Individual…) and SGBLEs (Small Group Based…) to inaugurate themselves as new acronyms to confuse schools even further, schools are beginning to see through it all, with a definite light at the end of the tunnel.

I predict that in 5 years’ time that no school in the UK will be using a VLE as we know it today. Give me a shout in 2020 if I am wrong and I’ll likely say that those schools haven’t caught up!

With so many users these days, young and old, comfortable with the idea of a “cloud” space, be it through the 200Gb of DropBox they got free with their Samsung S5, the measly 5Gb with iCloud, a decent 100Gb+ with Microsoft OneDrive and Office365 or the unlimited space they get with Google Apps for Education, storage space hosted “elsewhere in the world” should not be that alien to schools any longer. This is the first step to building a collaborative space for staff and students in your school.

Go “hybrid cloud”, give the students a blog space - take a small but very important leap. They are already doing it at home anyway! Why not do it at school to promote the right attitudes from day one?

Until recently, there was little in “going Google” or “going Microsoft”. That changed last year with GAFE, the rise of Chromebooks and of course Google Classroom. Chromebooks – we love them, however, that is a whole other blog post (see earlier blog post).

The great thing about Google Classroom is that it is exactly what (well nearly, a few silly bugs aside) every digitally enabled classroom needs. It builds on the kinds of interaction you see within social media sites like Facebook and of Google+, encouraging communication through posts, comments and a wide range of media. Google Classroom also switches on the Flipped Classroom, making it so easy to provide a stimulus for learning at home, prior to coming into school, and doing it through YouTube videos! The integration is what will sell it for any school for sure.

Every time a teacher creates a new classroom or a new assignment, a folder is automatically created in Google Drive. Each time a student “turns in” an assignment, the teacher takes control of the area, with sharing and permissions being managed automatically throughout the process. Teachers can grade assignments (all a little American…) and everything can then be filed away for another time. The process is seamless and a few issues aside, will empower a teacher with around an hour of training max.

What are the issues?

3 main ones for me.

  • The inability add another teacher to a classroom with the same level of control, e.g. not as a student. This would be handy for team teaching and Teaching assistants.

  • The inability to personalise your classroom with your own images and banners. Petty really.

  • The inability to copy everything from one classroom to another, rather than having to recreate a classroom from scratch each time.

These are big issues and ones that Google Classroom users have made Google very aware of.

Next steps?

Try it. You your school signed up to GAFE (Google Apps for Education). If you are still unsure after a few hours with it, or need your teachers fired up, or help getting it all setup – give us a shout, else good luck! You’ll love it!

Blogged out by Sonny.

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