google_classroom_logoGoogle Classroom is now active on our production Google Apps for Education domain. At its core, Classroom is simply an interface for managing Google Drive sharing permissions such that the assignments are “turned in” by students and then “returned” by instructors paperlessly. We suggest instructors seeking a more paperless workflow in managing coursework take a look at Classroom. It may even facilitate more frequent and quicker feedback from instructors to students. Following is a brief summary of what you can expect from Classroom.

What It Does:

  • It allows instructors to manage and grade assignments paperlessly within the Google Apps ecosystem.
  • Instructors can create “classes” and then invite their students to join.
  • After students have been enrolled, an instructor can share announcements and assignments or ask questions within the class’s “stream,” which is like a social media timeline.
  • When an assignment is created, The instructor can attach files to it, including Google Drive files. When Drive files are attached, the instructor can choose to let students view the file, view and edit it, or make a copy of the file for each student, like a template.
  • When the student opens the assignment, there is an option to submit the assignment as a Google Drive document or, if a template has been shared, the student can click on the Drive document to begin. Once the Drive document has been opened, Classroom creates a folder for the Assignment and gives the student’s document a title. The students owns the document, but the instructor can view and edit it. After the assignment has been submitted, ownership is turned over to the instructor and the student can only view it. The instructor can then leave feedback in the document, grade, and return it. Ownership will then be restored to the student for further revision (but the instructor can still edit).
  • All of the sharing settings for assignments are handled by Drive, but all of the management and grading takes place within the Classroom interface.

What Classroom Is Not:

  • It is not a course/learning management system substitute. It lacks many features present in Moodle or other similar platforms.
  • There is no common folder for the entire class, it reflects a traditional teacher-to-individual-student model. Assignments for subgroups in a class would not be well served.
  • Nothing is sticky, and the latest announcement, question, or assignment will appear at the top of the stream.
  • The instructor cannot view the class as a student like they can in Moodle.
  • Like many other Google products, we in Academic ITS do not have an omniscient view of all classes and can only assist instructors in class sites if invited as a co-teacher.
  • Instructors cannot copy or import content between classes. Former students would have to be removed to reuse the course but, because of the “stream” approach, reuse is less attractive than just starting over.