If we could offer teachers something that would save them time, save the school money, communicate better with students and parents, help struggling learners, and impact the learning environment for students...would they consider using it? I’m guessing they would.
Our school district recently moved to the Google Apps for Education (GAFE) platform. Because I previously used GAFE, I knew the potential for improvement that this would bring to our school and our students.
GAFE Is Great
If you’ve been been using Google Classroom for the last few years, you’re probably already “sold” on why it’s a good thing to use. But if it’s new to you, you probably want to know the reasons why this change is a good thing for students. Here are some things to consider:
- Google Classroom is easy to use. Compared to other LMS (Learning Management Systems) that have been popular over the past decade, Google Classroom is amazingly simple. Setting up a new classroom doesn’t take much time or expertise. Our tech team trained for about an hour, and all of us had a classroom set up and running by the end of the session.
- Google Classroom helps you to communicate more efficiently. You enter the email addresses of the students just once, and classroom communication is done. Just by entering the student in the classroom, the teacher has an email group, a discussion group, and a Google Calendar automatically created. And it’s easy to add and remove students from the class as necessary.
- Google Classroom helps you to communicate more effectively. Probably more important than being easy to use and efficient, the communication tools are also very effective. Because it is all Cloud-based, there is no more “losing” of assignments by students. If a student is absent, communication is seamless. Just last month, Google Classroom added a parent notification feature to keep parents informed about what is going on in the “classroom.”
- Google Classroom is more cost-effective and better for the environment. Personally, I’m not completely sold on paperless learning, especially for younger students. But I do see a true advantage for schools to be more cost-effective when it comes to copies and printing. If every student has a device that connects to the Internet already, every sheet of paper that we save only makes the school more efficient and more environmentally responsible.
- This is how students will continue to learn in the future...which is why I probably need to let go of my “paperless” hang-up. College campuses no longer expect undergrads to print out their five-page essays. As K-12 educators, we should take note and prepare our students for the world they will be living in.
- It’s better for students who struggle...as long as you help them manage the device. (The device itself can be a distraction at times, so managing that needs to be taught.)
The reason Google Classroom is better is because of the organizational advantage it gives them. Assignments never get lost and each classroom is already organized by the teacher. However, for these students, navigating this has to be taught. Even though students are digital natives, it doesn’t mean that they understand how adults organize their world to help them learn.
- With Google Classroom, collaboration is easier outside of school (i.e., Flipped Classroom). Again, it’s Cloud-based and accessible from anywhere with a connection. Students can share assignments and work from home together to complete them. Collaboration isn’t just limited to working in a group with other peers. A teacher can flip the classroom by sharing a video to go live in the evening, requiring students to view it that night to prepare for a quiz on it the next day. The possibilities are endless.
- Teacher planning is easy, and the up-front time is worth it. More new features in Google Classroom allow teachers to schedule out assignments in the future. Designated assignments could be scheduled to go live on a Monday in October and then close that Friday. If a teacher has a prolonged absence, she could schedule out the assignments and not have to rely on a sub to manage it all. Classrooms can also be used from semester to semester and year to year. It would be terrible for a teacher to just copy and paste a classroom for the next group of students, but it does save some time to have certain things already in place (class syllabus, grading expectations, etc.).
- By embedding forms, feedback is instant and usable. One of my teachers the other day was having the students complete a multiple-choice quiz as they watched the video. This increases engagement and accountability, but also allows the teacher to view results at the end of the video. She can then cover the material again if students struggled to respond with correct answers.
- Upgrades and improvements are a constant. This is by far one of the best selling points of Google Classroom for me. If something needs to be added or fixed, Google actually listens and responds (both the assignment scheduling and parent communication came from this). This also means that teachers will have to continue to learn as they use it...which isn’t a bad thing either!
I’m sure there are more benefits of Google Classroom, but these are ten excellent reasons why it’s worth a closer look.
Want to do an even deeper dive into collaboration in the classroom with technology? Check out Collaborate to the Core, which gives you great lessons, tips, and ideas on how to further collaborative learning. Download it today!>>
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