I was able to try out Google Classroom this week, and thought I would share some thoughts and screen shots. Basically, if you have access to Google Apps for Education, then Classroom streamlines organization and delivery of content in a walled garden approach, and provides some basic support for student assessment. So, its Google’s new LMS.
There are three main pages in the Classroom interface: STREAM which is the chronological presentation of announcements and assignments, STUDENTS/CLASSMATES which is currently only for sending e-mail, and ABOUT which is where access to a course syllabus or other static information can be given.
Assignments are created in the STREAM. When used in conjunction with Drive, content management and delivery are simplified.
Permissions are set via a drop down menu which appears when you are creating an assignment. This menu allows the teacher to select how material will be delivered to students. In the case of sharing a DOCS file, in addition to view only, you can also allow students to collaborate on a single file or provide each student with a copy of their own file to edit. The creation of folders and files is completed automatically whenever new assignment tickets are created.
Students receive assignments in their STREAM. Students can edit a file which you have created for them in DOCS, and then submit the file back to you via a TURN IN button.
Ostensibly the teacher would then provide feedback. This could be done many ways; however, one interesting addition to Google DOCS recently is the addition of a button for making editing “suggestions.” When the teacher is done providing feedback, they can return control of the document back over to the student for further work, or, when the assignment is finished, provide the student with a grade.
So far, Classroom seems to be great for teachers who already use Google Apps with students. In addition to excellent integration with DOCS, there are some interesting third part apps being developed which link with DRIVE, and provide some powerful teaching tools. Apps such as: MindMeister, Pear Deck, and WeVideo.
However, there is still a lot more room for improvement and integration with other Google Apps.
FORMS, for instance, can be used for quizzes, but it does not integrate yet with Classroom other than automatically collecting student identification information.
HANGOUTS could be used to provide instant video streaming and live video conferencing, but has yet to be embedded into the Classroom interface.
SLIDES could be integrated into Classroom a bit better and perhaps placed in conjunction with HANGOUTS to provide support for online presentations.
Google+ might also be integrated and provide students with better peer-peer communication options than simply e-mail.
I would also like to see Classroom and its associated Apps integrate with mobile devices and their unique peripherals a bit more.
While it does not yet provide as much teaching support as I would have hoped, Classroom certainly has great potential to support Collaborative Learning and Project Based Learning. And, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Classroom integrate better with these other Google Apps in the near future.
All in all I found Classroom to be a positive first step from Google as they attempt their first LMS. It is amazing how far Google has come from their search engine origins. I certainly look forward to seeing how Google will develop this technology over the next year.