|Martin Deustch/Flickr (Creative Commons)|
First of all...Congratulations to all teachers and students on completing the first week of school! I hope it was a great one for you. With the first day jitters and introductions behind us, I'm sure you're ready to get on with the serious business of teaching and learning.
Just in time...Google just released a new tool called Google Classroom that is designed to help teachers manage assignments, grading, and online discussions on a simple platform that is fully integrated with our @rfschools.com accounts. Google Classroom is a Learning Management System, or LMS, that is free and easy to use. You may be familiar with other LMS's, like Blackboard, Schoology, Edmodo, Moodle, etc. Most of these older LMS's have more features than Google Classroom does right now, but Google is likely to add features to Classroom throughout the school year.
If you're planning on using Google Docs for assignments, and if your students will submit work to you via Google Drive or Gmail, you may need a tool to help keep things organized. Google Classroom is a great way to do this. You can create a class list, then assign a document from your Google Drive to all students on that list. When students turn in their work via Google Classroom, it goes straight into a new folder in your Google Drive. You can see how many have been submitted, grade them in Classroom, and add comments and feedback in an automated email to the student.
If you want to facilitate online discussions with your students, or share links and allow students to share and comment in a simple format, that is Google Classroom's other main feature right now. Students can add links, images, etc, and contribute to a class discussion.
The following videos provide good overviews of Google Classroom. Take a moment to watch these if you want to see what Classroom is all about. Then get started by going to classroom.google.com. Play around with it, see how it works, and talk to some other teachers in your building (you can sign each other up as students in sample classes so you can see that perspective, too).
Then please contribute to the discussion below by adding a comment on this blog post. If you're already using Google Classroom, how are you using it? If you want to learn more about it before diving in, add a comment or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions or concerns about Google Classroom, let's discuss those in the comments as well. It will be interesting to see what teachers across our schools are doing with this new tool.
This one is from Google and highlights the main features of Classroom
This one is from a teacher and walks through the steps for getting started
This one is pretty long, but gives a comparison of teacher and student view. Skip ahead for a quick look
We will offer training and support for teachers interested in using Google Classroom this year. But don't wait for us to get started. Here are a few links to help you out today:
Different Perspectives...I always like to present conflicting opinions on educational technology, as there are always legitimate debates about the efficacy of a particular tool or approach. I would love to hear your opinions in the comments below!
Is Google's Free Software a Good Deal for Educators? (NPR article, 8/26/2014)
More Teaching, Less Tech-ing (Google Enterprise blog post announcing the public launch of Classroom, 8/12/2014)