How Google Classroom can help teachers

Adam Speight

Award-winning teacher Adam Speight is head of ICT and Computer Science at Mary Immaculate High School in South Wales. He has a Master's degree in Technology for Teaching and Learning. Qualifying as a teacher in 2011, he has since worked in both Wales and England in the state and independent sectors in a middle leadership role. He is always keen to share his ideas and is a frequent educational writer and speaker. Adam is always looking for new, innovative teaching ideas, so that no learner ever gets left behind.

Follow @Mr_Speight

Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Plenty of teachers use Google apps in their classrooms, but is Google Classroom as widely used as it should be? Kings Monkton Private School teachers Adam Speight and Fiona Thomas explain how it’s been innovating their classroom this year.

In 2006 Google introduced a product known as Google Apps for Education to the world. This product became a game changer, as schools no longer had to stick with using the traditional Microsoft Office Suite; there was now a free variable alternative product available to them. Zoom forward to 2014, and Google have once again transformed the world of Education. This latest initiative comes in the format of a virtual learning environment (VLE), and is known as Google Classroom. Furthermore, it is free to anyone using Google Apps for Education. This product weaves together both Google Drive and Gmail, so it is a tool which helps teachers organise classes, provide feedback, save time and improve organisation so that the learning experience is fully enhanced.

Google Classroom is real competition to other VLEs, as it’s a far simpler system which can be used with all age ranges thanks to its simplicity and efficiency. Furthermore, this VLE is a practical solution as it’s completely free of charge; there are no hidden charges connecting to using it, and like Google Apps for Education, it is both secure and robust.

At the school in which both Fiona and I work, we teach students from the age of 2 to 18, and Google Classroom is something we are slowly introducing. As such, we are now going to provide you with an insight as to how we are both using Google Classroom in our lessons in order to add value to the learning experience of our students.

Collaborative Learning

Google Classroom enables students to research topics together, as well as post simple links and answers onto the stream of posts which appear on their main wall. It also enables students to develop a forum with one another, as they can respond to each other’s posts regarding the quality of work they are currently sharing with their peers. Anything which students post on Google Classroom is completely visible to the whole class, and you as their teacher instantly receive an email as soon as a post has taken place so any inappropriate activity can be dealt with quickly.

Online Resources

With Google Classroom you don’t need to print resources out for your lesson or for homework, as you can simply post them onto the wall. Google Classroom allows you to upload a variety of content, even allowing you to automatically put resources into students’ Google Drive accounts so that they can’t make an excuse that they couldn’t find their homework sheet.

You can also attach videos, websites, documents (Office or Google), pdf or images to any posts you put on the stream, great for reinforcing work being done in school or for ‘flipping the classroom’. With younger children, this is also particularly useful for attaching documents such as letters / timetables / blog rules etc which you will want parents to see and have easy access to throughout the year. You can also add general information and documents applicable to your class in the about section of your class profile.

Accountability

Each Google Classroom you set up provides you with codes which you can give to both parents and line managers so that they can see exactly what is going on in your lessons. Furthermore, during a lesson observation Google Classroom can be shown to the observer in order to show them that the lesson they are witnessing is a true reflection of the type of lessons which always take place in your classroom.

Assignments

Students can very easily turn in their work on Google Classroom, and such it provides you the teacher with a very visualised display as to who has / hasn’t handed in their assignments on time. Also, when you receive an assignment on Google Classroom from your students, the system automatically organises the files you have received straightaway into folders on your Google Drive. This means you don’t have to waste any time downloading and organising any files you receive, which is very useful and efficient.

M-learning

Whether you are fortunate enough to have lots of good computers in your classroom or not, Google Classroom supports mobile learning. It can be accessed anywhere on the go, providing you have an internet connection. This is really useful, as students can be going around the school on a particular activity and then can instantly upload key parts of their activity from their mobile device straight to the Google Classroom. It is also useful in that whatever equipment the children have at home, access is still available providing they have an internet connection.

In conclusion, while there are many other VLEs out there, Google Classroom is different as it does all that a VLE is supposed to do, but in a very simple, effective way so that all learners can access it. It is an inclusive and efficient VLE which adds value to the learning experience for all learners across the primary/secondary age ranges.

[This article was co-written by Fiona Thomas of Kings Monkton Private School. You can read more of her work at www.fionathomasict.wordpress.com and www.kmsyear2.wordpress.com]

Do you use Google Classroom in your work? Share your experiences below.

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"