Google Classroom Broadens Its Reach for Students
As a G Suite for Education Certified Educator and Trainer, it’s hard to pick a favorite tool in the G Suite for Education repertoire when I believe in them all so passionately. Each tool helps to amplify and redefine the way I teach and my students learn. There is one tool however, that I consider the great unifier: Google Classroom. Since its launch in August 2014, Google Classroom has helped teachers connect to their students in authentic, timely, and organized ways.
An innovative approach to communication
Google designed the platform with teachers so that their expertise in the best ways to communicate with students would be captured in the tool. Google Classroom was born as a portal for teachers and students to interact over projects, discuss topics of interest, post and turn in assignments, receive feedback, share resources, collaborate, and reflect as the platform links to Google Docs, Calendar, Gmail, Drive, and Forms. Currently, most schools use Google Classroom to communicate in three ways. The first is, teachers create classrooms for the subject they teach, the homeroom class they lead or a club they facilitate and invite students to join. The second is, students create classrooms to invite other students to join in order to share a project or work collaboratively as a team. And finally, teachers create classrooms and invite other teachers, grade level teams, or departments to join to design units of curriculum together or provide professional development and resources.
Google opens the doors of Classroom to more students
Google sought to expand the above three connection points with Classroom and I cannot wait to see the impacts on teaching and learning it will have! On March 15, 2017 software engineers from Google Classroom announced that Google Classroom will now be available for even more teachers and students. A brilliant move on Google’s part to expand the reach of its unifying app. Up until this date, only users on G Suite for Education accounts could access Classroom. Google had been strategically meeting with schools and organizations in both traditional and nontraditional settings and listening to their desire for more open connectivity with Google Classroom preparing for this release.
Classrooms can now be created and joined by any user with a Google account or G Suite account. Best of all, users will be able to join Google Classrooms outside their domain. This will likely increase school to school partnerships, local and global collaborative discussions, and allow experts in the field to join Classrooms to mentor and critique student projects. Study abroad programs, homeschooling families, tutoring centers, virtual programs, and resource centers for learning can now all reap the benefits of the platform as well, as they did not have access to Google Classroom in the past. This decision shows Google is placing value in multiple settings and formats of learning.
“Google Classroom can be joined in a matter of seconds for those with the class code, unlocking a streamlined and simple, yet powerful tool for learning. The more teachers and students who now will have access to the platform in their diverse environments can help them break isolation and communicate and create with others inside or outside their domain and beyond!”
G Suite for Education has been the pioneer in innovative ways to approach teaching and learning and this move to broaden the reach of Google Classroom highlights their commitment to providing tools that all learners can access in order to hone 21st Century Skills. G Suite for Education Administrators can further customize their domain by selecting in their organization who can join classrooms and how other Google and G Suite domains can interact with the students in their domain. Settings can be optimized for both teachers and students. G Suite for Education is still recommended by Google for schools interested in deploying Google Classroom.
Evelyn McCulloch, Google Certified Trainer
Evelyn McCulloch is an Innovation Coach and Grades 5-6 Educator in a Maker Space at Park Maitland School. She is also a Digital Learning Strategist for i-Tech Support, Inc., with expertise implementing G Suite in schools as a Google for Education Certified Trainer. In addition to being a Certified Trainer, Evelyn is also a Google for Education Level 1 and Level 2 Certified Educator. She brings eight years experience as an educator and teacher leader in local and global classrooms. Evelyn is passionate about utilizing innovation and technology in teaching and learning to help students make thinking visible, give students a voice, and provide them with a wider audience to share their work.
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