When Google publicly launched Google Classroom on the 12th of August last year, it signified its intention to join the virtual classroom niche. Imagine going to school without actually being in a classroom? That is what Google Classroom is all about. So basically it aims to provide a learning platform for schools with the intention of simplifying the designing, sharing and marking of school work and assignment in a paperless way.
This type of educational system is called Learning Management System (LMS) in the e-world. So Google Classroom is not the only LMS software out there or even the best. Others like Grovo, CourseWebs.com, and Oracle Taleo Cloud Service among others are also in the business of LMS. But like everything Google, Google Classroom intends to ultimately be the go-to LMS software of the future.
A feature of Google Apps, Google Classroom is only targeted at academic institutions with a valid free Google Apps for Education account. So corporate institutions or individuals cannot enjoy its services for now.
The Google Classroom user interface, like all apps from Google has a clean, simple and intuitive layout. There are large buttons and an in-built easy-to-follow tutorial to direct teachers on how to create new classes, create new homework, grade papers and how to communicate with students through comments and an activity stream. If you use Google’s products like Gmail, getting around Google Classroom for the first time would not be a daunting experience. You’ll feel right at home.
Having a Google Classroom account means that teachers have all other Google products available to them to use. For instance, all kinds of content can be created by the teacher and shared with the class through the use of Google Drive. To submit essay assignments, students can easily utilize Google Docs. What about sharing video tutorials? Easy. Just use YouTube. How teachers or students use Google Classroom is limited by only their lack of imagination on how to use all Google softwares and apps.
For the students, logging into Google Classroom is an easy affair. They can easily log in and add themselves to a class using a special code. Once they are in, they can see announcements from teachers, see all scheduled class work and assignments, and they can also submit assignments. Like earlier stated, virtually anything can be done by students using the software. The aim is to make it feel like a real classroom experience.
There is also mobile access to use offline. So users can accessed cached content to work on until they are connected back to the classroom on their PCs again.
Recently, 4 days ago to be precise, Google added a new feature to the Google classroom. This new feature will allow teachers to share links with their students immediately without having to give out a URL. For this to work, students must be using Chrome browser. To share a page to a particular class, all the teacher has to do is click the Google Classroom extension on that webpage and pick the class to share it with. An alert will appear to all students in that class no matter their location, and the page will then load on their browser.
As an LMS tool, Google Classroom is not perfect though. One must have a separate Google Apps for Education account to use it, so users might not like the idea of juggling multiple Google accounts if they have Gmail. Again, there is no support for good word editors like Microsoft Word and content is limited to things the teacher manually uploads. There are also no automatic course paths, tests or automated grading. So teachers have a lot of manual work to do.
Since this is a Google product, the feeling here is that the software can only get better if Google continues to provide support for it. So for a one year old LMS, Google Classroom has started fairly good. It is intuitive with plenty of nice features for trainers and students and could actually help reduce the amount of paperwork in schools