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|Initial release||August 12, 2014|
7.3.141.04.34 / April 14, 2021
Google Classroom is a free blended learning platform developed by Google for schools that aims to simplify creating, distributing, and grading assignments. The primary purpose of Google Classroom is to streamline the process of sharing files between teachers and students. As of 2021, approximately 150 million users use Google Classroom.
Google Classroom integrates Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Gmail, and Google Calendar into a cohesive platform to manage student and teacher communication. Students can be invited to join a class through a private code, or automatically imported from a school domain. Teachers can create, distribute and mark assignments all within the Google ecosystem. Each class creates a separate folder in the respective user's Google Drive, where the student can submit work to be graded by a teacher. Assignments and due dates are added to Google calendar, where each assignment can belong to a category or topic. Teachers can monitor each student's progress by reviewing revision history of a document, and after being graded, teachers can return work along with comments and grades.
Google Classroom was announced on May 6, 2014, with a preview available for some members of Google's G Suite for Education program. It was released publicly on August 12, 2014. In 2015 Google announced a Classroom API and a share button for websites, allowing school administrators and developers to further engage with Google Classroom. Also in 2015, Google integrated Google Calendar into Classroom for assignment due dates, field trips, and class speakers. In 2017, Google opened Classroom to allow any personal Google users to join classes without the requirement of having a G Suite for Education account, and in April of the same year, it became possible for any personal Google user to create and teach a class.
In 2018, Google introduced a major redesign to Classroom. This included adding a new classwork section, improving the grading interface, allowing reuse of classwork from other classes, and adding features for teachers to organize content by topic.
In 2019, Google introduced 78 new illustrated themes and the option to drag and drop topics and assignments in the classwork section.
In 2020, Google added better integration with Google Meet so that teachers can have a unique meet link within each class. In addition, several features were added to classroom, with Google stating "as educators worldwide have reinvented their practice online, we’re also adapting our tools to meet the evolving needs of their new educational landscape." These updates included:
- A new to-do widget
- 10 additional languages
- Better integration with learning management systems to create and distribute assignments
- Added smart correct and auto-compose to Google Docs
Google Classroom integrates Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Forms, Google Sites, Gmail, among others, to help educational institutions transition to a paperless system. Google Calendar was later added to help with assignment due dates, field trips, and class speakers. Students can be invited to classrooms through the institution's database, through a private code that can then be added in the student's user interface or automatically imported from a school domain. Each class created with Google Classroom creates a separate folder in the respective user's Google Drive, where the student can submit work to be graded by a teacher.
Assignments are stored and graded on Google's suite of productivity applications that allow collaboration between the teacher and the student or student to student. Instead of sharing documents that reside on the student's Google Drive with the teacher, files are hosted on the student's Drive and then submitted for grading. Teachers may choose a file that can then be treated as a template so that every student can edit their own copy and then turn back in for a grade instead of allowing all students to view, copy, or edit the same document. Students can also choose to attach additional documents from their Drive to the assignment. Set assignments appear on the 'To do' list.
Google Classroom supports many different grading schemes. Teachers have the option to attach files to the assignment which students can view, edit, or get an individual copy. Students can create files and then attach them to the assignment if a copy of a file wasn't created by the teacher. Teachers have the option to monitor the progress of each student on the assignment where they can make comments and edit. Turned in assignments can be graded by the teacher and returned with comments to allow the student to revise the assignment and turn back in. Once turned in, assignments can only be edited by the teacher unless the teacher turns the assignment back.
Announcements can be posted by teachers to the class stream which can be commented on by students allowing for two-way communication between the teacher and students. Students can also post to the class stream but won't be as high a priority as an announcement by a teacher and can be moderated. Multiple types of media from Google products such as YouTube videos and Google Drive files can be attached to announcements and posts to share content. Gmail also provides email options for teachers to send emails to one or more students in the Google Classroom interface. Classroom can be accessed on the web or via the Android and iOS Classroom mobile apps.
Originality report was introduced in January 2020. It allows educators and students to see the parts and sections of the submitted work which contains the exact or similar wording to that of another source. For students, it highlights source materials and flags missing citation to assist the student in improving their writing. Teachers can also view the originality report, allowing them to verify the academic integrity of the student's submitted work. On G Suite for Education (free), teachers can turn on originality report for 3 assignments but have limited cloud storage. This restriction is lifted on G Suite Enterprise for Education (paid).
Classroom allows instructors to archive courses at the end of a term or year. When a course is archived, it is removed from the homepage and placed in the Archived Classes area to help teachers keep their current classes organized. When a course is archived, teachers and students can view it, but won't be able to make any changes to it until it is restored.
Google Classroom mobile apps, introduced in January 2015, are available for iOS and Android devices. The apps let users take photos and attach them to their assignments, share files from other apps, and support offline access.
eLearningIndustry tested and made a review of Google Classroom, in which they highlighted many positive and negative aspects. Among Classroom's strengths, the review highlighted ease of use, universal device accessibility, use of Google Drive as an effective way for teachers to quickly share assignments with students, the paperless process meaning the end of printing, handing out, and potentially losing work, and the fast feedback system between students and teachers. Among Classroom's disadvantages, the review highlighted the service's heavy integration of Google apps and services with limited or no support for external files or services, lack of automated quizzes and tests, and a lack of live chats that can aid in feedback efforts. Google Classroom won a 2020 Webby Special Achievement Award.
Due to the prominence of Google, students find Google Classroom easy to navigate since many are familiar with Google layout. Furthermore, the mobile app for Google Classroom functions well which has been praised by students. If notifications are enabled, the mobile app for Google Classroom can remind students of upcoming deadlines, a feature that has been received well by students.
As a company Google has been criticized on several different issues, including privacy. Specific criticism of Google Classroom generally focuses on concern for privacy for students and Google's use of student data. Criticism of Google Classroom is often combined with criticism of Chromebooks and Google Workspace.
Other criticisms directed at Google Classroom are lack of a full-fledged gradebook, lack of automatic quizzes and tests (common features in learning management systems), and editing of assignments once they are released. Students have also expressed a desire for personalization due to the Google Classroom layout being very simplistic and unappealing. Also, the chronological setup has been criticized as students respond with frustrations of having to scroll through to find past announcements.
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