Saturday, 8 August 2015

Google Classroom - Mind Blowing!!

At the school where I am doing my practice teaching, they are busy training their staff to use Google, Gmail and Google classroom. I found this training extremely beneficial as I learned how to integrate Google into the everyday life and tasks of a teacher. These training sessions were held on Friday afternoons. We covered Gmail and Google Calendar and how it can be used effectively in communication with parents and the rest of the staff; Google docs and the three ways of working with them – Editing, Suggesting and viewing; integrating Google forms into the classroom as well as how to work with and successfully maintain Google classroom.

Google Classroom can be compared to Edmodo which is a great system that makes all things ‘school’ much easier and organised. From admin to class work and test scores. I would really like to get started with Google Classroom, however, I cannot create an account unless I have a Google Apps for Education account and I cannot do this unless I am part of an educational institution. This is a problem as I am not yet employed by an institution but would really like to explore the possibilities so that I am aware and educated on the possibilities before I get involved in an institution.

The Google Classroom is a safe learning environment for learners to be focused in one area and not, for example, on a website like Youtube where they can be easily distracted by other possibly disturbing links. In this forum you can post announcements as well as assignments that will be sent directly to the learners. It’s a great way to ensure the learners have a backup and digital version of all the worksheets and information. Working with learners in a Google Classroom also gives you the opportunity to indirectly teach the learners to address people in the correct way as well as teach them to punctuate their wtiting correctly – both very important communication skills. Google Feedback is incredibly helpful and at the click of a button you can ask questions or ask for certain features to be implemented and if they are effective and enough people ask for it, the Google Classroom developers will develop it.

On a document when a teacher makes a comment on a learner’s writing for them to correct grammar etc., the learner has to click on the comment and engage with it in order to continue. The teacher can also see whether the comments have been engaged with or not. In Google Classroom, the teacher who creates the document or file, owns the file and can look at and access it at any point. This is great because the learner does not own the file and cannot ‘forget’ to send it back to the teacher or get away with not completing the work.

All these features are amazing and there are few disadvantages once in use, however, the one negative point that needs to be mentioned is that to set up these features takes time and quite a bit of admin, such as teaching the learners how to use it and how to submit assignments etc.

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