Recently, many teachers and colleagues asked me about the best Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) platforms that are presently available for us to connect with our students. Since the outbreak of COVID 19 pandemic, many schools and educational institutes are shifted to distant learning and technology suddenly become the only source of connectivity between teachers and students. Likewise, considering the need of the time, many VLE provider starts making necessary changes in the online modular platform and making it more user friendly. However, not every VLE platform can provide 100% classroom Learning Management System (LMS) solution. I already wrote an article that discusses some of these platforms that can be used to teach students remotely.
However, in this article, I am going to discuss one of the VLE/LMS platforms, if planned and implemented cohesively, can provide maximum learning and teaching solutions to teachers.
Google Classroom is a free web service, developed by Google for schools, that aims to simplify creating, distributing, and grading assignments in a paperless way. Initially, the primary purpose of Google Classroom is to streamline the process of sharing files between teachers and students. However, Google for Education has included several new features in the Google Classroom platform, including the function of Google Meet to interact with students in real-time in web conference mode.
This makes Google Classroom a unique platform compares to other products available like Piazza, Canvas or blackboard etc. This following guide will show you how to set up a Google Classroom in a matter of minutes and perform the main tasks.
Let’s get started!
Set up your class in Google Classroom
1. Go to: classroom.google.com.
Google Classroom is now available for Google for Education accounts as well as regular Gmail accounts. Anyone with a Google account can now use Google Classroom.
- Click on the “+” button in the top right to create your first class.
(It’s next to the checkerboard icon you use to access all of your apps.) Then click “Create class.”
- If you’re getting started for the first time, your screen will likely look like the one above.
- If you have some classes already, they’ll display on this home screen. You can add new courses with the “+” button.
3. Add information about your class.
- You must add a name for your class. This is how your students will identify your class when they open Google Classroom.
- Use the “section” field to differentiate between different classes of the same type. Many teachers will use this field for the class period. (This field is optional.)
- The “subject” field lets you choose from a list of class subjects or type your own. (This field is optional.)
4. Once your class is created, students can start joining it.
- Students can join your class with a join code (above). This is a quick, easy way to get students into your class. By displaying the join code (click [ ]), students can log in to Google Classroom, click the “+” button and “Join class” to enter the join code. Then they’re added to your class.
- You can invite students to your class by email. This is a good option if students don’t meet in person for your class. To do this, click the “People” tab at the top. Then, click the “Invite Students” button (an icon with a person and a plus). You can invite students individually with email addresses or by groups if all students are in a Google Group.
5. Customize your Classroom.
- There won’t be any students in your class the moment you create it. This is the time to get creative and have some fun with it! Click “Select Theme” on the right side of the header. It will open a gallery of header images you can use to spice up your classroom.
- You can also upload a photo to display at the top of your Classroom. You can use a picture of your class or something that pertains to your class. Some teachers will create a custom header image with valuable information and fun graphics. Use this template to create a header. (Source: AliceKeeler)
Using Google Classroom in everyday class
After your class is set up and students join, you have a fully functioning Google Classroom. Congratulations!
But you don’t want to stop there. Here are some things you can do in your Classroom:
1. Add an announcement.
This is an excellent way to communicate with your class and give them up-to-date information. Announcements are posted to the class stream, but there isn’t a grade associated with them.
Go to your class Stream and click on “share something with your class”. Add the text for your announcement. Add any files (attached or from Google Drive), YouTube videos or links you’d like. Then post it (or schedule it for later).
2. Create an assignment, quiz, question, attach material, or reuse an old post.
This is where students get to work! You can create a graded (or ungraded) question for students to answer, a quiz, OR assignment for students to do. You can create them under the “Classwork” tab (above). You can also attach material you want the students to see or reuse an old post.
Things to include in your assignment or question (above):
- A descriptive title for your assignment. (Pro tip: It’s good to number your assignments to eliminate confusion. Source: AliceKeeler)
- A description. This is helpful for absent students and for referring back to a previous task later.
- Choose how many points the assignment/question is worth (or use the drop-down menu to make it ungraded).
- A due date. Choose when the assignment is expected (or don’t use a due date).
- A topic. (We’ll get to this in a moment …)
- File attachments. Attach files, add files from Google Drive, including YouTube videos, or give students a link.
Assign the assignment immediately, schedule it to post automatically later, or save your task as a draft to finish later.
3. Organize your class with topics.
If you have different chapters, units, subjects, etc. within your class, you can categorize your assignments and questions by topic to keep everything organized.
Under “Classwork”, click the “Create” button and add a topic. Then, whenever you create a new assignment or announcement, you’ll be able to add that topic to it.
4. Grade and return work.
Once students have completed work, you can provide feedback and grade the assignment. Click on the “Classwork” button and click on the assignment to view student work.
Here are some of the actions you can take …
- Sort the assignment by students who have turned the work in or all students who were given the assignment. (Just click on the big number.) Or, you can sort by other options with the drop-down menu below the big numbers.)
- Open and view student work by clicking on it. Inside student documents, slide presentations, etc., you can add comments directly to the file. Or …
- Type and view private comments to the student by clicking on the student’s name. You can also see when files were turned in with the history.
- Add a grade to student work.
- When you’re all done, return work back to students. Be sure you’ve checked the box next to their names and click the “Return” button.
Tips and tricks
Here are some ideas for maximizing your use of Google Classroom …
- On your “Classes” page (click the three lines menu button and “Classes”), click and drag your class cards around the page to reorder them.
- Whenever you see a folder icon, click it to open that class’s Google Classroom folder in Google Drive. This is where student work lives when it’s turned in.
- Assignments with due dates automatically go on your class’s Google Calendar. Click a calendar icon to view it.
- Want to make an individual copy of a file for every student in an assignment? (i.e. You have a graphic organizer you want ALL students to complete.) Google Classroom is like your digital photocopier. When you attach the file to your assignment, use the drop-down menu on that file and choose “Make a copy for each student.”
- Know the difference between the types of comments you can leave in Google Classroom. Check out the graphic below!
- Adjust the settings for your class using the gear icon from your class’s home screen. You can change your class name, display the class code, decide what actions students can take in the stream, and decide whether to display deleted items.
Good Luck 🙂