|Initial release||August 12, 2014|
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. The primary purpose of Google Classroom is to streamline the process of sharing files between teachers and students.
Google Classroom combines Google Drive for assignment creation and distribution, Google Docs, Sheets and Slides for writing, Gmail for communication, and Google Calendar for scheduling. Students can be invited to join a class through a private code, or automatically imported from a school domain. Each class creates a separate folder in the respective user's Drive, where the student can submit work to be graded by a teacher. Mobile apps, available for iOS and Android devices, let users take photos and attach to assignments, share files from other apps, and access information offline. Teachers can monitor the progress for each student, and after being graded, teachers can return work along with comments.
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 announced a classroom refresh, adding a 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.
Google Classroom ties Google Drive, Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, and Gmail together to help educational institutions go to a paperless system. Google Calendar was later integrated 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.
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 graded, assignments can only be edited by the teacher unless the teacher turns the assignment back in.
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 of 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.
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.
In contrast to Google's consumer services, Google Classroom, as part of G Suite for Education, does not show any advertisements in its interface for students, faculty, and teachers, and user data is not scanned or used for advertising purposes.
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.
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.[better source needed] Criticism of Google Classroom is often combined with criticism of Chromebooks and G Suite.
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.
Google has responded to concerns about privacy practices by stating "Google is committed to building products that help protect student and teacher privacy and provide best-in-class security for your institution."
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