Recently I had a class do projects in preparation for 1916 celebrations. There was no set way for the students to do the project expect to stick to a theme.
Some students choose to use Vimeo and Vine to create short video to present their projects. These were excellent and well made however trying to download and have these videos on file and share them to the school website proved a nightmare.
The videos are too large to be sent over email, they could not be uploaded to edmodo (it is possible but time consuming thus it was abandoned after 12 minutes), difficult to download onto a USB due to configuration. We finally ended up using Google drive and sharing the videos integrating them into a Prezi PowerPoint and sharing it as a URL.
On reflection questioning the amount of time that was spent on trying to share these videos – how could we have had a central place to share videos and information with students easily while still keeping child protection laws in place and protecting yourself as a teacher.
Answer – Google Classroom
Google classroom is ideal if you are trying to integrate a whole school onto one servicer. Google classroom pulls together a lot of things which you do across several platforms – for example emailing, uploading resources, keeping in contact with students and parents, setting reminders, PowerPoint’s, word documents, media etc. etc. The possibilities are endless with Google classroom.
Students can have their accounts which they can log onto. It is quite helpful as it saves everything automatically.
It is also a mobile app thus each student can log on at their leisure or even check in while on their journeys to and from school. It is delivered through the Chrome browser, which means it can be accessed on most devices. Furthermore, it gives teachers a chance to see who has logged on and who has not and give direct feedback to the students.
Another aim of Google classroom is to create paperless teaching. The cost of printing is astounding in schools and many students lose or forget their work. Noting that students lose their copies and notes can prove difficult in subjects was they are expected to maintain and build on their notes for three years such as History. If students lose their copies – they can lose up to two years of notes at once which are near difficult to replace. Additionally, Google classroom can be organised into folders making it easy for teacher to keep track of each class. This does free up class time as you are no longer spending time handing out sheets and explaining assignments in detail while writing it up on the board. Instead with Google classroom you can do all of this by the click of a button.
One other feature that does make Google classroom ideal in a school setting is you can adapt notes to suit each student needs. For example, you can change the colour and font for students who have dyslexia or learn better through colours. You can also add in colour photos which bring the subjects alive or interactive videos.
Google classroom also encourages eLearning in the classroom which does further their skills and ability to adapt to our fast paced world.
However, there are always drawbacks which have to be addressed. Though Google classroom is changing the way in which we think about teaching – it still comes down to the simple fact that not every student can afford the upkeep of these devices. Even more so if a student device breaks, they no longer have access to their classwork or extra material. This leaves them at a disadvantage to other in their class.
One other huge disadvantage is the lack of an automated activity feed. If students do not refresh they will miss out on deadlines and notes that the teacher posts. This can be frustrating for students as they may be logged in yet not receive the assigned work.
The other thing is Google classroom is creating a virtual environment and classroom for students and the teacher. However, this can create problems as it does make an impersonal classroom as students may not feel they are connecting with the material or teacher. Sometimes teachers learn about students from the side notes and little doddles that they do in the margins of their copies. Also, it is difficult to distinguish who did the homework if it is online. Why I say this is when you correcting homework that is done into a copy, you can check the handwriting and spelling for copying. If the homework is submitted online you don’t know if a student has copied and pasted the answers from each other or if a parent has done it for them.
Overall, Google classroom is ideal for streamlining classrooms in order to share resources. However, there is cheaper and easier to use alternatives currently. Maybe in a few years Google classroom will become a mainstream idea.