Google Classroom, Education Get Collaborative Updates


Google has announced several changes in preparation for the new school year to increase collaboration using Google Classroom and Google for Education.

This spring, Google went on a roadshow to demonstrate how Google technology can be used for learning. Mostly, the presentations focused on Google Classroom software, which is mainly used by teachers to create and collect student assignments. Now it has been improved to increase collaboration and facilitate better classroom management.

The service is free and can be integrated with apps like Google Drive. Teachers will be able to post forum-style discussion questions for students, make due dates optional, reuse assignments, bump assignments to the top of the stream, and attach a Google Form to a post. It will also automatically create calendars for each class, writes Zach Miners of CIO.

Will Phan, a Google Classroom Software Engineer, asked teacher Michael Fricano, II about the new discussion feature. He expressed his pleasure with the convenience:

Often, teachers want to do a quick check-in on what their students are learning. Now with this built in to Google Classroom, teachers can easily do this on the fly, any time. Your class can have a really engaging, focused conversation.

Liz Sproat, head of Google for Education, created Google Classroom and numerous other innovations. One is called Google Educator Group — an online community for teachers to support and teach each other. She said that collaboration at every level helps drive improvements:

We have something called the Google Educator group and that’s where we bring teachers together in an online community. It’s a great way for them to share their experiences and ask questions or share difficulties. The community is incredibly active in supporting each other in that journey.

She’s also responsible for computer science workshops, writes Clare McDonald of Computer Weekly, that help instructors teach computer science more effectively even if they may not fully understand the technology themselves.

Sproat believes that computer science education not only teaches practical technology skills, but also encourages critical thinking. She said that technology is just one piece of the puzzle:

We don’t focus on the technology itself. Technology is simply a tool teachers can use to help drive a particular learning outcome and that’s really important. Once you make the use of technology about the technology itself, then you’ve lost sight of the goal of the teacher’s role.

Miriam Schneider of Google for Education, writing in News Room America, listed some ways that Google products can help students even when their instructors aren’t using Google Classroom, including using Google Translate for homework help and viewing masterpieces up close with Cultural Institute.

Google says that more tips will be coming on Twitter with the tag #GoogleEdu and as posts on social media network Google+.