March 28, 2018
This post is from EdTechTeacher Instructor Mason Mason follow him on Twitter @EdTechMason
When I was a high school English teacher, we were using a proprietary learning management system (LMS) that was not user-friendly. My team and I were searching for something to replace our clunky LMS, and even though Google Classroom is not a full-fledged LMS (yet), its ease of use, and ability to distribute, collect, and organize content quickly became our go-to resource.
At the time, Google Classroom was just coming out of beta (just in time for the new school year), and it quickly began to change the way students and teachers interact inside and outside of the classroom. As more educators are gaining access to Google Classroom, especially now that it’s available outside of school domains, I will offer up five non-traditional ways to use Google Classroom. As a hub, educators can leverage Google Classroom in ways they may not have initially thought.
Every G Suite for Education school that uses Google Classroom has a G Suite Administrator. This is usually someone in your district’s information technology department. This domain administrator has granular controls over the district’s G Suite account. A useful option that the administrator can turn on is the ability to allow outside domains to join a Google Classroom. With this option turned on, teachers can create a community where parents can receive updates, newsletters, and other resources all in one place. This goes beyond Guardian Summary which sends parents an email summary of their child’s missing work, upcoming work, and class activity. Teachers can disseminate and collect permission slips, schools can share letters, and districts can share notifications all in a flash. There are so many possibilities, but imagine if every parent used Google Classroom to stay up-to-date on what was going on in their child’s classroom, school, and district. It can redefine parent communication.
There are many different ways campus level and district level administrators can leverage Google Classroom to increase productivity, organization, and communication. Principals and campus evaluators can use Google Classroom to collect teachers’ lesson plans. Department heads can use Google Classroom to share department meeting agendas. Instructional coaches can share resources with teachers in their departments. Superintendents can keep administrators up-to-date on district business. Similar to how teachers can distribute, collect, and organize content, school and district leaders can do the same processes with their teams.
Special education (SPED) teachers have unique roles on campuses because of the varied ways they interact with both teachers and students. They can leverage Google Classroom to manage the students and teachers on their caseload. Google Classroom can make it easier for SPED teachers to communicate and collaborate with students and teachers. Because of the SPED teachers’ unique role of working with students and teachers in multiple grade levels and subjects, Google Classroom can help them streamline their workflow and maximize their impact. For example, a SPED teacher can have a Google Classroom where all of the “students” in the class are teachers on his or her caseload. The SPED teacher can then quickly and securely share documents with each teacher.
If you are an educational leader who facilitates training and professional development, Google Classroom is a great tool to use as the hub of your campus or district level PD sessions or at conferences. All resources for the PD can be in Google Classroom. Also, Google Classroom will aid in controlling the focus and the flow of your training. And just like with teachers and students, workshop facilitators have an easy way to distribute, collect, and organize materials.
Vertical and Horizontal Alignment
Teachers, teams, schools, and districts can leverage Google Classroom for vertical and horizontal alignment as well as for other interdisciplinary collaboration. Imagine all 4th-grade students school-wide being students in the same Google Classroom with their teachers working collaboratively as co-teachers. It creates an environment where students can collaborate, learn, and grow from even more of their peers. Maybe they are discussing the themes in a book, new concepts learned in math, or how their science projects are solving sustainable development goals. Connecting more students and teachers through Google Classroom helps enhance the learning experience and foster new levels of collaboration.
These are just a few of the many innovative ways educators can use Google Classroom.
Think about how many other non-traditional ways you can use Google Classroom to transform teaching and learning to enhance communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity in your school or district and please share them with me on Twitter.