I’ve been using Google Classroom in the classroom with students for 3 years. At first, there were few of us who dared to jump in. I’ve seen a lot more people using it lately. I have already explained in one article that Moodle and Classroom are different things to me. Neither better nor worse. In any case, Classroom is better suited to my way of managing the classroom. Following several conversations I’ve had lately, this article explains how I use it. It’s not the best way, nor the only way. But I share it in case it can be an inspiration or just to find out how NOT to use it 😉
If we come to Classroom thinking about replicating the way other virtual learning environments work, we’re doing badly. As always with technology, introducing it should serve to improve and change our way of doing things. To stay the same as always, why change?
So, if you want to have a course prepared, organized by topics, with all the activities ready and as it progresses, we are showing it to the students, Classroom is not our best environment.
Classroom adapts to my way of managing the classroom because it is very lively. When I come to class, I have prepared the activities that we will carry out, the challenges that I will raise them, the duration of each activity… but reality always surpasses fiction (well, the programming in this case). So in many classes I end up hanging links that I didn’t have planned, cutting out planned activities or even proposing new ones that have arisen in the classroom.
If you also work with this mixture of programming-adaptation (or programming chaos, say it as you wish) then Classroom is adapted to your needs.
Creating a course during the year, from Drive
When I prepare classes, all the activities, links, documents… I want to use in the classroom I have on Drive. I’ve got it all organized up there.
Normally, within each drive or project folder I have:
- Documents, spreadsheets and presentations of the Drive, either to give information to students or as response templates.
- Sites made with the new version of Google Sites.
- pdf documents.
So, each Drive folder can look like this:
Logically, there are resources I know for sure that I will post them and use the Classroom tools to schedule their publication. But there are others in the classroom that I’m going to publish. In fact, whenever I go into class I always open the Classroom in a tab. As with Classroom it’s super simple and fast to post ads and tasks, I often do it in class.
Apart from the teacher’s publications, there is another feature of Classroom that I am increasingly using. It’s true that at first I didn’t dare, because I was in control of everything, but I lose more and more of this need and make students participate. I’m starting to take advantage of the option of having students themselves publish. When there is a job that a student has done that is worthwhile for everyone to know, I ask you to publish it and for colleagues to comment on. The response of the comrades is always very well valued.
It is also true that I use the publication by students in a punctual way, to avoid that there are so many publications that it is impossible to find anything (in class I always have 30 students). Sometimes I take advantage of the QUESTION resource where students can post short answers. These short answers are often asked to be links to your tasks or links of interest. This way everyone can see the tasks or links but grouped in a single publication.
Creating a course during the year, from a prepared course
I would also like to mention another way of working which I do not use but which can also be useful.
There are people who for each subject they give, create two courses in Classroom. In one, they have all the resources (advertisements, tasks or questions) already published but without students. In the other one, at first they have nothing, only the students. In class is they use Reuse publications option. They add to the course with student, the resources of the complete course without students.
Depending on how the class goes, they reuse one publication or another. In this way, the publications can be more complete (with many links or files and more explanatory text). It is also a very good way to work and the course is still quite lively.
Change of course
In either of the two ways described above, changing course is no problem. If everything is on Drive, at the end of the course the Classroom course is archived and a new one is made. Everything is ready to start a new course again, where I will surely end up publishing a lot of different resources in different order.
If you get two courses, there’s no problem either. The one we have used with students is archived, we create a new one and reuse and add publications.
Share with other teachers
Either way it is also easy to pass courses to other teachers. With Drive you only need to share the folder and, with two Classroom courses, you just need to add a new teacher to the course where there are no students. In both cases, the work we have done is not lost and we can pass it on without problems.
I hope that these ways of working can give ideas to other teachers and that they can make more use of this wonderful tool.