Helpful Curation of Web-based Learning Resources for the Classroom
For teachers, Gooru can be used simply as a great search engine for curated learning resources or collections. The filters available to find resources is especially impressive. You can drill down your search by the typical filters (grade level band, content area, standard), but Gooru also lets you search for specific types of resources (websites, videos, quizzes, etc.), it identifies if resources are friendly for mobile devices, it lets you specify access needs (like color dependent, text on image, tactile, auditory, visual, or textual), and if you know a publisher or aggregator (like NSDL), you can enter that as well.
For teachers who want to actually build lessons, Gooru is also a good solution. You can pace learning, add your own questions, and track progress. That does require setting up classes and having students logging into the site, but it's fairly intuitive and easy to figure out. Students can get immedate feedback, work at their own pace, and even create their own collections.
There two major drawbacks to Gooru: a) video content is almost exclusively from YouTube, which could be a stumbling block for schools or districts who block access to YouTube and b) the websites included aren't always "live" (I came across several that had been taken down or were no longer available). While difficult to control, the websites are displayed as is. Any distracting content or confusing layouts can make it seem very visually cluttered. For those folks who share collections, it is up to them to make sure the content is still available and relevant, and that may be a challenge in terms of keeping resources up-to-date.
How I Use It
The most natural starting point with Gooru is to use it as a search engine. It's a pretty amazing collection of web-based resources, and for teachers who are looking for some good content, it is vastly better than an overwhelming Google search. As mentioned in the review, you don't need an account to search for resources, but if you want to save your "favorite finds" for later, it's highly recommended. Teachers and students who use Google Apps for Education can just use their existing login, which is nice.
Gooru can go beyond the repository of resources as you can create classes and assignments for students to access. It will provide some basic analytics for assessments given in Gooru, and they have been very good about adding new useful features (and content). If you want to use someone else's lesson, it's easy to remix. If you do find a collection you'd like to use, be sure to go through it thoroughly first. Sometimes the websites included are no longer available, and some of the content may not be the best fit for your lesson.