Review by Shaun Langevin, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2018

Google Classroom

Simplify communication, collaboration, and document sharing

Subjects & skills
Subjects
N/A

Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
2–12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (47 Reviews)

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Pros: Easy-to-learn interface, integrates with lots of apps and websites, able to seamlessly collect and share G Suite documents.

Cons: Parent access is limited, there's no true gradebook, and document ownership can be confusing.

Bottom Line: Google Classroom is a great way to manage and organize learning, though teachers who need more features may need to look elsewhere.

Google Classroom is an excellent tool for any classroom that uses G Suite products like Google Docs, Slides, or Sheets. Google Classroom creates folders for each classroom teachers add, and folders within those for each assignment -- automatically. Want to use the same assignment with a different class or the following year? It's a simple process to find it and assign it again. A teacher can also create an assignment and select a date and time in the future for it to be posted. This level of organization is a huge time-saver. Teachers can also give assignments that don't have any attachments. For example, they might give students directions in text or a video to participate in a math warm-up on the board. Once a student has completed the task, they can mark it as done.

One feature of Google Classroom that can be confusing to teachers and students is document ownership. When a teacher assigns a Google Doc to a student, the student owns the document. When a student turns the document in, the teacher owns it and the student can no longer edit it. The teacher can return it for the student to make changes at any time. Essentially, the process functions as though the online document were a real piece of paper.

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Google Classroom is a website, Android, and iOS app that serves to help manage workflow and communication between teachers and students. When teachers log in, they have a section for each of their classes. Each class can be given a color and different banner to help teachers and students differentiate between multiple classes, should they have more than one. The teacher and student dashboards are very similar: Recent assignments, announcements, and discussions show up in a "stream," similar to a blog. Important deadlines or upcoming events are displayed on the side. Teachers can invite other teachers to their Google Classroom, which is useful for team-teaching situations.  

In Google Classroom, a teacher creates an assignment and sends a copy to each student or chooses specific students with the click of a few buttons. Students complete the assignment and click the Submit button from right within the document. Teachers can see how many students haven't completed an assignment and who they are, as well as grade assignments on a 100-point scale. There's also an Announcements section. Here, teachers can post upcoming news and events, or link to a video relevant to that day. The About section allows teachers to house more frequently used materials, like important links and rubrics. Teachers can also post discussion questions, which students respond to via text.

The quality of the learning experience with Google Classroom depends on the teacher. Aside from streamlining workflow as mentioned, teachers can ask polling questions and foster rich discussions; some students who find participating in oral discussions difficult find it easier to contribute in an online format. Once comfortable with all of these features, teachers can use their Google Classroom as a nexus point, easily linking and directing students to other tools on the internet. This maintains a high level of organization, allows kids to get where teachers want them to go efficiently, and continuously breathes new life into the tool. Coaches and administration can also find it useful for organizing information and learning for their teaching staff.

There are some glaring features currently omitted from Google Classroom that have long been a part of other similar products. Teachers can only give grades on a 100-point scale, and there's no standards-based grading option. It lacks even a rudimentary built-in gradebook. There's no true parent portal, either. Teachers can invite parents to receive daily or weekly parent/guardian summaries, but parents will see only discussion questions, assignment titles, and descriptions. Parents will see what work their child is missing but can't access or review any specific work. Teachers who won't miss these features will likely find Google Classroom easier to use than other similar but more robust platforms.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Google Classroom is as engaging as the teacher wants it to be. Teachers taking full advantage of the platform will find students are often excited to log in and see what's waiting for them.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Assignment management is a huge plus, but teachers who use Google Classroom to design interactions with and among students see the greatest return.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Google Classroom has amassed a robust set of third-party applications that have built-in integration. The site guides teachers and students through some of the features the first time through.


Common Sense Reviewer
Shaun Langevin Technology coordinator

Teacher Reviews

(See all 47 reviews) (47 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Alyson P. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Cristo Rey Jesuit High School
Baltimore, United States
My "Go to" Teaching Tool
I cannot speak highly enough about this tool. It provides a central hub for all class resources and facilitates communication between myself and my students. I particularly enjoy the "Question" feature where students can post responses to a prompt and reply to one another. This creates a new way for students to collaborate in a forum that I can monitor. Though I did not utilize this feature, Google Classroom allows parents to have access to class material as well. This could be great for younger ...
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