Review by Shaun Langevin, Common Sense Education | Updated August 2019

Google Classroom

Simplify communication, collaboration, and document sharing

Subjects & skills
Subjects
N/A

Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
3–12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (54 Reviews)
Privacy (See details)

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

Cons: Integration with student information services is still in development; no standards-based grading options.

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 frequently uses G Suite products like Google Docs, Slides, or Sheets. The ability to create and manage assignments is the core component of Google Classroom. After creating a document, teachers can assign a copy of it to students. If a teacher doesn't create a document beforehand, students can simply click a button to create one that's linked to the assignment. Upon completion, students turn in the assignment for grading. Teachers can also give assignments that don't have any attachments or documents. For example, they might provide students with 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. 

Google Classroom takes on all of the organization. Folders are created in the teacher's Google Drive for each class, and each class has folders for each assignment. Teachers use this folder or the assignment from within Google Classroom to check in on student progress before students turn in the document. With all of this folder and document management handled automatically, educators have more time to focus on students and teaching. Google Classroom also makes it easy to reuse assignments in future classes.

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Google Classroom is similar to a learning management system (LMS) that helps teachers manage workflow and communication with their students (it's available as a website, an Android app, and an iOS app). 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 courses. The teacher and student dashboards are very similar: Announcements and discussion questions appear on the Stream page. Although assignments also show up on the Stream page, they're now created and interacted with on the Classwork page. The Classwork page also houses materials like links, videos, and other documents that teachers and students will need to reference. 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.  

The Grades page has improved some since Google Classroom launched years ago. Teachers can now create categories such as homework, classwork, projects, etc., and give them different weights toward the final grade.  A handy new addition is the Docs grading tool, which allows teachers to give grades and written feedback while viewing the student document. Should teachers choose, they can now grade assignments even if the student hasn't turned them in, which is useful for when students forget to turn in the assignment.

Teachers can also choose to turn on parent summaries, which are emails that parents or guardians can receive about their kids. The summaries are limited to missing assignments, upcoming assignments, and announcements; parents won't get information on their kids' grades. 

The quality of the learning experience with Google Classroom depends on the teacher. Aside from being able to streamline document management, teachers can ask polling questions and foster fruitful discussions; students who find participating in oral discussions difficult may 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. 

As far as assessment is concerned, teachers can only give grades on a 100-point scale, and there's no standards-based grading option. Other LMS products integrate with Common Core standards and allow teachers to upload their own rubrics, a feature that Google Classroom doesn't have. Google is testing integration with student information systems (SIS) so that grades entered in the gradebook will transfer to the system that a district is using. Once this is available, the Grades page might be more appealing for some teachers. Teachers can create quizzes that use Google Forms, which make use of traditional questions such as short answer, long answer, and multiple choice. Teachers looking for dragging labels on an image, number lines, charts and graphs, or other advanced question types need to look elsewhere.

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 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 54 reviews) (54 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Jaymee C. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Jacksonville High School
Jacksonville, United States
This is a great, useful tool that every educator should use!
This is one of the best tools. It enhances teaching for me because it allows me to keep a running document of all classwork and notes online for both me and my students to access. This is great for grading as well as getting out announcements to the whole class. It also allows for great feedback method for me to my students.
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