5 Google Classroom Updates in 2017

Google Classroom is a platform that 20 million students, educators, and administrators all over the world use every day to learn, teach, share knowledge and monitor students’ progress. That being said, Google Classroom keeps progressing and improving to meet the needs of its widespread users. In this blog post, I’ll introduce you with 5 Google Classroom updates published in 2017, designed for each of aforementioned groups of users.

Google Classroom Updates for Teachers

Individual Assignments

By default, teachers can post assignments to all students in the class. Starting from January 2017, teachers can post assignments to individual students. This option allows the teacher to make differentiated assignments and apply the more individual approach in the classroom

To make it done, you need to click the triangle next to students button in your course. That will activate the drop down menu where you can choose to select all users or pick individual students.

However, you can not post to individual students if more than one class is included. Also, you can not post individually to more than 100 students at a time.

Google Classroom updates for teachers
Making individual assignments
Teacher Notifications

Google Classroom has updated teacher notifications. Teachers can now see whenever a student submits the assignment past the due date. Also, if a student resubmits a work after a teacher has already reviewed it, a teacher will receive notification.

Inviting via Email

Starting from March 2017, teachers can invite students and co-teachers to their classes via email. Invited user will get an email with the instructions on how to join the class.

Google Classroom Updates for Students

Student Notifications

The new update will help students to turn in their assignments on time. The student will get a notification 24 hours prior to the assignment due date.

Notification Management

Both students and teachers can manage their mobile notification settings. They can choose which type of notifications they want to receive on their mobile devices.

Google Classroom Updates for Personal Accounts

Recently, Google Classroom has announced probably the biggest update of the year! Google for education has broadened its eligible accounts policy and allowed users to sign up with personal Google accounts. 

This is a revolutionary move from Google Classroom, as it actually means that you don’t need to have a G Suite for Education anymore. It opened the doors to all those users who aren’t associated with any school. Homeschooling parents, online tutors and life long learners can now create their Google Classroom accounts.

However, there is a catch. Although you can create Google Classroom account with a personal Google account, you can not yet create your classes. At this moment, you can only join an existing class. Creating feature will be available over the next few weeks. In the meantime, you can ask Google to let you create your class before that. When you click a create a class button, the notification box will open. Click the “Let us know” link on the bottom that will lead you to Google form. Fill it out and wait for a response.

Google Classroom Updates

Google Classroom Updates for Administrators

User Metrics

As a G Suite for Education administrator you access users metrics like weekly active users, a number of active classes, created courses and posts. These metrics should help administrators to reduce paperwork and measure the success of both teachers and students.

Google Classroom Updates from AWW

Last week AWW introduced an update of Google Classroom board share. With this enhanced version, teachers and students can have more integrated user experience of AWW and Google Classroom.

Teachers can now create assignments, announcements and ask questions from within AWW board, while students can turn in their completed assignments directly from the application.

Google Classroom Updated with AWW
Sending Assignments in AWW

Beginner’s Guide to Paperless Classroom

Starting with Paperless Classroom

If I ask every teacher what would make their work better, their answer would probably be – more efficient and organized classroom. More time for students and less time doing paperwork. Paperless classroom is an concept which, if implemented thoughtfully and carefully, can make your teaching wishes come true.

However, when starting to think about going paperless, you’ll have to consider some facts. As in every concept, you have to take into account both benefits and challenges. At the beginning, set your expectations low, and see how the paperless concept works for you. Test it. Adapt it to your needs. When you’re ready, set the goals and keep track of them.

Paperless Classroom
Courtesy of: Paul Gigliotti

Benefits of Paperless Classroom

The two most obvious benefits of paperless classroom are smaller cost and less time spent for printing out. Printing out endless number of assignments, homework, syllabi and exams, can be cumbersome and exhausting work. Not to mention, the costs of paper, ink and maintenance can add up to enormous sums. Average American school pays $25,000 annually just for the costs of paper! This alone is a reason enough to start considering implementation of a digital classroom concept.

Beyond these obvious benefits, there are other perks of implementing paperless classroom system into your school. Paperless implementation can result in a more sustainable and efficient workflow. No more “dog ate my homework” or misplaced exams. Another big value of having a cloud based system is access to data. Teacher can access student data and see whether he’s turned in his homework right from his couch. Deeper analysis of student data can show how student progress over time.

Benefits of Paperless Classroom
Courtesy of: chalkup.co

Not doing things old way, can create a lot of extra time for student collaboration end engagement. Doing things digitally can save time and make more engagement friendly environment. Concepts like flipped classroom and blended learning are some of the examples of fostering collaboration with the use of paperless technology.

When kids got all the learning materials available in a cloud base or LMS system they can access it whenever they want. Discussions started in classroom can continue at students’ homes. Moreover, Students can share their homework or a group assignments with friends and collaboratively solve problems. As a teacher you can access their assignments in real time end even help them with their struggles from your home.

Students can engage with the lessons in the way they find more comfortable. Gamification is the perfect example. Students can feel more like they’re having fun, than actually learning, and thus likely to involve more. Furthermore, digital audio-visual formats like videos and screencasts are by a definition more engaging way of consuming information then one-dimensional textual forms.

Challenges of Paperless Classroom

No system is perfect. There are several challenges to think about when transitioning to paperless. The obvious one is access to internet and devices. Both of them cost money. In addition, there are tools that you’ll use to transform your class to digital. Whether it is a comprehensive system or a simple app you’ll have to think about money that you’ll need to invest in it. Lastly, think about the hidden costs. Many of products have freemium pricing models. If you don’t pay attention to small print, you may unknowingly end up being charged for an increase of a service.

Paperless ClassroomAnother challenge is a question of training. As much as systems are becoming more easy to use, there is a certain time period that’ll need to pass before accommodating with it. We recommend you to take a trial period or demo version before actually buying a product. That way, you can avoid buying a product that you don’t feel comfortable with. Bad customer support can also be a deal breaker. Call out or send a ticket to test customer support promptness and how they’re dealing with problems.

Lastly, there’s a mind shifting challenge. Abandoning habits created for years is hard. Many older generation teachers, that didn’t grow up in the internet age, can have an aversion towards digital tools. Moreover, they can think there’s nothing wrong with printed exams and handwrite red-pen homework corrections. As a result, they can feel confused and reluctant. However, younger colleagues can help them out discover pain points when using technology and explain them that tools are not here to replace them, but to help them use their time more efficiently.

Practical Steps to Go Paperless

♦ Build up your digital learning materials repository. LMS systems or cloud platforms like Google Drive or Dropbox are probably the best solution to collect and store all your materials. Recently, AWW has introduced embed option for Canvas, Edmodo and Moodle.

 

Paperless Classroom with Cloud Storage♦Create digital lessons/assignments. There are so many tools on the market that enable you screencast your lessons, make video tutorials and record your audio explanations or student’s thoughts. With AWW you can create and save unlimited number of lessons. Use text, drawings, images and files to create intuitive and fun learning materials.

♦ Distribute lessons digitally. It is important that you can easily distribute your lessons and assignments. AWW app has made a great tool that will help you share your saved lessons with a click of a button to entire class.  

♦ Collect completed assignments the same way you distributed it. Students can easily turn in their AWW assignments by sharing them to Google Classroom.

♦ Monitor progress of your students. When we’re talking about monitoring progress over time, yet again, LMS systems come in handy .

♦ Connect with parents. Share grades, lessons and assignments with parents and keep them in the loop.

Edtech Era: Advantages Of Using Online Smart Board In Digital Classroom

A number of teachers may not yet be aware of the benefits of using smart technology in classrooms. One of the most used pieces of educational smart technology are smart boards – interactive whiteboards that give students the ability to learn both independently and collaboratively. However, with a development of cloud technology, standard smart boards are becoming outdated. Collaborative online whiteboard, used as classroom online smart board, presents a low-cost alternative for standard digital smart boards.

This article will demonstrate both general benefits of using smart boards in classrooms and specific advantages of online smart boards over standard technology.

Embracing Smart Board Technology In The Classroom

Here is a list of some of the most important advantages of using smart boards in classrooms.

Enhancing Student’s Learning Experience

Smart board technology provides enriched learning experience by projecting visual elements. Visual learners can observe the projection screen/board while tactical learners can learn by touching the tablet or laptop screen.

Smart Means Interactive

Research has repeatedly demonstrated that students learn best when there is involved use of hands or they are touching with their hands – in other words hands on–learning. Smart board interactivity provides students the ability to write and draw by the touch of a stylus pen or a finger.

Focusing On Lectures

Students can use teacher’s notes projected on the screen/board and save them or send them via e-mail. They do not need to take them by themselves, which lets them focus better on the content of the lectures.

Classroom Collaboration
The role of smart boards in classroom collaboration – source: elearninginfographics.com

Collaboration

Probably the most important advantage of smart board technology over traditional board is the ability of collaboration. Students can write or draw at the same time on the same canvas thus stimulating creativity.

 Access To Online Resources

Students and teachers can easily access a wide range of online resources via laptop or tablet necessary for interactive lectures or collaborative schoolwork.

 Interactive Whiteboard
Interactive whiteboard – source: cultofpedagogy.com

Online Smart Board VS Standard Smart Board Technology

We have learned that smart boards are useful educational tool that helps teachers to empower their lectures. However, there are some considerable downsides of using smart boards, too.

Downsides of Standard Smart Board Technology 

First of all, smart boards can be really big investment – the cost of a smart board with full equipment can go up to $5.000! That is quite a sum, especially for classrooms with fewer students. Furthermore, in the best-case scenario, only five students can write on the board simultaneously. That means not the whole class can participate in collaborative work, but only few students. Another big issue, that you should consider, is the matter of endurance and board maintenance costs. Classroom full of children running around is not the safest environment for the high-end technology prone to be scratched or turned over.

Alternative 

However, there is an alternative. AWW is the first online smart board app designed for in-class use that is compatible with all devices, operational systems and browsers. That means greater flexibility for schools who don’t have budget for smart boards or laptops for every student. With AWW every student can bring his own device and simply draw on it. Only thing school has to provide is a projector and a projection screen. Teacher can open AWW online smart board on tablet, then share the board on the computer connected with projector and everything that teacher draw will show on a projection screen. Best thing of all is, AWW has absolutely no limits regarding simultaneity: everyone can participate at once.

Here is a full table of features comparing online and standard smart board.

FEATURE AWW ONLINE SMART BOARD STANDARD SMART BOARD
Cost Low Cost High Cost
Billing Interval Monthly Subscription At Once
Compatibility All Devices, OS And Browsers Particular Devices/ OS
Simultaneity No limits Limited up to 5 users
Installation Not Required Required
Maintenance Requires Any Software and Hardware Maintenance