Google Classroom, a free, new tool in the Google Apps for Education suite, has been released by Google after a three-month preview period to help teachers streamline many administrative tasks so they can spend more time teaching subject matter to their students.
The Classroom feature was announced by Zach Yeskel, Google's Classroom product manager and a former high school math teacher, in an Aug. 12 post on the Google Enterprise Blog.
"When we introduced Classroom back in May [in limited preview mode], we asked educators to give it a try," wrote Yeskel. "The response was exciting—more than 100,000 educators from more than 45 countries signed up for a preview. Today, we're starting to open Classroom to all Google Apps for Education users, helping teachers spend more time teaching and less time shuffling papers."
The idea of Classroom is to help teachers create and organize assignments quickly, provide feedback efficiently and communicate with their classes easily with Web-based educational tools that are simple to use.
Through Google technology services, including Google Docs, Drive and Gmail, teachers can use Classroom to create and collect assignments from students without using paper, and quickly monitor which students have or have not turned in assignments. They can also provide instant feedback on student work using Classroom.
In addition, teachers can make announcements and share questions and comments with students in real time with Classroom. The service automatically creates Drive folders for each assignment and for each student, as well as lets students know which assignments are due through their own personalized assignments page, according to Google.
"Classroom is available in 42 languages (including right-to-left ones, such as Hebrew, Arabic and Persian)," wrote Yeskel. "It also works well on mobile devices and most popular screen readers. We'll be rolling out to more users every day, so if you go to classroom.google.com with your Apps for Education account and don't have access yet, please check back soon. Hopefully, Classroom will help you spend a little less time at the photocopier and a little more time doing what you love—teaching."
Fontbonne Hall Academy in Brooklyn, N.Y., was one of the first schools to use Classroom, according to Yeskel. "Sister Rosemarie DeLoro, who has been teaching for more than 60 years, had never used computers with her students before Classroom was introduced at her school. Classroom made it easy for her to assign digital worksheets to students in her Italian class and provide direct feedback to help them learn."
Soon, she was even showing the other teachers how to use it, he wrote.
"You can't stay in teaching and keep going to the old ways," Sister DeLoro told Yeskel.