Website Article Review
Tom Mullaney, (who even thanked us for writing about his blog) a fellow education blogger is a certified Google Educator Level 2. Level 2 proves just how enthusiastic and a frequent user he is! These levels prove one’s expertise. (Myself and Tahmeena are almost there!)
Mullaney’s blog is about sharing his knowledge and expertise on Google Classroom, and his enthusiasm certainly comes through in his posts. They are simple and easy to understand as he breaks it down for you. Check him out! Or read our review of his review.
Mullaney’s main concerns are with disagreeing with the fact that Google Classroom is an LMS – Learning Management System. He views Google Classroom as a tool that serves more than the purpose of mere learning management. Learning Management System refers to the documentation, tracking, reporting and administrating electronic educational technology, or e-learning – learning that takes place on the internet. Mullaney agrees that as an LMS, the feature would allow you to create content, but instead it is used as a factor to deliver content. And Google Classroom is not just a delivery boy. Through the all-important feature of Google Drive, Google Classroom can be classed as a CMS – Course Management System. This refers to the feature that Google Classroom assists in, not only assigning assignments and giving out grades, but can also create content by linking to features outside of Google Classroom, track the performance of pupils and keep all their work and assignments neatly in Google Drive. Through Google Classroom it can enhance the experiences for pupils by educators being able to embed videos, instructional elements, and direction. By embedding these features into Google Classroom, pupils can easily maneuverer their way around the web and find relevant and educational tools they need to learn. It all depends on being able to provide these relevant links for the pupils, and the apps in Google Apps, supply plenty of resources: Google Mail, Google+, Google Drive, Google Scholar, Google Maps, Chrome and many more!
The most appealing factor is that Google Classroom is ever evolving. As with most applications, feedback from the public is always appreciated to make the app better and more accessible. Google Inc. is no exception. In less than 15 months, Google Classroom has been upgraded with the capability of:
Saving drafts: If you are not quite finished with you work and would rather save it as a draft then it will. It will be there in that same format when you return to it at a later time.
Questions: You can ask questions or leave questions, which, as an educator, can be great for further discussions in class.
Google Form Integration: This means that whereas before, pupils were expected to copy and paste their work from Microsoft Office document into Google Drive, they no longer have to. Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Slides are Google’s very own Microsoft Office suite whereby pupils can create their work online and work with other users too. Brilliant for group projects.
Reuse old posts: Instead of writing out the very long description of when the assignment is due in, and what important factors the pupils have to remember again – simply ‘reuse’ the post and modify it to save time.
Archive classes: any materials, assignments, important questions that an educator may have used in the previous year can be archived to use again.
Google Classroom will continue to grow and with its easy step-by-step Help Centre, the improvements prove easy to understand and the learning is more plentiful than ever.
Here is what we think:
Tanzy: I agree with Mullaney, Google Classroom is more than just a means of delivering and grading, it is a space of what I remember talking in my BA Dissertation about. A factor called Convergence (Jenkins, 2006). Now I know there’s been plenty of technical words today but this one is easy to understand and will be the last one today! Convergence is all about the user (you or I), doing what is necessary to get the media we want, when we want it and how we want it. This means that digital platforms of any kind, as a digital generation, we can create it and distribute it in any way possible. Creating videos is easy, uploading an image is easy, creating social networking is easy, we can make them public or we can make it private. Essentially it is the ability to do more with the technology you have.
As educators we are engaging in an element of convergence as we are providing our pupils with the ability to see and do more with their online interactions. In addition, Google Classroom also asks the pupils to engage in convergence, as they use their initiative and creativity to create the content for the educators to see and grade, and praise. And as Tahmeena mentioned in this post here, lack of enthusiasm from pupils usually comes as a result of the lack of voice. And as parents we can understand how frustrating it can be in a school full of conflating personalities, to be heard, and Google Classroom offers that individual time for our children to be heard by their teachers. In addition, convergence does not only occur online, so those of us who are thinking ‘my child needs be on the computer to get ahead?’ Absolutely not. Web 2.0 elements are just a means of support; the real convergence, the real genius occurs ‘within the minds of individuals…’ it does not matter how sophisticated technology becomes, (Jenkins, 2006). You see the original creators of the content are the learners. All the homework, and projects and brilliant creative pieces that are produced come from the individual minds of our pupils. Google Classroom is the piece of software that pushes this process to take place.
Mullaney, T. (2015) ‘Google Classroom is not an LMS. It’s Better.’ Sustainable Teaching. Available at: https://tommullaney.com/2015/10/19/google-classroom-is-not-an-lms-its-better/ 19th September 2015. (Date accessed: 27th April 2016)
Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York University Press. New York.
What do you think of Google Classroom being more than just a grading system? Let us know what sorts of amazing work your child creates online! Comment below.