Tuesday, April 21, 2015

You Shared, Classroom Listened!

Google has recently made some exciting new updates to Classroom thanks to all of the feedback and suggestions from teachers.  Starting today, Classroom will enable Teaching Teams, Save draft, Autosaved grades, and Better notifications.

Teaching teams: New ways to work together in Classroom

Google built Classroom to help teachers spend less time on paperwork, and more time with their students. Since it launched, Google has also heard from teachers and professors that they’d love to be able to use Classroom to collaborate with other educators.

Teach together: Whether it’s a substitute, a teacher’s aide or a department chair, almost every teacher and professor is supported by other educators. So starting today, you can have multiple teachers in a Classroom class. To try it out, just go to your class’s About page and click “Invite teacher.” Additional teachers can do almost everything the primary teacher can do: they can create assignments or announcements, view and grade student submissions, participate in the comments on the class “stream,” invite students and even get email notifications – everything except delete the class.

Dani Raskin, a special education teacher at Clarkstown High School South in New York, has been helping Google to test out this new feature. “It’s really important for me to be able to work closely with other teachers who also teach my students, but we don’t always have prep time together,” Dani said. “We are now able to split the workload: both of us can provide direct feedback via comments and grading. It really fosters an authentic sense of teamwork and collaboration."

Prep for your classes in advance: Google knows how much planning goes into every class you teach, and now they are making it a little bit easier to do some of that planning in Classroom. You can save announcements and assignments as “drafts” and wait to send them to students until you’re ready. And similar to Gmail, any time you start creating a new announcement or assignment, it’ll be automatically saved as a draft. This works with multiple teachers as well, so all the teachers in a class can collaboratively prep assignments in advance, and even make changes to each other’s posts on the fly.

Google is also making some other updates you’ve told them will make Classroom easier to use:

  • Autosaved grades: If you can’t get all of your assignments graded in one session, but still want to return them to students at the same time, grades will now be auto saved as you enter them. You can choose when to return them to students.
  • Better notifications: Teachers and students will now receive email notifications when a private comment is left on an assignment.

For schools here in North America and in Europe, Google knows you’re working hard as you round the corner into the end of the year. Google, is too, and they will have more Classroom news for you before school’s out for summer.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Google Classroom: New Features and Updates

In every classroom around the world, teachers spend time decorating their rooms by tacking up fun decorations and outstanding student work. Starting today, teachers can bring those same personal touches to Classroom by uploading their own images to use as themes. That’s just one of the little surprises that Google has sprinkled throughout Classroom to brighten your winter (or sweeten your summer, for our Southern Hemisphere friends).

If you have an image you’d like to use as your theme, Classroom will help you crop it to the perfect dimensions, and automatically pick a matching class color. And in case you don’t have a great photo to use, Classroom is adding 18 new images and 30 pattern themes to the gallery, so teachers have lots of options to make their classes look great. If you don’t have time to browse all the themes, Classroom will even try to automatically match a relevant theme to the class title — it works well for common topics, but it might not find a perfect theme for topics like History of the Peloponnesian War or Quantum Computing 401.

Today Google is also making updates to the mobile app for iOS and Android launched a month ago:

  • Students and teachers can now view the About page in the mobile app for quick access to their class materials and resources.
  • On iOS, students can now add images, videos, and any other files to assignments from other apps.
  • Your favorite emoji are now available on the Android app [insert smiley face here.]
  • Google made overall changes that will increase the speed of the app’s performance, so you can get your work done even faster.

Stay Tuned!
You’ll notice a lot of other small updates that Google hopes will bring some delight and productivity to your February classes!