Reflections on Google Classroom: Our New VLE

It has been quite a busy year for me this year, as you may have noticed from the lack of posts lately. I’ve been involved in a number of projects and developments within school as well as the day-to-day running of my department. One of my projects has been the roll-out of a new VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) across the school in the form of Google Classroom. You can read more about the details of Google Classroom over on Google’s website. Having only been released in September we jumped straight in as a school and haven’t looked back since as Google Classroom offers a lot of benefits and freedom to teachers that were not seen in our previous VLE.

Google Classroom Nicki Cooper

As part of my CPD this year I was required to undertake a TLA Recognition action research project, so for obvious reasons I decided to focus on the roll-out of Google Classroom with the full title being:

Implementing, rolling out and assessing the impact of a new VLE, in the form of Google Classroom, into the school environment.

Within this post I shall summarise my findings from the research. There is a link at the bottom if you would like to read the full research project.

Google Classroom was rolled out in a staggered approach; first we trialled it with KS4 pupils in my department before using with KS3, I then shared and gave an overview during a full staff briefing requesting volunteers to come forward to try in their own department, these volunteers were then given some basic training before using with their classes. Following this, throughout the year training sessions have been offered and delivered across the school and all staff have been encouraged to use Google Classroom with their classes. Some benefits afforded by the use of Google Classroom are as follows:

    • Integration of Google apps for education (Drive, Docs, Slides etc.)
    • Easily allows sharing of documents online and collaborative editing
    • Sets up multiple copies of a template or worksheet at the press of a button
    • Provides one place for students to submit their work
    • Allows teachers to effortlessly share resources and assignments with multiple classes at once
    • Has allowed my department to become paperless (with the exception of exam papers and the odd handout!)

Throughout the year Google have been very responsive to teacher feedback by regularly adding new improvements and modifications. These are the new improvements we have seen so far:

    • Customisable page header images
    • Shared classes
    • Mobile app now shows pupil work and feedback
    • Teachers can post draft assignments and announcements that can be displayed later
    • Archive old classes

Following the developments across the year there are still a few improvements I’d like to see in the future, these are as follows:

    • Allow users to move, organise and group classrooms on the home page
    • Sticky posts on the Classroom stream
    • Notification system for comments (similar to the way notifications are displayed on Facebook):
      • Pupils should be notified when a piece of work has been returned
      • Teachers should be notified when a pupil comments
    • Separate tab for assignments on subject page
    • Display images and videos either embedded on the page itself or as a popup rather than taking you to Google Drive or YouTube
    • Pupils should not be able to submit an assignment if they have not uploaded anything. I would also prefer it if the ‘mark as done’ option was something only the teacher can do.
    • Allow worksheets (where one is created for each pupil) to be added to an assignment later where necessary. Currently they can only be added when the assignment is first set up.

As the VLE is still quite new I’m sure we will continue to see improvements being added as more schools start using this fantastic educational tool. Great job Google!

Finally, here are some useful resources if you are interested in getting started reading more about Google Classroom:

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