May 09 2017

Google Classroom Now Available for After-School Programs

Unconventional learning opportunities can now have the benefit of organization and collaboration tools.

Over the last few years, Google Classroom has been an effective tool in helping teachers keep organized, promote collaboration, enable personalization and communicate with students at school and away.

Now, Google has announced in a blog post that this tool will be available for even the most unconventional learning experiences.

“A kitchen table might be the go-to desk for a homeschooled student, a community center might host an after-school program for coding, and a nonprofit organization might hold a workshop for adults on resume writing and skills,” reads the post.

Facilitators of such programs can now use their personal Google accounts, rather than a G Suite for Education account, to create their own classes. Teachers who may run an after-school program also received an update to their existing Classroom settings so that they can have students join classes from personal accounts.

The Google post indicates that this could allow schools to explore new partnerships and collaboration.

This was the case with the Google Classroom pilot with Youth for Understanding, an organization that hosts virtual exchange programs. In the pilot, Google reports that YFU used Classroom during a 15-week exchange with 700 students from five countries. Because the tool is cloud-based and accessible on a large variety of devices, YFU told Google that “the ‘technological intimidation factor’ was no longer the primary challenge in running virtual exchanges.”

After-School and Summer Programs Reap STEM Rewards

This expansion of Google Classroom could have big benefits for after-school programs that give students more access to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). These programs have had proven efficacy in recent years.

A study of STEM after-school programs in 11 states found that they have a big impact on students’ knowledge and perception of the fields, Education Week reports.

About 80 percent of students said their STEM career knowledge increased because of an after-school program, and 90 percent of teachers and facilitators said they saw improved science proficiency among their students.

As the school year comes to an end, STEM summer camps, which could also see benefits from using Google Classroom, will begin. These programs have been quite effective at boosting access and achievements of students who may not otherwise have had access to STEM fields.

One such program, a six-week summer camp in South Carolina, gave access to “underserved, underperforming students who are historically likely to finish the school year in or around the 13th percentile only to return in the fall in the ninth percentile as a result of summer learning loss,” reports STEM Ready America.

The first pilot of this program saw 63 percent of campers suffering no summer learning loss.

Now, thanks to the expansion of Google Classroom, the opportunities for more yearlong learning experiences are likely to increase.