When teachers kick off the new school year using the Google Apps for Education Lineup, they'll be given a few new tools to manage their classroom.
Google released an update to Classroom on Monday, adding some new functions to its education productivity suite. Among the additions is a student response system (SRS) built into the platform, allowing teachers to insert question-driven discussions to their classroom stream page.
The company detailed the new feature in a recent posting on the official Google Education blog:
You can post questions to your class and allow students to have discussions by responding to each other’s answers (or not, depending on the setting you choose). For example, you could post a video and ask students to answer a question about it, or post an article and ask them to write a paragraph in response. “Often, teachers want to do a quick check-in on what their students are learning. Now with this built in to Google Classroom, teachers can easily do this on the fly, any time,” said Michael Fricano II, who teaches at Iolani School in Honolulu. “Your class can have a really engaging, focused conversation.”
SRS is a growing trend in both K–12 and higher education environments. Teachers are looking for new ways to engage with students. In July, Microsoft introduced its version of SRS, Bing Pulse in the Classroom, a free online tool designed to help teachers make lectures more dynamic. Other solutions, such as Socrative and Top Hat, have been evolving along with the needs of educators.
Research from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation shows that 93 percent of teachers surveyed use some form of digital tool to guide student instruction. The research also revealed a fundamentally underserved market — 67 percent of respondents reported that they were “not fully satisfied with the effectiveness of the data or the tools for working with data.”
Other new features being added to Classroom include the ability to copy previous assignments over to a new one, expediting the creation of similar content; integration with Google Calendar which will automatically incorporate assignments and events from Classroom to your schedule; and more.
When Google Classroom launched Classroom, it wasn't a full-fledged learning management system (LMS). As education blogger Alice Keeler put it, Google Classroom is Google Drive management for teachers. But as Google continues to expand the feature set of the platform, including integration with third-party systems through the recent release of Application programming interface (API) tools, Classroom is edging closer to what teachers expect from an LMS.