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What is Google Classroom?

Google Classroom
(Image credit: Google)

What is Google Classroom? That question got you here and the answer has the potential to lead you into a whole new digital world of teaching. Ideal for remote learning as well as in class student engagement.

Google Classroom is super minimal so it's easy to learn, use, and share with other teachers, students, and families. It is crammed full of features and is always updating with new integrations that allow you to access lots of free-to-use tools aimed to help make teaching and learning better.

While this isn't an LMS (Learning Management System), such as Blackboard, it complements many ideally and, in many cases, integrates as well. Yet as Google Classroom becomes more powerful than ever, it is fast representing a new way to teach and manage the class online and remotely.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about Google Classroom.

What is Google Classroom?

Google Classroom is a suite of online tools that allows teachers to set assignments, have work submitted by students, to mark, and to return graded papers. It, effectively, was created as a way to get rid of paper in classes and to make digital learning possible. It was initially planned for use with laptops in schools, such as Chromebooks, in order to allow the teacher and students to more efficiently share information and assignments.

As more schools have transitioned to online learning, Google Classroom has got far wider use as teachers quickly implement paperless instruction. Classrooms works with Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, Earth, Calendar, and Gmail, and can be supplemented by Google Hangouts or Meet for face-to-face live teaching or questions.

What devices does Google Classroom work with?

Since Google Classroom is online-based, you can access it in some form from pretty much any device with a web browser. Processing is done at Google's end mostly, so even older devices are able to handle most of Google's resources. 

There are device specific apps for the likes of iOS and Android, while it also works on Mac, PC, and Chromebooks. A big advantage of Google is that on most devices it is possible to do work offline, uploading when a connection is found.

This all allows teachers and students to use Google Classroom since they can connect with it via any personal device. 

What does Google Classroom cost?

Google Classroom is free to use. All the apps that work with the service are already free-to-use Google tools, and Classroom simply conglomerates it all into a centralized place.

An education institution will need to sign-up for the service in order to add all its students and teachers. This is to make sure security is as tight as possible so no outsiders gain access to the information or students involved.

Google does not scan any of the data, nor does it use that for advertising. There are no advertisements within Google Classroom or the Google Workspace for Education platform at large. 

Google Classroom assignments

Google Classroom has a lot of options but, more importantly, it can allow teachers to do more to help educate students remotely or in hybrid settings. A teacher is able to set assignments and then upload documents that explain what is required for completion, and also provide extra information and a place for students to actually work.

Since students receive an email notification when an assignment is waiting, it's very easy to keep on a time schedule without the teacher having to repeatedly contact the students. Since these assignments can be lined up ahead of time, and set to go out when the teacher wants, it makes for advanced lesson planning and more flexible time management.

When a task is finished, the student can turn it in for the teacher to grade. Teachers can then provide annotations and feedback for the student.

As of 2021, Google announced plans for Classroom to allow for the export of grades into a student information system (SIS) making it far easier to use automatically school-wide.

Google offers an originality report feature. This allows teachers to run a check against other student submissions from the same school. A great way to avoid plagiarism.

Google Classroom announcements

Teachers can make announcements that go out to the entire class. These can appear on the home screen of the Google Classroom lander where the students will see it the next time they log in. A message can also be sent out as an email so that everyone will receive it at a certain time. Or it can be sent to individuals who it applies to specifically. 

An announcement can have more rich media added with attachments from the likes of YouTube and Google Drive. 

Any announcement can be set to either remain like a noticeboard statement, or it can be adjusted to allow for two-way communication from students. 

Should I get Google Classroom?

If you're in charge of teaching on any level and are set to make a decision about online teaching tools, then Google Classroom is definitely worth considering. While this isn't a LMS replacement, it is a really great tool for taking the teaching basics online.

Classroom is super easy to learn, simple to use, and works across many devices – all for free. This means no costs for maintenance since there's no need for an IT management team to support this system. It also automatically keeps you updated with Google's advancements and changes to the service. 

Learn everything you need to know by reading our Google Classroom review.

Luke Edwards is a freelance writer and editor with more than two decades of experience covering tech, science, and health. He writes for many publications covering health tech, software and apps, digital teaching tools, VPNs, TV, audio, smart home, antivirus, broadband, smartphones, cars and much more.