Now that we are continuing online learning this fall, I have some beef with Google Classroom. Don't get wrong; it's an amazing online tool that I already used in my classroom once in a while. It has many useful features, but after using it as my ONLY classroom, I have some suggestions for Google to make it function better for teachers and students.
1. The "newsfeed" format just doesn't work for a classroom. I wish the classroom page had buttons to pages for students, not a feed in which posts and announcements get lost. I wish teachers had a space at the top of the page that functioned like our bulletin or whiteboards in our actual classrooms. We need to post learning targets and announcements. Having a space at the top of the content in Google Classroom for the learning target and reminders would be so helpful. Below that, have buttons for pages like "Classwork" and "Discussion Forum". Move the feed from the front page to a separate page that the teacher can add discussion topics to and students can respond to those topics. The feed just doesn't work!
2. Student Groups. I teach middle school and have anywhere from 70-90 students enrolled in the same course over different periods. Since they all learn the same thing, I put them all in the same Google Classroom. However, we are required to accommodate and modify for different learning styles and needs. Right now, you can click on individual students to send assignments to. I can send modified assignments to the 15 students who need it, but then I have to go through and click the other 65 kids who DON'T need that modified assignment. Talk about a time-waster! If I could create subgroups within each class, I could have a group of gen ed students, sped students, and 504 students. Subgroups would save me so much time, and my students would get the correct assignment for their learning style.
3. No more blank work! I wish Google had a feature that could prevent students from submitting blank work. I had several students who would just click "Turn in" or "Mark as done" without doing any work. So, on their side of things, they could show their parents that all of their work was turned in! Time to play video games! If Google could create a feature to prevent that, it would save teachers time and keep kids accountable, as well.
As we embark on a digital school year, I am so thankful that we are in the information age and there are so many tools out there for teachers and students to engage in meaningful learning. Google supplies A LOT of those tools, including Google Classroom. With just a few changes, Classroom can be the best tool for teachers and students during remote teaching!