(Updated blog post – originally posted about Google Classroom 5 months ago)
Over the weekend, I came across some astonishing facts online about Google that I had to share with you all as well as introducing Google Classroom, which you may or may not have heard about before. According to Google’s Blog more than 50 million students and teachers are using Google Apps for Education, more than 10 million are using Google Classroom, and more than 10 million are using Google Chromebooks.
So what is Google Classroom?
Set up in 2014, Google Classroom is available and free to schools with Google Apps for Education.Google has dubbed Classroom “mission control for students and teachers.” The app, which weaves together various other apps, including Google Drive, Documents, Sheets and Forms, made waves shortly after it was launched in August 2014.
“Ever since we began working with teachers and students, it’s been rewarding and encouraging to hear their stories, collaborate to find answers to their problems, and watch those solutions come to life at schools and universities around the world. Lucky for us, we’re just getting started,” wrote Cinthya Mohr, Google for Education’s user experience lead.
Having used Google Classroom myself, I find it to be such a useful tool in both teaching and learning. It is easy to set up (which is always a fear of mine!) and it is FREE for schools. It is great for organisation and planning for various classes and lets you have a folder for each designated class group. You can share files with a whole class group including handouts and marking schemes or even just homework. Students can also share resources with one another enhancing their own communication skills. Students have a class code to log on with and can view and edit files and submit all of their assignments. Teachers can then can correct, review and send back grades on Classroom. As a Web 2.0 technology, it provides more time for teaching and learning in the classroom. I seen a comment on Educate 1to1 blog about it being a ‘paperless flow’ and I really liked that description because it is exactly what Google Classroom is.
Teachers and students can download the mobile app in the app store for Android and iPhone (but there are limitations with multiple domains). For now, teachers and students need accounts in the same domain to use Google Classroom ( example; Google For Education).There has been suggestions and many ways which could make it better and Google Education has said that they are currently working on this. Every month Google has a feature that highlights what is new in the Classroom each month and can be found here at Updates for Google.
I really like Google classroom as an organisational, management and classroom tool. If you are still unsure about using it (or maybe afraid like I was), you can see how to set up your own Google Classroom with the help of this Introduction to Google Classroom or Tutorial for Google Classroom.
One book which has gotten fantastic reviews is 50 Things You Can Do With Google Classroom by Alice Keeler (@alicekeeler) and is available to buy here on Amazon and is also available for Kindle with Step by Step instructions, screenshots and tips and would be an excellent resource for starting off with Google Classroom in your school.
Last weekend as part of my Masters, I began a module called Virtual Environments in Teaching and Learning. It was on Friday and Saturday. Friday night focused on the theory of the module and Saturday was also some theory but a more practical hands on approach with our module co-ordinator @donenda. We explored various virtual tools for the classroom including wearable technology and augmented reality. The reason I am discussing this is because I am linking what we did in class to this blog post. We explored two initiatives from Google to use in the classroom, Google Glass and Google Cardboard. Google Glass is like a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display. The heads-up display coupled with voice activation allows users to see and interact with information in a smartphone-like hands-free format. Google Glass is roughly $1,500 (€1331.00) to buy which is far too expensive for most people to even consider purchasing. However, if you wish to buy Google Glass, you can do so through Amazon.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to experience Google Glass in full last weekend but I got a photo wearing the headset to show you what the glasses look like on. Luckily, I have had the opportunity to to use Google Glass before and it was a pretty amazing experience but personally I don’t think it would work in a classroom situation (due to charging , breakages and expense). I have linked a Google Glass video tutorial for more information on how to use Google Glass.
According to Mashable UK ‘Google Glass for consumers may be dead, but Google is, apparently, still hard at work on Google Glass 2.0. At least that’s what everyone believed after Google posted a series of images on the Federal Communication Commission web site late last year. They depict a slightly redesigned Glass body, but there’s no detail on how this version will attach to your head. Most believe that whatever Google does with future versions of Google Glass, it’ll continue to target business and enterprise, where the company had the most success with the original Google Glass’.
I guess we will all just have to wait and see where Google Glass 2.0 takes us!
Another innovative piece of technology we looked at and got to use last weekend was Google Cardboard (shown below) which allows students and teachers to explore a virtual reality in a fun, affordable way. A simple piece of cardboard and a pair of 40mm focal distance lenses basically turns your phone into a virtual reality headset. It also uses magnets, velcro, and a rubber band to keep everything in place. Once put together, users set their phone into it and look through the lenses. In combination with Google Cardboard apps, you can experience a virtual reality for very little cost – and effort.
We explored the Palace of Versailles (pictured below) using Google Cardboard, which would be amazing for a history lesson and a few of my classmates visited mosques around the world which would be amazing to display in Religious Education lessons.
You can buy Google Cardboard made or flat packed from Buy Google Cardboard.It is reasonably priced and I bought mine recently on Amazon for less than €6.00.It fits many devices and it is easy to use. You can find lots of FREE apps for Google Cardboard by visiting the PLAY STORE on a Smartphone or by searching for “Cardboard” or “Virtual Reality” on the Apple App Store. Here are some suggested apps for Google Cardboard and ones I am looking forward to downloading when I receive my own Google Cardboard ; Google Cardboard apps.
While companies worldwide continue to work on high-tech virtual reality solutions, Google has proven that you don’t need a lot of money to enjoy the cool experience that Virtual Reality headsets have to offer. All you need is your smartphone (which you will already have), some compatible apps, and a cheap build-it-yourself kit (or pre-made).
If I had to choose between Google Glass and Google Cardboard, I would definitely pick Google Cardboard as it is very affordable, accessible and above all extremely interesting particularly if you like using ICT in education like I do. I will update this when I recieve mine and I have investigated it further.
Feel free to share some of your own experiences of Google Classroom /Glass/ Cardboard below– perhaps we can pool our pedagogies together for planning on how to use these devices in class 🙂
- Google Blogspot.ie
- Google Cardboard
- Google Glass
- Google Classroom