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Everything you need to know

classwork tab in Google Classroom on the Chrome desktop browser

Google’s learning platform, Google Classroom, simplifies creating, sharing, and grading assignments. It makes sharing files between teachers and students easy. It’s the perfect companion for student-friendly Chromebooks. Whether you’re a student or a teacher, knowing the service’s ins and outs before sharing assignments is helpful.

We walk you through what Google Classroom is and how to understand each part of the learning platform. You don’t need to use other Google apps to use Google Classroom. Still, understanding how to use Google Drive is helpful, as many Classroom features integrate with Google’s cloud-storage app.

First, a short introduction to Google Classroom

Google Classroom offers teachers a streamlined way to assign and grade homework digitally. It launched in 2014 with the ability to assign, share, and grade assignments. It has been updated regularly, culminating in a significant upgrade during the COVID-19 pandemic, which introduced Google Meet integration, allowing teachers to hold meetings with their Google Classroom group.

Google Classroom is free to use. It integrates other free Google apps to supplement its file-sharing and communication features, including Google Sheets, Calendar, Gmail, Earth, Hangouts, and Meet.

What devices work with Google Classroom?

Students can access Google Classroom through Google Chrome, which is available on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices. Any device that can run an up-to-date version of Google Chrome can access Google Classroom, so students with older devices can get to their school work. Teachers, students, and parents can remain current on relevant assignments and resources from their phones or computers.

How to use Google Classroom

After your school signs up for Google Classroom, you can sign in to the service through the web or mobile app with the appropriate credentials (usually a school email address, for example, [email protected]). Educators have access to a learning hub that can export data for free.

A Teaching and Learning Upgrade ($4 monthly per staff member) is required to hold group meetings. This license allows hosting meetings with 250 students, livestreaming for up to 10,000 viewers on Google Meet, and holding polls.

When you’re signed in, you can explore the available features. We break these down to help you understand what each one does.

Essential features of Google Classroom

Google Classroom can be customized to suit your educational needs. Most students and teachers will interact with these core features.

The Classwork tab

Students and teachers can create, view, and submit assignments in this section. You’ll likely spend most of your time here.

Students receive emails when new assignments are submitted to Google Classroom. Assignments can be broken up by headings and contain relevant documents (for example, Google Slide documents explaining a task).

The Stream tab

This section contains a live feed of new and updated assignments and announcements. These are arranged in chronological order, and if relevant, clicking an item takes you to the assignment in the Classwork tab. This section is also handy for sending short messages to your class without resorting to a mass email.

Announcements posted here can contain links, files, YouTube videos, and Google Drive files. Opening a YouTube video plays it in the announcement rather than opening a new tab.

stream tab in Google Classroom on the Chrome desktop browser

Add-on support

Quizzes and tests are not included in Google Classroom, but numerous officially supported add-ons have this feature, among other tools. These include tools for auto-grading, personalized feedback, one-click login, and integration with external apps like Pear Deck and Kahoot.

Grading methods

All assignments submitted by students in Google Classroom can be graded without add-ons. The grading methods provided by the learning platform include:

  • Total Points: The grade is calculated by dividing the total points obtained by a student by the total points available in the assignment.
  • Weighted: Assignments are divided into categories and then weighted to adjust the overall grade. For example, if Category A and Category B are worth the same points, but Category A is more important, the points received for Category A result in a higher score than if the same points were received for Category B.
  • No Grades: Grades aren’t assigned to the assignments, which is ideal for assignments designed to check milestones.

Google Classroom’s pricing tiers

The basic tier of Google Classroom offers integration of Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides at no cost for qualifying institutions. These include homeschooling co-ops registered as education facilities with the state.

Google offers three paying tiers for institutions looking for more features:

  • Standard: $3 a year per student. Adds extra security and data analytics.
  • Teaching and Learning Upgrade: $4 a month per teacher. Offers large group meetings with breakout rooms, livestreams, and polls.
  • Plus: $5 a year per student. Designed for higher education facilities. Offers support for meetings of up to 500 students and the ability to sync data across multiple classrooms.

Google Classroom connects parents and teachers

The teacher in charge of a Classroom can share a link with the students’ guardians to keep up to date on what’s happening in class.

Parents and guardians can’t access assignments. Teachers can send email summaries of missing and upcoming work and class activities, including announcements and discussions.

Monitoring by parents or parent-teacher conferences keeps parents connected to the education process. With the assistance of school administrators, parents may also adjust the privacy settings of their younger students.

Google Classroom offers a streamlined platform for organizing and sharing educational tools. Keeping your account secure (especially when using single sign-on to access Google Classroom) is important to prevent unauthorized access to class documents. If you use an Android device to access the learning platform, use a passkey for easy and secure logins.

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