This school year saw an increase in remote, hybrid, and distance learning due to safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic for schools and educational institutions around the country. With millions of educators and students participating in virtual learning for the first time, many school districts and universities have turned to remote learning platforms and software to recreate a productive educational environment at a safe distance.
While there are many remote learning tools and video conferencing platforms to choose from, many educators have stuck with the familiar and chosen to utilize Google Classroom for all of their remote learning needs.
If you are an educator or student participating in remote or hybrid learning this year, here is everything you need to know to get started with Google Classroom.
What is Google Classroom?
Google Classroom is a free web service developed by Google that integrates Docs, Sheets, Slides, Gmail, and Calendar into a cohesive platform to simplify the creation, distribution, and grading of educational assignments.
Google Classroom was created to streamline the file, document, and assignments process between teachers and their students. When COVID-19 first interrupted the usual classroom experience for educators and students in March of 2020, Google Classroom immediately saw a rise in users as schools all over the United States turned to remote learning tools. That rise continued through the summer and now Google Classroom is estimated to have over 120 million users.
What are the benefits of using Google Classroom for remote learning?
Google Classroom allows you to combine all of your favorite aspects of Google tools and features into the customizable education experience that is right for your students. While you may already be familiar with many of the benefits of utilizing Google tools, Google Classroom has much more to offer.
Here are some of the benefits of using Google Classroom for all of your remote and hybrid learning needs:
- Students can stay on top of their due dates and assignments thanks to Google Classroom’s intuitive tools
- Parents and guardians can be added to Google Classroom and given access to automated reports of their student’s activity and achievements
- Google Classroom is user-friendly enough for everyone to use, from kindergarteners to adult learners, and anyone in between
- Educators can create assignments by uploading the necessary resources and documents, then students receive an automated email notifying them of their new assignment
- If you have a quick update or information for the whole class, you can create an Announcement that is emailed to your class without leaving the Google Classroom platform
- Thanks to its large storage capabilities, you can store all assignments, classroom materials, and additional educational documents all on Google Drive for quick access
- Students can interact with one another through asynchronous communication tools such as commenting on one another’s assignments, sending announcements, and emailing one another through the Classroom interface
How to Set Up and Manage a Google Classroom
Like any Google application, you need a Google account to use Google Classroom— but not just any standard Google account will give you access to Classroom. Instead, you will need to create a Google Apps for Education account.
To set up your Google Apps for Education account, follow these steps:
- Open a Web browser and go to classroom.google.com and sign in with your standard Google account.
- Upon signing in you’ll see a message that says “Sorry! Classroom is only available for Google Apps for Education Users at this time.”
- Click the Get Started with Apps button.
- On the Google Apps for Education page, you can read all about the service, or just click the Get Apps Today button in the top right.
- Fill out the form with your institutional information and click Next.
- Most likely, your school has an existing web site that you can use as the Domain Name. Click the Use a Domain Name I Have Already Purchased option and type in the domain. Then, click Next.
- Type in a new username and password.
- Type in the requested text in the picture to prove you’re not a robot, check the Read-and-Agree box, and click Accept and Signup.
- Now that you have successfully logged into the Google Classroom administration portal, you need to verify your domain. If you are using your school’s domain, contact your school for help on completing this last step.
Google Classroom Login for Students
Now that you have successfully set up your Google Apps for Education account, it is time to create your classroom. To create your own classroom, click the plus (+) sign in the top right of Classroom’s main page and click “Create Class”.
From here, you can invite students and additional teachers into your Google Classroom from the “People” tab. To give students access to your classroom, you have two options:
- Click “Invite” on the right side of “Students” to invite them by email address
- Send your prospective students the class code that can be found at the bottom of the page
For students to accept the Google Classroom invitation sent to them by email:
- Open the email program you use for Classroom.
- In the email invite, click Join.
For students joining a Google Classroom through a class code:
- Go to classroom.google.com.
- Sign in with the correct account. If you're already signed in and need to switch to the correct account, in the top-right corner, click your profile picture and select or add the correct account.
- Once signed in to the correct account, click the Join Class icon.
- Enter the class code from your teacher and click Join.
Here’s a tip: Class codes are all 6-7 characters, and are made up of a combination of letters and numbers. When typing in your code, remember that codes can’t have spaces or special symbols.
How to Contact Google Support
When you are getting started with Google Classroom and familiarizing yourself with the platform, it is natural for you to find yourself with some questions about certain features or requiring assistance as you are setting up your assignments.
For all the information you need to set up your Google Classroom, Google Support is available 24/7 through Classroom Help to assist you and answer any questions you may have.
For additional Google Classroom assistance and resources, you can join the Classroom Community of like minded educators who write posts and help one another out on their journeys of navigating distance learning while utilizing Google Classroom.
Google Classroom Classes: How to Engage Students
As any educator or teacher knows, keeping students engaged is one of the primary concerns when it comes to remote learning. In a physical classroom, keeping all students eyes on the appropriate materials and assignments comes second nature to most teachers. But once students are logging into their class from home, the world of potential distractions multiplies tenfold.
The good news is, thanks to the expansive virtual tools that Google Classroom has to offer, there are endless options for educators to creatively and effectively keep their students engaged from a distance.
Here are some of the ways you can use Google Classroom tools to keep your remote students engaged:
- Make your content more dynamic by mixing up the types of education resources you share with students. In addition to Google Docs and Slides, through Google Classroom you can share all types of mixed media resources like drawn images, YouTube videos and Screencasts. Through these tools, you can allow students to respond to assignments with a written comment or video clip.
- Use the Classroom Stream to facilitate active class discussions. It is here where students interact with one another. To keep classes lively and interactive, spend an ample amount of time in the Stream.
- Use the Google Drawing tool to continuously engage students of any age. With Drawing, students can create their own images and collaborate remotely with other students on theirs. Due to the simple collaborative quality of this tool, and increase in student engagement is quick to achieve.
- Jazz up your next Google Slides presentation by turning it into an engaging, interactive experience for students, instead of a lecture. By inserting links to other websites or other slides in your presentation, students have a new sense of control and ownership over their learning experience.
- To collect data from your students in an engaging way, utilize Google Forms. This tool allows you to poll your class on anything from pre-class icebreaker questions like “Who enjoyed last night's reading assignment?” to quiz-style warm ups like “Which of the founding fathers wrote the Declaration of Independence?”
To give your next virtual class that coveted in-person feel, use a smart video camera. The Meeting Owl Pro is an intelligent camera that is being used by more than 2,000 K-12 schools, colleges, and universities to enhance the distance and hybrid learning experience. To learn more about specific use cases, classroom and meeting room setup options, and key features of the Meeting Owl Pro, download our Meeting Owl for Education Guide.