TDA Digital - Google Classroom
Before the Covid-19 Stay At Home orders, we were using RenWeb/FACTS as our Student Information Systems platform. We also had a Google G-Suite for Education account for our teachers and staff. A major factor in us choosing to go with Google Classroom was because our teachers and students were already using Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides in a familiar, yet limited capacity. We made the decision to stay in the Google world, so as to not have to require our teachers and students to learn another software platform.
We considered Schoology for a Learning Management System and Zoom for a video conferencing platform, as we had heard many good recommendations for both. Individually, Schoology and Zoom are both more robust than Google Classroom and Google Meet. Zoom in particular offered a video conferencing grid view and the ability to record meetings, features that we believed would be helpful in online school. As the lockdowns started to be announced, and school-at-home became more of a reality, Zoom and Google Meet started to rollout more features. Google Meet now allows us to record all of our meetings, and a 3rd party chrome extension allows us to hold our Google Meet virtual classrooms in grid view.
RenWeb/FACTS and Google Classroom can synch through an API. Directions for setup are supplied by RenWeb/FACTS, and they are super clear and easy to follow. We started our online school, with the synchronization in place, however we have since severed the connection, for 2 primary reasons. First, our SIS and school processes have all been set up for in-person school. We eventually would like to restructure to allow the API pass through, but decided that could be a summer of 2020 project. We needed to get our school up and running! Second, because we were on a G-Suite for Education account, we only had our staff and teachers on our domain. Upgrading to a G-Suite Enterprise for Education account would allow us to assign every student a user identity within our domain, opening up a TON of possibilities–again, maybe a summer of 2020 project!
We had to open up our Google Classroom to accept non-domain users, which created challenges with the API synch in place. Not a deal breaker, as teachers were used to grading by hand and inputting information into RenWeb. Now they have to grade on Google Classroom, and transfer grades into RenWeb. Oh…but our teachers and staff see the possibilities of running their whole classroom through Google Classroom, with a direct synch to RenWeb!
To activate Google Classroom and Google Meet,
you first need to be a G-Suite for Education/Non-Profit account holder.
Turning ON Google Classroom
To proceed with activation, you must be your school’s G-Suite Google Services Admin.
- Google G-Suite For Education/Non-Profit Includes Google Classroom – Information on G-Suite Google Services
- Google Classroom is an “Additional Services” – Information on G-Suite Additional Services
- How to switch on Google Classroom – Information on how to activate G-Suite Additional Services
Turning ON Google Meet
Google Meet is the G-Suite offering for video conferecing. This is where we hold our online classrooms, staff/parent training meetings, and open virtual office hours. As a school, the recording funtion and the Grid View Extension were critical in our online school rollout.
Turning ON Google Meet, LIVE Stream, and Recording Functionality – Recording a Google Meet is helpful to save an online class for students that might have missed the class, or want to review what was taught at a later time. These recordings can be posted into Google Classroom for archived viewing. Teachers can also use Google Meet Recording as a video capture tool to create pre-recorded lessons.
Add Google Meet Grid View Extension to Google Chrome – Without Google Meet Grid View, Google Meet has limited viewing options. This extension is only avaliable through Google Chrome. It really enhances the online classroom experience, as everyone is allowed to see each other. We noticed that during this shelter-in-place lockdown, Google Meet Grid View helped students reconnect with their classmates in a classroom setting.
Turning ON Jamboard
Jamboard is a digital whiteboard app that is a Google Partner. That means we have free access to it, through our G-Suite Google App list. As a digital whiteboard, you are able to use your mouse as if it is a dry-erase marker. It takes some getting used to, but there are marker tools, eraser tools, sticky note tools…and you can create entire sets of slides for teaching and illustrating concepts.
Turn ON Jamboard like you would turn ON Google Meet in your admin panel.
Permanent Delete Restoration
Some users will work hard at keeping their Google Drives clean and sorted…which will inevitably lead to deletions, and permanent deletions. In these cases, the admin has access to restore files that have been deleted, even files that have been ‘permanently’ removed from the Trash, up to 30 days.