Friday, August 29, 2014

5 Google Classroom Mistakes

Google Classroom is here (read my review here)! Hurray! As teachers around the country setup their classroom, there are a few things you want to avoid in order to steer clear of future trouble.

1. Don't click student!

When a teacher visits classroom.google.com for the first time, they will be asked if they are a teacher or a student. If you select student, you will be unable to revert back to teacher mode. Your domain administrator must go into the Google Apps control panel to reset your account and give you the teacher role. Instructions on how to do this are available here

UPDATE: Teachers ARE able to join a class as a student. This means that schools have the option of using Classroom for Professional development with staff. Classroom still can not be used in a multi-domain environment (everyone must have the same email domain to join). 


2. Don't group all of your sections/hours together. 

Although it is tempting to setup a single classroom for all of your sections, don't do it! Yes, it will be nice not to have to post things multiple times, however if you group all of your students together, you will lose the ability to post messages and assignments to individually classes. This will be very important if you are unable to maintain exactly the same schedule in each class. Spend the time to setup a separate class for each of your sections.

UPDATE: there is now a "copy" option that allows you to copy an assignment between your courses!  It is worth noting that you can ONLY copy an when it is initially created. You can NOT copy an assignment you previously created.  

3. Don't chose arbitrary class names

Ideally, each school will choose a naming convention for classes. If you don't, your students are going to have a hard time sorting through all of the courses in which they are enrolled. Unfortunately at this time, students (and teachers) are unable to sort classes; they appear in the order that they were joined/created. 

The name of your class should NOT: 
  • Contain the name of the teacher (the teacher's name will be automatically displayed)
  • Include section/hour (there is a designated field for section
  • Be long (long class names will not be fully displayed)
The name of your class SHOULD:
  • Be simple (i.e. Biology 9)
  • Include the year/semester (i.e. 2014-15 or Sem 1.)

4. Don't mess around with the "Classroom" folder in Google Drive

When you create a class using Classroom, matching folders will be created in Google Drive under a top level folder called "classroom." Do not move, rename, or delete these folder. If you do, you will cause trouble for yourself and your students.

5. Don't add things directly to the Drive folders created by Classroom. 

The folders created by classroom are used for the copying and distribution of student files. They are not designed for use outside of classroom. When you create an assignment in classroom, it will move/copy files into these folders. If you manually put something into the classroom folders it will NOT be displayed in Classroom and will NOT be visible to your students. 

If you need to share documents with your students that you don't wish to assign via classroom, you might want to use the Google Drive add-on called gClass Folders which will set up a very handy folder structure for the sharing and receipt of files in Drive. 

Google Classroom is a promising tool that is in need of some refinement. Don't forget to send your comments and suggestions to Google. There is a "send feedback" button in the bottom right corner of Google Classroom. Use it to make Classroom better!


70 comments:

  1. I know creating separate classes can be a hassle but it really helps. You can even duplicate assignments so you're not having to write and attach the same files multiple times. The catch is you have to select the classes before you post the assignment

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Tiffany! You are correct. I updated the post to reflect the ability to copy an assignment to multiple classes.

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    2. Another update for you. You can now "reuse post" taking an assignment from an previous course (open or archived).

      Delete
  2. I have Google Groups set up for each of my classes under our school domain, but another teacher that my students have earlier in the day has Google Classroom. Several times my students have tried to open my group, and they are still in a Google Classroom folder. I am thinking that these two are in conflict. Do you have any suggestions?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Groups and classroom are two very different tools. Classroom does not create Google Groups, so I'm not sure how a conflict could occur.

      When you say "classroom folder" are you talking about the Group within Google Groups or a Google Drive folder?

      Delete
  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  4. As a parent, I have to say this system totally sucks! There is ZERO documentation, ZERO training, and ZERO information on how to edit things and how to use it.

    Epic Failure so far....

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    Replies
    1. Sorry to hear about your poor experience. At the moment, Classroom doesn't have a parent component, which is why you are having a hard time finding information and documentation written for parents. If you do have specific questions, Google+ is a great place to ask them.

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  5. Is there a way to change the name of the course? I can't find a "rename" function anywhere.

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    1. Hi Sandy. Yes! You can rename a class! You need to return to the classroom "home" screen (where all of your courses are listed). Find the "three dots" and you will see an option to rename. Here is a screenshot: http://goo.gl/iwwECe

      It is important to note that if you rename your class the corresponding Google Drive folders will NOT be renamed. The folder names and class names are independent .

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  6. Another question. Is it possible to embed a Google calendar into a google classroom so all students can see it?

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    1. Unfortunately no. Google Calendar does not [yet] integrate with Google Calendar. Use the "send feedback" button in the bottom right corner of Google Classroom to let Google know this is a feature you would like to see added. I agree with you; this would be a very useful option!

      Delete
  7. I signed up for Classroom as a teacher, then joined a coworkers class as a test subject and now can't create my own classes. Any suggestions?

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    1. Hi Jonah, this is a common issue. You need to ask your IT department to reset your teacher permissions. Instructions are available here: http://goo.gl/qboqaJ

      Delete
  8. Hi,
    I'm wondering about cross domain members - any idea if that will change? If a school is hosting PD they would nit be able to use this for out of district visitors.
    And what happens at the end of the course when you have new students. Is the a purge type process? Also space may become an issue in Drive, there is option to make students the owners of their docs when the assignment is complete right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No firm timeline, but I know that multi-domain support has been a big issue for many districts and is likely to be a top feature request.

      I have been campaigning for a filter/archive feature so that teachers and students can organize their courses by date/semester and archive/deactivate a class after it has ended without actually deleting the content.

      I wouldn't worry too much about storage issues. You have 30GB of space in Google Drive, but it's even more than that as documents in the native Google format (docs, sheets, drawings, etc) do NOT count against your storage space. Only Word, PowerPoint, PDF, video files, etc count against it.

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    2. "Classroom still can not be used in a multi-domain environment (everyone must have the same email domain to join)."

      This is factually incorrect!
      Multiple domains are possible, as long as they are managed within the same Google Administrator panel. The domains do not even have to be parent and subdomain, but can be totally different domains.

      Delete
  9. Is there a way to give a class assignment to all of your classes at once or do you have to do one at a time?
    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When you set up an assignment, there's a drop-down menu with all your classes. Click on all the ones that should get that assignment, and it will be duplicated for all the classes at once.

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    2. Hi Sandy, yes, you can do this, as indicated above. The only tricky thing is that you can only "copy" an assignment to multiple classes when it is initially created. Once it has been posted, you can't copy it to a different class.

      Delete
    3. Now you can reuse a post so it's even better! This means that even if you've created an assignment, you can reuse it for other classes.

      Delete
  10. Is it possible for two (or even more) teachers to share a classroom, so that each has "teachers permissions" to create assignments etc..?

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    Replies
    1. Hi there! No, unfortunately there isn't a co-teacher feature. This is a very common request though! I would recommend that you click on the "leave feedback" button in the bottom-right corner of Google Classroom and send your suggestion to the development team.

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    2. My workaround for this was to have the Main teacher 1) add me as a student, and 2) share their entire Classroom folder with me in Drive. This has worked out perfectly. Now, I can see the assignments that are posted on Google Classroom, and still have access to the student work in Drive. The only downfall is that I can't create assignments, but I can keep up with student progress while they are working on their various class assignments from English, History, Science... during my Technology class period.

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  11. When my students turn in work through Google Classroom, I am receiving two copies of the assignment. One is going into the folder that Classroom created and I'm getting another copy in my Shared (Incoming) folder. I don't want these in my Shared folder. How can I stop that from happening?

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    1. Hi Heather! Great question.

      Any document that is shared with you will show up in the "shared with me" (now called "incoming") folder. There is no way to prevent documents from being placed here.

      In the situation you outlined, because your students are turning in their work via Google Classroom, their documents are also placed inside of a special assignment folder that is in your "My Drive" folder. It is a bit confusing as the document appears in two locations, but it is the same document, not two copies. You really don't need to worry about the document in the "shared with me" folder; you can access the submitted documents through Google Classroom (recommended) or the assignment folder in your Drive account.

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  12. Thanks much! I'm just trying to keep my "shared with me" folder a little more organized and was hoping I could prohibit the classroom files from being shared into that folder. Thanks a ton!

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  13. Hi John. I love Google classroom, but I am having a technical difficulty. My students submitted their essays, and I wrote comments, but they are unable to view my comments. Is there a simple fix? Thanks! Yi-Kuan

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    Replies
    1. Hi Yi-Kuan! Thanks for your comment. You will need to "return" work to students before they can see your comments. Only editors of a document can view comments. After a student submits their work, they become a viewer and can no longer view comments. Using the "return" button in Classroom will make them editors once again and the comments will become visible.

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  14. Is there a way to "group delete" all assignments from last semester so as to avoid the time consuming "one by one" method?

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    Replies
    1. Hi there! Great question. Unfortunately, no. At this time there is no "archive" feature to help teachers prepare for the next semester or school year.

      I would not recommend re-using a class. You should start with a fresh class each year/semester. This will actually be less work (and less confusing) than trying to remove all of the assignments and students from your existing classes.

      Delete
  15. When i assign work to my students, they are not getting a "turn in" option, only comment and share. Why is this? and how do i fix it?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Heather! Thanks for the question!

      The "turn in" button will only appear if the assignment requires a Google Drive doc/spreadsheet/presentation, etc. If it's just a "blank" assignment with no associated file, the turn in button won't appear.

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    2. I am having this problem too, even though I select "make a copy for each student" for each file I upload. Any ideas I could try? (Thank you for such a wonderful blog!)

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    3. What type of device are your students using, Terese? The "turn in" button **should** appear in the circumstances that you outlined. It may not if you are using a tablet (Android or iPad)

      Even if it doesn't show up in the open Google Doc, students can always return to classroom and click the "turn in" button there.

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    4. I am providing a google Document for the students to modify, but there is no "Turn In" button. When they go back to the Classroom to Turn in it is not saving their changes. They are doing the work and I am getting repeated attempts, but the original document with no student changes over and over again as they keep trying to turn it in.

      Delete
  16. Isn't there a way to archive a class at the end of the semester?

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    Replies
    1. As of yesterday there is! Each class has an archive option which makes the class read-only for teacher and student.

      Delete
  17. Can you add to an assignment? For example google slides - can i add more slides to a finished assignment in order to make a longer final presentation?

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    1. Hi Lorraine! Thanks for your comment.

      As a teacher, you can edit your students work at any time (this wasn't always possible, but Google updated the editing permissions recently).

      Delete
  18. Do you know of a way to allow for student assignments to be viewable by other students in the same classroom? I teach a writing workshop.

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    1. Google Classroom doesn't have a "peer edit" button to automatically do this, but it's pretty easy to setup manually.

      Instruct your students share their document with a peer using the blue share button. I recommend they use the "can comment" option which will allow someone to suggest edits (but not make them) and add comments to the document.

      Delete
  19. How do I avoid having 150+ new files in my incoming each time I assign something to my students? There's so much in there I don't even want to look at it, much less try to find something in there.

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  20. Google Classroom doesn't allow a course structure with topics to be built and managed so that the course can be reused in successive years. Course Builder is now defunct. How do other schools / colleges cope with this after implementing Google for Educators? Do they use Google Sites?

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  21. How can I insert a link with a customized name rather than just the url?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Dene, the quickest way I've found is to use the bit.ly chrome extension and use the custom option. As long as the customized name hasn't been used elsewhere, you should be fine! You can get the exension from the Chrome store.

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  22. Is there a way to click on an individual student to see what work they are missing, rather than having to click on each individual assignment to find this information?

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    Replies
    1. Students have an "assignments" view that will display all of their assignments. They can also filter the assignments by class. There isn't a "late" filter right now, but any late assignment is indicated as "past due."

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  23. One more question...when I create an assignment, a folder is automatically created in my drive; is there a way to also create folders for each individual student and have their work automatically save to that folder too, as a sort of portfolio?

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    Replies
    1. Good question. Google decided to group files by assignment, not by student. You can certainly debate the value of either approach.

      When you view your classroom folder in Drive you will notice the files are grouped by assignment, not by student.

      Your students will have a folder with the name of your course. Inside will be all of their files for that course.

      To group files by student you would need to manually create student folders and then move the files.

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  24. I recommend putting the section number in the class name for the teacher's use, not the students. Otherwise, if a teacher has 3 sections of Chemistry when you go to copy assignments/announcements you don't know which section of chemistry you are copying to b/c only the class name appears. Same with navigating your Classroom class folders in Drive. If you start with the section number in the class name such as 1 Chemistry, 2 Chemistry, 3 Chemistry you can quickly navigate copying assignments and Drive folders. Does that make sense?

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  25. My students can't open a pdf file from my google classroom. It will take them right into their google drive. Is there a way to just have it open? Thanks

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    1. Hi Mr. Dillon! Are you using iPads? If so, the Drive app would open up to display the PDF.

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  26. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  27. In relation to #4: I had moved the Google Classroom folder to a subject folder (science) thinking that I was organizing in a way that made sense to me. How can I fix this? Do I need to recreate my classrooms?

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    1. You can drag/drop the folder back into it's original location. Moving it like you did won't break anything, but it may make it confusing in the future, so I recommend you put it back in the original location.

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  28. Is there a way to disable students' ability to share assignments given in Classroom with other students?

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    1. Hi Chelsea! Good question. The answer is...maybe.

      Some NEW Drive sharing options allow the document owner to prevent collaborators from downloading, printing, or copying files. You can certainly give that a try.

      There is no way to prevent a student from using copy/paste or taking a picture of a file with their phone.

      Ultimately, IMO, this issue is more readily solved by good classroom management and clear expectations regarding cheating and plagiarism than by technical solutions.

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  29. If a student is transferred from one class into another one of my sections, will the work follow the student in google classroom or will that student need to resubmit all the work into the new classroom section?

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    1. Hi Ms. Baker! Thanks for joining the discussion!

      Work does NOT transfer with the student into their new classroom. It will remain accessible via Google Drive. Re-submitting work back into classroom would require a lot of work. I would not ask they student to go through that process.

      An easier option would be to ask the student to share the drive folder containing their work with the new teacher. One share and you're done!

      Delete
  30. Hi, so one of my students clicked on turn in before she completed the assignment. How do i get her assignment back to incomplete (not done)?

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    1. Hey there! You will need to go to the assignment screen, select the student who accidently submitted their work early and click the "return" button at the top of the screen.

      Your student also has the ability to "unsubmit" the file.

      Delete
  31. If I need to edit an assignment that I've already sent out to my students, what is the best way to do that? Do I use the file in the Google Classroom folder?

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    1. Hey there! You can always edit the description of an assignment. Editing the files associated with the assignment is a bit trickier. If the assignment is read-only or "students can edit" you can simply open the file (either via classroom or Drive) and make your changes. Students will immediately see the updates.

      If the file has been shared as "make a copy for each student" making edits to your original template will NOT update the student copies. Deleting the assignment and re-posting it with the edits is the only choice.

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    2. Super helpful! Thanks so much!

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  32. Can you merge two assignments without losing the students submissions to either of the two. I created an assignment and recreated by accident when adding examples. Now I have two assignments of the same nature and my students are submitting to both.

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    Replies
    1. I'm not sure if you can, however I did delete an assignment that I duplicated in Classroom one day this year. It didn't delete the student's work. They just needed to attach that file to turn in in the other assignment and they were all set.Any comments and "revision history" information was preserved with the document.

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    2. Unfortunately no. You can only edit the title and description of an assignment once it is posted - you can't modify attached documents or merge them with another assignment.

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  33. My classroom folder is appearing in my trash. When I moved it back to my Drive, it says I no longer have permission to access the folder. Is there a fix for this?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Mrs. Kutter! Are you a co-teacher for the deleted class? Only the primary teacher (the creator of the course) can delete or undelete a class.

      Delete

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