January 25, 2017
Technology has become an essential part of our teaching, or at least here in the north American context. Paperless classrooms are no longer a novelty and several teachers have fully incorporated the ethos of digitality into their instruction. There are now a gamut of excellent educational web tools and mobile apps that help teachers effectively manage their classrooms and ultimately enhance their teaching. From creating and collecting assignments paperlessly to communicating with parents and school community, technology did prove and continue to prove that it can make our teaching much more easier and efficacious. In today’s post, we highlight three important platforms (sort of learning management systems (LMS) ) that have gained so much popularity within the education community given their relative young age compared with tools such as Moodle. These platforms which offer almost identical features will definitely help you in your paperless teaching and provide you with a virtual space where you can interact, share and connect with your students and other teachers.
1- Google Classroom
We are starting with our favourite tool in this list: Google Classroom. If you are not using it then at least you have heard of it. Google Classroom ‘helps teachers save time, keep classes organized, and improve communication with students. It is available to anyone with Google Apps for Education, a free suite of productivity tools including Gmail, Drive and Docs.’ Here is a quick overview of some of the things you can do with Google Classroom and for more resources on how to use this platform in your instruction, check out this section:
'1- Teachers can use Google Classroom to create and collect assignments paperlessly.
2- Automatically make copies of Google documents for each student
3- Create Drive folders for each assignment and for each student to help everyone keep organized
4- Provide direct and real-time feedback and grades
5- Keep track of who has turned in assignments
6- Quickly review assignments
7- Send announcements and start class discussions instantly
8- Students can see all of their assignments on an assignments page
9- Students can share resources with each other or provide answers to questions on the stream.
10- Students can open their assignments and work on them right from their phone or tablet.
11- Students and teachers can view their classes and communicate with their classmates in real time
12- Students can keep track of what’s due on the Assignments page and begin working with just a click.'
Classroom is an app introduced by Apple last year. This app is supposed to help teachers ‘guide students through a lesson, see their progress and keep them on track. Classroom comes with a number of interesting features. For instance, you can use it to instantly launch apps, websites or even books on students' devices. You can also assign students to the shared iPads they have recently worked on and logged them off when they are done.Classroom provides you with smarter monitoring features so you can control what students are doing on their iPads. You can lock students’ devices into a single app or lock their screens. You can also see what each student is doing on their iPad or even view all students screens at once. And, if you use Apple TV in class, Classroom allows you to display students' work to the whole class. Alternatively, you can use AirPlay to wireless project a student’s screen to the class. As for organizational features, Classroom enables you to arrange students devices into groups and break students into different groups. It ‘automatically creates groups of students based on the apps they are using’. Check out Classroom Guide to learn more about this app.
3- Microsoft Classroom
Microsoft Classroom is a 'virtual space where you can manage all of your classes. It allows you to create and grade assignments, design different class sections, provide personalized individual feedback and collaborate with other teachers in Professional Learning Communities. Microsoft Classroom comes included in Office 365 for Education which you can access from the App Launcher in Office 365 navigation bar. Below is a visual we created based on instructions retrieved from Microsoft Classroom Documentation page. It features what we think are the 6 basic things every teacher using Microsoft Classroom should be able to do' . To learn more about Google Classroom, check out these resources.