The Google Classroom project has completed its pilot phase and is now open for all Google Apps for Education users.
Unveiled in May, Google Classroom is an online tool which integrates Google Drive, Docs, and Gmail in order to encourage teachers to use the services for assigning and collecting work online, as well as boosting communication channels for teachers and students in and outside of the classroom. Classroom is offered as part of the Google Apps for Education suite.
Google School, part of the toolkit, allows educators to assign and collect work, view who has and has not tackled an assignment, make announcements, and create separate Drive folders for each student. In addition, in a similar way to Google+, students can post to a "stream" of content to connect with other classmates.
In order to maintain student privacy, Classroom is ad-free and data will not be used for marketing purposes.
The tech giant piloted the scheme with over a dozen schools and universities before allowing educators to apply for a preview of Classroom. According to Google, more than 100,000 educators from more than 45 countries signed up to take a look.
Now, according to a blog post by Google Classroom Product Manager Zach Yeskel, Classroom is open to all Google Apps for Education users. The goal is to help teachers "spend more time teaching and less time shuffling papers," according to Yeskel.
A number of modifications have been made to Classroom following feedback from teachers during the preview stage. For example, teachers used to have to wait until an assignment is turned in to collaborate with students, and now educators can provide feedback along the way. In addition, teachers requested a simple area to post information and materials about their classes, so Google added an "About" page for each course.
When teachers create assignments, they can also attach files from Google Drive -- everything from Docs to Word and Excel -- and choose to automatically make a copy for each student.
One of the first schools to use Classroom was Fontbonne Hall Academy in Brooklyn, New York. A teacher of over 60 years, Sister Rosemarie DeLoro, found that the free service made it easier to assign digital worksheets to students in her Italian class and provide direct feedback. Sister Rosemarie said, "You can't stay in teaching and keep going to the old ways."
Google Classroom is available in 42 languages, and according to the tech giant, "works well" on most mobile devices.