Google Classroom is a free, internet-based collaboration tool developed by Google as part of G Suite for Education. With a Google account, educators can use the platform to create a virtual classroom, invite students to attend live instruction, and record students’ grades. Google Classroom also encourages parent participation. Teachers can invite parents to the Google Classroom to share summaries of student work and to receive automated email summaries of student work and class announcements.
Google Classroom was originally launched in 2014 as an exclusive tool for school systems. It offered support for teachers and students but required account verification from the broader school administration. In 2017, Google removed the G Suite for Education requirement and expanded the ability to host or join a class to any basic Google account holder. Since the Classroom platform was made available to the public, Google has also released a number of UI updates, customization options, and added widget/integration support.
One of the biggest Google Classroom concerns among educators, students, and parents is the privacy and security capabilities. Because it’s a free platform to use, many critics of Google Classroom have scrutinized Google’s data collection practices both the amount of data collected and how it’s put to use. Similarly, a high volume of reports surfaced in 2020 that described anonymous users accessing Google Classroom meetings without authorization from the instructors. Google responded to these reports by announcing that, by default, users must be logged into a Google account to access a Google Classroom meeting.
Google Classroom integrations
Although Google Classroom is a relatively basic tool on its own, it integrates other apps from G Suite and third party developers to build a robust collaboration platform. Specifically, it relies on a number of tools to provide teachers with the tools they need to facilitate distance learning, including:
- Gmail: An email platform that organizes Classroom messages alongside other emails.
- Docs, Sheets, and Slides: A set of word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation tools that support real-time editing and collaboration.
- Forms: A survey tool for creating quizzes and collecting student information.
- Meet: A video conferencing platform for hosting live instruction and 1:1 meetings.
- Calendar: A scheduling tool for keeping track of meetings, classes, and assignment due dates.
- Drive: A cloud-based storage platform for saving and sharing lesson plans, assignments, and presentations.