Over 30 million teachers and students use Google Apps for Education when it comes to writing assignments, crafting presentations, and doing just about any kind of learning activity that includes the web.
Today, the Internet search giant hopes to become an even bigger presence in schools with the pre-release announcement of Classroom, a free tool built on Google Apps for Education designed to help teachers organize, assign, and collect work done across Google Docs (which also includes Sheets and Slides) and Google Drive.
Already, many teachers are using Google’s productivity apps to organize their students’ work, says Zach Yeskel, a product manager on Google’s Apps for Education team and a former high school math teacher in Oakland. “We’ve heard a lot of teachers that use Google Apps as a LMS,” he says.
With Classroom, Yeskel says managing classroom assignments will be even easier. Teachers can create a class and enroll students with their Google Apps for Education email, or by sharing a class code. Once the roster is set, teachers can create, assign, collect and grade assignments. They can also see in real-time how students are doing and offer feedback as well.
In addition, there will be “class streams” where teachers can leave notes and reminders. Students can respond and also communicate with each other.
If some of these features sound familiar, that’s because another startup, Hapara, has built similar tools to make Google Apps easier for educators to use. The New Zealand-based startup (and Imagine K12 graduate) offers a little more bang for the buck, including a parent portal and device management solution.
“Classroom will work right along Hapara’s tools. We’ve worked with them before, and both share a fundamental goal in making [Google Apps] easier for professors and teachers to use,” says Yeskel.
According to Yeskel, Classroom has so far been tested in “90 classrooms across a couple dozen schools.” And today, those interested in checking it out can apply to test drive a pre-release version. Yeskel says the company will process requests and send invites to “several thousand teachers” within a month. By September, after collecting feedback from these early users, Classroom will be available to all schools--and in forty languages.
Developers interested in building tools and features for Classroom can also sign up here.