Google Classroom used to be limited to educational institutions and those with G Suite accounts. That is no longer the case. Back in April, 2017, Google announced that Classrooms would be open to anyone with a Google account. Now everyone can take advantage of this remarkable tool that makes education, training, and even outreach possible. So your business, your consultancy, or your department can set up a classroom where clients, friends, family, staff, board of directors, or anyone you wish can join the class and learn.
Not only is Google Classrooms a very powerful tool, it's also incredibly easy to use.
I want to walk you through the process of creating a new Google Classroom that you can then use for myriad possibilities.
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What you'll need
Obviously, you need a Google account. You'll also need to have thought out what your class is going to center on. Although you can throw something together for testing purposes, when it comes time to create your actual classroom, you'll need your ideas gathered together such as description of class, beginning assignments, materials, etc. However, in the early stages, it's fine to create a skeleton classroom that you can later retool to perfectly fit your needs.
You'll eventually need students. Students are invited, from within the classroom. This can be done later when you're ready to start the actual class.
Finally, you'll want to have a bit of creativity on your side. Teaching a class requires as much creativity as information. You need to keep those students engaged in the learning, even though this isn't a face to face class.
That's it. With everything in place, let's create a class.
Creating your class
The first thing to do is sign into your Google account and then head over to the main Google Classroom page (Figure A).
From that page, click on the + button and then click Create Class from the drop-down. You must click the EULA checkbox and then click CONTINUE. In the resulting popup (Figure B), you must give the class a Name (required), a Section (optional), and a Subject (Optional).
Once you've filled out the necessary information, click CREATE and your class will be created. When the classroom opens (Figure C), you can then set out to customize the classroom.
Within the main page of your classroom, you might consider taking care of a few options.
First you'll want to select a new theme for the classroom. To do this, click either Select them or Upload photo. With the look of the classroom taken care of, you'll want to give the class a description. To add a description, click on the ABOUT tab, and then in the resulting window, click the three vertical dots associated with the class title. Click Edit and then give your classroom a description (Figure D) and a meeting location, if applicable.
After you fill out this information, click SAVE.
If you're planning on co-teaching the class, click the INVITE TEACHERS button and send invitations. If you'll be teaching the class by yourself, skip that step.
At this point, you'll want to manage the Class Drive Folder. This is where any assignment material will be stored. When you create a new assignment, any attachments to the assignment will be uploaded to that folder. If you go to Google Drive, and check out the sharing permissions of that folder, you will see that only teachers of the class will have access to the folder. You cannot (nor would you want to) give students access to the folder. The only way students can access files within the folder is through assignments. This folder is a good place to house resource materials for teachers of the class. I would suggest creating subfolders for that very purpose. To create subfolders, open up Google Drive, navigate into the Classroom folder and then into the folder for the class in question. Create subfolders in the same way you create folders within Google Drive.
Creating assignments, announcements, etc.
With your classroom ready, go back to the STREAM tab and click the + button at the bottom right corner. From the popup (Figure E), you can start creating announcements, assignments, questions, and reuse previous posts.
Sending invites to students
After you have everything set up, you can then invite students to your class. To do this, click on the STUDENTS tab and then click the INVITE STUDENTS button. You can then invite students by either name (if they are in your Google Contacts) or email address. You can also invite students using a class code. This code will be visible in the STUDENTS tab. You can send an email out to a list of students, giving them the URL for the class and the class code. Once they've joined the class, they can begin working on assignments and even interacting with their fellow students.
Easy online class creation
You'd be hard-pressed to find an easier way to create an online classroom. Google has done a stellar job of developing a tool that teachers of all kinds can take advantage of. If your business needs a means to teach clients, staff, customers, or just about anyone, you should give Google Classrooms a go. It won't let you down.
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.