With Google being the mammoth it is, how does Google handle server functionality?
Part 1 reviewed Google Classroom’s course building functions. Here we will look specifically at how the Google server creates an increasingly accessible LMS for all individuals.
File size control
One of the perks of having G Suite for Education is unlimited Drive space. When sharing Google docs back and forth, students and teachers do not have to worry about an upload limit. However, for local files that need to be added to the class, a file size limit of 5TB has been set. What in the world kind of file are you uploading, Teach?!
Google Classroom opens files in one of two ways. Files attached to the classroom from Google Drive are opened directly into Google docs for editing purposes. Otherwise, files that are locally saved and attached to the classroom are opened in the Google Drive viewer. There are not many options in the viewer, so uploaded as a drive file is best when you want students to manipulate documents or information.
Uploading documents into Google Classroom is a simple process, but it is best done by first uploading the document (or creating a document) in Google Drive. This action organizes the document into the class folders and allows teachers to attach files directly from Google Drive. Students completing assignments in Google Classroom do so directly from Google Drive and submit the document into the assignment. Documents can also be uploaded. Outside of an assignment, documents can be shared between teachers and students.
Google recently updated this area to make it easier for teachers to get their students enrolled in their course. The most popular way to enroll students is to share the access code. The access code can now be displayed full screen on a computer, projector, or whiteboard to make it easier for students to see and access. Setting limits on the access code is also helpful for teachers with multiple classes and large schools. Teachers must prevent unintended students from entering the class to protect student privacy.
Alternatively, teachers can invite students from the list of contacts in their domain. In the past, this has proven to be tricky for me because the domain administrator must enable the option for teachers to see the student contact list. If this option is not enabled, teachers will not see any students in the contact list.
Student accounts must be created for all students who need to a part of the school domain. These accounts will use the domain name that the school registered (i.e. @highschool.edu). Students must use this e-mail address when logging into classroom.google.com and enrolling themselves into their teachers’ Google Classroom courses.
Plugins and access control
Simply put: It’s not necessary. You can link to anything outside of Google Classroom by using the link option in assignments, announcements, etc. or even link to outside resources all in one Google doc. However, there are several apps that include a “share to Google Classroom feature” that teachers have found helpful. Shake Up Learning did a fabulous job of gathering them, so I won’t recreate the list. But further, the Chrome extension, Share to Classroom, pretty much makes these obsolete as well.
This is where the Google Classroom app shines. The Google Classroom app is available for Android, Apple, and Chrome. It is best for students to have all G Suite apps if they are planning on completing any substantial work through the app. The Google Drive Suite also has offline mode (but it needs to be enabled while online). This allows students to continue working on their document when they lose internet access and it syncs it when access is regained.
Class stream and assignment information is automatically cached which allows students to view the stream and access assignments even without an internet connection. Students can create documents offline, but it is best practice to connect to the internet, allowing the document to sync, before submitting the assignment.
Unfortunately, analytics are not currently available for individual teachers. Analytics are only available for the G Suite Domain Administrator. Administrators are able to see weekly active users, the number of active classes, the number of courses created, the number of posts created by teachers and students, and for specific users, the number of classes and posts created, and the last active time on Classroom.
If you want specific information such as this, you will need to ask your domain admin.
Course archiving function
Courses can be archived from the Google Classroom home page. The three dots in the top right of each course tile allows teachers to either edit the course name or archive the class. With archiving, teachers can go back into the course and retrieve files or refer to assignments and grades for grade disputes or letters of recommendations. Archiving a class will also remove the class from a students active class list, helping students stay organized. Always be sure to adhere to your school’s official retention policy when it comes to grades and assignments.