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What’s The Big Deal About Google Classroom?

What’s The Big Deal About Google Classroom?

Katherine Livick

Katherine Livick

Professional Development Manager for Digital Learning at ESD 112 at ESD 112
Katherine is the Professional Development Manager for Digital Learning at ESD 112. She is a Google Certified Administrator and manages ESD 112’s GAFE training domain. She’s also a Google Education Trainer who trains district personnel on best practices for managing and using Google apps in an educational setting, as well as providing general tech integration training.
Katherine Livick

Latest posts by Katherine Livick (see all)

If you’re a teacher or an administrator, you’ve probably heard about Google Classroom. But unless you’ve seen it, you’re probably left wondering what it actually is. How does a “paperless” classroom function? What can you do in this digital workspace? And how do we get the kids to use it?

Google Classroom Admin ScreenshotGoogle Classroom: Online Workspace, Digital Home Base, Robot Assistant?


Google Classroom is a web-based platform that helps you integrate the Google tools you and your students use. It’s your online “homeroom”–use it to create different classes to organize your students, distribute assignments, communicate with students and parents, and reduce the amount of paper you use in your classroom. It’s intended to be used in a technology-rich classroom environment–you’ll find it’s a good fit if you have enough devices for all the students in your classroom to use at once, or close to it. Classroom can really help you take advantage of all those devices and make your digital workflow seamless.

Since you can already share documents and files with students using Google’s built-in collaboration functions, you might be wondering why you need Classroom. The answer is that it’s not imperative–but it does simplify your digital classroom workflow and organization of assignments, and gives your students one specific “home base” for interacting with you online. This is especially handy if you don’t have (or don’t want to maintain) a teacher website, though many teachers integrate Google Classroom into their websites and use both.

Google Classroom How to set Up

Your First Visit


If you’ve never signed in to Google Classroom before, there are a couple of steps you (and your students) will have to go through. You’ll want to ensure that your students are logged in with their school Google accounts, and that they choose “student” when asked to choose their role. (Don’t panic if you have a jokester who selects “teacher” – just let your IT administrator know after class and they can fix the problem. Both students and teachers can join classes in Google Classroom, so you’ll be able to continue introducing the tool without leaving that student in the dust!)

 

Create A ClassSetting up google classroom


Once you’re logged in, use the plus sign at upper right to create your first class. Name it carefully – consider adding a year and semester or other grading period to differentiate it from other classes you’ll create this year. Your class page will have three tabs across the top: Stream, Students, and About. Your Stream is the chronological “feed” of things you post for your students to see. New assignments will be at the top unless you choose to bump an older one up. Assignments, announcements, and questions (quick polls) will appear here. The Students tab lists your roster of students and permits you to customize some options, such as allowing students to post on your Stream, changing or displaying your class join code (more on that in a moment), and entering the emails of your students’ guardians so they can receive automated summaries of class work each week. The About tab is where you can add a co-teacher and post a syllabus, class expectations, links, or other persistent information.

Add Your Students

To add students to your class, visit the Students tab. You’ll see an option to “invite students” via email. This works if your students have email enabled in their school Google accounts, and if they know how to check the email. However, it’s usually easier to spend about 15 minutes of class time to get everyone added at once. You can easily talk students through the process of navigating to Classroom (check the App Launcher which looks like a grid or “waffle” in the upper right-hand corner of almost any Google page, or send them to classroom.google.com and have them set a bookmark using the star in the omnibar). Once there and signed in, they’ll click “student”, click the plus sign, and enter the join code you’ve found on your Students tab. Click the small triangle next to the code to display the code in large print on your screen for students to view.

Creating Assignments

To create an assignment for your students, be sure you’re in the Stream tab. Click the large plus in the circle at bottom right, select “Create assignment”, and follow the prompts. You can add directions, add a topic to the post to help your students filter posts from different subjects or units of study and add videos, documents, links, or pictures, and more. You can also choose whether attachments are copied and distributed to each student for editing or posted as read-only. You also have the option to choose to assign the work to an entire class, several class sections, individuals, or groups of students.

Behind The Scenes

Google Classroom saves student work and assignment templates in your Google Drive. You’ll see a folder named “Classroom” appear in your Drive once you start using it. Feel free to look inside this folder – but please DON’T move folders or files into or out of this folder! Putting a file in the Classroom folder doesn’t upload it to the Classroom interface, and removing files from the Classroom folder can really confuse the “robots” that make Classroom work –you’ll find that student sharing permissions get messed up in a hurry. Resist the temptation to move files around in that folder and you’ll be fine!

Limitations

While Classroom has come a long way since it was introduced in 2014, there are still some features you might wish were a bit stronger. As of this writing, Google Classroom’s gradebook does not directly interact with several of the most frequently used gradebook systems. There are workarounds–Google Classroom grades can be exported to a .csv (spreadsheet) file for import into another system–but it can be inconvenient to make your gradebook “play nicely” with Google. Be sure you understand how to export grades before using it. Here’s a list of some student information system programs that do interface directly with Classroom’s gradebook.
Classroom for iOS/Android also has some features not available in the web version of Classroom, like marking up PDFs. If you use mobile devices in your classroom, or if your students have their own smartphones, you may want to familiarize yourself with how these mobile versions of Classroom work.

There’s currently no way to view a “student view” of work that is assigned to students–unless you have access to a student account so that you can log in and see what it looks like. It’s a good idea for you and colleagues to join each other’s classes so you can get familiar with the workflow from a student perspective and give feedback to your peers.
Classroom is a great tool for you to use to take control of your digital classroom. Introduce it to your students with some low-stakes tasks (entry and exit tickets, routine practice assignments, etc.) and you’ll be amazed at how quickly they pick up the routine of checking the stream every day. Spend some time learning your way around it–you’ll be glad you did!

Want to learn more and see a live demo of this blog in action? Join Katherine Livick and CTL for a Professional Development Webinar on Google Classroom on October 18th at 9am PST. Click here to register for this webinar, and to watch all of our past webinars!

 

2-in-1 Chromebit + Touchscreen monitor: More Business for your Buck

2-in-1 Chromebit + Touchscreen monitor: More Business for your Buck

Laura Helms

Laura Helms

Content Manager at CTL
Laura Helms holds a BA in Applied Linguistics and has been working in content and social media management for 4+ years. Native to the Pacific Northwest when she isn't in front of a computer screen you can find her teaching yoga or creating large scale mosaic murals.
Laura Helms

Meet the 2-in1 Chromebit Touchscreen. This 2-in-1 bundle is perfect for digital signage in kiosks, doctor offices, info booths, storefronts, and more. Utilizing the power of Chrome OS, in a machine the size of a flash drive with a touchscreen monitor, puts the web at your customers’ fingertips (and yours), literally!

As CTL’s newest product, the 2-in-1 Chromebit can help grow your business or organization with an easy and affordable solution. Imagine having your customers purchase your products online that aren’t available in stores, allowing them to easily sign up for newsletters, conduct on-site surveys, check into appointments, or set up a general information booth. You’ll never miss an opportunity to increase your marketing leads and revenue with the 2-in-1 Chromebit Touchscreen!

What You Get with the CTL 2-in-1 Chromebit Touchscreen

This month we’ve launched the IP2154T. Its 22” IPS panel touchscreen monitor is perfect for digital signage for your kiosk or store. The monitor has a responsive touch and beautiful clear 1920×1080 resolution, wide 89-degree viewing angles, high transmittance, and low-operating voltages. These high-quality displays are ideal for photographers, graphic designers, business use, and home entertainment. Each unit is backed by a CTL® 3-Year Warranty.

You can buy this monitor on its own here: http://ctl.net/displays/22-28-inch/ctl-22-touch-screen-monitor

With this bundle, you also get the ASUS Chromebit CS10. Measuring just under 5 inches, it is the world’s smallest Chrome OS device. The Chromebit plugs directly into your HDMI port and transforms your monitor into the latest Chrome OS device.

The Chromebit combined with the touchscreen monitor allows you the ability to have an accessory-free Chrome station without a mouse or keyboard. However, you still have the option to run a keyboard and mouse with a USB dongle should you want one.

If you’d prefer to go the more standard keyboard and mouse route, you can always opt for the Chromebit 2-in-1 with the standard CTL 22” IPS monitor with the keyboard and mouse included. Another option for digital signage with more memory and a longer warranty is to go with the Chromebox 2-in1 touch or standard monitor bundle which gives you more storage and memory.

Talk to a CTL sales rep today to see about these and other great business solutions for your business, office, or organization.   

 

CTL Donates J5’s to help with hurricane relief efforts

CTL Donates J5’s to help with hurricane relief efforts

Laura Helms

Laura Helms

Content Manager at CTL
Laura Helms holds a BA in Applied Linguistics and has been working in content and social media management for 4+ years. Native to the Pacific Northwest when she isn't in front of a computer screen you can find her teaching yoga or creating large scale mosaic murals.
Laura Helms

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria have spent the past few weeks devastating the coasts in Puerto Rico, Florida, and United States Virgin Islands.The damage from these storms have left millions without power, and many without housing or access to food or potable water. As relief agencies flock to the worst hit areas, , the task of helping people find loved ones and obtain access to food, water, and shelter has become an overwhelming priority. However, due to the damaged infrastructure lack of communications and  power, organizing these relief efforts has presented a unique challenge.

CTL has partnered with the Google Crisis Access Response Team (GoCART)  to get much needed help to those in the hurricane’s destructive path, making a donation of 20 J5 Chromebook units to GoCART to be distributed to the United States Virgin Islands. GoCART teams are highly trained volunteer technology professionals who work diligently with state and local agencies to provide connectivity (phones, Internet, WiFi) and other technology resources to communities in times of large scale crisis, aiding in the recovery process.

CTL president, Erik Stromquist said of the efforts,

“We’re concerned and heartbroken for the families affected by these disasters. It is critical that those affected by the storms are able to access resources to help them provide for themselves and their families, many of which require online access. We hope that the donation of the J5 Chromebooks will aid volunteers in helping those in need.”

The CTL Chromebooks  will be put to the task of helping those needing to access emergency supplemental food and cash programs like D-SNAP, Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which aids low-income households with food loss or damage caused by natural disasters. The donated J5’s will be used for their registration tables, facilitating access to those needing to sign-up for the program.

CTL’s J5 Spill Resistant Chromebook in Action

CTL’s J5 Spill Resistant Chromebook in Action

Laura Helms

Laura Helms

Content Manager at CTL
Laura Helms holds a BA in Applied Linguistics and has been working in content and social media management for 4+ years. Native to the Pacific Northwest when she isn't in front of a computer screen you can find her teaching yoga or creating large scale mosaic murals.
Laura Helms

Spill-Resistant Chromebooks: The Video Evidence

Accidental liquid spills might not be as much of an ordeal compared to other devices with the spill resistant keyboard featured on the CTL J5 Chromebook.

At least that’s what our Spain team found when they did the unthinkable and poured almost a whole can of Coke on the J5! You might ask how can that be? Well, each CTL Chromebook has a built-in membrane around the keyboard and touchpad that channels up to 11 oz. of liquid away from important electronics. That’s almost a whole bottle of water, or in this case Coke! If a spill occurs, all the user needs to do is tip the Chromebook up and allow the liquid to drain off before wiping down. Please note, we don’t recommend this, not only is it a waste of a delicious Coca Cola, but it’s not covered under warranty**. However, what it does show is the spill-resistant keyboard in action, so you don’t have to try it at home. Instead you can watch the video below, and save your Coca-Cola for a little midday boost

J5 Chromebook Needs No Introduction:

The J5 was rated as one of PCMag’s top 10 Chromebooks of 2017. It’s also one of our most popular Chromebook models, featuring a lay-flat design, sturdy 360 degree hinge, multi-touch gesture touchscreen with excellent viewing angles. As if a spill-resistant keyboard wasn’t enough, the J5 also has a drop-resistant design, and up to 12 hours of battery life!

You can read up more about the J5 Chromebook and all CTL’s other Chromebooks for Education on the Chromebooks Product page. If you’re interested in special reseller or educational pricing contact one of CTL’s sales reps today!

**Please Note: Always be careful with liquids around your Chrome device. Water and or other liquid damage is not covered by CTL’s Standard Chromebook warranty. Please note that liquids other than water may leave performance hindering residue.

ASUS Chromebit: Great things come in small packages

ASUS Chromebit: Great things come in small packages

Laura Helms

Laura Helms

Content Manager at CTL
Laura Helms holds a BA in Applied Linguistics and has been working in content and social media management for 4+ years. Native to the Pacific Northwest when she isn't in front of a computer screen you can find her teaching yoga or creating large scale mosaic murals.
Laura Helms

The Asus Chromebit is one of the world’s smallest computers. Yes, I said it’s a computer! This device is as small as a memory stick, but within it packs the power and punch of the Chrome operating system. The possibilities are endless for this portable little device that plugs directly into any HDMI compatible monitor or TV, instantly creating a full browsing experience with all the G Suite apps and tools you’ve grown to love and depend on. However, the best part about the Chromebit may just be the price point! Priced at less than $90, the Asus Chromebit is something deserving of a second glance.

Why choose Chromebit over other similar devices?

The Chromebit runs on Chome OS which allows you to do anything you can do on a Chromebook or Chromebox: manage your Gmail, access and edit your Google Drive, surf the internet on Chrome browser, or utilize any of the other G Suite apps. You can also watch your favorite shows in high resolution using any of your video subscription services, YouTube videos, and even unsupported browser pages which is some thing you can’t easily do with streaming media sticks. That’s because it’s a computer and not just a streaming media player. Another great feature of the Chromebit is the ability to access your files on another system via the Chrome Remote Desktop. Using this feature, you can always have access to important presentations, images, or videos on another device.

The Chromebit contains a Rockchip RK3288 QuadCore Cortex processor, 16GB of SSD storage, a USB 2.0 port, and an HDMI plug. It has Bluetooth 4.0 so you can easily connect your wireless accessories to it. The device also includes 100GB of free Google Drive storage for 2 years and is always up-to-date Chrome OS.

Chromebit is the missing link in your marketing department

Chromebits havebecome especially popular for use in kiosks and businesses for its ability to serve as beautiful, multi-media based digital signage. Using Chromebit to manage this task can save you money and time when compared with printing signs for your business. The great thing about digital signs is they can be easily updated whenever you want. Now, that is something your printed signs can’t do!

Don’t take our word for it. Dan Ackerman, Section Manager for CNET reviews the Asus Chromebit in the video below:

Get the most out of your Chromebit with CTL accessories

To get the most out of your Chromebit, you’ll want to be sure to purchase a wireless keyboard and mouse. We have a great deal on a Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse. You also can pre-order our touchscreen monitor which is perfect for interactive kiosk environments when combined with Chromebit. With this powerful duo, your customers have the ability to signup for newsletters, browse and order from your site online, or perform a variety of the many other uses of this device.

Get this powerful little computer today, and change the way that you think about the intersection between video streaming and personal computing. To read more about the Chromebit, visit the product page to view specs and reviews.

Chromebooks for Education: The Newest Addition to the School Supply List

Chromebooks for Education: The Newest Addition to the School Supply List

Laura Helms

Laura Helms

Content Manager at CTL
Laura Helms holds a BA in Applied Linguistics and has been working in content and social media management for 4+ years. Native to the Pacific Northwest when she isn't in front of a computer screen you can find her teaching yoga or creating large scale mosaic murals.
Laura Helms

There is a new trend sweeping the nation’s high schools, and It’s not a latest K-pop dance craze or viral video challenge. We’re talking about Chromebooks. According to Colorado’s 9News,  some schools in Jefferson County, CO have recently begun to require that all students purchase Chromebooks.

In Jefferson County, administrators have taken the initiative to level the playing field for all students and decrease distraction by having the students run the same Chromebook devices. Schools in Nevada already have the Nevada Ready 21 initiative which has gone 1:1, supplying Chromebooks to middle school students at participating schools throughout the state.

The big question that may keep coming up in the future as more and more schools begin to implement 1:1 programs with Chromebooks is, “Why Chromebooks?”

Chromebooks Are Education-Ready, Rugged, and Reliable

Chromebooks run on the Chrome OS and automatically update to ensure that the device is always running the latest security upgrades. The battery life on a Chromebook is excellent, lasting a full school day, and in some cases like our NL61TX, lasting 13 hours! In case of loss or theft, the devices can be locked out and will only display information upon return of the device. Because of the Chromebook’s affordable nature, costing between $155-$300, it is a great option for 1:1 implementation. From ease of use to affordability, the Chromebook has become the #1 device that K-12 schools are choosing in the entire U.S.

Google for Education: Tech for Teachers

Along with the Chromebook, Google is changing the way that schools are using technology in the classroom with G-Suite for Education.  G-Suite for Education includes the Google apps most users are already used to like Gmail, Calendar, Contacts, Drive, Docs, Forms, Groups, Sheets, Sites, Slides, and Hangouts, but also it includes education-specific apps like Classroom and Vault.

Google Classroom allows teachers to send and receive assignments and resources digitally. Teachers are able to monitor and track progress and due dates, and having assignments on the Chromebook eliminates the “dog ate my homework” excuse entirely.

Collaboration with peers and instant updates and feedback from teachers make classrooms efficient and grading student work more thorough and faster.

Google Vault ensures that the data is archived and protected for legal compliance for schools. Google Vault holds, retains, searches, and exports data from Gmail, Hangouts, Groups, and any files stored in Drive.

Vault also helps schools comply with both FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) and COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) regulations regarding the protection of minors on the internet.

Why CTL Chromebooks and 1:1 Solutions?

For years, CTL has been helping schools go 1:1 with specially designed ultra-rugged Chromebooks for education, whiteglove deployment offerings, and a variety of software options to help with classroom management and student engagement.

Monthly Professional Development Webinars are also included when you go 1:1 with CTL ensuring that educators and administrators are always up-to-date on the latest tips and tricks and offerings for getting the most out of using Chromebooks in the classroom.

There has never been a better time to jump ahead of the curve and implement Chromebooks into your schools. If you’d like to know more about going 1:1 or implementing Chromebooks in the classroom, including special pricing for educational customers, CTL Rocks Grant opportunities, and the benefits of Chromebooks, contact one of our sales reps today.

View the video below to watch Jefferson County’s Administrators discuss why they are requiring their students to purchase Chromebooks:

If you’re interested in the possibility of implementing a 1:1 program from CTL in your classroom or school district, contact us today! We’d be happy to help you figure out if going 1:1 is right for you!