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In the world of education, teachers have become among society’s heroes that are constantly on the cutting edge of learning how to do more with less. Today on this year’s Teacher Appreciation Day, Google announced a new interactive tool for teachers, as Google Classroom is now in session.
Google is the inventor and maestro of too many tech tools to count, and its latest foray into the world of education is a much needed solution to some of the biggest obstacles in an environment of scarce funding, time constraints and outdated classrooms. Google Classroom is teaching management software which aims to equip teachers with time-saving tools that will not only enhance the caliber of the learning process for their students, but will also save time and money on some of the tiring, consuming tasks that take teachers away from the one thing they set out to do—teach.
Zack Yeskel, the product manager for Classroom, knows all too well about these obstacles. Once a high school math teacher, Yeskel and many other teachers he has been working with to develop Classroom lament over the many administrative tasks that bury educators. Grading paper quizzes, fighting with copy machines and purchasing supplies with their own pocket money are among the many obstacles hindering the potential of educators and the education system in general.
“Classroom is based on the principle that educational tools should be simple and easy to use, and is designed to give teachers more time to teach and students more time to learn,” Yeskel said in his announcement to introduce the new tool in honor of Teacher Appreciation Day.
Although it is currently in beta testing, it is rolling out as an app within Google’s Apps for Education products. Assigning, tracking and collecting work from students are among its many teacher features. Classroom uses other Google education essentials such as Docs, Drive and Gmail to speed up processes and draw experience from the already huge pool of users familiar with these products. Google has the upper hand on this particular project.
Classroom also allows teachers to streamline their communication to students so that they can make announcements and host real-time discussions with students. Google Classroom is in session for free, too. This is just one more reason it is a welcome relief for cash-strapped schools and their faculty.
Google is well-prepared to address concerns about data-mining in the education setting. As users of Google products well know by now in some way or another, Google tracks users’ internet behavior to generate advertisements that might be relevant to them. Google executives reassure that this particular feature will not be present in Google Classroom, though. Last week, Google made a policy announcement that student and teacher Gmail messages and Google Education apps will no longer be scanned for the purpose of advertisements.
This announcement seems to be a timely precursor to its release of Google Classroom to garner interest, especially after data-mining produced complaints in court about privacy violations from students and other education stakeholders.
Despite some hiccups about internet privacy, Google Classroom is expected to take its place as a jewel in the crown of tools Google has developed in support of education reform. For now, the only teachers at liberty to test out Classroom have been invited to do so. The product is expected to launch fully in September, allowing Google Classroom to be in session right at the same time schools open for the new year.
By Erica Salcuni