Thursday, September 21, 2017

Amazing Mobile Features of Google Classroom

Most Google-using educators already know that Google Classroom is a great tool for managing class assignments, collaboration, discussions and more. However, as much as you may think you know about Classroom, there are several awesome features for you and your students that you may not be aware of.

In addition to the normal web-based version of Classroom, there is also a Google Classroom mobile app. The Classroom mobile app can be used on phones (Android and iOS), tablets (Android and iOS), and on Chromebooks (with Android apps enabled).

Many times when we think of mobile app, we think of a simpler, watered-down version of the full program. However, that is not always the case, and certainly is not true for Classroom. In fact, there are several awesome tools and features that can only be accessed if you and your students are using the mobile version of Classroom.

These features include:

✍️ Digital handwriting
📸 Taking pictures
🎞️ Recording videos
📄 Scan Feature
✋ Student Selector
📶 Offline Access
🔔 Notifications
➡️ Content from other apps

To learn all of these powerful mobile features, see below for my recorded video training, detailed written directions, links, and other resources.  See how you and your students can take Classroom to the next level with mobile!

▶️ Tutorial Video (48 minutes)

🧰 General Resources

📱 Mobile Classroom App

The Classroom mobile app can be used on phones (Android and iOS), tablets (Android and iOS), and on Chromebooks (with Android apps enabled).

Mobile App links:

To use Android apps on a Chromebook:
  • You will need a modern Chromebook that supports Android apps.
  • If using Google Workspace, your administrator needs to enable the option. (Google help)
  • If using a personal Google account (not a school Google Workspace account) you will need to enable the Google Play Store in your settings. (Google help)

✍️ Digital handwriting

The Classroom mobile app allows teachers and students to write by hand on top of Google Docs, images, and PDF's.

For teachers:
  • Open an existing file
  • Select the markup "squiggle" button at the bottom.

For students:
  • Open an existing file
  • Select on the 3-dots button in the top right corner
  • Select "Markup" to switch to annotation mode.

To write:
  • Use the tools at the bottom to handwrite on the document. 
  • These tools include a pen, marker, highlighter, text box, and eraser.
  • When done select the "Save" button at the top.

  • The PDF will be updated, or a PDF will be created if using a Google Doc.

Students can also create a new blank PDF to write on:
  • Click "Add attachment" link in an assignment.
  • Choose "New PDF".

This can be used in several ways:
  • Teachers can leave handwritten feedback on student work.
  • Students can write out their math problems by hand, or draw diagrams and pictures as needed for work.

📸 Taking pictures

Teachers and students take pictures with their device's built-in camera to insert into announcements, assignments, and questions.
  • Begin by clicking the "Attachment" button or "Add work" button.

  • Next, click the camera icon and/or the "Take photo" option.
  • Depending on your device you can now set a timer, adjust aspect ratio, and more.
  • Then take the picture.

This can be used in several ways:
  • Students can take a picture of a product they built, artwork, etc.
  • Students can take scavenger hunt pics for an assignment.

🎞️ Recording videos

Teachers and students record videos with their device's built-in camera to insert into announcements, assignments, and questions.
  • Begin by clicking the "Attachment" button or "Add work" button.
  • Next, click the camera icon and/or the "Record video" option.
  • Then record a video as normal for your device.
  • You can play back the video if you want before inserting into Classroom.

Teachers can use this in several ways:
  • Teachers can insert personal messages to the class as an Announcement.
  • Teachers can add video directions for an Assignment.
Students can record a video to:
  • Show how they solved a math problem
  • Explain their answer to a question
  • Practice fluency
  • Give a short speech
  • Play an instrument, practice their solo

📄 Scan Feature

  • Students can capture, crop, and combine multiple pictures into a single file.
  • Great for submitting work that is done by hand rather than digital.

✋ Student Selector

  • With the Student Selector tool you can randomly call on students from your Google Classroom.
  • Found on the People tab.

📶 Offline Access

  • Students can download assignment attachments to their phone for viewing and editing when offline.
  • Can submit later when back online

🔔 Notifications

Classroom normally allows you to receive email notifications, but students are not as apt to check their email. The mobile version allows for device notifications including vibration & sound.
  • Click the menu button in the top left corner of the Classroom app.
  • Choose "Settings" from the drop-down menu.

  • Select "Device notifications" to adjust the general notifications for Classroom.
  • Or select "Class notifications" to turn notifications on or off for specific classes.

  • Select if you want sound and vibration notifications.
  • Choose "Notification categories" to granularly control what you get notified for.

  • If you choose "Notification categories" now you can granularly select which items you wish to get notification for.

➡️ Content from other apps

Because Classroom is a mobile app, it is able to communicate with other mobile apps on your device. Users can send content and files from other apps to Classroom.
  • When using an app, look for the "Send" option to send the current item, link, file, drawing, etc, to another app, such as Classroom.

  • You can send the item to Classroom as an attachment to an assignment or a new post (as a student) or a new announcement, assignment, or question (as a teacher).

🏁 Conclusion

Over time, mobile devices have become increasingly powerful, and the apps they run have gained more and more features. Now mobile apps are often very similar to full desktop or web-based programs. In some case, they have even more features. This is certainly the case with Google Classroom.

To get the most out of Classroom, consider using the mobile version along with the traditional web-based version. There are many excellent features to help engage your students, provide feedback, be creative, and allow students to express themselves and their learning more fully.

Post by Eric Curts
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