I discovered Google Classroom while preparing to give my first tutorial classes in University College Cork.The e-learning tool seemed like it could help me foster a few helpful teaching habits.One of those habits: consistently giving students a platform which allowed them to express themselves, in a format they were confident with. Classroom, a social media-styled application with a content-centric ‘news feed’, looked like a teaching resource aware of its audience.
I considered that my audience – four groups of first-year students – might feel particularly remote from their new, seemingly stuffy academic environment. Similarly, higher workloads and expectations invariably pushes study beyond an hour or two of class time. Building a resource which reflected the interests and the needs of students with Classroom was an appealing prospect.
Classroom, being independent of Blackboard and other academic student resources, is a less intimidating space for students to access and engage with their class material. Its layout is much more visually inviting and intuitively navigable. The topic categorisation system does away with labyrinths of folders and sub-folders. When a resource is added, it can be tagged with its subject matter and quickly retrieved.
This familiarity, coupled with the ability to create and add students to individual class groups, extends the informal and secure atmosphere of a tutorial into an online space. If a student finds contributing in class difficult, due to nerves or uncertainty about a topic, Classroom offers another way for them to participate once they feel more ready.