Studying from home or are you a teacher and you want to give lessons online? Do you want to know what the best online platform is to do just that? Well, you came to the right place, we will tell you the best an easiest way to study (or teach) online and also provide your student some extra livestream and chat options.
There are a bunch of online platforms trying to provide more or less the same services. Some are free (not a lot) and some you must pay for.
We will show you here what we think is the best and easiest way to learn or teach online. One thing is sure: it must be easy to use. The other important thing is that it must be engaging, keep the students’s interest alive, otherwise the whole concept will not work. By bombing your pupils with Powerpoint, Words, Excel sheets, Youtube links and sending them lots of emails, will not help. It will just feel like spam and will make them even more confused and demotivated to study in front of the computer.
A free online learning platform by Google
What great is about Google’s (free) online learning platform, called Google Classroom is that it is very simple to use. Just like their search engine. Minimalistic but still effective.
As a matter of fact it is so simple that we even miss some elements in it (f.e. chat or stream feaures) but we come to that later and also offering some solutions to fill up the gap.
So let’s see why Google Classroom is the way students and teacher must interact with each other. Besides that is so easy to use it has a big advantage of being integrated into Google’s own ecosystem: Google Drive, Google Hangout, Groups, Calendar, etc. So even if we miss some features in the Classrooms platform we will find it in their other apps.
How Google Classroom works
Very simple. Once you are on the website you will see two menus only: Join class and Create class.
If you are a student you just need to join the class using the code the teacher sent you in email.
Type in that code and you just join the virtual class.
If you are a teacher you click on Create class and you will have to set up your virtual classroom.
But before that, you must create an account for “G Suite for Education”. You can read more about it in this PDF.
Once you accepted the Terms and Conditions you are ready to set up your virtual classroom.
How to setup your virtual classroom?
After you created the page and filled out Class name, Subject, Room in a popup window, you will see that you can post a message to All students (or selected student) and you can also attach to your message documents or Youtube links.
Can not be easier than that. Your students will received your message together with the documents you may already prepared for them to complete (for example a test or questionnaire)
And here is what else you can do:
Add announcements and lesson material
Create Assignments and questions
Use topics to organize classwork into moduls or units
Order work you want students to see it
Re-use a post or assignment
Important that when you have 20 students and you only want 3 to see a certain document you can do that too by selecting only their names in the list (and not all the students).
You can also give comments on an assignment however you do not have a chat option in Google Classroom. What you also don’t have is live stream (video connection) or discussion (forum, message board) functionality. So if you need those extra features you want to use for example Google Hangouts or other apps like Whatsapp, Skype, Viber, Discord. These apps you can also use for group chatting.
For message board, if you really need that feature, we recommend to set up a Reddit or a Facebook group, make it private and host the discussion boards there.
If you are more tech-savvy and want to learn about how to stream with your camera and laptop Youtube, you can read our article about it.
Although, do’t forget the more platform and apps you use the more difficult it gets. We recommend it to keep it simple (so you all can focus on the studies and not on the platform and the usage and the information overflow).
So with all this you must be able to run a perfect virtual classrooms, where you can give your students the assignment, grade their submitted documents, comment them or use live communication with them through the class.
How to add students to your classroom
One more important thing is to add students to the class. You can simply email them the code you will see on Google Classroom or just invite them using the platform.
You do that via the top menu “People”.
Here you can add students but also additional teachers to your classroom.
The invite code you can find on the start page, towards the left. Don’t forget to mail that to the students.