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Google Education

Google Announces "Classroom" 143

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the anything-is-better-than-blackboard dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Meet your new 'Room Mom', kids! On Tuesday, Google announced a preview of Classroom, a new, free tool in the Google Apps for Education suite. From the announcement: 'With Classroom, you'll be able to: [1] Create and collect assignments: Classroom weaves together Google Docs, Drive and Gmail to help teachers create and collect assignments paperlessly. They can quickly see who has or hasn't completed the work, and provide direct, real-time feedback to individual students. [2] Improve class communications: Teachers can make announcements, ask questions and comment with students in real time—improving communication inside and outside of class. [3] Stay organized: Classroom automatically creates Drive folders for each assignment and for each student. Students can easily see what's due on their Assignments page.'

Addressing privacy concerns, Google reassures teachers, 'We know that protecting your students' privacy is critical. Like the rest of our Apps for Education services, Classroom contains no ads, never uses your content or student data for advertising purposes, and is free for schools.' After the recent torpedoing of Bill Gates' $100M inBloom initiative, Google might want to have a privacy pitch ready for parents, too!"
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Google Announces "Classroom"

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    But we'll log your interactions forever, freely available to anyone with a subpoena or NSL.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They've been secretly building ad profiles of Google Apps for Education student users even if ads were turned off by the administrator to show them ads on other Google sites. They give schools free Chromebooks and all, but they should atleast declare what kind of profiling they're doing to the students who are forced to use the Google cloud for student email. They denied it when asked, but couldn't get their employees and lawyers to lie in federal court, silently removed language about not tracking from the

    • by neorush (1103917) on Wednesday May 07, 2014 @11:58AM (#46940555) Homepage
      ...well at least for the next 3-5 years until we decide to cancel this project.
    • there probably also is a "...while they are students under the age of 18" clause in there somewhere... so once they hit that magic date, they can start putting all that data they mined into making some money.

    • by ItsIllak (95786)

      That's completely unfair - they'll decided to retire the product in a couple of years not only ceasing collecting information from those users but also leaving them stranded and without a solution because they'd spent the previous years stifling competition by offering a competent free alternative.

  • Local Infrastructure (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07, 2014 @10:11AM (#46939327)

    I'd like to see locally hosted servers so that I have some confidence that it's separated from the hive.

    • by i kan reed (749298) on Wednesday May 07, 2014 @10:46AM (#46939681) Homepage Journal

      Yeah, and I'd like to see volunteer teachers, so that I have some confidence it's separated from greed.

      I guess what I'm trying to say is that completely reasonable pragmatic constraints happen within the confines of education all the time.

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        Teachers get paid. Most places their salary ranges are a matter of public record. If they don't get paid, they stop teaching. It's an exchange where everybody knows what they're getting, and at what price.

        Google is a for-profit publicly traded company with a legal obligation to make as much money as (legally) possible for their shareholders. They insist they're giving this product away for free, no strings attached. See the difference?

        • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Wednesday May 07, 2014 @02:11PM (#46941949) Homepage Journal

          Google is a for-profit publicly traded company with a legal obligation to make as much money as (legally) possible for their shareholders.

          This isn't true for Google, and in fact it's not true for many corporations.

          What corporations are legally obligated to do is to fulfill the promises made in their articles of incorporation and in their statements to prospective shareholders during offerings (public and otherwise). Generally, these documents specify profit as the primary motive, but they often include caveats which allow the company to seek other goals alongside or perhaps even to the detriment of profits.

          Google's documents, in particular, include a lot of such weaseling. The primary document to consider is the founders' letter to prospective shareholders [google.com] during the IPO, in which they set the expectation for the shares people buy. That letter specifically announced the intention of the founders to maintain control of the company so that it does not have to be motivated entirely by profit motive, and particularly not by short-term profit motive.

          (Disclaimer: I work for Google, and hold a small number of Google shares -- most received as part of my hiring bonus -- but I don't speak for Google. This erroneous notion that corporations are legally obligated to generate maximum profits is one that bothered me long before joining Google and indeed I made posts very similar to this one long before going to work for Google.)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Local infrastructure - or at least local to a given country - is important for this to be successful outside the USA. For example, in Canada, privacy laws require confidentiality that cannot be guaranteed for data held in the USA due to the Patriot Act. Even before the recent NSA revelations, it was technically illegal in Canada to use Google services for teaching purposes.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Dude, it's Google! This for-profit, publicly owned company (owned by the likes of Fidelity, Black Rock and Vanguard), is of course giving things away for free with no strings attached! Everyone is so cynical.

  • weasel words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jbmartin6 (1232050) on Wednesday May 07, 2014 @10:16AM (#46939385)
    "never uses your content or student data for advertising purposes" isn't exactly reassuring. Let's see. Could be used for research purposes so that someone else can make money off the results. Could be used to recommend mind altering drugs. Could be used to report "violent tendencies" to the government. Could be used to refine profiles for making advertising more effective on kids outside the class setting.
    • Re:weasel words (Score:4, Insightful)

      by i kan reed (749298) on Wednesday May 07, 2014 @10:48AM (#46939719) Homepage Journal

      It's too bad the way Google shot their credibility to hell. A decade ago, there was boundless enthusiasm for everything google did, and now they've made it clear that they're trying to funnel you into their advertising-revenue-maximizing subsystems, regardless of what you actually want.

      • Re:weasel words (Score:4, Informative)

        by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Wednesday May 07, 2014 @10:51AM (#46939769)

        right - no sensible or aware person would willingly choose to get involved in yet another google boondoggle product.

        privacy is NOT what they exist for; in fact, they exist for 100% the opposite! to collect, sort, analyse and market your info to their real customers.

        businesses that choose to get in bed with google 'data' are either ignorant or on the take, one way or another. no one with any respect for users will ever voluntarily choose to do business with google ever again.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07, 2014 @12:30PM (#46940867)

          privacy is NOT what they exist for; in fact, they exist for 100% the opposite! to collect, sort, analyse and market your info to their real customers.

          First: It is not YOUR INFO in the first place.
          Secondly: It isn't YOUR INFO they are selling.

          What Google does is they do next kind arrangement:

          User (you) - Google - Third party Corporation

          The third party does not get anything about you from the Google. But they get A LOT from you when you visit the third party sites like microsoft.com or slashdot.org.
          When third party wants to show ads on their sites, Google gets to know that you have seen or clicked X, Y and Z ads. And then Google bills the corporation whos advertisements you have seen.
          The third party doesn't get to know what ads you have seen, they only know you have visited on the site and how you have behaved on their site.

          Google does collected your data of your BEHAVIOR. Like what URL you type, what links you click, what ads you see.
          And then it sell the anonymity behavior data to researchers corporations and to own use. Example that 24 million unique users made search query with keywords of X, Y and Z. Or that 65% X, Y and Z services users are directed to sites via Google search.

          Google DOES NOT sell anything about you. They don't sell your name, your address, your email subjects, your email content, how many person you know, who you know, information what ads you do click, or are you cheating your gay friend. So don't worry, your wife doesn't get to know it.

          It is just sad that Google gets lots of lies from people like you claiming that they sell your info to their real customers. YOU ARE THE CUSTOMER, and every third party is GOOGLE CLIENT.
          Google doesn't sell your information, it sell only behavior analytic data (big data as some people might say) just like governments do sell such by how many people lives in specific district and how often people move to there and out of there. Or how many cars move between specific points on the county roads. What is the income tax level on specific areas, how many stores and malls are on area and how people behave by criminal records by amount of arrests and convictions on specific areas. But government isn't selling or gathering YOUR INFORMATION but information of citizens and so on.

          Sure if you are paranoid, you can believe you are so important that someone at government really starts to focus at you and follows you. It can be true as even your neighbor can follow and spy at you or you can stalk specific woman for a search of fuck buddy.

          What you should be angry about, is what your bank is doing. What big corporations what those banks own are doing. What insurance corporations are doing. As they track you, the identify you as well as they can, they follow what you buy and when you buy and then they target ads to you and new sales or they deny your insurance benefits when action happens because the bank sold the credit card data to them.

          Banks are the biggest evil there, you can't do anymore anything without having a bank account in western country. You can't rent a apartment, you can't get a tax returns, you can't get a contract for mobile phone as others can. Sure you can get a ticket from government to be assigned at your name to your wanted bank so you can withdraw your tax returns but it is huge hassle. Sure you can get prepaid phone but getting more credits to it is hassle.
          Finally sure you can go and pay bills via bank without bank account but when you are paying 15€ per each bill for the bank, you do not want to go to bank and pay 4-5 bills what total worth is just around 80-100€ as you pay extra for that almost same amount.
          Hell, in many countries you can't anymore even do a withdraw from banks or put money to any account as most banks don't anymore handle cash. And if you go to bank what is 80km from your location what still handles the cash, you need to pay 5-7€ to a bank from it.

          There are thousands of cases every year where insurance corporat

      • It's too bad the way Google shot their credibility to hell. A decade ago, there was boundless enthusiasm for everything google did, and now they've made it clear that they're trying to funnel you into their advertising-revenue-maximizing subsystems, regardless of what you actually want.

        Kinda the way television, radio, newspapers and other media work, just on a bigger scale.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jbmartin6 (1232050)
        TANSTAAFL
      • Re:weasel words (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Wednesday May 07, 2014 @11:24AM (#46940147)

        A decade ago, there was boundless enthusiasm for everything google did, and now they've made it clear ...

        Unless you were a complete retard, it was totally obvious what they were doing a decade ago as well. I don't see the big deal. Google offers lots of free services in exchange for targeted advertising. That is the deal, and they are very open and upfront about what they are doing and always have been. If you don't like it, then don't use their services. It is childish and silly to whine that they are not spending billions to provide you with something for nothing.

        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          Except for their education apps they insist they're NOT doing targeted advertising. Or at least, they insist they're not doing a list of specific things that might make you assume they're not doing targeted advertising.

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        Google is a giant advertising company. They rode an overly credulous public (led by geeks) to a market dominating position. Job well done, shareholders happy.

    • "never uses your content or student data for advertising purposes" isn't exactly reassuring.

      Yup - if a for-profit company like Google is offering a service for free, you can be darn sure they think there's going to be a financial return one way or another.

      My guess is they are building a currently-latent profile that will be used for targeting ads once the kid leaves school - that's twelve years of information, and now they'll have a running start. They're almost certainly also building shadow profiles of the kid's contacts.

      • Re:weasel words (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Wednesday May 07, 2014 @11:33AM (#46940257)

        My guess is they are building a currently-latent profile that will be used for targeting ads once the kid leaves school

        Maybe. My guess is that this is an attack on Microsoft. By getting an entire generate of young people used to Google Docs, they can kill Microsoft Office, and deprive Microsoft of their main cash cow. My son is in 4th grade in a California public school, and they already use Google Docs to do much of their school work. The teacher can see their progress, and track their work from outline, to draft, to polished report. It seems to work well, and I am glad to see Google putting more effort into it.

    • like every other project google has started they will pull the plug a 2 years.

      • by swillden (191260)

        This one has already been running for more than two years.

      • Like gmail, and search, and docs, and everything else except the handful of projects they did cancel with a huge amount of forewarning and ample substitutes?

    • by swillden (191260)

      I posit that there is no statement Google could make which you couldn't parse for loopholes, unless it comprised multiple pages of legalese.

      I happen to know personally a lot of people on the Apps and Drive teams who would quit and blow the whistle if any of the abuses you posit were to happen, or even look like happening.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    They will end up shutting it down in 2 or 3 years from now.
  • by metalmaster (1005171) on Wednesday May 07, 2014 @10:22AM (#46939437)
    This has that misfit stank all over it. Google will be all excited to get it out into the world. They'll let you play with it for a semester or 2 and then it'll get the axe or be absorbed as feature bloat into some other project.
    • by swillden (191260)

      This has that misfit stank all over it. Google will be all excited to get it out into the world. They'll let you play with it for a semester or 2 and then it'll get the axe or be absorbed as feature bloat into some other project.

      Google Apps for education is already several years old, and going strong. Besides being a way for Google to "give back" at almost zero cost, it's a great way to encourage enterprise sales (a non-trivial and fast-growing component of Google's revenues), since it gets the future workforce comfortable with the tools. This is a minor extension which may or may not be truly specific to education. I'd say the odds of it getting axed are basically zero, unless schools that use Google Apps don't like it and don't u

    • by mcrbids (148650)

      I just remember how critical everybody here on /. was about the iPod. How many years ago was that?

      • by edremy (36408)
        Yeah, well, have to looked at iPod sales lately? Falling like a stone; so bad, in fact, that Apple's rumored to be cancelling it altogether. Clearly /. is just a bit ahead of the curve.
    • by fermion (181285)
      Back in 2009-2010, Google promoted Wave to many groups, including educators. It was released over the spring of 2010 so that anyone could use it, and was implemented by many educators over that summer. I know of one group of thousands of educations that were planning to use it so their students, from around the US, could collaborate on creative and technical projects. Of course, just as educators were about to implement these resources, Google announced that Wave would be discontinued. It was available
  • by Galaga88 (148206) on Wednesday May 07, 2014 @10:24AM (#46939469)

    As somebody whose job is to work with Blackboard on a daily basis, I really really hope this puts the fear of God into Blackboard.

    I don't even necessarily want to switch to this, just introduce some competition that Blackboard can't buy out, and has to step up their game to match.

    • My uni finally got rid of Blackboard last year. They put in something called Desire2Learn. I graduated so I don't have direct experience with it, but I've heard it's not really any better.
      • by i.r.id10t (595143) on Wednesday May 07, 2014 @10:54AM (#46939793)

        I am the LMS Admin at the college I work for... when BB bought WebCT support dropped. We moved to Angel, things weren't much better and then BB bought Angel. When we started looking at new LMSes (LMSii ?) 2 years ago, it was decided that BB is a company we didn't want to do business with. Our short list got down to Canvas and D2L. We went with Canvas. It is Open Source (AGPLv3), it works much better than Angel did, and they actually fix bugs and implement features that teachers and admins want.

        • by Kaptain Kruton (854928) on Wednesday May 07, 2014 @11:27AM (#46940195)
          Are there any specific reasons you went with Canvas instead of D2L? I work at a local college and we are going to switch LMSs and we are currently considering those two.
          • by i.r.id10t (595143) on Wednesday May 07, 2014 @11:47AM (#46940433)

            The work flow of creating classes, and the overall initial impression of the look and feel. We had a committee of almost 60 people - an instructor or two from every academic department/discipline, our IT department, my department (academic technology)

            The big thing that convinced me to vote for Canvas was that in Canvas the HTML editor that is present basically everywhere you can input text has a widget that allows you to record voice/video direct from your computer (mic for audio only, webcam for audio and video), gets saved directly to Canvas, gets converted on the back end by Kaltura, and is served up in an appropriate format for whatever device is being used to view it. This is a big game changer for foriegn language, public speaking, any course that requires a student to make a presentation. Even changes math instruction - instructors can point a webcam at a piece of paper on the desk and work thru a problem, giving a voice over while showing the work being done.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Take a look at QuestionMark they have some good stuff rolling around out there

          Way better than Blackboard or Moodle echh!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The only advantage of blackboard is that it's so fucking horrible that they can't possibly be successfully datamining.

    • by rgbscan (321794)

      It could be worse. You could be stuck with Moodle.

    • Unless they implement things like attendance tracking, a gradebook, a solid method for it to interact with the school's SiS, and several other things, no school will consider it to be an LMS and Blackboard will have nothing to worry about. This will only be useful to individual teachers that want to use tech in their classes instead of their school's LMS (assuming it has one).
      • by i.r.id10t (595143)

        If Google really wants to create a LMS, the critical thing will be an exam/testing engine. Everything else - communications, presenting docments in a variety of formats, etc. can be done using thier existing tools. But giving a student a test, that is the tricky part.

  • I'm a bit skeptical, but the existing stuff is so bad that I might look. Google would have to actively spend many person-years of engineering effort to produce a system as bad as Blackboard.

  • I'm not. Every single "free" thing they offer has huge strings attached. Oh now they're interested in education? I'm sure they're going to HEAVILY mine it for the personal data of anyone using it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I think their greater advantage would be the lock in effect.

  • My college currently employs moodle, but all of my teachers already link to google docs for their assignments, powerpoint presentations used with the Smart Board; all pushed into ppt and pdf to look at and study from later.. This would work perfectly as a substitute for moodle, which is terrible in some aspects. By the time schools incorporate it, i'll be done. Still, cool to see. I'm not too worried about my grades being mined, but then again I'm also not a privacy nut.
    • I'm not too worried about corporations knowing everything about me, but then again I'm also not a privacy nut.
      I'm not too worried about the government and corporations tracking everything I do, but then again I'm also not a privacy nut.
      I'm not too worried about getting molested by the TSA, but then again I'm also not a privacy nut.

      I guess "privacy nut" is a term that describes people with a bit of sense, because with how often I see people defending egregious privacy violations, nothing else makes sense.

      • Lol, is that what I said? No.. Nice try though..
        • You strongly implied that you don't give a fuck if some corporation has all this data about you. Unless you misspoke, that would make you ignorant.

          The other things were merely things I've heard your comrades (other ignoramuses who mock privacy advocates) say.

          So unless you meant "privacy nut" to be a good thing, which seems unlikely, I have to presume you were insulting privacy advocates.

          • I'm not too worried about my grades being mined Yes, this statement definitely implied all data about me. Oh wait.. You're just making assumptions now...
            • What it implied was that you don't give a fuck about privacy, considering the amount of data they'd be able to collect. What, because you don't care about a certain type of privacy, it doesn't matter? It's not just your grades (assuming they stop at grades, which they won't) that will be mined.

              If you're willing to hand over random data to corporations, it is a very good assumption that you probably don't care all that much about privacy to begin with.

      • by PvtVoid (1252388)

        I'm not too worried about corporations knowing everything about me, but then again I'm also not a privacy nut. I'm not too worried about the government and corporations tracking everything I do, but then again I'm also not a privacy nut. I'm not too worried about getting molested by the TSA, but then again I'm also not a privacy nut.

        I guess "privacy nut" is a term that describes people with a bit of sense, because with how often I see people defending egregious privacy violations, nothing else makes sense.

        Let's see: lots of universities are already using Gmail for university accounts [ecampusnews.com]. The sky has not (yet) fallen.

        Whether is pleases the tinfoil hat brigade or not, universities are moving to outsourced and cloud-based services for a lot of things that used to be done in-house. It's hard to see this as anything besides a net plus for education, since (in my experience at least), most university IT departments couldn't find their own asses with both hands and a special ass map. And their funding is getting

        • Let's see: lots of universities are already using Gmail for university accounts.

          Which is a terrible idea.

          The sky has not (yet) fallen.

          Many things which don't cause the sky to fall are still bad.

          Whether is pleases the tinfoil hat brigade or not

          Once again, people mock privacy advocates despite the fact that it has been shown many times over that the government and corporations collect a massive amount of data on everyone they can, and abuse it whenever possible. Especially after the Snowden leaks, such people should not be said to be wearing tinfoil hats, but even before that, it was obvious that surveillance was going on.

          Both governments and corporations are fill

          • by PvtVoid (1252388)

            For educational institutions, there is no fucking excuse to give in to cloud garbage, or for them to hand over data to asshole corporations.

            I don't care how convenient or useful it is to you people; I have principles.

            I certainly hope those principles involve being willing to pay the required costs, either in the form of tuition, or taxes. TANSTAAFL.

  • by axlash (960838) on Wednesday May 07, 2014 @10:48AM (#46939735)

    Looks like Google wants to get children used to the idea of using Google Docs when they're young so that they keep on using it as they get older.

  • Moodle has been around since 2002. its open source and pretty easy to install and maintain. Google classroom, like most other google apps, ablates the responsibility of servers, networking, and an IT staff and in turn allows educational institutions to experience the full wealth of googles Software As A Service. Just imagine, your proctoring a major exam when suddenly your application just disappears in a fashion not unlike the massive gmail outage on 1/24/14. Google has no technical support, no publica
    • Moodle has been around since 2002. its open source and pretty easy to install and maintain. Google classroom, like most other google apps, ablates the responsibility of servers, networking, and an IT staff and in turn allows educational institutions to experience the full wealth of googles Software As A Service. Just imagine, your proctoring a major exam when suddenly your application just disappears in a fashion not unlike the massive gmail outage on 1/24/14. Google has no technical support, no publically available points of contact and zero fucks to give about your students or your lesson plan because you arent the consumer, you're the product.

      https://support.google.com/a/t... [google.com] : "Phone support is available for administrators of Google Apps for Business, Education, Government, and Nonprofit accounts." Not sure how that compares to their Google Apps for Business stuff, but that has gone from mediocre to pretty good. I didn't loose anything in the great outage of 2014, despite having 3 gmail accts and using google docs with it. In fact, I've never lost a google doc in 6-7 years. And when you hear rants like this, there never seems the possibilit

  • by hhawk (26580)

    I use Blackboard (9.1) and do like it. I also use Google Docs with my students (I use it for virtual office hours), so we can review papers together (while talking on the phone, make mutual edits, Etc.). One issue I have with Blackboard is there isn't a great way to hand in assignments; I do it in a discussion forum. I'm really eager to see what Google comes up with.

    That said, given Google's track record, I'm really concerned that this system might not last long. I can't imagine what would happen if/when it

    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      I was forced to use Blackboars back around 2004 and it was horrible, it used some sort of link token to keep stateful knowledge of where you were in the application.

      example

      1)open window to chemistry course.
      2)open window to calculus course
      3) on chemistry course click on "assignments" link, arrive at the calculus course assignments list because that is the course you most recently opened.

      later i switched schools and used the, at the time, much less featureful but much better designed ANGEL software, I was
      • by hhawk (26580)

        I've used Blackboard since ~ 2001 it's changed a lot over the years...

  • by Blaskowicz (634489) on Wednesday May 07, 2014 @11:00AM (#46939879)

    This is obviously to get people hooked at a younger age and create a generation of even more dependant people.
    You used to be able to do classwork and homework with just paper, no tech giants involved, no e-mail sent to you by the teacher, no real time data of what everybody has done by the minute.. If you had to write an essay till Thursday, nobody would know before Thursday 2 AM that you've not written anything yet.

    The pupils (I don't think you're a "student" at high school) will be tied to a keyboard or tablet for the most basic of interactions, and in the folowing years will be incapable to live without tech gadgets in direct reach at all time so smart phones and the reduced capability computer that are tablets will be virtually mandatory if you don't want to end up as beggar on the street, just like a car got mandatory in the second half of the 20th century. Google services and Android will profit (and a few competitors and fuckbook). Extreme consumerism will be unescapable. You will need more and more dirtily-made LCD displays and li-ion batteries to not get shunned.

    The privacy is not limited to advertisers.. With such systems the teachers and parents will have too much data already, or even the pupils themselves. Data will leak in various ways (if only by way of copy-paste, screenshots, forwarding and looking at something entering their password)
    Then when you leave high school you have to take a conscious approach into not using Google services and such, else you will get data mined, as Google effectively promises it.

    • (I meant "looking at someone entering their password". Though the word "something" is almost acceptable there, if the children and adolescent are button-pushing drones devoid of critical thinking)

    • by ledow (319597)

      Google Apps for Education is Google Apps for Domains, rebranded and with more controls.

      You can't even tell externally that it's Google if you do it right. It uses your mail domain and your logo and nobody is any the wiser.

      The only tell-tale... if you go to GMail.com and use your school address, it logs you straight in.

      By what I've seen, the Google Accounts for Education are not "normal" accounts either - you can lock them down the same as on your domain - and even prevent user X sharing their drive with us

    • Have you ever even met a teenager? It doesn't take Google in schools to get them using computing devices, this is something that they will happily do on their own non-fucking-stop.

  • ... a trend of students taking notes and doing work longhand [slashdot.org] seems to be gaining momentum.

  • Considering how many services Google has started then discontinued over the years, getting this one embedded in your day-to-day life sounds foolish, no matter how cool it might be.

    • by weave (48069)
      Yeah, I was just going to say I wonder how many April 1st's will go by before this one is retired.
  • Why do we need this? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Entropius (188861) on Wednesday May 07, 2014 @11:41AM (#46940355)

    [1] Create and collect assignments: Classroom weaves together Google Docs, Drive and Gmail to help teachers create and collect assignments paperlessly.

    To "create assignments", I make a pdf in my favorite pdf-maker, then post it on the course website (a plain HTML page with links), then tell the students about it.
    To "collect assignments", I tell the students to email them to the course submission email -- shared between the lead instructor and the grader, if there is one.

    They can quickly see who has or hasn't completed the work, and provide direct, real-time feedback to individual students.

    I don't have the time to play policeman ("I see little Susie hasn't even started coding yet and the homework's due tomorrow"); if Susie wants my help she has my email.

    [2] Improve class communications: Teachers can make announcements, ask questions and comment with students in real time—improving communication inside and outside of class.

    I can best "improve class communications" by talking to the damn students. If they want to talk to me and I'm around, there's email or coming by my office; if I don't respond to either, then chances are I won't be reachable by google widget, either.

    [3] Stay organized: Classroom automatically creates Drive folders for each assignment and for each student. Students can easily see what's due on their Assignments page.'

    They can easily see what's due by visiting the course website and seeing "Homework 4 (link) -- due Monday, April 14".
    Sorting things by assignment and by student is as simple as asking them to include their name and the assignment number in their submission, and running a perl script. For less technically inclined teachers, use whatever file-sifting features your OS of choice has.

    I've seen highly-technologized courses run way off the rails, because there's a delusion that fancy computerization can take the place of talking to the students. It can't. The only instructional technology I really have a need for is:

    1) The computers that we actually use (I teach computational physics)
    2) A projector, so I can show them examples
    3) A website, where they can download shit (pdf's of assignments and notes) and see what's due
    4) Email

    • by PvtVoid (1252388)
      I hate to tell you, but Google is On Your Lawn this very moment.
    • by ledow (319597)

      Because not all education is to young-adults.

      To the rest of the work, "school" means something that only children go to.

      There, parents do have to supervise their homework schedule. They do have to be hand-held into completing assignments. They are managed by teachers who can barely login (so a plain HTML page is out of the question).

      What Google has broken into is the VLE market - a growing, required trend in UK education sector, for example. And, yes, Google Apps for Education is available over here too

      • by i.r.id10t (595143)

        The Microsoft solution is "do it in Sharepoint / Exchange". They are clearly targeting business-only. And though education discounts are good, they aren't free by a long shot. The home-brew method is beyond just about every school that doesn't have a full-time team of people.

        The college I work for just went from locally hosted/managed Exchange to Office 365. According to our CIO, currently enrolled students are no cost, students who aren't currently enrolled are $3/month to keep active accounts for, and employees are $5/month.

        Considering that we have 15k enrolled students per term (comes out to about 11k FTE) while not free it is certainly darn cheap.

        • by ledow (319597)

          The Microsoft education licensing I deal with in the UK is tied to your staff FTE, on an annually recurring base.

          What you install / do above that is up to you, but the base license certainly isn't free even if you can have any number of students / workstations for no extra.

    • by Udigs (1072138)

      [1] Create and collect assignments: Classroom weaves together Google Docs, Drive and Gmail to help teachers create and collect assignments paperlessly.

      To "create assignments", I make a pdf in my favorite pdf-maker, then post it on the course website (a plain HTML page with links), then tell the students about it. To "collect assignments", I tell the students to email them to the course submission email -- shared between the lead instructor and the grader, if there is one.

      They can quickly see who has or hasn't completed the work, and provide direct, real-time feedback to individual students.

      I don't have the time to play policeman ("I see little Susie hasn't even started coding yet and the homework's due tomorrow"); if Susie wants my help she has my email.

      [2] Improve class communications: Teachers can make announcements, ask questions and comment with students in real time—improving communication inside and outside of class.

      I can best "improve class communications" by talking to the damn students. If they want to talk to me and I'm around, there's email or coming by my office; if I don't respond to either, then chances are I won't be reachable by google widget, either.

      [3] Stay organized: Classroom automatically creates Drive folders for each assignment and for each student. Students can easily see what's due on their Assignments page.'

      They can easily see what's due by visiting the course website and seeing "Homework 4 (link) -- due Monday, April 14". Sorting things by assignment and by student is as simple as asking them to include their name and the assignment number in their submission, and running a perl script. For less technically inclined teachers, use whatever file-sifting features your OS of choice has.

      I've seen highly-technologized courses run way off the rails, because there's a delusion that fancy computerization can take the place of talking to the students. It can't. The only instructional technology I really have a need for is:

      1) The computers that we actually use (I teach computational physics) 2) A projector, so I can show them examples 3) A website, where they can download shit (pdf's of assignments and notes) and see what's due 4) Email

      I so agree and you have my mod points. The only, and I mean only feature I actually like about these products is that I can see the grade distribution (as a student). For some reason I always like to see what the highest and lowest scores are, also, how much I beat the average by. The only blackboard one needs is an actual blackboard.

  • I will not try this nor recommend it until Google states clearly that this service will be maintained for X years. I understand that nothing is forever, but too many projects have been created by Google only to be abandoned within 2-3 years.
    • by Ravaldy (2621787)

      I'd also like to see all data older than 1 year be wiped out. No adult should have their ability to get a job hindered by history dating back when you were 12. I for one didn't do all my homework and it didn't prevent me from doing very well in college and even better when my career started.

  • I probably won't even bother checking this out. Here's why. [slate.com]

APL is a write-only language. I can write programs in APL, but I can't read any of them. -- Roy Keir

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