If you have access to GAFE (Google Apps for Education) and haven't taken advantage of Google Classroom yet, what are you waiting for?!? Classroom is a great way to organize a Google workflow with your students without the headache of trying to manage sharing options for Google apps back and forth.
Being one year removed from the classroom since the introduction of Google Classroom I cringe at the thought of the old system I had set-up with my students, attempting to utilizing folders within folders and individually going in to set sharing settings for each folder and document (Ughh!) Now Classroom makes the process so much easier and organized, a completely digital and paperless classroom is not such a crazy idea.
As useful and amazing Google Classroom is for working with students in my role as a Technology Integrator, which involves a lot more staff interaction and training , I have found using Classroom as a conduit for getting information and resources out to fellow staff members is just as productive. Instead of sending and receiving a barrage of emails or losing items in the 'Shared with me' list in our ever-growing Google Drives, the important resources, links, documents, etc.. can be placed in a Classroom that will keep it contained and organized for people to access before, during, and after a training or meeting.
Teachers vs Students: One important consideration is who will be a teacher of the Classroom and who will be a student. The ability for teachers to interact with various elements posted is somewhat limited compared to students. If you want to fully take advantage of some of the collaboration pieces (questions and assignments) you'll need to have the majority of participants as students in the Classroom.
In my district the Technology Team has created a Classroom for each building (AES, AMS, and AHS) and had all the teachers and staff enroll as students. This enables us to easily deliver content and get feedback from all the teachers as well as give them unlimited access to resources, links, documents, agendas, etc.. after we have finished a training.
Most useful elements: There are several components of Classroom that I have found most useful when interacting with peers.
About Section: This section lets you post 'static' information to your Classroom students. Any important documents, links, or videos you feel will be a constant reference should live here. This way participants always know where to get them and won't have a scroll down a ever-growing stream as you post more and more in the Classroom.
Announcements: The announcements are one of the all purpose elements of Classroom. They let you post web links, file attachments, YouTube videos, and Google Docs. This is the go-to element I use when sharing resources with staff. It's a great way to have documents available for staff to follow along with as you're presenting with them.
Assignments: The assignment is a great way to hand out individual copies of a document or resource without the recipient needing to go through the process to make their own copy. One thing to keep in mind is not setting a due date if you're not expecting anything to be returned (this will avoid those late notifications). Assignments with or without documents attached are also great ways to collect items and keep them organized in one place easily.
Questions: The newly created question element of Classroom is a great way to quickly get feedback or promote group discussion. Depending on your settings when you create the question, you can either have answers only seen by teachers to provide anonymous feedback or you can let students see and reply to each others responses creating an online discussion to further any work done in a meeting or training.
Google Classroom has proved to be an extremely versatile tool when it comes to working with students and staff. If you have any experience utilizing Classroom or another edtech tool for alternate purposes leave a comment below and share the wealth!
Director of Technology for Traverse City Area Public Schools. Level 2 Google Certified Educator. Former Tech Integration Specialist and 4th grade teacher at Aspen School District and Spartan for life! Go Green!