Make the most of these Google Classroom admin features
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a large number of school districts are using Google Classroom this year to support remote learning. When Google created Classroom, they didn’t anticipate that districts would use it to replace classroom education. They thought teachers and students would use it as a learning management system. As a result, Google Classroom admin functions are limited, which causes challenges for district IT staff charged with managing the software.
G Suite for Education security is an important function for all districts that use G Suite apps, even before the pandemic moved a greater majority of learning and school business operations online. Google’s Admin Console provides a variety of powerful tools to monitor and control many of its most popular apps. For example, IT teams have a great deal of control over Google Drive security and data loss prevention. Google Classroom monitoring of this kind, on the other hand, is largely impossible for school Google admins.
Tools to manage available Google Classroom security settings and audit Google Classroom data are found in different places in the Admin Console. Configuring and managing class settings is pretty straightforward in the G Suite section under the Apps tab. And, you can find the tools to audit Google Classroom use and other audit logs in the Reports section of the Admin Console.
6 Google Classroom Admin Tips
Google Classroom admins have a number of issues to address. These six tips will help you meet the admin challenges posed by the increased use of Google Classrooms in its current format.
1. View Classroom Usage Reports
As the admin, you’ll need to be able to monitor classrooms to see usage trends and monitor Classroom activity. To access usage reports, go to the Reports tab in the Admin Console, then under App Reports, click Classroom. With the Classroom usage reports, you’ll be able to:
- Sort the date-specific statistics by teachers or students
- Download reports
- Review a user’s Classroom usage
- Review active Classroom users
Learn more about Google Classroom usage reports here >>
2. Connect Classroom to your SIS
Before you can connect Classroom to your Student Information System (SIS), you must integrate your SIS with Classroom using the One Roster API. Once that is completed, teachers can link classes to the SIS to export grades. You will need to make sure that you have set permissions properly in the School Data Sync option to allow for linking and exporting. The default is to allow teachers to perform those tasks.
Learn more about connecting Google Classroom to your SIS here >>
3. Allow Classroom Email Notifications for Teachers and Students
Even if your district doesn’t have student emails activated, you can still give permission for emails that contain Classroom notifications such as classwork notes, comments on posts, and class invitations.
To allow these notifications, make sure that teachers and students can email each other, even if they’re in separate domains. You’ll also need to add classroom.google.com to the list of allowed domains in your Admin Console.
Learn more about allowing Google Classroom email notifications here >>
4. Activate and Configure Google Meet for Classroom Integration
If your district uses Google Classroom, teachers can also use Google Meet for online class sessions. Google recently made this easier with a Classroom and Meet integration, moving Google Meet access into the Classroom interface.
Your district will have access to Google Meet’s premium video conferencing features until September 30, 2020. After that date, you’ll need to purchase G Suite Enterprise for Education. Those features include live stream, recordings, and up to 250-person meetings.
You can access the Google Meet settings in the Admin console by going to Apps, then G Suite, and you’ll see the Google Meet link. You can review the Meet features available to a user, but you can only change Meet settings based on an Organizational Unit or Group. You’ll need to turn on Meet for teachers, who can then create unique Meets for each class.
Learn more about the Google Classroom and Meet integration here >>
5. Manage Guardians in Your Domain
A student’s guardian can receive email summaries concerning that student’s work and progress in a class. As the Google Classroom admin, you can allow guardian emails and give teachers the ability to add or remove guardians.
The default for K-12 schools is to have guardian access turned on. From Admin Console, you can give teachers the ability to invite and remove guardians, or you can restrict that capability to domain administrators.
Learn more about managing guardian notifications here >>
6. Troubleshoot Domain Errors in Classroom
Domain errors can occur when users are attempting to access and/or share resources in different domains. If you encounter domain errors, you can go to Classroom help to determine how to correct those errors based on the specific error message you receive.
Some examples of common domain errors that you’re likely to hear from teachers and/or students in the coming weeks include:
- 1 user was not invited. You cannot invite students outside your domain to classes
- Oops! That code is for a class outside your domain. Please make sure you entered the correct code
- This file (These files) cannot be shared with the class due to a problem with your domain settings. Please contact your domain admin
- This file (These files) cannot be turned in due to a problem with your domain settings. Please contact your domain admin
All of these errors have to do with your domain whitelisting policies. In many cases, they may be completely legitimate (in other words, you’ve purposefully restricted access to your domain from outside domains). In some cases, it may have to do with a student or teacher attempting to access their Classroom materials using a personal account without realizing it. But in other cases, you may have intended to allow the access and need to troubleshoot your domain whitelisting setup.
Learn more about troubleshooting Google Classroom domain errors here >>
The Anywhere School: New Admin Features from Google
Google launched The Anywhere School on August 11, 2020. It included an online event to explore the future of education, which is now available on-demand. In addition, Google is providing free training for professional development through The Anywhere School. There is education for teachers and parents to help them use the tools available from Google for remote learning.
In their effort to keep improving Google Classroom to help everyone using it tackle remote learning, Google announced many new features for all types of users. Those announcements include a number of new features for IT admins that, according to Google, are coming soon. Most notably, the new admin features include:
- The ability to download Google Classroom audit logs, including BigQuery analysis for Enterprise customers
- Access to Google Meet audit logs in the Admin Console, and the ability to assign access to the Meet Quality Tool to other people in your organization
- Improvements to the Google Groups experience
Before COVID-19, experts hailed Google Classroom as a simple “LMS Lite” for teachers and students. And, even better, the price was desirable since it was free. Now, schools are planning to rely on Classroom to enable learning for millions of students, and Google is working hard to take Classroom beyond its “Lite” reputation.
However, Google Classroom admin tools are still lacking because understandably, the main focus of product development continues to be on features for teachers and students. Thankfully, Google seems to be acutely aware of the need for upgrades.
District admins still need to be aware of Google Classroom security issues. You must make sure you are using Google Meet best practices, monitoring Google Meet, and generally making sure that you’re protecting both students and data, particularly during this increase in online learning.