We in Shrewsbury have the benefit of being both a Google for Education system and subscribers to Schoology’s Enterprise platform. As we all continue our move towards full implementation of Schoology in our classrooms, we thought this would be a good time to examine how these two platforms can work well together.
Benefits of Google Classroom
While Schoology is terrific for collecting and scoring work – especially homeworks and check-ins that you can attach to a rubric, one shortfall is in giving timely, collaborative feedback. Basically, in Schoology, if students are drafting a paper and you want to give them feedback, there’s a several-step process in which you need to engage: (1) set up an assignment where students can submit a draft (2) student submits a draft for feedback (3) give feedback and return assignment (4) student resubmits for additional feedback or grade.
This is an area where Google Classroom excels — by creating an assignment in Google Classroom, all students get a template in which they will create their work, and you are able to give feedback in real time — without needing students to submit it, or you to collect and return it. If you couple this with Doctopus and Goobric, you get a spreadsheet, listing the links to student work plus an update regarding when they last edited it, how may times they edited it, and how many comments you’ve put in their documents. You can even hold help sessions inside a student’s document… For full details on all these features,, check out this earlier post and this update for some of the other features
One other really useful element in Google Classroom is the email feature — once your students have all registered for your classroom, you can easily email all or some of the students at the touch of a button. Just go to the “students” tab, check off the students you wish to contact, and select “Email” under the “Actions” Button. Because we’re a Google Education System, Classroom immediately puts you into your GMail account and sets up an email with all the students listed as a Blind-CC. This is very useful for reaching out to kids who missed an assignment, need a reminder, etc. without any one student being aware of who else is being contacted.
Using Google Classroom with Schoology
So, how do you combine Google Classroom with your Schoology class page? Easy — just create a link in Schoology, at the top of your materials page, where students can always find it. Here’s what the top of my class page looks like:
As you can see, I’ve put in links to the most common non-Schoology items my kids will access: several Google-based surveys that I use to track things, common guidelines, and Google Classroom. If you’re curious about any of the items listed, just drop a note.
In addition, when an assignment is due in Google Classroom, I post a “dummy” assignment in Schoology, with a link to Google Classroom. I turn off the “accept submissions” switch and set the deadline to match the due date / time in Classroom. This way, the assignment shows up in the students’ “upcoming assignments” sidebar as a reminder, but the kids know to go to Classroom to complete the work and turn it in:
New Features in Doctopus / Goobric
Additionally, the Google Add-ons for collecting and grading papers through Classroom have added a few improvements that really make it worthwhile to grade papers using this platform. You can see the new features inside the rubric box which Doctopus gives you at the top of each paper when you grade it:
The rubric is on the left, while the grade submission box is on the right. The graphic below shows the new features:
Most of these are self explanatory, with the exception of being able to switch “Can View” to “Can Comment. This is a feature that users of Doctopus have wanted for some time, to address a minor negative in Google Classroom: One feature which teachers love in GC is the fact that, when a student submits a paper, they lose editing permission – effectively, ownership transfers from the student to the teacher, until the document is returned to the student, once it’s graded. The negative side of this is that, when a person no longer owns the document, they can no longer see any comments that have been posted in the assignment. This creates a situation when you begin scoring papers: as soon as you finish scoring in Doctopus, the filled out rubric is embedded into the document, so the student can immediately see their grades. This is a good thing, right? Well, not entirely. Because they don’t “own” the document until you release all the papers back to your students, it means kids can see their grades, but not the comments which explain those grades — thus inviting lots of emails from students, asking why they earned the grades they earned. That is why this new option is so important — by selecting “switch from “can view” to “can comment,” the student – while still unable to edit the paper itself – can now see all the comments you put into the paper, along with the grades. Thus, by using this Add-On, you can set your grading so that, as soon as you finish a paper, a student receives an alert and can see their grades. Of course, you can also turn this feature off, should you so wish. Also, once you set these options, it’s important to note that all the papers in that assignment will default to those settings — a “set it and forget it” feature.
To sum up, our combination of Google Apps and Schoology can make for some very effective feedback tools, that can work very well together.
Per usual, send us any questions or suggestions!
Derek & Jeremy