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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Blogs in the Age of Google Classroom

This week at ISTE 17 there will plenty of buzz about Google products and products that integrate with Google Classroom. Google, and some Google devotees, will have you believe that Google Classroom is the solution to almost every workflow and communication problem you have. Google Classroom does provide some good solutions to workflow and communication problems, but there are some things it doesn't do or do well that a blog can do.

The first limitation of relying solely on Google Classroom is that it can only be accessed by approved members of your classroom and parents that you have invited (provided your school lets you invite parents). If you want to have students share their thoughts on a topic with a global audience, Google Classroom isn't an option for that. By contrast, having a blog will let your students participate in activities like QuadBlogging in which they share with students around the world.

Google Classroom was designed as a tool to streamline your workflow within G Suite. It wasn't designed to be a full-fledged publishing platform on which students showcase their work with a wider audience. Classroom blogs or individual blogs to which students contribute are designed to support publishing their videos, podcasts, interactive images, and other media. Yes, you can let students add some of that media to Google Classroom, but it will clutter your Classroom's stream. And it still won't let parents and other visitors comment on the content added by students.

Push notifications are an option in the Google Classroom mobile apps. That's a fine option, if you can convince parents and students to install the app and accept notifications. By contrast you can use a service like Remind and have standard text messages sent to parents and students without them needing to install an additional app (they will need to consent to receiving text messages). Those messages can be added to your blog through the use of the Remind widget.

Ready to make your own blog? Try Edublogs, Blogger, or one of these other options.