Google Classroom is an assignment distribution and collection service. It was rolled out in August of 2014. Many school districts, including mine, were given a preview before it was released. The service is web-based so there is nothing to install. Any browser works with Google Classroom but I recommend using the Chrome browser.
The service was originally meant for school districts and teachers. Since then it has become available to anyone with a Gmail account. Personal accounts with Google Classroom work the same as those for school districts. Student accounts are limited to students that are thirteen years or older.
Google Classroom is different from services like BlackBoard and Edmodo. Those are Learning Management Systems. Learning management systems are focused on online learning. Google Classroom is focused on a blended approach to learning. Google Classroom is useful if you are using the flipped classroom model.
Teachers us Google Classroom in a mix of classroom and online resources. Much like the blended learning model. Blended learning incorporates a host of other approaches. These approaches focus on personalized student instruction. Online paperless resources help teachers distribute and collect content digitally. In a paperless classroom, teachers are able to be more efficient.
Google Classroom is part of the enterprise suite of applications available to school districts. This requires the setup of service through Google. Part of the setup includes student accounts. These accounts are managed through the Google Administration portal. They are crucial for access to any service. Not all of these services are directly supplied through Google.
Student accounts are provided with Gmail. They are part of Gmail but students do not need to have Gmail enabled. The account is what allows them to access a variety of Google services. These services are not available to students below the age of thirteen. This is why the Google Enterprise solution is best. Google works with school districts to set up this service.
Without an enterprise solution, students cannot access most of the services. Google Classroom is available without an Enterprise service but students enrolled in the classroom must have a Gmail account. This means students must be thirteen years or older.
Google Classroom is a distribution and collection system built around classrooms. Classrooms are used to distribute and collect content. New classrooms are usually created each year.
Creating new classes each year means assignments need to be recreated too. Google Classroom is tied to the core Google Suite applications. These applications include Google Docs, Sheets and Slides. These applications store documents in Google Drive. Google Classroom facilitates the sharing of these resources.
The sharing of Google Suite resources enhances the use of Google Classroom. Teachers create resources in Google Suite and use Google Classroom to distribute those resources.
I use a lesson document to help organize and distribute my assignments. The lesson document is like a lesson outline with instructions for students. It contains links and other resources.