I had intended to read this one through the weekend, but to be honest, it’s a quick read, and I was rather into it, so I stayed up and finished it last night. Now, I need to preface this review with something…
This book is intended for people who are pretty new to Google Classroom. I read this book with the intended audience in mind. Personally, I am quite familiar with Google Classroom, having used it since the open beta last summer, and the entirety of last year, and I still learned a thing or two.
If you are new, or newish to using Google Classroom, then this book is certainly a resource you need to have. I read this one as an ebook, however, if you intend to use it as a reference, it is probably better to get a paperback copy so you can sticky note the pages you need often, etc. Just my $.02 there.
Many of us are already familiar with Alice Keeler’s work. She has a phenomenal website with all sorts of great resources for Google Apps for Education, or GAFE. If you have not had the opportunity to check it out, do so when you finish up here. That website is www.alicekeeler.com. You can also find Keeler on Twitter, using her Twitter handle of, you guessed it, @alicekeeler. Follow her there and you will get regular updates for using all things Google. You can follow Libbi Miller at @millerlibbi
In the book, 50 Things You Can Do With Google Classroom, by Alice Keeler and Libbi Miller, you have a wealth of great information. The authors do a phenomenal job of keeping it simple and to the point, yet giving enough information that the reader can effectively follow along and put what is being read into practice. A relatively rare happening in education related books. Often, books in this category are either filled with fluff, or written in a way that it takes several readings for the average reader to fully grasp what is being said. Not the case here, readers of this book will walk away with a good basic understanding of what Classroom can do, and more importantly, how to get Classroom to do what you want it to.
The book is pretty much organized as a list. It starts out with a foreword written by Jonathon Rochelle, Director of Product Management at Google. Not only is this high praise for the book, but it also lends certain credibility to the authors, and the accuracy of what you are about to read.
Next, you have the introduction. Concise, to the point, and it helps put the reader at ease about taking the plunge and using Google Classroom.
Next comes a brief overview of Classroom itself, as well as Google Drive and Google Docs. Since these are the very backbone of what makes Classroom work so well, it is important that the reader have a grasp of these. The introductions to these apps are pretty basic. For anyone who has looked at them before, they are more than adequate. For anyone brand new to Google Apps for Education, you may want to steer over to alicekeeler.com or Google itself to gain a better understand of how to use these tools.
Keeler then lays out the view of Classroom, making sure the reader knows what is on the screen, what it does, and what it means.
Then comes the list. The list is pretty much just that. A list of 50 things that can be done using Classroom, and how to make those things happen. I found the list to be pretty much all-encompassing. The instructions on how to accomplish the tasks were well written, with appropriate visuals as needed. The authors even go so far as to explain some alternative ways to use Classroom. These are things that sure, those of us who use Classroom regularly know how to do, but many of us had just not thought to do. For example, using Classroom assignments as a polling tool. Obviously, if you use Classroom, you know how to create assignments in it. However, I had never thought about using it as a polling tool to get information. This is a great idea, and it gives you a list of student names who responded to the “poll”.
Overall, I can’t say enough about this book. I regularly teach others how to use Classroom and how to make the move to going paperless. This is a book that I feel comfortable telling districts that they should have on hand after I leave. Sure, any provider of professional development should be open to answering questions after the fact, but let’s face it… sometimes we need an answer quickly, and having a few copies of 50 Things You Can Do With Google Classroom handy can take care of answering many of those little questions that come up.
Like I said from the beginning, if you are a user of Classroom, this may not be the book for you. You will glean a few things from it, but the real intended audience here are those trying to make the move to Google Classroom. For those folks, I would highly recommend reading this one.