Google Classroom for South African Educators

In the digital age, the use of technology in education is not just a trend but a necessity. One such tool that has revolutionized the way educators manage their classrooms is Google Classroom. This article provides a comprehensive guide for South African teachers on how to effectively use Google Classroom to enhance teaching and learning.

Understanding Google Classroom

Google Classroom is a free web service developed by Google for schools. It aims to simplify creating, distributing, and grading assignments in a paperless way. It is a part of Google Workspace for Education, which includes other Google tools like Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Calendar. Google Classroom serves as a hub, bringing these tools together to provide a streamlined platform for teachers and students.

Google Classroom: Not Just an LMS

While Google Classroom may seem like a Learning Management System (LMS), it’s important to note that it’s not a stand-alone LMS, course management system (CMS), or student information system (SIS). However, it does integrate with certain student information systems and is continually updated with new features, making it a versatile tool for classroom management.

Accessibility of Google Classroom

Google Classroom is accessible to anyone with a personal Google account. It’s also free for organizations using Google Workspace for Education or Google Workspace for nonprofits. This makes it a cost-effective solution for schools, particularly in developing regions like South Africa, where budget constraints can limit access to educational resources.

Utilizing Google Classroom in Teaching

Google Classroom offers a plethora of features that can transform the way you manage your classroom. Here are some ways you can use Google Classroom:

Streamlining Classroom Management

Google Classroom integrates with Google’s other tools like Docs, Drive, Forms, Meet, and Calendar, providing many built-in “shortcuts” for classroom-management tasks. For instance, if you post an assignment with a due date, it’s automatically added to your students’ class calendar.

Digital Organization and Communication

Google Classroom allows you to digitally organize, distribute, and collect assignments and course materials. It also enables you to communicate with students about their classwork, post announcements, and reminders about assignments. It’s easy to see who has or hasn’t completed their work, and you can also check in with individual students privately, answer their questions, and offer support.

Providing Timely Feedback

Within Google Classroom, you can use Google Forms to create and share quizzes that are automatically graded as students turn them in. This not only reduces grading time but also provides students with instant feedback on their work.

Google Classroom for Assessments and Grading

Google Classroom can be used to streamline both summative and formative assessments. You can create, distribute, and collect digital exit tickets or auto-graded assessments. Recent updates to Google Classroom have included features for grading and rubrics, allowing you to assign points to different assignments or give different types of assignments different weights.

Google Classroom for Live Teaching

Google Classroom integrates with Google Meet, allowing you to set up video meetings for live instruction. This feature is particularly useful in the current pandemic situation, where remote learning has become the norm. The recording feature in Google Meet also gives teachers an easy tool for creating pre-recorded video lessons for asynchronous learning.

Setting Up Google Classroom

Setting up Google Classroom is a straightforward process. The Google for Education Teacher Center offers several tutorials for getting started. There are also plenty of do-it-yourself tutorials on YouTube posted by teachers and tech-integration specialists.

Google Classroom for Differentiation

Google Classroom makes it easy to customize assignments for individual students or small groups, allowing for differentiation in the classroom. You can give modified assignments to specific students or groups in a class, and check in with a student privately to see whether they have questions or need extra help.

Google Classroom for Administrators and Curriculum Coaches

Google Classroom isn’t just for teachers. Administrators and curriculum coaches can use Google Classroom to organize staff notes, announcements, dates, documents, and other resources for teachers and other school staff.

Keeping Parents in the Loop

Google Classroom has options for teachers to send out updates about students’ classwork to parents. However, it doesn’t offer direct-messaging features for families or allow families to comment on their children’s work.

Updates in Google Classroom

Google regularly introduces new features to Google Classroom based on feedback from teachers. Recent updates include grades, rubrics, Google Meet integration, and a plagiarism-checking tool called “originality reports”.

Making Google Classroom Engaging and Interactive

To make learning with digital content more dynamic for students, consider mixing up the types of resources you share with them in Google Classroom. In addition to Google Workspace tools like Docs and Slides, teachers and students can share other types of media, including images, links to websites, YouTube videos, and screencasts.

Integrating Other Apps with Google Classroom

There are hundreds of external apps and websites that integrate with Google Classroom. These include Quizlet, Newsela, Khan Academy, and BrainPop, among others. Integrating other edtech tools can streamline your instruction.

Privacy and Google Classroom

As an educator, protecting your students’ privacy and data should be a consideration whenever you’re choosing a digital tool for your classroom. Google states that data privacy and security are high priorities for all Google Workspace for Education products. However, parents and families have a right to opt out if they don’t want their children to use Google products in school.


Google Classroom is a versatile tool that can significantly enhance the teaching and learning experience. As South African educators, embracing such digital tools can help us provide quality education to our students, preparing them for a future where digital literacy is a necessity. By understanding and effectively utilizing Google Classroom, we can create a more