Google Classroom - It's Been a While
So it's been a while since I last addressed the idea of using Google Classroom. What have I been doing is transferring my Moodle to Google Classroom for next year. There are several reasons for this decision. First, over the past 8 years or so, I've been hosting my own Moodle site. I did this due to my school never updating the Moodle. Prior to going into the classroom, I was the district technology coordinator. In this position, I had access to the server and could update the Moodle at any time. As well as updates, I was able to add various plug-ins to enhance the Moodle. When I went back into the classroom, requests to update were often met with some resistance. After going over 2 years waiting for updates, I decided I would host my own Moodle through a web hosting service. This worked well because i could easily complete security updates but add plug-ins as needed.
Next school year (2018-19) will be my last year of teaching and have made the decision to cut back on my out of pocket expenses. Since the school Moodle is still several generations behind (2.5.x) and has limited plug-ins I decided to go with Google Classroom. Also, there are a number of third-party programs I use that easily integrated into Google Classroom (Sutori, ClassCraft, and BookWidgets), It always nice to have one login for multiple websites. With students having Google accounts it sure is nice not having to keep track of numerous logins per student.
I finally got most things setup for Google Classroom for the fall at this point. But the process was one of frustration for numerous reasons. Some I've mentioned previously, i.e. no drag and drop feature or importing of tests. The other frustrating piece was there is no way to really setup a calendar feature unless it is an assignment. This is very different then the calendar feature in Moodle. On my Moodle, I can add global, course, group, and individual events to the calendar. With Google Classroom, the calendar is really restrictive. I usually like to have available a calendar with important dates (end of marking period or early dismissal day - global event or what we are doing in class a particular day - course event). Google Classroom offers no such option. The closest way to do this is to add a post with a specific date. Even this idea won't show up on the classroom calendar.
I know in traveling the country and presenting at various conferences, Google (apps, classroom) is the main topic but I guess the rebel in me tends to resist getting swept up in the fascination with Google. Don't get me wrong, I think with the advent of Chrome books and Google has allowed school districts the ability to put technology in the hands of a lot more students. I use chrome books just about everyday in my classroom. However, I would suggest not to get so blinded by the craze that you don't open yourself up to alternatives that might suit your purpose better than what you are currently using. I know for myself, once you start using a particular piece of technology, in my case using a Moodle, you get comfortable and don't want to reinvent the wheel. Yet, if there are alternatives that offer more options and are a better solution then I would suggest you don't limit your students or yourself.