To begin using Classroom, the Google Apps for Education (GAFE) administrator for your domain may be required to take a few steps.
Domain Requirements for Google Apps for Education:
Teacher permissions is the only current setting available for Classroom. This determines which users can or cannot create classes within your GAFE domain. By default, all pending and verified teachers can create a class. Depending on your domains size and needs, an admin may want to alter this permission.
“Anyone in this domain” means that any user has the ability to create a Classroom. Users will not be asked to indicate whether he or she is a student or a teacher. This setting might be preferable in a higher-education environment where all users within a domain may want the ability to administer his or her own Google Classroom. However, in most K-12 situations, this is probably not advisable.
“All pending and verified teachers” is the default and recommended setting for teacher permissions. This means that any users clicking the “I am a teacher” button will immediately have the ability to create and manage a Google Classroom. However, a student clicking this button will also have this ability until membership is verified and denied. Note: A student creating a Google Classroom does not have that classroom deleted upon rejection. That student-created classroom will remain in existence and active until deleted by the original creator. In this case, a student. In this scenario, a student could hypothetically create and administer a completely private class with anyone in your domain without teacher or administrative knowledge.
“Verified teachers only” results in only users in the Google Group for Classroom having the ability to create a class. There are two ways to verify users. This can be done manually as users request teacher access but teachers will be unable to create a class until this verification occurs. This is typically not feasible as it is best to not create obstacles delaying teachers from adopting new tools. User can also be manually entered in bulk by the owner of the Google Classroom Group. Depending on the size of your school/district, this may be a good option. In a larger district with thousands of teachers, however, this may prove too logistically complicated and inefficient.
A welcome addition would be the ability to approve teacher access and the ability to create classes based on users within a sub organization level instead of requiring the complexity of a Google Group.
Activating Classroom automatically creates a Google Group called “Classroom Teachers” at classroom.google.com/teacher-group. Note: Do not delete or rename this group!
If “All pending and verified teachers” was opted as your teacher permission for who can create classes, this group’s owner will want to periodically audit the “Join requests” section of this group. Select the checkmark next to student users and click “Reject applicant”. My domain use a subdomain for student accounts (@s.sfusd.edu). This makes it easier to visually recognize which users are students and need to have their membership rejected. Once a membership has been rejected, it is not possible for a user to request membership as a teacher again.
Using the “All pending and verified teachers” permission, anyone requesting membership is automatically presumed to be a valid teacher and can begin creating classes immediately. It is not necessary to approve his or her membership under this default setting. However, I like to approve pending teacher membership to keep this list clean. This also makes it easier to find student accounts requiring membership rejection.
Navigating to classroom.google.com for the first time will show a prompt asking users to indicate if he or she is a student or a teacher.
We all make mistakes and sometimes a student likes to cause mischief. So what happens if a user clicks the wrong button? Unfortunately, once the button is clicked, right or wrong, there is nothing the user can do to change it. All fixes require an owner of the Google Group for Classroom to manually change membership.
Students falsely stating he or she is a teacher need to have their membership to the Classroom Group rejected. Refer to these steps above for this sequence.
Teachers accidently clicking the “Student” button must contact the domain’s Classroom Group owner to have his or her username manually added to the group’s approved list. An owner of the Classroom Teachers’ group must visit classroom.google.com/teacher-group and navigate to ‘Direct add members’ under the ‘Members’ section. Manually enter the teacher’s GAFE username in the “Enter email addresses to add as members” field and then click the “Add” button.
At present, Google Classroom is only available for Google Apps for Education (GAFE) domains and classes can only be created for and with users within the same GAFE domain. A Classroom cannot be created with Gmail users as students or teachers nor users within another GAFE domain such as a different school district and sometimes even another school (depending how your GAFE domain was created). Classroom does work across subdomains within the same primary GAFE domain.
David Malone (@dwmalone) is GAFE Deployment Architect in San Francisco Unified School District's Information Technology Department and adjunct faculty at Touro University. He is on the Board of Directors for Computer-Using Educators and a curriculum developer for the Leading Edge Certification. He also co-authored the Explain Everything User Manual with the app’s developer, Reshan Richards. David graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and has a Master of Science degree in Education: Educational Technology Leadership from Cal State University, East Bay. He is an Apple Distinguished Educator, Google Certified Teacher, Microsoft Innovative Educator, and New Media Consortium K-12 Ambassador who regularly presents at regional, state, and national EdTech conferences.