ICT Teachers embrace Google Classroom as an alternative to WhatsApp groups

Ever since OTT Tax was introduced in Uganda in July last year, many members have not been active in our WhatsApp groups, yet they are our primary channels for real time communication where most discussions and decisions are made. Google Classroom may be a solution to some of our communication woes as an association of ICT Teachers seeking collaboration.

WhatsApp groups have a number of other challenges e.g.

  • Limitation of only 256 members per group, which forced us to create multiple parallel groups when the first ones got full.
  • You can not login to whatsapp on your computer if you dont have your smatphone with you with data. Once you loose your smartphone you will keep off Whatsapp until you acquire a new one, missing out on vital communications.

I have been trying out Google Classroom, which has both a smartphone app and can also be used on the computer by simply signing in with your exisiting gmail account. No additional signup is required.

  • It accomodates up to 1000 members
  • We can use it to chat and share documents, media just like Whatsapp and more.
  • It is not blocked by OTT Tax.
  • Even members without smartphones can be part of it. They simply have to visit the web version of at classroom.google.com.

So I am suggeting that we give it a try. I have created a group (class) for ITAU and will keep inviting members to join over the course of this week.  So if you receive an invite to join please do so. In the meantime, members with smartphones please install the Google Classroom app from your playstore

How to join the Google Classroom for the ICT teachers Association of Uganda

We have successfully created created the ITAU Google Classroom and several members who were in the WhatsApp groups have already joined in! Below are the steps:

Step 1: Either go to  https://classroom.google.com/ in your computer browser, or if your a using a smartphone, simple download the "Google Classroom" app
Step 1: Either go to  https://classroom.google.com/ in your computer browser, or if your a using a smartphone, simple download the “Google Classroom” app
Step 2: Sign in with your gmail address and click on the + sign at the top right corner and click on 'Join Class' option.
Step 2: Sign in with your gmail address and click on the + sign at the top right corner and click on ‘Join Class’ option.
Step 3:
Enter the class code s76t0m
Step 3:
Enter the class code s76t0m
Step 4: There is no step 4! You are now ready to chat with up to 1000 Uganda ICT Teachers in one organised place. You dont need to pay OTT Tax like on WhatsApp, and a smartphone is optional.


Cons of Using Google Classroom In eLearning

  1. Easy to use and accessible from all devices. 
    Even if you are not a Google user, using Google Classroom is a piece of cake. Apart from being delivered through the Chrome browser, which makes it accessible from all computers, mobile phones, and tablets, it makes it really easy for you to add as many learners as you like, create Google documents to manage assignments and announcements, post YouTube videos, add links, or attach files from Google Drive. Learners will find it equally easy to log in, as well as receive and turn in assignments.
  2. Effective communication and sharing.
    One of the greatest advantages of Google Classroom is Google Docs; these documents are saved online and shared with a limitless number of people, so when you create an announcement or assignment using a Google doc, your learners can access it immediately through their Google Drive, as long as you have shared it with them. Furthermore, Google Docs are easily organized and personalized in Google Drive folders. In other words, you no longer need emails to share information; you just create a document, share it with as many learners as you want, and voila!
  3. Speeds up the assignment process.
    How about creating an assignment and distributing it with just a click of a button? And how about learners turning in the completed assignment in a matter of seconds? Assignment process has never been quicker and more effective, as in Google Classroom you can easily check who has submitted their assignment and who is still working on it, as well as offer your feedback immediately.
  4. Effective feedback.
    Speaking of feedback, Google Classroom gives you the opportunity to offer your online support to your learners right away; this means that feedback becomes more effective, as fresh comments and remarks have bigger impact on learners’ minds.
  5. No need for paper.
    There might be a day that grading papers would be impossible to imagine; Google Classroom is certainly interested in getting there as soon as possible. By centralizing eLearning materials in one cloud-based location, you have the ability to go paperless and stop worrying about printing, handing out, or even losing your learners’ work!
  6. Clean and user-friendly interface.
    Staying loyal to clean Google layout standards, Google Classroom invites you to an environment where every single design detail is simple, intuitive, and user-friendly. Needless to say, Google users will feel right at home.
  7. Great commenting system.
    Learners can comment on specific locations within pictures for a variety of online courses. Furthermore, you can create URLs for interesting comments and using them for further online discussion.
  8. Email Notifications. All members in the classroom are automatically notified by Google when an admin posts key communications.
  9. Is for everyone.
    Educators can also join Google Classroom as learners, which means that you can create a Google Classroom for you and your colleagues and use it for faculty meetings, information sharing, or professional development.

If you are a teacher who wants to get started using Google Classroom as an elearning tool with your students, below is a simple video tutorial.