Teachers that have been using G Suite for a while will be familiar with the fact that the platform is continually evolving and improving, and new features appear periodically… and some features disappear too.
This is a good thing. Google listens to the feedback provided by users, and many of the updates are in response to this, giving us the features we need.
Occasionally, however, the changes may take you by surprise, and one day you log in to the platform and notice something has changed! Last summer, we had a major change to Google Classroom, which I wrote about here.
And this summer we have a few changes, too. So here are the most important things to look for if you are logging in to G Suite again in anticipation of the autumn term, after a well-earned summer break.
The Google Classroom Marks Page
This actually appeared for most of us towards the end of the Summer term. A 4th page has been added to Classroom which provides a spreadsheet-style view of all the marks that have been given to students for work submitted through Classroom. The page also automatically calculates an average grade for each student. This can be an average of the overall total marks, or weighted by different marks categories.
If you want to set up these different categories or choose how the overall mark is calculated, you will need to go into the Classroom settings and scroll down to the Mark Calculation section. The default mark system is out of 100, but here, for example, you could set up a mark category out of 9, to correspond to the English GCSE grading system. For more information on setting up grading, click here.
Once you have created a new Mark Category, it can then be chosen when setting work through the Classwork page, so that you can choose different categories for different assignments if you wish.
Clicking on the individual student names on this new Marks page will take you to their individual work history, from where you can also open each assignment they have submitted.
Another change you will notice is the addition of ‘Priority’ to your Google Drive. This new feature echoes the Priority Inbox that is available in Gmail, from where your important emails can be accessed. In your Priority Drive you will see the files you have used most recently and frequently.
You also have the option of creating a new ‘Workspace’ within the Priority Drive, where you can add files from anywhere within your Drive, and keep them together for easy access.
This would be useful for keeping together files for a particular project, even if those files actually reside in various different folders in your Drive, or in a shared drive or your Shared with me folder.
Locked Mode in Forms
The final update to keep an eye out for is in Google Forms, and only applies to those using Chromebooks that are in a managed environment, as they would be in a school. Forms now has a Locked Mode, which can be switched on if the form is set as a quiz. Once enabled, the quiz respondent, when using a managed Chromebook, is unable to open other tabs or apps while taking the quiz.
This clearly has use in the classroom when running tests and similar activities, where the teacher does not want the students to access other materials when completing the activity.
If a respondent attempts to open the quiz on a device other than a managed Chromebook, the quiz will not open and they will be greeted by a message explaining why.
We love surprises, but if you want to keep up with past and scheduled changes to G Suite, you can follow the G Suite Updates blog, here.