For those in the education industry, there has a been a massive shift in technological advances for the classroom in just the last six years. Google has firmly established itself as the driving force for changing the way we look at the physical classroom and the educational system as a whole. The way they have done this is through their two-pronged hardware-then-software approach; the Google Chromebook is the hardware, and the Google Classroom is the software. Together, they are completely overhauling classrooms and schools across America.

According to a New York Times publication in May 2017, more than half of the primary and secondary students in the United States (more than 30 million students) are using Google’s education apps. Furthermore, Google-powered laptops (known popularly as Chromebooks) account for more than half the mobile devices shipped to schools on an annual basis. (See Natasha Singer, NYT a reference)

With Google’s educational services driving the industry in new and exciting directions, it is important to know what these services are, what they can do, and why they might benefit you. In order to do that, we have to start at the most fundamental level and ask:

What is Google Classroom, and how can I access it?

Google Classroom is an online, browser-based platform that enhances the learning experience in the classroom. It does this by making teaching more productive and meaningful through streamlining assignments, boosting collaboration, and fostering communication. The way it works features various functions enabling teachers to create online classes, distribute assignments, send and receive feedback, all in one centralized location. Both teachers and students can communicate about their assignments, and then teachers are able to monitor their students progress. It can even reach outside the classroom to benefit the parents. It enables teachers to share summaries of student performances and automate class announcements. We can simply breakdown the advantages as follows:

  • Advantages for Teachers:

    Teachers can easily create online classes to compliment the other classes they conduct. They can share learning materials with their students, and these can be viewed and downloaded to the student’s devices. In addition, teachers can create online assignments as well as track students’ progress and performance.

  • Advantages for Students:

    Students can easily access the assignments and learning materials prepared by their teacher. Additionally, they can use it to communicate with the teacher and other students anytime. Interconnectivity with Google Drive and Docs enables students to submit completed assignments that include media. (See a references)

Now that we know what the Google Classroom is and what it offers, we must know how we can access it to use it. The first thing to do is to type in the URL: This will bring you to one of two options. The first option, if you have a google chrome account and are logged in, will bring you directly into the google classroom dashboard. The other option, is if you are not logged in, will bring you to a login screen before allowing you to proceed. The reason you must log into your google account is because Google Classroom pulls data from all the other google applications in order to create your classes (Docs, Drive, Etc.) After you are logged in, it is quite easy to navigate the classroom, furthering the appeal to teachers nationwide.

Are there apps that can extend Google Classroom’s capabilities?

Yes, absolutely! As interesting, innovative, and helpful as Google Classroom is, it serves as an open platform where it acts as a conduit for other applications to extend its reach and improve its services. One such Application goes above and beyond the Google Classroom’s  collaboration feature to include multi-casting, annotation, and presentation delivery is the Contribute Cloud App powered by TouchIT Technologies.

What is the Contribute Cloud App?

Contribute Cloud is a cloud-based, lesson-creation, annotation, collaboration, and delivery platform. It is cloud-based which means no installation, and simply requires a free chrome extension. It is browser based, which means it works on any device (including those Chromebooks that have become so popular the last few years), and it links to google classroom by seamlessly pulling pre-populated class lists from the teaches account and integrating it into the presentation delivery.

What Contribute Cloud can allow you to do, is take your existing files that you would typically just show to the classroom and make them collaborative. It does this by allowing the teacher to take their existing files and presentations (including the ones they made on google drive specifically for google classroom!) and delivering them to each individual student through its teacher casting software in real time. Contribute Cloud takes this casting feature even further, allowing the teacher to then cast all of the student’s screens to the front of the classroom for a multi-purpose collaboration session also in real time. When the presentation is completed, it then gives each student the ability to save the presentation they were a part of, back to their Chromebooks or to their Google cloud storage (Google Drive).

These types of Applications not only make sense to use outside of the google classroom setting, but further reinforces the investment that most schools make in the hardware/software combination of Google Classroom and the Google Chromebooks. Schools take a gamble when they invest so much into a product or service like Google education. Apps like Contribute Cloud are a re-affirmation, in the sense that their initial investment in Google was worthwhile, and the possibilities to improve and evolve the way they teach and deliver education becomes endless.

Alexander Murphy
East Coast Regional Sales