With so many digital tools enhancing education in and out of class, it’s no surprise that technology is already an integral part of teaching and learning. Since the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, Apple has released several updates to improve its educational tools. The app that is particularly valuable as a teaching assistant is Classroom. Let’s take a closer look at the functionality of the app as well as at its strengths and limitations.
What Is Classroom?
The Classroom app is a versatile teaching tool. It has everything you might possibly need for classroom management, both in-person and remote. Classroom is available on iPad and Mac. Unlike many other educational apps, it’s free.
Creating a Class
Once you’ve downloaded Classroom from the App Store, it won’t take you more than 10 minutes to create a class. You can either do it manually or automatically via the MDM of your school. Then, give students the invitation code and add them to your class. The recommended class size is up to 60 students. Later, you’ll be able to add and rearrange classes, create groups within them, and label classes with colors and symbols.
Overview of the Features
After you’ve added students to your class, you’ll get the Action List. The options you can use are Open, Lock, Navigate, Mute, Screens, Add, Group, and Sharing. Here is what you can do with their help:
- Start and lock apps. If you want the entire class to work in one app, you can launch and lock it on every device. The Lock feature helps to prevent distractions and cheating. Besides, when a teacher takes charge of the app use, it becomes easier to maintain focus in the classroom.
- Share files. Sending videos, images, links, and presentations using AirDrop is easy and fast for both students and teachers. To share a document, a teacher needs to drag the necessary file to an icon with a single student, group, or entire class. It’s equally easy for learners. If students write or pay someone to write an essay from EssayService, it’ll take them only a few seconds to submit it. They can also share files like images or presentations with classmates to work on them collaboratively.
- Navigate students to learning resources. The app allows navigating all students to a specific webpage or bookmark in a single tap (you can navigate to any page, for example, to page where you can choose the best essay writing service).
- Lock the screens and mute the sound. These are small but useful features that help to get students’ attention and reduce distractions. You can lock screens to pause students’ work when the time for the assignment is up or when you need to make an announcement.
- Organize your class in groups. Classroom allows groups to work on different assignments and in different apps at the same time. Meanwhile, a teacher monitors the activity of individual students, groups, or the entire class.
- View students’ screens. You can monitor how students progress through the task with the Screen View feature. It also helps to prevent students from being distracted and using apps they’re not supposed to use during classes. The feature is available only when the class session is active.
- Project a student’s screen. If Apple TV is available in your classroom, use it to display a student’s screen to work collaboratively or present projects.
- Look through students’ activity. The class summary allows checking apps that students used and screen time. A teacher can also save documents shared during the session.
- Manage administrative tasks. Schools that share devices provide a personalized experience for each student with the Shared iPad feature. Once assigned and logged in, each student will be able to access their data and homework. Besides, a teacher can also reset forgotten passwords without outside help.
The ability to view students’ screens and lock them into a single app is a useful feature that contributes to creating more focused and organized classes. However, it has raised some privacy concerns among students and parents. Are they reasonable?
Staying focused on the classroom assignment is an objective requirement, just as monitoring student engagement is a usual task for a teacher. Screen View only makes the process easier and more automated. A teacher can manage students’ devices only during the class session. The app requires each iPad or Mac to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network. No data is collected or stored outside the class when there’s no active session. Besides, students are notified every time their screens are being viewed, which adds some extra transparency. Yet, if this feature seems too invasive, schools are free to disable it.
Pros and Cons of Classroom
If you still have doubts about the use of the Classroom app in schools, check the summary of its advantages and disadvantages to make up your mind.
- Easy to get started
- Easy navigation
- Cohesive group work
- Fast and effective classroom management
- A variety of metrics
- Improved teacher-student and student-student collaboration
- More control of the digital learning environment
- Student progress monitoring
- Ability to work in shared and one-to-one environments
- Assignments and handouts management
- Easy file sharing
- Privacy concerns
- Not available on iPhone
The Bottom Line: Should I Use the Classroom App?
Education is no longer all about books and pencils. These days, schools are fully embracing computers and tablets. Although Classroom offers advanced technology features, it’s still easy to pick up for students and teachers. The app gives them the freedom to co-create diverse and engaging activities and manage the classroom environment. Besides, by using the Classroom app, teachers can focus on what’s important and let the app perform routine tasks and deliver ready-made insight into each student’s progress. Thus, the app brings innovation to the classroom and establishes a better connection between teachers and students.