How do you define the word classroom? What does it mean to you as a student, as a parent, as a teacher? Does the meaning change if you fit none of those categories? According to Merriam-Webster1 a classroom is merely “a place where classes meet.” That definition seems entirely lacking. Isn’t a classroom more than just a place where classes meet? Isn’t a classroom a place of safety where learning happens? When I use the word safety, I’m thinking in terms of the freedom to make mistakes, a place to be nurtured and encouraged. Classroom is more than a location, it defines the boundaries of a learning community.
This question interests me for two reasons. First, it’s the name of Google’s new app, which will be part of their Apps for Education Suite. Second, with privacy concerns regarding student data, it subverts the idea of the classroom. According to Google’s blogpost, they “know that protecting your students’ privacy is critical. Like the rest of our Apps for Education services, Classroom contains no ads, never uses your content or student data for advertising purposes, and is free for schools.”2 Left unsaid is Google’s ability to collect student data for internal purposes.
Just to clarify for folks who are a wee bit giddy about a google LMS. Yes, google still data mines Apps for Education.
— Audrey Watters (@audreywatters) May 6, 2014
Does your idea of the classroom contain a private company camped in the back of your class gathering notes on everything said?
Learning management systems, like Moodle and Blackboard, leave a lot to be desired. They can be poorly designed, confusing, and/or contain too many functions than are needed. It may lead professors toward options like WordPress as a lightweight solution. But, when an institution hosts their own Moodle installation, they are not inviting a for-profit third-party into the learning experience as a silent observer.
What are your thoughts on Google’s “Classroom”? A welcome addition to teaching and learning, or a move in which teachers and students should be wary?