I've seen one tool improve student engagement in Google Classroom significantly — Hāpara. While Google Classroom is can be taught, there are some problems with Google Classroom regarding engagement and simplicity. Google Classroom isn't always simple to use for students who struggle. Now, it is.
In this post, I’ll talk about typical problems with Google Classroom and how I've seen Hāpara help my students know what needs to be done.
What are the problems with Google Classroom?
Due Date Problems. First, if an assignment has no due date in Google Classroom, students don’t realize they need to work on it. This is because, in Google Classroom, items without a due date don’t show up on the home page. Furthermore, if an assignment’s due date is too far in the future, students may not start work on it.
Marking “done” with no work. Another common problem happens when a student turns in the wrong work. Even worse, some students mark “done” without doing the work at all. When the teacher hands an assignment back with a zero, students don’t know the work is missing. It confuses students (and parents) why work with a zero doesn’t show as missing. They don’t know they have to click on View my Classwork in each class to see what is a zero. Additionally, Google takes all of these examples off the “To Do” list.
Parents can't see incomplete work. To further complicate things, parents checking behind their students can’t see incomplete work. This is because once a student marks an assignment as “done,” it is removed from the student’s list. (Even when work isn’t done.)
Google Classroom should be easier. In the end, students (and their parents) want Google Classroom to be simple. They also want one page to go to to be able to see everything. This is what Hāpara does!
How does Hāpara Student Dashboard help?
In the last two weeks, we have just implemented Hāpara Student Dashboard at my school. After surveying my students, all of them except one said they loved it. That one student already understood Google Classroom, and it was simple to him. He is an excellent student and didn't have any problems with Google Classroom.
However, most of my students do have problems with Google Classroom and often miss the work they need to do. I want to focus on the work not on the back and forth about what is missing!
In fact, one student who hasn't been able to understand he has to mark things “done” claimed he had turned something in, and “Hāpara was wrong.” I was able to show him how he actually needed to start marking work as done. Hāpara's “overdue work” clearly showed what needed to be done.
Currently, there are many parents right now that want something simple; they're busy, they come back from work, and I think it's just they're overwhelmed. Hāpara can help them too!
In the end, I have found seven reasons the Hāpara Student Dashboard improves student engagement in Google Classroom.
7 Reasons the Hāpara Student Dashboard Improves Student Engagement
1 – Assignments Are On One Page
Hāpara simplifies assignments for students for when and what needs to be done. All classes are shown on one page. Additionally, a student can filter by individual classes or see all of the classes together.
Also, overdue items are at the top so that students can see them clearly. Then, items without due dates are there as well. (Yes!)
So this Hāpara student dashboard is much improved over the to-do list that Google Classroom already has because things without due dates show up, and it's just on one page. So, Hāpara's great at simplifying things.
2 – Private Messages and Graded Work
When students click the bell on the right, they can see things that have been handed back and all private messages.
With one click, they can see all graded work and private messages from teachers.
3 – A Direct Link to Google Classroom
If students click on any assignments in the dashboard, it takes them directly to Google Classroom to get to that assignment. Whether it's a grade they received back, a private message, or an announcement, every link takes them to the place they need to go to Google Classroom.
It's all right there, and they don't miss anything if they click on the bell.
4 – Direct Access to Gmail
If you use Gmail as your email client, they've also got direct access to Gmail. Students can see their Gmails that they've gotten from their teachers. Students can click and respond. So, literally, everything they need is on one simple page.
(If you don’t use Gmail, it is ok – we use Office 365, which works just fine; it just doesn’t show on the dashboard as Gmail does.)
5 – The Hāpara Student Dashboard is Customizable
You may laugh at this, but what my students liked most is they liked to change the color. They said they could personalize it, and the Google Classroom was kind of stale by itself.
So they loved being able to change the color and customize, and they all bookmarked it. They absolutely loved it.
6 – Due Dates or Not; Done or Not – Everything Shows Up
The items that don't have due dates also show so students can't really miss them.
Another benefit happens when students complete the work for the day. The work still shows on the list, but it's marked through.
PARENT BENEFIT: So a parent could look at the work from today, see that there are four items done, that there's a line through it like one would on a to-do list. The parents can know that those things were done, and they can even click on the assignment and make sure that their students had just “marked done” without turning in work. This is a game-changer and simplifier!
This points to another complaint with the To-Do list on Google Classroom, that once a student marked it done, even if a child hadn't done it, it disappears, and the parents don't know it's done. So a parent can see everything on the list that's marked through, double-check it, and have the kid unsubmit, and do the work. It just makes that so much simpler.
7 – Google Classroom is Still There Unchanged
Hāpara doesn't mess up Google Classroom at all. You can still use Google Classroom the way you always have if you like. Everything is still there; Hāpara is just a simple add on.
To go to the Hāpara dashboard, students go to mystudentdashboard.com, sign in with their school Google account, and it works.
Hāpara Improves the Google Classroom Experience
Just remember, your school will need to purchase Hāpara, and it should be configured.
In conclusion, this tool is doing more to improve engagement than any other tool I've seen. It's very, very simple. It's so simple that you will be shocked and wonder why Google hasn't done it this way, but Hāpara has.
It's excellent, and I highly recommend the Hāpara Student Dashboard.
Most importantly, my students recommend Hāpara too. Check it out!
(Hāpara has other analytic features and monitoring features you can check out as well.)
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