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The War on Google Classroom

Amy Liebman, Features Editor

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Everyone deserves a period of rest, students included, and teachers do not have the right to interfere with that.”

Although it was created to make staying up to date on schoolwork and projects more convenient, Google Classroom seems to have done the complete opposite.  While it holds a lot of potential to be a useful tool in the classroom, it still has many flaws, and in some cases teachers abuse it.

Before Google Classroom existed, teachers had to assign homework before the bell rang, but now they are free to post assignments at all hours, no matter how unreasonable. Some students have even reported that they received a notification for homework as late as 11:59 p.m. due the next day. It’s almost as if the school day never ends.

It’s common for students to not have enough storage space on their phones for the Google Classroom app, and thus these students will not be able to receive notifications when a new assignment is added. How can students be expected to check Google Classroom constantly (not to mention all the data and battery lost in the process)? In past generations, students were all told at once what their assignment was; now, though, not all students can find out as easily. This lack of uniformity is unfair to some students, as staying uninformed can potentially hurt their grade.

Also, in the past, if a student had a homework question, then they could ask their teacher directly, whereas when homework is posted on Google Classroom, if a student has a question, it may not be answered for quite some time. This is completely counterintuitive. Why shouldn’t teachers be accountable for checking Google Classroom as often as their students?

Google Classroom has also taken a toll on the emotional and mental health of student users. Imagine having finished your homework for the night at 7:00 p.m. and finally getting a chance to relax, but then suddenly receiving a notification from your science teacher assigning a lab report that is due tomorrow. Now you have a long night ahead of you, when your mind had previously been set on a relaxing evening. This is a major stressor, and is completely unfair to students.  If teachers plan on assigning homework on Google Classroom at any time of the day, they should notify students prior to it’s posting in order to warn students that they should be prepared for an assignment. Otherwise it is unfair, especially to those students who did not know to check for homework.

Many students receive notifications of upcoming homework assignments over school breaks, which only further stresses out students and disrupts their personal time. Over the 2016 Thanksgiving break, a handful of students reported having received a homework notification right before sitting down for their Thanksgiving dinner. Another student reported that their teacher posted a reading assignment on the very last night of the February break, due the next day. This is unnecessary, as the point of a vacation is to not have to deal with schoolwork for a few days. Everyone deserves a period of rest, students included, and teachers do not have the right to interfere with that.

For these reasons, working after hours has been banned in Germany, and bosses are prohibited from contacting employees outside of work, except for emergencies, in order to keep their employees from “burning out,” according to a recent article in The Telegraph. “Managers should apply a principle of ‘minimum intervention’ into workers’ free time,” said Jeevan Vasagar. This same ideology should be applied to school to prevent teachers from disrupting the downtime students deserve.

On to the flaws of Google Classroom itself. For one, several students who use the app have reported that they do not receive homework notifications until up to five hours after they are posted by their teacher; had they seen it earlier, they could have already completed the assignment by that point. For some reason, there is often a lag between when the teacher actually posts the assignment and when students receive the notification.

In addition to this, some teachers will post several assignments at once so that students are able to look ahead at upcoming work, yet Google Classroom’s posts are in chronological order, starting with the most recent ones at the top. So, in cases where a teacher may post an entire unit’s worth of homework, students must scroll down to find the current assignment, which can be quite a hassle and source of confusion, thereby taking the convenience out of it.

Some students also find it difficult to differentiate between what assignments they might be missing, as they do not always remember to mark the assignment as “done.” For students who often fall behind on homework assignments, this can be confusing as well as frustrating.

With new technology comes trial and error, and this trial has shown us that Google Classroom is far from being perfected.

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The War on Google Classroom