Notification: You’ve got homework Students and teachers discuss Google Classroom updates

It’s midnight. You’re finally in bed, snuggled under the covers and a notification pops up. It’s Google Classroom reminding you that there’s an assignment due tomorrow. So much for going to bed early.

This is the reality for many students at WHS. 

Although frustrating at times, Google Classroom has revolutionized the learning experience, particularly by reducing the amount of paper used each day. “I can just check [assignments] online, and I don’t have to print too much,” said French Teacher Marie-Laure Hoffmann. “It’s helped us move towards a more paperless class.”

Hoffmann also noted that the connection between Google Classroom and Google Drive is another benefit; it has helped keep both her and her students organized.

While Google Classroom certainly has its perks, it can be a source of stress for busy high schoolers. There have been some grievances about this educational tool and how teachers are using it, especially with the new updates rolled out this school year.

Technological Instructor Adam Pizzi said: “In an effort to improve the user experience, Google made some changes with respect to their Classroom application over the summer. Some of these changes will take some getting used to on the part of the teacher and the student. Ongoing training and communication will be provided by the digital learning center.”

On the new classwork tab, teachers create new sections in which they can group assignments. Despite Google’s attempt to create a more user-friendly platform, students find it difficult to determine when their assignments are due; on the Stream, every activity the teacher posts appears, making it challenging for the students to find the homework that is due the next day.

Photo by Lauren Sullivan
A Google Classroom homescreen.

Senior Greta Horn explained her struggle with the update, stating, “[Sometimes materials are posted] that we won’t need for another week…and it makes the rest of the actual stuff we need move down.” 

Aside from the update, students are struggling to manage the unpredictability of homework expectations. One common problem is that some teachers post the assignment after school without explaining it in class that day.

Senior Emma Herber said that she has had “countless encounters where teachers will simply put on the whiteboard ‘check Google Classroom’ and [students] are expected to stay online at the mercy of [teachers].”

Junior Michael Magnotti added, “I feel frustrated every time I open Google Classroom because I don’t know if I have new assignments.”

At other times, students are even expected to complete homework without being told that there will be homework that night. For students with a busy schedule, the pressure of continually checking Google Classroom is overwhelming and stressful.

“It’s very unfair when teachers don’t mention an assignment in class, post it on Google Classroom, and then expect it to be due the next day,” senior Celia Lanza said.

Herber agreed, adding, “[Once,] I was given a pop quiz on an assignment posted to Google Classroom that I didn’t even see because I was simply expected to just [check] the website all night.”

Faulty wifi, crashing computers, power outages – these are just a few of the obstacles students face when trying to even access Google Classroom. In these instances, “it’s nearly impossible to get homework done,” Herber said.

Lanza concluded that “Google Classroom is a good thing but it just has to be used in the right way.”

Photo by Lauren Sullivan
Google Classroom stream of an AP French class.