Google Assignments vs. Google Classroom: What’s the difference?


Google Assignments (previously known as Google Course Kit) is a free toolkit by Google to help instructors to easily manage assignments. Whereas the all too familiar Google classroom is a platform to create and manage classes online in a simple way. Although they share a lot of features, there are certain differences between Google Assignments and Google Classroom.

What is the difference between Google Assignments and Google Classroom?

Google Classroom has all the features of Google Assignments but you can’t integrate it  with another LMS. Google Assignments handles Assignment submissions and marking where Google Classroom is a Learning Management System (LMS).

But if you are asking yourself this question, it is probably because you need a little help understanding the need of having Google Assignments. After all, why would you use Google Assignments if all the features are already in Google Classroom?

In this article, we will tell you what’s the purpose of Google Assignments and Google Classroom. We will also tell you how to take advantage of both. But first, let us get you quickly through what is an LMS.

What is an LMS?

A learning management system, or LMS, is a software to manage courses and assignments. It features file sharing, announcements, grading tools, and all the tools a teacher or educational organization needs to run a course online.

Learning Management Systems solve the problems for online course management. While the industry leading LMS products like Moodle and Canvas are robust and feature rich, Google Assignments and Google Classroom solve specific problems only.

Google Assignments vs. Google Classroom

To understand the difference between Google Assignments and Google Classroom we must understand exactly what they are. They both have different approaches to solve online learning management problems.

  • Google Assignments can be used on its own or as a toolkit usable in any other LMS for managing assignments and grading them.
  • Google Classroom focuses on running full classes online including managing assignments, interacting with students and managing classwork.

If you read the feature list (stated below) of both Google Assignments and Google Classroom, you will see a lot of them are the same. Google Classroom seems to have all the features of Google Assignment. Then how come they are different?

The key differences can be sorted like this:

 Google AssignmentsGoogle Classroom
Learning Management Software (LMS) compatibilityCan be used in any LMS or directly in Google Classroom.The simple features are available for free and for the full LMS functionality you need to subscribe.
Mobile Device SupportOnly available in a browser on a phone or tablet.You can have all the features of Google Classroom in your smartphone with their app for teachers and students.

There are only subtle differences between the products and looking at the features below will help you decide which one will suit your needs.

Google Assignments Features

Here’s a quick intro by Google for Education.

Google Assignments extends the functionality of just sharing files with features like:

  • File Access Control
    • When a student submits a file for the assignment the teacher automatically gets access. Then the student cannot edit the file while it is being evaluated.
    • The teacher then evaluates the assignment with a grade and returns it to the student.
    • The student then gains access again and can see their mark and the teacher’s comments.
  • Easy Grading system
    • Google assignment includes an easy grading system where the teacher puts the mark directly in the student assignment.
    • Teachers can also use rubrics or marking sheets to measure the assignment more precisely.
  • Feedback
    • The teacher can point out grammatical errors and little mistakes, mark them and add their comments as well.
    • Google Assignments also includes a comment bank to add frequently used comments for easy reuse. As the teacher types, the quick comments will come up as search results.
  • One Tap Connect and Scheduling:
    • Google Assignments handles all the file synchronization with your Google Classroom or LMS automatically. You just add an assignment with just one tap.
    • You can schedule the assignment for a later date or post the assignment instantly.
  • LMS Compatibility
    • Google Assignments is compatible with most LMS. So, you don’t have to use Google Classroom but you can still get the Google Assignments features.

Google Classroom Features:

Google Classroom is a Learning Management System with most of the core Industry Standard LMS products.  It still has catching up to do with products like Moodle and Canvas but is getting there.

Have a quick look through the features.

https://youtu.be/UEFgW–0094

The features of Google Classroom you can use are:

  • Creating Classes
    • The ability to create multiple classes with one for each subject you are teaching.
    • Easily share the class code to students for them to join the class.
  • Google Assignments
    • All the features of Google Assignments previously discussed are already included in Google Classroom.
  • Google Meet
    • Participants in the same class can easily connect with a Google Meet link which is a unique link for each class.
  • Stream
    • Stream acts as the social hub for the teachers and the students. The teacher can make announcements in the Stream.
    • Students can share resources or communicate easily.
  • Classworks
    • The course can be easily organized via the Classworks page.
    • You can add, delete, or change the order of your classwork according to your needs.
  • Feedback (Google Assignments)
    • Adding remarks to assignments and notes is super easy.
    • Teachers can comment, highlight and use the comment bank for saving time.
  • Rubrics(Google Assignments)
    • You can grade the assignments directly.
    • You can use Rubrics to mark individual sectors more precisely for a better evaluation.
  • Grade sheets (Google Assignments)
    • Once the assignments are graded it is super easy to create a Grade Sheet.  This is a list of all the students’ marks for that assignment. You can also export this as a CSV file.
  • Communicate with Parents
    • You can easily send the Grades of individual students to their guardians via email or an invitation link.
    • This process can be automated or completed manually.
  • On the go
    • The google classroom app means you can do all of this on your smartphone as well.

Google Assignments File Types

While Google Assignments will accept all file types it can specifically open online certain file types without you having to download them to your computer.

The file types compatible for opening online are:

  • Microsoft Word Documents
  • Microsoft Power Point Presentations
  • Image Files
  • Audio Files
  • Video Files

In most cases, they are stored in cloud storage like Google Drive.

Choosing the right one for you

If you are using your own LMS then obviously Google Assignments means you can not only use its features but link to Google Drive as well.  If you don’t have a LMS then Google Classroom is worth looking at in comparison to the other Industry LMS products like Moodle and Canvas.

How to get Google Assignments and Google Classroom?

Google Assignments

You can get Google Assignments from their website https://assignments.google.com

If you want to use it as a tool kit in your LMS, you have to set up Assignments Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI). Follow their official guide: Official Guide for Google Assignments integration

Requirements

  • It is free to download. But your organization needs to apply for a G Suite for Education, which is free for educational institutions.

Google Classroom

You can get Google Classroom here https://classroom.google.com

Requirements

  • If you are a student, you can directly continue to the website.
  • If you are a teacher, your institution has to sign up for free for a G Suite for Education account.

User Feedback

Users worldwide have provided some useful feedback with their hands-on experience. These might help you differentiate these products better.

Google Classroom

Pros

  • Easy management
  • Seamless Collaboration
  • Integration with the G-Suite of products (Google Drive, Google Docs, etc)
  • Better Communication with students
  • Quick Grading
  • Stores previous classes in the archives to reuse content

Cons

  • Not a complete LMS. A lot of industry standard LMS features are not yet available
  • Limited integration
  • Grading Limitations (IB, AP standards are unavailable)

You can read more from this article https://www.trustradius.com/products/google-classroom/reviews

Google Assignments

Pros

  • Independent. Can be used with other Learning Management Systems
  • Already available in Google Classroom
  • Sharing files with access control

Cons

  • Not available on mobile devices.
  • Minor bugs
  • Issues of automatically creating new folders in Google Drive

You can have a look at their community https://support.google.com/edu/assignments/community

Glen Brown

I am a Technical Trainer and Manager with over 20 years experience in IT, Education and Business. I have multiple qualifications on each topic including post graduate qualifications. I have a passion for sharing knowledge and using technology to do this. If you would like to know more about me please see the about page of the website.

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