Following a two-year transitional period, WHS teachers and students have finally transitioned from TeacherWeb to Google Classroom as the main student-teacher interface. After its full incorporation into WHS classrooms, a range of reviews from students and teachers have shed light on both the positive and negative aspects of the new suite.
Director of Technology and School Libraries Lee McCanne said that managing Google Classroom has been easier and less costly than managing TeacherWeb.
“Since Google Classroom is a complete platform-as-a-service system [which is hosted on Google’s servers], it is very easy to maintain. Classroom is also offered free to public education, at least for the moment,” McCanne said. “TeacherWeb was also a free product, but hosting and management took budget, resources, and time.”
Junior Kimberly Nicholson found Google Classroom generally more convenient to use than TeacherWeb.
“[Google Classroom] is so much easier to use. Everything’s organized nicely and I’m glad that no more teachers use TeacherWeb because it was so inconvenient and outdated,” she said.
Senior Eddie Kong concurred and stated that he preferred Google Classroom because of its accessibility.
“I like Google Classroom better than TeacherWeb because it’s easier to access and navigate the site to get to my classwork,” Kong said.
English teacher Elizabeth Riemer was an early adopter of Google Classroom, switching to it during the 2016-2017 school year. She said that it helped her organize resources in a way that was more accessible to students.
“I spent a little time over the summer before [that school year] figuring out what about Classroom might work and be helpful for my English Nine class,” Riemer said. “The best thing is that resources are easily available to students, and it makes it easier to direct students on where to write essays and to post supplemental resources.”
History teacher Moncrieff Cochran, who switched to Google Classroom last year, said that the software has become important in transitioning his courses to a more digital format.
“It’s become an integral part of my courses,” he said. “I post homework and as much information as possible there. Ideally, I don’t hand anything out and it’s been helpful in reducing the amount of paper we use.”
Google Classroom has also caused accessibility problems for students and teachers. According to science teacher Janet Kresl Moffat, one such issue arose in directing students where to find assignments.
“I find that many of my students just go to the ‘stream’ tab to find assignments, but I have things organized under the ‘classwork’ tab,” she said. “Trying to communicate where to go to get assignments has tripped students up.”
Other teachers also took issue with various facets of the software. Science teacher Boris Korsunsky was critical of Google Classroom’s interface, pointing out that it sacrifices several features in the name of simplicity.
“In general, Google Classroom seems to do a lot of things pretty well, such as making communication with students convenient, but I think that it lacks a lot of functionality that I would like to see in an all-purpose website,” Korsunsky said.
Sophomore Angela Shen was also critical of Google Classroom’s organization.
“Classroom tries to be simplistic but ends up cutting off a bunch of tools that would be useful,” Shen said. “For example, there’s no place where you can access all assignments easily; you need to scroll through the sections of the classwork tab.”
Although there has been some challenges with implementing Google Classroom, most students and teachers have said that they appreciate its features. According to McCanne, TeacherWeb is scheduled to be shut down after this year’s complete migration to Classroom, concluding the school’s transition to the new interface.