Online learning is growing in popularity around the globe. In remote areas, online classroom platforms allow face-to-face, real-time interaction between educators and their students.
Two of the most popular tools for implementing virtual classrooms are Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams. Each offers many benefits in connecting students and teachers, as well as offering collaboration with classrooms in other schools, states, or countries.
Choosing the best one for your virtual classrooms depends on the features that are best suited to the needs of your students and curriculum.
What Is a Virtual or Online Classroom Platform?
When the subject of virtual classrooms comes up, many think of video conferencing. Certainly, high-quality video presentation is part of the equation, but online learning with a virtual classroom environment means much more.
Virtual classrooms provide educators with several features including providing secure classrooms for students, managing presentations and webinars, facilitating remote learning, and much more.
Virtual Classroom Platform Offerings
To be productive, learning must be engaging – even fun. A virtual classroom needs to provide reliable and consistent functionality at all times to avoid distractions and promote collaboration and efficient transfer of knowledge to students.
Online classrooms should have easy-to-use interfaces for both teachers and students, especially when introduced for students in the K-12 classrooms. Essentials for virtual classrooms include:
- Class and meeting scheduling for adequate numbers of students
- Interactive video that allows mutual sharing of images, questions, and responses
- Distribution of course work and submission of assignments
- Integrated security to prevent unauthorized use or attendance by non-enrolled students
Google Classroom vs. Microsoft Teams – How They Stack Up
These virtual classroom offerings have many valuable features. Picking the one that’s best for any academic environment depends on needs and priorities.
Google Classroom Features
Google Classroom has various features including:
- Teacher productivity tools such as managing multiple classes and allowing student self-enrollment in classes.
- Custom assignments including worksheet attachments, individualized assignments, and advanced creation of announcements and assignments with scheduled posting.
- Review and organize student work and create custom grading systems.
- Grade quickly and return graded assignments to students with a single click. Export grade results to Google Sheets or a CSV file.
- Use Google Classroom anytime, anywhere – even from iOS or Android mobile devices.
- Open discussions to any student, or mute individual students. Teachers have total control of who can post to the page being streamed.
- Share images, links, videos from classroom content or websites, and push content to students’ screens quickly. Students can also share their content with the teacher.
Microsoft Teams for Education Features
Microsoft offers guidance for getting started quickly with their virtual classroom platform. Features of Microsoft Teams include:
- Creation of classes, online lectures, and webinars quickly and easily for up to 250 participants.
- Set virtual office hours, and arrange group meetings with students and other faculty.
- Create and modify teams for classes or groups of educators.
- Create digital binders for each class or subject.
- Generate assignments, send messages, facilitate open classroom discussions.
- Ease of scheduling classes, meetings, and webinars.
Microsoft Teams excels at ease of creating groups. As you may expect, it also provides ease of integration with Office 365 tools. Microsoft also provides guides with easy step-by-step instructions for basic functions.
Making the Choice Between Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams
While these virtual classroom platforms provide all the essentials that most educators will need to conduct online learning and distance learning classes, there are several differences that may be important selection criteria for some academic teams:
- Google Classroom can link with other Google tools like Gmail, Google Drive, or Google Sheets. Microsoft can facilitate similar integration, but it is difficult to set up.
- Microsoft Teams integrates easily with Office 365 applications.
- Teams provides a somewhat simpler interface for moving between classes and teams. Teams also has a simple integrated chat feature, enabling efficient communication between educator and student.
For sheer accessibility, Google Classroom takes the edge. Microsoft Teams has the lead when considering overall functionality.
There’s No Wrong Choice
Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams score highly among educators who have experience with the systems. Each facilitates online access for remote classes, tutoring, and webinars. Course management and engagement with students are essential features offered by both platforms.
Free trial demonstrations are offered for educators, allowing prospective users to make informed decisions.
Both systems call for administrative functions on the part of IT or academic personnel. With the many demands on school administrators and IT teams, system configuration and maintenance can be a challenge when getting started with virtual classroom implementation.
Managed IT services can provide valuable guidance in selecting and setting up virtual classroom tools for educational institutions. Engaging experienced technology resources can save time and help avoid false starts in choosing a technology solution for your organization.
CDS Office Technologies has experience in online learning platforms and implementation that helps our customers find the best software solutions and manage them efficiently.
Contact the experts at CDS today to help you evaluate virtual classroom offerings and make your choice of the best platform for your institution.