Google Classroom is a great companion for classes that are using an LMS. Examples of popular LMS’s: Schoology, Edmodo, Haiku, Canvas, Moodle or Blackboard. Google Classroom and your LMS are not mutually exclusive. There are great reasons to use both.
A Different Role
When teachers use Google Classroom and an LMS, Google Classroom takes on a different role. Rather than using Google Classroom as the place to list assignment directions and announcements, the LMS is used for this. The LMS is used to organize the class, make announcements, have discussions, embed videos, design lessons, etc… Students start with the LMS and work within the LMS.
Google Drive Management
The role Google Classroom takes on is Google Drive Management. Google Classroom solves the problem of sharing permissions for documents and makes the interaction of Google Docs between teacher and student significantly easier.
Anything in the class that involves distributing and collecting Google Docs goes through Google Classroom.
Within the directions provided in the LMS are statements such as “Go to Google Classroom and find assignment #005. Open the collaborative Google Slides presentation and add a slide to summarize your project idea. Click ‘Mark as Done’ in Google Classroom when you’ve completed this portion of the assignment. ”
When prompting students to go to Google Classroom, provide a live hyperlink in the LMS assignment to Google Classroom. Make sure the link opens in a new window. You do not want the students to leave the lesson in the LMS. It is also a good idea to teach students to hold down the Control key when clicking on a link. This ensures they do not leave the current page they are looking at since the link will open in a new tab.
Side by Side Windows
When using Google Classroom as a teacher or as a student, side by side windows are extremely helpful. As a teacher, you will want to have Google Classroom side by side with the LMS gradebook. This makes it easy to assess students in Classroom but get the grades into the LMS. Students will want the directions in the LMS side by side with their Google Docs they are working on.
Submit to LMS
When students turn in work to Google Classroom this does not update in the LMS. (Note: Google Classroom recently announced an API for Classroom so you may see tighter Classroom integration natively in your LMS soon.) If the end product for the assignment is a Google Doc simply ask students to indicate in the LMS they have completed the task.
I might suggest that you always use Google Classroom for students submitting work. This is to maintain a consistency of workflow. Google Classroom allows students to submit any file type. The submissions, Google Docs or not, are neatly organized in Google Drive. This makes it easy to access all student work at once for an assignment. If you always collect work from Google Classroom students are not confused as to when to use one system over the other.
Use Google Classroom for what it does best and use your LMS for what it does best. A happy marriage.