Do you spend hours managing the papers that flow through your classroom on a daily basis? Is your inbox overflowing with a hodgepodge of student papers? Do you have difficulty tracking which students have completed which assignments?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions and your students have access to technology, you may wish to consider using digital workflow in your instruction. Digital workflow allows for a paperless classroom in which teacher and students can exchange assignments and provide feedback digitally.
The first thing to understand is that there are many workflow models available for teachers and students to use; some are free, whereas others require a fee or subscription. Additionally, not all digital workflows provide the same features. For this reason, you may decide to use a combination of tools to implement different workflows for different purposes. In order to determine which workflow model is best for your classroom use, you will need to consider the individual needs of your students and the goals you would like for them to achieve.
You might also want to consider which of the following features will help meet those needs and goals:
Google Drive is both a web 2.0 tool and an app; additional Google tools that are associated with Drive are Google Docs, Slides, Drawings, Sheets and Forms. Google Drive allows the user to be able to store and access their digital content from any device that is connected to the internet. Individual files or complete folders can be shared with other Google users. All Jeffco students have access to Google Drive, although they do not have access to a Google email address until 2nd grade.
Google Classroom is both a web 2.0 tool and an app. Google Classroom incorporates all of the features of Google Drive and its related tools; Google Classroom would be challenging for teachers and students who are unfamiliar with Google Drive and its related tools. Google Classroom allows teachers to assign work and for students to receive, complete and submit the same assignment. Students can attach work from their Drive and other apps, as well. Teachers can also provide feedback, grade assignments, pose questions, and allow for backchannel chats and discussions. The Jeffco help desk does not support Google Classroom.
Schoology is a Learning Management System (LMS) available both as a web 2.0 tool and an app. Through Jeffco, all student and teachers have access to a Schoology account. Schoology can stand on its own as a digital workflow or be a great supplement to an additional workflow model. We often get asked if Schoology is going away, now that Google Classroom has been introduced. This is far from the truth! Schoology is a great tool for teachers who are looking for all the necessary features to blend their instruction or flip their classrom. It also offers features that Classroom does not, such as the ability to create courses and incorporate self-graded assessments. The Jeffco help desk supports Schoology.
Showbie is both a web 2.0 tool and an app. We have found the free membership of Showbie to have more than enough features to provide students and teachers with a digital workflow; however, a paid subscription will give you a few more tools and features. Both teachers and students can use the pen tool to annotate PDFs and other documents with their finger, as well as add voice notes and written comments; the pen tool is not available on the Web 2.0 tool, so it is not the best option for Chromebooks or Laptops. Our team has found Showbie to be most successful with primary grades, although it is not limited to K-2. Showbie is not supported by the Jeffco help desk.
Here are a few additional thoughts to consider after you make your decision on which digital workflow model is best for you: