I Miss Google Classroom

April 30, 2022

Now that I’m in college and we use Canvas, I deeply miss Google Classroom from middle and high school. Google Classroom was so good and I didn’t realize it until it was gone.

You could write a Google Doc or make a presentation in Google Slides, attach it to an assignment, and turn it in immediately. It’d lock you out of your document while it was submitted, but you could unsubmit to edit it again and then resubmit.

Deadlines were clear. There was a view where you could see all the deadlines you had coming up, and make sure you weren’t missing anything. Deadlines would even sync onto your Google Calendar, if you wanted.

But most importantly: it wasn’t impossibly difficult to use. Canvas and Blackboard can do a million things, hidden deep inside of the depths of their interface. But nothing’s intuitive, and it’s all buried. It’s the result of an app that got a million feature requests and bolted them all on in order to win contracts.

I’m sure Google Classroom is under the same sorts of pressures from buyers, but they seem to have handled it better. It’s simple, not bloated. And they have the advantage that the tools that Classroom relies on — Docs, Slides, Forms, etc — are all products in their own right, so they can afford to have large teams that focus just on making each tool better.

It’s kind of weird to praise an enterprise-y product from a large company. But Google Classroom was legitimately good, especially compared to the college-level competing products. I miss it.