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Google Classroom upgrades rival Microsoft OneNote

Two months after Google released its classroom assistance app, a set of upgrades and enhancements has been launched.

The Classroom was announced in May and released in August for those who have Google App for Education – the free suite of productivity tools such as Gmail, Drive and Docs.

Designed with ease and efficiency in mind, it helps teachers to collect assignments online and can enable a teacher to automatically make a copy of a document for each student. Drive folders make it easy to keep track of assignments and teachers can provide real-time feedback and grades in the classroom.

Before it was available to the public, it was tested by 100,000 teachers in 45 countries.

More than 40 million students, teachers and administrators are using Google Apps for Education and the Classroom is a way to make the apps more accessible and useful.

Already primary school students in Australia have used Classroom to meet and work with astronauts on the Space Station, and students are able to attend a paperless class at a Mexican school without IT support.

The five improvements focus on feedback received by educators and students. One of the upgrades allow users to invite students to the Classroom with Google Groups. Students can mark assignments as done to keep track of their workload.

Teachers will have greater control as they can download all grades and assignments at once, sort students by their first or last name, and they have the option to set permissions – for instance, they can allow comments or mute individuals.

Microsoft has recently released a similar app for educators and students. OneNote Class Notebook Creator is an Office 365 classroom assistance application which uses OneNote as a front end and is hosted in SharePoint Online.

This app allows teachers to set up individual notebooks for each student, with a common library for documents and materials for the class. There is also a group collaboration space for group activities.

Simplifying the collection of homework assignments and consolidating teacher feedback in a single place will boost classroom efficiency, according to Microsoft.

Google Apps for Education and the Classroom app is free, and the Office 365 for Education has free and paid editions.