New Google Classroom tool gives advice on difficult homework problems

Imagine if your old trig spreadsheets stepped in to help you when you were stumped on a question. That’s Practice Sets, the newest Google Classroom tool, in a nutshell.

Google Classroom, for people who went to school before the internet was everything, is a widely used gag of web-based tools that lets teachers post assignments, students submit them, and teachers return them. in line. With practice sets, not only will teachers be able to submit problem sets, but they will also be able to make those problem sets interactive.

An algorithm will provide clues to students who seem puzzled. It will automatically classify the sets as well. Shantanu Sinha, head of product efforts for Google Education, says the algorithm will recognize when students write “equivalent answers” – so if a question needs a “.5” answer, for example, a student who writing “1/2” should always get credit.

“If you’re playing basketball and you throw the ball incorrectly for a day, it’s clearly not as helpful as the coach at that time and giving you his opinion. Sinha says The Rod. “I think the same is true when students are working on problems. »

If you’re a teacher, you’ll write down each question and Google’s AI will determine the nature of your question (‘algebra’, ‘polynomial equation’, etc.) to attach appropriate tips and resources. (Don’t worry, hints can be turned off.) Once done, you can assign it directly from the Google Classroom interface.

If you’re a student, you’ll write or type your answer to each question, hit the “verify” button, and get your grade right away. If you get it wrong on the first try, you’ll get a hint. If you’re totally lost, a “resources” sidebar will display relevant videos and notecards that Google’s algorithm thinks are useful.


Here’s what it looks like when a teacher creates a question.
Picture: Google

When the teacher retrieves the assignments, they will see where the AI ​​marked each student rightly or wrongly. If a student has made multiple attempts at a question, the teacher will see each of them. Google will also provide information, such as particular questions that everyone struggled with.

While some may find assignments like this less rigorous than the assignments of yesteryear, Sinha believes it’s important that students feel they can succeed. “When you’re trying to solve a problem and you don’t see any way to do it, it can be very demoralizing for students,” he says. “When they get this help and they’re like, ‘Oh, I can really do this, this is something I can do’, it really starts to build confidence.

Teacher insights dashboard Frame 1

This is what it looks like when the teacher collects all the assignments.
Picture: Google

Practice Sets is not the first tool to offer algorithm-based assessment and grading. While other such platforms have proven to be a time saver for teachers and a convenient tool for distance learning over the past few years, they have also faced their fair share of controversy. Losing credit due to faulty technology can be frustrating for students…families in a district revolted over the use of one such platform, Edgenuity, in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, after various technological hiccups impacted student grades.

But Practice Sets is in beta, which will hopefully give students and teachers enough time to complain about automated grading issues, as well as give Google time to fix bugs. I look forward to hearing stories of crafty kids finding ingenious ways to trick the algorithm, which will no doubt be frustrating for teachers and very entertaining for the rest of us. Good luck to everyone.

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