Google is entering the world of "learning management systems" with the pre-release of Classroom, designed to work with the Google Apps for Education suite currently used by 30 million students and educators.
The tool, which Google announced on its blog Tuesday, will give teachers a way to create and collect assignments, provide real-time feedback to individual students, make announcements, ask questions, and organize their folders by assignment or by student.
Below is a screen shot from Google's blog, showing an example of how a home page might look using Classroom, with assignments for each period of a school day.
The free tool, which weaves together Google Docs, Drive and Gmail, is expected to launch officially in September to K-12 schools and colleges. It will be available in 40 languages.
For now, the company is inviting educators to apply for a preview, and ed-tech companies or individual developers can sign up to learn more about integrating with Classroom.
"We've been working with more than a dozen pilot schools and universities to try out Classroom and provide feedback," wrote Zach Yeskel, product manager for Classroom and a former high school math teacher, in the blog.
Since Google has been making headlines recently for its prior practice of scanning students' and educators' Gmail in the Apps suite, Yeskel made special mention of privacy in his announcement.
"We know that protecting your students' privacy is critical," he said. "Like the rest of our Apps for Education services, Classroom contains no ads, never uses your content or student data for advertising purposes, and is free for schools."
His post linked to the April 30 announcement from Bram Bout, the director of Google for Education, announcing that the company had abandoned its practice of scanning student email accounts. That move was met with both praise, and some lingering concerns.