Where IS the Google Classroom Admin Console?


In more and more districts, we’re seeing a shift towards the adoption of Google Classroom as the Learning Management System, or LMS, of choice. Owing to its lightweight price tag (spoiler alert: free), its minimalist and effective user experience, and the fact that it streamlines a teachers’ management and feedback on Google Drive based student work, Google Classroom adoption is steadily spreading from small pockets of teachers to a district-led initiative. Add to that the seamless rostering integration with instructional tools and there’s not much that Classroom can’t do.  

We designed the all new Little SIS for Classroom to take the impact of Google Classroom to the next level by making it possible to for Google Workspace administrators to grant school leaders, instructional coaches, IT support staff, and others a broad range of superpowers over defined lists of Google Classroom classes — such as all those classes belonging to a single school site. To put it simply, this year we’ve built the missing admin console for Google Classroom — bringing robust LMS-like admin functionality to the free LMS-lite solution that teachers and students already love.

Whether it’s the ability to quickly join any class as a student or a co-teacher, add and remove students and co-teachers, or view detailed reports on classroom adoption, we’ve spent this spring working with dozens of early-adopter districts across North America to research and refine Little SIS to serve the use-cases that most excite them when it comes to administering Google Classroom in their schools. Here are a few stories to help you get the picture…

How are schools using their new Google Classroom superpowers?

Democracy Prep is a network of open-enrollment, high-performing, public charter schools operating in NYC, Camden NJ, Baton Rouge, Las Vegas, and San Antonio. The network has been using our Little SIS Sync Agent solution (note: Little SIS Sync is NOT a requirement for using the new Little SIS for Classroom web app) for the past three years with great success, automatically populating all of their Google Classroom course sections, rosters, and guardians from automated Jupiter SIS data extracts. As a result, Google Classroom has become the defacto standard for all teachers to house curriculum resources and manage student assignments. Despite this wild success, our Little SIS Sync solution runs on a server that can only be accessed via remote desktop, and because it grants almighty powers to a single user, there are still many day to day scenarios where the central IT staff would need to be involved in making time-consuming changes using Google APIs or reset passwords and log in as end users to resolve issues, not an ideal approach.

For example, one Freedom Prep High School leader Josh Rivera estimates that dozens of times a year, he has needed to add a co-teacher or change ownership on a class in order to arrange coverage for a staff absence or staffing change, or to allow a new teacher to gain access to course materials needed to teach a class from last year. Until now, this has meant placing a support ticket with his IT department and waiting for someone to help him.

Josh and Democracy Prep network IT team have been helping us beta test the new Little SIS for Classroom, and they are very positive about the promise it holds for next year.  In a recent Google Meet user feedback session, Josh could be seen smiling uncontrollably as he discovered the ease with which he can now use the new Little SIS to assign a substitute teacher to cover classes for an absent colleague.   

James Giblin, an English teacher at Freedom Prep who also serves as the ed tech manager for the network, has loads of ideas for how Little SIS will empower school-level admin and IT staff to solve problems and find new opportunities in Google Classroom. Beyond arranging for coverages and staff changes, James sees Little SIS serving an important purpose for organizing non-standard courses like summer school or staff PD workshops, and for allowing for easier access and re-use of curriculum resources from year to year, and from teacher to teacher. He’s also optimistic about the idea that Democracy Prep administrators may choose to add themselves to classes as a student or co-teacher as part of understanding teacher practice and supporting their professional growth. James notes, “with the new Little SIS web app, district and school administrators alike are able to dive into our teachers’ Google Classroom classes and view announcements and coursework more quickly than ever before. Being able to see these aspects of our teachers’ classrooms – and being able to quickly view student outputs – makes Little SIS for Classroom a natural fit for school leaders focused on supporting excellence in both teaching and learning.”

Back at the network HQ,  Director of Data Management & Analysis Mark Cheng is excited by the granularity of delegated permissions he’s able to grant in the new Little SIS for Classroom, and the fact that he can limit the end user’s access to classes by school. As the person who used to have to triage the support and data requests around Google Classroom from across the network, Mark can’t wait to empower staff who work directly in the schools to solve their own problems in real time. “The new Little SIS web app allows us to finally get a grasp on how Google Classroom is being used by teachers all across our domain, and to be empowered and informed administrators. We look forward to how it will save us time and give us ways to automate parts of our work!” Mark has already assigned each school level tech and principal with different customized roles he’s defined via the Little SIS admin settings panel, and their plan this fall is to run some training sessions introducing everyone to their newfound superpowers.

As we continue to build out great features in Little SIS for Classroom, we’re thrilled to have collaborators like Democracy Prep, and many others, helping us validate and improve the tool.

What are other schools saying about Little SIS for Classroom?

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  • At Northside ISD in Texas, with over 100,000 students, Director of Information Services Gerri Rizzo says, “Google Classroom has become a big part of classroom instruction and assignment management in our district. The web-based version of the Little SIS Classroom overview will allow our academic coaches to assist teachers, department chairs, and campus administration by being able to troubleshoot and resolve issues immediately. The improved system response time and ability to keep class information refreshed daily will give us the ability to generate usage statistics that we are currently unable to efficiently provide. This will be a game changer!”

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  • At Indian River Charter High School in Vero Beach, Florida, IT Director Laura Gaffney is “most excited about the new Little SIS web app for our SPED/ESE team. The tool allows them to set students up for success by giving SPED staff the ability to access class workloads, accommodation criteria for assignments, grades and much more in Google Classroom. This access will also grant them the ability to be more prepared for IEP/504 meetings with parents and students by being able to access vital information beforehand allowing them to use their time more effectively. Little SIS will help our SPED/ESE staff quickly support their students in Google Classroom like never before.”

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  • At Casey County Public Schools in Kentucky, Alejandra Woodrum, Network Operations Manager, says, “I am looking forward to using Little SIS web. We were looking for a reporting tool to show how teachers are adopting Google Classroom in our district. I believe it will be of great use for the district leadership.”

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  • At Silver Lake Regional School District, in Kingston, MA, Student Information Technology Specialist, David Murphy, says, “I’m most excited about the ability to hop into a class at any time as a co-teacher or student to help to troubleshoot issues. Furthermore, it will be great to be able to add co-teachers to a class at any time. Sometimes we run into roadblocks transitioning Classes when a teacher is out unexpectedly for an extended period of time.”

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  • At Jefferson County Public Schools, Technology Specialist/Google Workspace Admin Stefanie Mills says, “We have 100,000 students and over 6,500 teachers, and over 70,000 Google Classroom classes and rosters were provisioned for the 2018-2019 SY with the Little SIS Sync Agent. At our scale the new web-based Little SIS for Classroom allows our ENTIRE team access to troubleshoot and help our schools. This is incredible and liberating for the primary administrator. Thanks Amp IT for another TERRIFIC job well done!”

Get your own Google Classroom Admin console

Are you ready to give your school Google Classroom superpowers? Connect with us to learn more about Little SIS for Classroom, request a quote, and get started today!

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    Andrew Stillman

  • About the Author:

    Andrew is best known for founding the CloudLab at the non-profit New Visions for Public Schools, where he led the technical development of Google-Apps-based data tools that were adopted in over 200 schools through NYC Department of Education school-reform initiatives. Andrew taught a range of STEM subjects for ten years in the public school classrooms of NYC, and was co-founder and assistant principal of NYC’s Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science, and Engineering. Andrew is a Google Certified Innovator and a Google Developer Expert. When Andrew isn’t coding and designing products, he can be found experimenting in the kitchen, riding his bike, and working on maker projects with his kids.