Announcing rosterSync: A free Add-on for Google Classroom

Technology has been one of the most critical drivers of educational innovation in recent years, expanding the possibilities of teaching and learning by growing the set of tools, data, and learning experiences available to teachers and students. 

We’re excited to announce the launch of rosterSync, a free Add-on for Google Sheets that allows Google Apps for EDU domain administrators to create and update teachers’ Google Classroom courses and rosters directly from their student information system. 

This tool arrives in tandem with Google’s launch of the Classroom API, which will enable a free, widely-adopted, and secure infrastructure for developers to create learning apps that integrate with teacher class lists.  Classroom, launched by Google in August of 2014, has already served as a critical tool for teachers by creating a simple, intuitive workflow to handle assignments in Google Docs and Drive.  By allowing for the bulk-copying and distributing of templated “starter docs” in Drive, Classroom allows teachers to manage and assess cloud-based student writing in real-time.  

Getting Started Using rosterSync

The rosterSync tool can be easily installed from the Add-ons menu in Google Sheets, however it will only launch for Google Apps domain administrators.  When launching rosterSync for the first time, the domain administrator is prompted to identify and map the correct student data sources (i.e., as CSVs or Google Sheets) with the relevant data fields in Classroom.  The Add-on begins to run when the user uploads the student data file (called the “Enrollments Data Source”).  Additional data sources, such as course details or teacher and student emails, can be “joined” to complete the necessary mappings. If matching column headings exist in the different data files, rosterSync will even auto-detect which columns to “join.”

Once these mappings are created, they are saved for use on all subsequent updates, at which point any CSV files can be easily re-uploaded to allow for rosters to be refreshed.  To learn how to fully optimize and set up rosterSync from NYCDOE STARS data, check out this guide.

rosterSync is still in early beta release. Because we don't have access to every student information system for testing purposes, we would like to invite all domain administrators to help test and improve the tool by providing feedback in the rosterSync Google+ community.

Powering Personalized Learning

New Visions’ goal in developing rosterSync was to increase the teacher adoption rate of cloud-based tools that help streamline writing instruction, both in New York City schools and across the nation.  We believe that the low-cost, device-agnostic infrastructure of Google Drive offers vital and incomparable opportunities for teachers to improve writing instruction for the highest needs students.   With the addition of the Classroom API, Google has created a rich foundation for an ecosystem of lightweight, flexible, and interoperable tools that can leverage roster data to power the personalized learning students deserve.  We are thrilled for the opportunity to collaborate with the Classroom team to bring this bold and multi-faceted vision to reality!

If you have questions, please share them in the rosterSync Google+ community

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