Google Classroom Resync Improvements
As you may have noticed, we’ve been working on our Google Classroom Integration. We released more code last night, and wanted to give an update. If you are unaware of our efforts, please see previous news articles for more context.
2/2/2021 Google Classroom Integration Status Update
1/28/2021 Google Classroom Sync Issues
The latest change is to “Resync Now with Google.” We updated it to be smarter. Before the update, resync would pull data from Google Classroom and overwrite all data in TeacherEase. While this is often correct, in some “edge cases” it's undesirable. We improved handling those cases, and teachers should now be able to use our software successfully (even though they'll likely miss the automation once provided). We recommend that users: 1) enter data into Google Classroom and 2) click resync to pull it into TeacherEase. Feel free to click resync repeatedly, if you'd like.
The problem we fixed occurred when giving zeros to students for missing work. Teachers would enter scores in Google Classroom and click resync to pull them into TeacherEase. Afterwards they’d mark missing work with zeros in TeacherEase. If they resynced later, it would overwrite the zeros with blanks from Google Classroom. Teachers would then need to manually enter zeros, again, which was frustrating. While giving zeros is controversial to many educators, we felt it was important to properly support this case since it’s still common practice.
We improved this behavior by using timestamps. We track when teachers make score changes to TeacherEase, and compare it with the change history in Google. When resyncing, we use the latest score. If the teacher’s manual score update in TeacherEase is more recent than the Google Classroom score, we keep the value in TeacherEase. Conversely, we’ll overwrite an older TeacherEase score with a more current Classroom score. This should always result with the latest score in TeacherEase.
With this foundation in place, our next step is to build a resync service that constantly runs in the background. It’ll update scores, using the most recent changes. It won’t be as quick as responding to Google’s push notifications, but should get the data synced reliably after a moderate delay.
We don’t have any updates from Google about their bug that initiated our development effort. A few days ago they “forwarded the issue internally.” While this hopefully will result in progress, we haven’t heard anything since, and the issue has not yet been assigned to a developer. It’s hard to predict when they’ll fix this issue, so we’ll continue pushing forward with our solution.
As an aside, we’d like to mention the controversy of giving zeros for missing work. We’ve gotten pushback from educators who believe giving zeros is not best practice. Some feel we shouldn’t be supporting it in our product, or development resources should be invested elsewhere. We believe our core competency is software development, and don’t attempt to judge good versus bad educational practice. We support whatever is popular within our customer base. Since many customers give zeros for missing work, in spite of any drawbacks this may entail, we will continue to support it in our product (while also adding support for newer techniques like standards-based grading). If you’re unaware of the controversy surrounding zeros and would like to learn more, here are a few links to get started.
Thanks for your patience. We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused. We'll provide more updates as development progresses.
The Common Goal Team