A vision for how Google Classroom might work with Add-ons like Doctopus and others...

Based on the preview what Google Classroom offers is similar in some respects to Doctopus insofar as it creates a folder structure in Drive, attends to the workflow around assignment provisioning, and allows a teacher to manage class rosters.  These similarities have led some to proclaim that it renders tools like Doctopus "obsolete."

Without taking things too personally -- I'll do my best;) -- here's an alternate interpretation.

The ownership and document visibility model shown in Google's Classroom promo videos is one where the teacher has no visibility or control over the student document until the moment the student clicks "Turn in."  This is a very different model than that of Doctopus, where the teacher owns and controls the documents from start to finish, after which they return them to students.  These differences leave lots of room for a teacher preference for Doctopus, in particular around managing a revision process, monitoring progress, and providing formative feedback on student writing-in-process.

The assessment mechanism shown in Classroom promo videos is a purely numeric score, with an optional comment when the teacher clicks "Return."  Good teacher practice involves a matrix-like structure -- a.k.a. a rubric - where expectations for student work can be made clear via descriptors.  In this sense, Classroom reinforces a weak, lazy, and unhelpful assessment model.  If Google can provide developer APIs, tools like Goobric might be adapted to attach themselves to assignments delivered via Classroom and feed scores back to Classroom.  If not, I imagine quite a few teachers will continue to prefer a tool that provides them in-browser rubric-grading functionality.

In Google's videos, there appears to be no way of assigning group projects.  One of the most promising aspects of using Google Drive with students is its collaborative premise.  Doctopus provides a jigsaw project mode, where copied document templates are pre-shared with student groups.  Classroom appears not to.  Again, lots of room for teachers who no doubt will want to have both a day-to-day, easy to use LMS like Classroom, but will still venture to Doctopus when it's time to do rich project work with students.

Beyond this, Doctopus was built on an open model for developers who want to share in the roster framework it offers -- allowing for a rich ecosystem of other roster-based helper tools for teachers.  This means that tools like autoCrat and others currently in the pipeline will allow a Doctopus user to quickly fire up a sheet and run a batch process like a progress report or something else.  This open, extensible approach speaks to Google's values and is one I expect they will increasingly embrace with their own set of APIs for Classroom.   

With this in mind, my vision going forward will be to allow for integration of rosters so that Doctopus and other Add-ons will be able to optionally leverage the same, synchronized, master lists of students and folders that are created by teachers in the Classroom product.

Whether this vision bears out is entirely a function of Google's ability to deliver the API hooks to allow developers like me to build it.  While this is still uncertain, I have absolutely no doubt that it is their intention.

So "render obsolete" is a rather zero-sum way of understanding what I believe could become a high compatible, interoperable ecosystem of Add-ons that extend the base that Classroom provides.

I'm hopeful and very much looking forward to creating this future with Google.
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