Table of contents
Written by:
Martin Barrett
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Google Classroom Material Vs Assignment

Google Classroom Material Vs Assignment

Google Classroom allows teachers to create and assign work to students entirely online without any need for printing.

Essays, worksheets, readings and questions can all be done online and easily distributed to your class. 

We are examining Google Classroom material versus assignment as this can sometimes be a confusing topic.

How do you know whether the document you are posting should be done under Material or Assignment? 

We discuss several features that you can use to determine whether what you are posting will be material or an assignment.

These features are questions you can apply to the document and therefore decide which type of post it should be.

Learn how to create an assignment and how to add material to your Classwork tab and what is the difference between google classroom material vs assignment 

Explaining Google Classroom

Google Classroom is a very powerful but easy to use tool for online learning as well as digitizing lessons for in-class use.

It is constantly being updated with new resources and features to make learning easier and teaching more simple and flexible. 

Although it isn’t a Learning Management System (LMS) like Blackboard, it does work in a similar way.

This allows teachers to share materials with their students, set assignments, and carry out presentations. 

This can all be done from one place and works across a range of devices because Google Classroom was created as a way to reduce paper in the classroom.

So it can be used to set assignments, mark and grade papers and return them without ever putting pen to paper. 

This suite of online tools allows teachers to share information and feedback more efficiently, as well as giving students flexibility in how and where they can learn. 

Paperless instruction has become more quickly implemented in the last few years due to the restriction on in-person classes.

As more schools move to online and blended learning Google Classroom has been more widely used and implemented more quickly than expected.

The platform works with Google Docs, Sheets, Sites, Slides, Earth, Calendar and Gmail. 

It can be used in conjunction with Google Meet or Hangouts for face-to-face meetings, live teaching or seminars.

The online based platform means it can be accessed from any device that has a web browser. 

As most of the processing is done at Google’s end even older devices can be used for Google Classroom’s resources. 

Google Classroom Material Vs Assignment

Now that you know what Google Classroom is we can move on to breaking down the different features of the program.

In this case we are considering the difference between material and assignments in Google Classroom. 

What Is Material?

So what do we mean by material in Google Classroom?

Well the material is simply the resources that the teacher uses for the purpose of teaching the class.\

These resources are stored under Material on the Classwork tab.

These virtual containers can hold up to 20 items for each material which could include attachments, Drive files, YouTube videos or any kind of web link. 

The materials are meant to be shared resources with your students to enhance and augment their learning.

They can be organized by topic to make them easier to find, and they can also be reordered and scheduled to post at a later time. 

Material Vs Assignment Features

When you need to create a post for Google Classroom you will have to consider the features you are including and whether it will be material or assignment. 


Within Google Classroom you will be presented with options and these will be what differentiates an assignment from material or let you know that it could be either. 

Creating a post with a title and instructions

This could be either an assignment or material as both will require a title and student instructions. 

Attach a file, video or a website link 

Again this can apply to both material and assignment.

It is clear how they act as material resources but can also accompany a task as a supporting resource so may be attached to assignment posts. 

Create a Google apps file to communicate information 

As a Google apps file will convey information it can be posted as material, but it can equally be used as supporting information and so also posted as an assignment. 

Organize post by topic

Both material and assignment posts can be organized by topic. 

Select the class or student(s) that can view the post

It is possible to select the student, students or class that can view a material or an assignment post. 

Set the permissions of an attachment to either view or edit

Setting the permissions of an attachment can only be done as part of an assignment post.

This means the student is allowed to view or edit the post. 

Generate a unique copy of a file for each student to complete

As each copy of a file can be generated as unique to each student this option is ideal for assignment posts. 

Students can create a new Google apps file that connects to the post

Google Classroom Material Vs Assignment

When posting assignments you can choose this option so that students can create a new Google apps file that will connect to the post. 

Students can turn in work

This is a necessary option for students to be able to hand in assignments so obviously goes on an assignment post. 

Assignments can be graded and tracked from the Grades tab

Another necessary option for teachers to choose is that assignments can be graded and tracked from the Grades tab. This allows for students’ work to be assessed. 

Creating Assignments & Material

Now that you have an idea of which options are available for either assignments or materials we can look at how you go about creating both. 

How To Create An Assignment

Whenever you need to create an assignment you will navigate to the Classwork tab.

Within this tab you can create a new assignment as well as viewing current and past assignments.

To create a new assignment click the Create button, and then select Assignment. 

If you were posing a question you would select the Question button and if you were adding material as resources you would choose Material. 

The other options on the Create button are Quiz Assignment if that is something you want to do or Reuse Post which allows you to use the post in another class or modify it before publishing it. 

So you have now selected Assignment and this brings you to the assignment form.

Within Google Classroom you have a lot of flexibility and choices when creating assignments. 

The Assignment Form

On the assignment form there are different fields and options that you can use for the assignment. 

At the top of the form you have a Title field so that you can name the assignment.

Underneath the title you have the option to add some instructions in the box.

Beneath the Instructions box is an Add button with a paperclip symbol.

This is where you attach files, from your computer or Google Drive, or URLs, or YouTube videos. 

On the far right of the assignment form there are several drop-down menus.

The first of these is Students, this gives you the option to send assignments to either all students or a certain number of students. 

Beneath this is the Points menu. This lets you select the number of points that the assignment is worth.

Alternatively you can select Ungraded if you don’t wish to grade the assignment. 

Next is the Due button, which provides you with a calendar so that you can select the date by which you want the assignment returned.

Or you can choose No Date if there is no set deadline for the assignment. 

Underneath the assignment Due button is the Topic button.

This gives you the option to sort assignments as well as materials according to certain topics.

You can either pick an existing topic or create a new one to place the assignment under. You could also select No Topic.

There is also at the bottom of the assignment form a Rubric button.

This allows you to attach a rubric for students to help them understand the expectations for the assignment and to provide feedback. 

Finally, in the top right corner of the assignment form is the Assign button.

When you are happy with the assignment that you have created click Assign.

On the drop-down menu you will also have the option to Schedule the assignment to be posted at a later date. 

When you have finished the assignment and clicked Assign your students will be alerted to the assignment via an email notification. 

Google Classroom also automatically adds all assignments to your Google Calendar.

Google Classroom Material Vs Assignment 1

In the Classwork tab you can, click Google Calendar, and it will give you an overview of the due dates for all your assignments. 

Assignments With Google Docs

When you are creating an assignment you may want to produce a document to attach to the post from Google Docs.

It may be a set of instructions for an assignment or a study guide or other material for your students. 

If you do attach one of these documents it is important that you choose the correct settings for how the students interact with it. 

Once you attach the Google Docs document, you will be able to see a drop-down menu with three options.

These are Students can view file, Students can edit file and Make a copy for each student. 

The first option is for when you want your students to be able to see the document but not make any changes to it. 

The second option is useful if the document is something that you want your students to fill in, complete or collaborate on. 

Finally, the third option is if you have a document that you want students to complete individually this will make a separate copy for each student. 

How To Add Material To Google Classroom

If you want to add material to Google Classroom there are several types you can post, including links, videos and files. 

Adding Material To Google Classroom

To add resource material to Google Classroom go to the Classwork tab and click on the Create button.

You will be given the options of Assignment, Quiz assignment, Question, Material and Reuse post. Click on the Material button. 

When you are in the Material edit view click on the Add button.

Select the type of resource material you want to add. The options are files from Google Drive, Links, File attachments and YouTube videos. 

You will then need to follow the instructions for adding whichever resource you are posting.

There is also the option to create resources from this section. 

Create Material 

If you want to create your own material as a resource for your students then this is quite straightforward. 

Go to the Classwork tab and click Create. In the drop-down menu select Material.

Now fill in the material details with whatever information you want to provide to your students. 

The Material dialog box will have five options. 

First there is the For box, this is to determine who you want to assign the material to.

You can either create material for lots of classes or alternatively assign it just to specific students. 

Next is the Title, which will be the name of the material.

Beneath this is the Description which gives you the option for including additional instruction to students for what to do with the material. 

Then there is the Topic field. You can assign a topic to the material so that it is grouped together with other related class material. 

This helps to organize the work into different areas such as homework, tests, or classwork.

Or you may have a subject topic for each unit. You can apply an existing topic to the material or create a new one. 

The last option in the Material dialog box is Attachment.

This is just a list of the types of material that you can attach, including a file saved to your computer, an item from Google Drive, a web link or an online video. 

Once you have filled in all the relevant information in the dialog box you can either click Post which means the material is posted immediately or select the Post list arrow.

This allows you to schedule a date when you want the material to be posted. 

Alternatively you can save the material as a draft and come back to it at a later time. 

Managing Who Receives Material

Just like when you add an assignment you can manage who receives the material that you have added. 

In the Material edit view there is the drop-down menu for who will receive the resource.

This can be All Students or a certain number of students. 

The ownership of materials in Google Classroom changes depending on who is working on it.

When you create material or assignments for your students you are transferring ownership to them so that they can work on them. 

When they return the assignment, ownership then reverts to you as the teacher.

While you are the owner of the document students cannot see any comments on the assignment or make any changes to it. 

As a teacher you need to use the Return feature in order to give ownership of the assignment or material back to the students.

This helps their work to follow them as they move to different classes or teachers and not follow you.  

Other Google Classroom Posts

Apart from Material and Assignments there are other types of posts you can add or schedule. 

Quiz Assignment

A quiz assignment can be created in Google Forms. It asks a series of questions that students have to answer.

Points can be allocated to each question, and you can also set the right answer so that it automatically grades the responses. 

When you have a particular topic that you want to test your students on a quiz assignment is a good way to assess their knowledge. 


This type of post can be used to pose a single question or create a multiple choice format.

It can be left ungraded, or you can allocate points to either the single question or the multiple choice answers. 

However, the response does not automatically get graded and if you want to score the task then the mark or marks will have to be manually assigned. 

For this reason, a question post is best used to conduct a poll or to gauge your students understanding of a topic or concept. 

Final Thoughts

Google Classroom is a powerful tool for online learning and has changed how education works in a relatively short period of time. 

In this digitized age the ability to create and grade assignments and material for multiple students from your computer means you are spending more time with them and less time printing worksheets and grading papers. 

We hope you have enjoyed this guide to Google Classroom and now understand the difference between material and assignments.

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