Google today launched a suite of enhancements to its online education resources, including Google Classroom, Google Meet, and the next version of G Suite for Education, now rebranded as Google Workspace for Education, whose adoption and further development have been accelerated by the pandemic. Overall, Google promises more than 50 new features across its education services, focusing in particular on addressing the needs of educators and administrators, in addition to those of students.
It didn’t set out to develop a Learning Management System (LMS) when Google first launched Google Classroom, the company says. But Google noticed that many educators had started using Classroom as the “hub” for their online learning activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, over 150 million pupils, teachers, and school administrators, up from just 40 million last year, use the app.
This year, Google is launching a variety of new features for Classroom as a result of the pandemic-prompted acceptance and user reviews, some of which will be made available earlier than others.
A new Classroom add-ons marketplace will allow teachers to pick their favorite ed-tech resources and content later this year and allocate them directly to students, without needing additional log-ins, in order to better appeal to those who use Classroom as the online learning center. Admins will be capable of launching these add-ons in their domains for other teachers as well.
Administrators would also be able to populate classrooms in advance with Student Information System (SIS) roster synchronization later this year, and the grades of students from the classroom will be able to be exported directly to the SIS for select SIS clients. Additional logging will soon be available, including Classroom audit logs (to see items such as student removals or who have archived a class), as well as Classroom activity logs (to search for acceptance and engagement).
Teachers can quickly notice that a student is falling behind when learners attend in-person school. A modern generation of tools for the classroom seeks to do the same for virtual learning. Teachers will be able to see specific information on how students communicate with the classroom with the new student interaction monitoring feature, such as which students submitted assignments on a given day or commented on an article, for example.
Other resources would discuss the realities of operating from home, where internet connections are not always secure, or not accessible at all for certain low-income students. Students will be able to start their work offline, review activities, open Drive attachments, and write in Google Docs without an internet connection with an updated Classroom Android app. When a connection is again available, the work will synchronize. And new software will allow learners to merge photographs into a single document, crop and rotate images and change the lighting when students upload assignments by taking a photo.
The classroom also supports rich text formatting, such as bold, italics, web, iOS, and Android bullets, underlining and inserting bullets
Originality reports will soon be available in 15 languages, including English, Spanish, Portuguese, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish, French, German, Italian, Indonesian, Japanese, Finnish, Korean, Danish, Malaysian, and Hindi, to help detect plagiarism.
And Google’s own free computer science introductory program, CS First, is instantly available in the classroom.
Google Meet is now being updated with the needs of educators in mind, outside the classroom itself.
One must-have new feature, rolling out over the next few weeks, is a “mute all” button to give teachers back control of the classroom. Teachers will also be able to monitor in April whether a student can also unmute themselves, as well.
This year, other moderation measures will also be rolled out, including controls on who can attend meetings, talk or share their iOS and Android devices with their computer. Administrators will also be able to set policies on who can enter video calls in April, allowing guidelines on student-to-student links through districts, teacher professional development opportunities, external speakers attending a class, and more. Students will also not be able to engage in classroom-generated meetings until their teacher has arrived. Meanwhile, teachers will be made hosts of meetings so that other teachers can share the load of handling students.
For students, Google Meet also adds participation and inclusivity functionality. In order to reflect them, students will be able to choose emoji skin tones and answer with emoji in class, which teachers will be able to monitor.
Finally, Classroom, Meet, Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more will be rebranded as Google Workspace for Education by Google’s “G Suite for Education,” which includes. The instruments themselves, now used worldwide by 170 million students and educators, will not change. But to better meet a larger range of needs, the collection will be available in four versions instead of only two.
Google Workspace for Education Basics will be rebranded as the free edition, which will remain essentially the same. Meanwhile, the paid edition will be available in three levels: Google Workspace for Education Standard and Google Workspace for Education Plus, as well as the Teaching and Learning Update that can be applied to Google Meet’s Fundamentals or Standard for providing video communication, and other classroom resources, such as reports of originality.
In addition to better security through the Security Center, audit logs and advanced mobile management, Norm has it all in Fundamentals. In the three other versions, Plus has everything, as well as advanced security and analytics, learning and teaching features, and more.
Fundamentals and Plus are accessible today and on April 14, 2021, the others will go online. Education Plus will be upgraded for those who already have G Suite for Enterprise for Education.
The storage model will be revised in connection with these changes to a new, shared storage option aimed at better allocating storage resources across educational institutions. The new model provides a baseline of 100 TB pooled storage shared by all users for schools and universities, which comes into practice for current customers in July 2022, and will be applicable for new customers in 2022. In order to offer an idea of scale, Google says less than 1% of organizations will be affected by the revised model, whose baseline supports over 100 million documents or 8 million presentations or 400,000 hours of film.
In the coming weeks, the company expects several updates for its Google Workspace for Education product line, including saved drafts in Google Forms (in Fundamentals), Google Meeting transcripts (in the Teaching and Learning Upgrade), and more.
Google is releasing over 40 new Chromebooks outside of software product updates, including a range of “Always Connected” branded devices that have an integrated LTE networking option. Chrome’s screen reader, ChromeVox, has also been expanded with new tutorials, ChromeVox menu search, and voice switching features that automatically adjust the voice of the screen reader depending on the language of the text.
Parents who are already interested in the online learning of their child in a variety of ways will be able to connect their child’s Google Workspace for Education account with Family Connection, Google’s parental control app, to their child’s personal account. That ensures that children can still log into their school apps and accounts, while parents ensure that by limiting other apps and overall computer use, they remain focused on learning.