At its Anywhere School 2020 event today, Google announced a slew of remote learning updates across Google Classroom and Google Meet to help schools start this next semester. Additionally, Google launched a new app called Assignments, the Tech Toolkit for Families and Guardians, and an update to school accounts in Chrome OS. The company said its tools will “lighten the load for teachers, school leaders, families, and especially the students who have navigated learning from home with grace and resilience.”
The pandemic has led to a virtual meeting war. Microsoft Teams has seen more than 200 million meeting participants in a single day, while Zoom has seen 300 million daily meeting participants. (Unlike daily active users, “meeting participants” can count the same user more than once.) By comparison, Google Meet has seen 100 million meeting participants. Meet is of course just one component of Google’s bid to overtake Microsoft and Zoom in offering collaboration tools to businesses, consumers, and educators alike. But specifically for learning during the pandemic, the spotlight is on Google Classroom.
Google Classroom students can soon expect a new to-do widget on the Classes page to help them see what’s coming up, what’s missing, and what’s been graded. Teachers will meanwhile get a to-review widget. Most importantly, teachers will soon be able to share a link to invite students to their class (seriously, this wasn’t an option before). Google noted this will let them finally share classes “anywhere they communicate with students, including in messaging platforms such as WhatsApp.”
Google is also updating Classroom originality reports. Educators will soon be able to run originality reports five times per course (up from three). G Suite Enterprise for Education customers will continue to get unlimited originality reports and in a few weeks will be able to see matches for potential plagiarism against webpages and student submissions at their school. If admins want to actively manage the school-owned repository, they can manually add files or remove documents directly. Educators will also be able to print, save, and download reports to share with students, parents, and administrators. Originality reports will also soon be available in multiple languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, Norwegian, Swedish, Indonesian, and Italian.
Speaking of G Suite, administrators are getting more powerful tools. School leaders with Enterprise licenses will have greater visibility into Classroom usage via new Data Studio dashboards that show active classes, measure feature adoption, and monitor teacher and student engagement. Google is also making it easier to sync Classroom grades with a push to a Student Information System (SIS), starting with Infinite Campus customers (more SISs to come).
All Education admins will also now have access to Classroom audit logs. Admins with an Enterprise license will also be able to export their logs to BigQuery or create a customizable dashboard on Data Studio to see a slate of engagement metrics.
Finally, Classroom will soon be available in 10 additional Indian languages, bringing the total supported languages to 54.
In September, Google Meet will get a larger 7×7 tiled view of up to 49 people, matching Microsoft Teams and Zoom. Meet will also gain an integrated Jamboard whiteboard for collaboration, plus new controls for moderators:
- Prohibit participants from joining meetings after they’ve been ejected or after they’ve been denied entry twice (launching later this month).
- End meetings for all participants when class is finished.
- Manage join requests with ease by accepting or rejecting them in bulk.
- Disable in-meeting chat and set restrictions on who can present during a meeting.
- A setting that requires the teacher to join first.
In October, Google will bring custom and blurred backgrounds to Meet (which admins can disable as needed). G Suite Enterprise for Education customers will also gain breakout rooms (so educators can split classes into simultaneous small group discussions) and attendance tracking (to see and track which students attended virtual class). All of this will bring Meet on par with similar features in Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
Later this year (Google didn’t specify an exact date), Google will roll out hand raising for all Meet users. G Suite Enterprise for Education customers will also get Q&A and polling features. All Education customers will get a new temporary recordings feature (premium recordings will still be part of G Suite Enterprise for Education). This new feature will let meeting hosts record a meeting and share the recording within their domain for up to 30 days before the video expires. Temporary recordings are intended to address disparities in internet access, helping students replay a class or session they could not attend live.
Assignments, Tech Toolkit, and Chrome OS
For educators who don’t have Classroom or Meet, Google is introducing Assignments, an application for any learning management system (LMS) that supports LTI 1.1 and higher (like Canvas, Schoology, and Blackboard). Assignments is supposed to give educators a faster way to distribute, analyze, and grade student work. The tool can automatically create and distribute personalized copies of classwork to each student’s Google Drive folder, quickly provide feedback, and keep grading consistent and transparent with originality reports.
Google today also launched the Tech Toolkit for Families and Guardians (PDF). It is supposed to help parents better understand the technology that their kids use in the classroom. Free training, resources, and professional development programs are also available in the new Teacher Center.