When schools went remote in March 2020, teachers had to quickly adapt and find the best solutions to make virtual learning work. If you turned to Google for Education platforms like Classroom or Meet as a teaching hub for online activities, you’re far from alone. Google says its education users increased by four times during the COVID-19 pandemic, from 40 million people last year to 170 million users worldwide today.
With this momentum behind it, Google recently announced upcoming changes to its education apps which will debut over the course of 2021 to better meet the needs of both students and educators. Google has even changed the name of its education products — they’re now under one umbrella called Google Workspace for Education. Google has created four levels with different functions and pricing for each, though its base module, now called Fundamentals, will continue to be free to use and still boasts powerful features.
If you use Google Classroom, you know firsthand that there are some gaps in its features which these new updates hope to close. Coming soon to Google Classroom:
- Text formatting options for assignments and class posts, such as using bold, underline or italics, and bullet points.
- Originality reports issued in over 15 languages to help you detect plagiarism.
- Integration of popular third-party tech tools so students can gain access through Classroom without an extra login.
Teachers will be able to quickly see which students have submitted assignments or commented on posts. They will be able to set up classes by syncing their class roster from their online grade book.
Google Meet will also gain capacity that puts it more on par with its competitor, Zoom. These features are set to be released later this year:
- Teachers will be able to set up breakout rooms ahead of time.
- Copies of meeting transcripts will be available.
- Teachers will be able to mute everyone at once to quickly grab students’ attention.
- Teachers will be able to control when students unmute themselves.
- Multiple hosts will be able to moderate meetings for greater collaboration or student-led meetings.
Google Meet will integrate more seamlessly with Google Classroom, too. All users who are classified as teachers in Classroom will be instantly recognized as meeting hosts. Meet will be able to see who is on a Classroom roster and will prevent outsiders from joining meetings started within that class. And when meetings are started in Classroom, students won’t be able to enter until the teacher has joined. Likewise, teachers will soon have the option to end meetings for everyone on the call, preventing students from staying on after the teacher has left — including in breakout rooms.
To see a more complete overview of the many changes coming to Google for Education, see their Learning with Google blog.
Google Classroom and Meet are powerful learning tools that have helped us both reach and teach our students during the pandemic. But technology alone is not the answer — it’s the teachers who use these tools wisely and effectively who have made a real difference in the lives of their students this past year.