As another school year gets ready to begin, Google has announced changes and updates to a variety of its offerings. Most of these are welcome and will make learning a little bit easier this year.
Google Hangouts on Air
The first announcement came yesterday when they let us know that, effective September 12, they will be discontinuing Hangouts on Air and are instead encouraging people to move to YouTube Live or their new Duo app (available free for Android and iOS). While this may not be something to thrill your heart, it will help to combine two products into one and make it easier to schedule and host video conferences/discussions.
For Classroom, Google now includes summaries of student work that can be automatically shared with parents by teachers. The summaries (or classroom announcements) can be sent daily or weekly, depending on what you prefer. This will make that home/school connection even stronger. There are also a few updates to the Classroom mobile app. Now it will allow you to annotate documents, turning them into whiteboard-like screens. You can use the annotations to mark papers, grade assignments, highlight mistakes or excellent work, and demonstrate concepts. In addition, the teacher can now add topics to posts and allow students to filter their own streams for topics of interest to them.
More Google Goodness for the Classroom
Google has also released Cast for Education, a free Chrome app that lets educators share their screens wirelessly to a projector. This is another great way to make the teacher more mobile and get him/her away from the front of the room while teaching. It’s very easy to use. Just install the app, give your device a name, and invite your students to cast. A GAfE account is required.
For Forms, Google has now added the ability to include images in questions or in multiple-choice answers. This is especially great for math, social studies, and science educators who want to have students focus on complex concepts that resonate better in graphics than in text.
If you’re using the Google virtual reality program Expeditions, you’ll be delighted to discover more virtual field trips have been added. Using smartphones paired with inexpensive cardboard viewers, Expeditions brings the world to your students with more than 200 trips now available.
Google continues its strong support for teaching and learning. And we definitely appreciate that!