Author Archives: Jennifer Holland

Safer learning with Google for Education

When the Google for Education team designs products, we put the safety, security and privacy needs of our users first. This means keeping schools’ data safer with built-in security features that provide automated protection, compliance visibility and control, to ensure a private, safe and secure learning environment. We aim to support and protect the entire education community, and particularly teachers and students, so they can focus on what matters most: teaching and learning.

Everything we build is guided by three important principles:

  1. Secure by default: Protecting your privacy starts with the world’s most advanced security. Even before you set up security controls for your school’s digital environment specific to your needs, our built-in security is automatically protecting you from threats, like ransomware. 

  2. Private by design: We uphold responsible data practices designed to respect your privacy. Our products can be used in compliance with the most rigorous data privacy standards, including FERPA, COPPA and GDPR.  Google does not use data from Google Workspace for Education Core Services for advertising purposes, and users’ personal information is never sold.

  3. You’re in control: You own your data in Core Workspace Services, which means that you retain full intellectual property rights over your customer data, and you control who can download it, and when. You can get real-time alerts so you can act immediately if an incident occurs, and customize the security dashboard to get reports on your security status at any time. 

Introducing new features to provide more visibility and control

To help admins and teachers as they build safe digital learning environments, we’re adding additional features to provide more visibility and control. We are also updating ourprivacy notice to to make it easier for teachers, parents and students to understand what information we collect and why we collect it. Nothing is changing about how your information is processed. Rather, we’ve improved the way we describe our practices and privacy controls with a simpler structure and clearer language.

Tailor access based on age

We’re launching a new age-based access setting to make it easier for admins to tailor experiences for their users based on age when using Google services like YouTube, Photos and Maps. Starting today, all admins from primary and secondary institutions must indicate which of their users, such as their teachers and staff, are 18 and older using organizational units or groups in Admin Console. After September 1, 2021, students who are under 18 will see changes in their experience across Google products. 

For example, after September 1, students designated as under 18 in K-12 domains can view YouTube content assigned by teachers, but they won’t be able to post videos, comment or live stream using their school Google account. Administrators should ensure that Google Takeout is turned on so that end users can download their data, like previously uploaded videos, using Google Takeout.

If admins don’t make a selection by September 1, primary and secondary institutions users will all default to the under-18 experience, while higher-education institutions users will default to the 18-and-older experience. These age-based settings are not locked and admins can always adjust them according to the age of their users.

New default experiences for Chrome users in K-12 institutions

Many schools already have policies in place for SafeSearch, SafeSites, Guest Mode and Incognito Mode, and we are updating their defaults to ensure a safer web browsing experience for K-12 institutions. Now, SafeSearch and SafeSites will be on by default, and Guest Mode and Incognito Mode will be off by default. Admins can still change each of these policies on Chrome OS for individual organization units, for example allowing the use of Guest Mode for users in their domain. 

The Google for Education team is committed to creating tools and services that are secure by default and private by design, all the while giving you complete control over your environment. 

Expanding Google Arts and Culture with Expeditions

When I first joined Google 13 years ago, I was most excited by the company's sense of exploration and possibility. Search allowed you to look up nearly any fact in the world and Maps helped you find even the most remote destination. That spirit of possibility also led to the launch of Google Expeditions, a virtual reality (VR) tool designed to bring the world into every classroom. With this product, educators took students on new adventures to experience far-away places, travel back in time or learn about cultures unlike their own. It has been truly magical to see how educators and students alike incorporated our VR tours into their imaginative curriculums.

Engaging students in the classroom has taken on an entirely different meaning this year. As schools around the world reimagine education from the ground up for a hybrid world, we’ve also been thinking deeply about how to adjust our tools to meet the moment and simultaneously build for the future. We’ve heard and recognize that immersive experiences with VR headsets are not always accessible to all learners and even more so this year, as the transition to hybrid learning has presented challenges for schools to effectively use Expeditions.

Virtual field trips on Google Arts & Culture

Virtual field trips on Google Arts & Culture

Many schools and families use Google Arts & Culture, Google’s free initiative to bring the world’s art and culture online, to experience museums, heritage sites and wonders of the world from their classrooms and homes. To continue to add to the collection, and make Expeditions 360 tours available to everyone, we're migrating most of them to Google Arts & Culture, accessible from the free site as well as the app on iOS or Android, where users can view the tours in 360 or on the web from any device. As Arts & Culture will offer many of the Expeditions tours, we'll no longer support the Expeditions app, and the app will no longer be available to download after June 30, 2021.

With the transition to the Google Arts & Culture platform, educators and students will find a vast array of culturally enriching content from around the world with collections on Natural History, Black History and Culture, the road to equality for women’s rights, and other topics like invention and discovery or fashion. Google Arts & Culture is continuing to expand its augmented reality (AR) content using interactive camera features, such as Art Filter and Art Transfer, that help you learn about cultural artifacts in new and engaging ways that would otherwise not be possible to create in the physical world.

We hope this product evolution to Google Arts & Culture will provide educators with a bridge to continue to use immersive content to transform their classrooms and enrich the learning experience for their students. As always, we’ll continue to share updates, user tips and gather feedback, and we look forward to continuing our support for the educational journeys of people around the world.

When parents become teachers: tools to help students at home

Editor’s note: On August 11, 2020 Google for Education kicked off a global back-to-school event, The Anywhere School. Check out the full recap of product launches and our collection of announcements.

For me, life at home now means an office in my garage and three children at home attempting to learn. I’m still adjusting to my children making appearances on my Google Meet meetings, trying to schedule more walking meetings to squeeze in some exercise, and creating a schedule that my children will only loosely follow. Luckily, nobody knows about the chaos that ensues behind the scenes thanks to Google Meet’s noise cancellation feature!

With these changes, you may realize that you need a crash course in algebra or Shakespeare, and one on the digital tools your kids are using. The resources below, along with  our Tech Toolkit for Families and Guardians, including a video series, can answer your questions about helping kids with lessons and homework, new products and features to help with staying in touch with teachers, and safeguarding kids when they’re online. 

How to help kids with homework and learning from home

When a student turns to Google Search for help with STEM homework this fall, Search will connect them to potential explanations, a step-by-step breakdown for complex math equations and detailed information on the underlying concepts, like the notorious pythagorean theorem. These features help improve comprehension and understanding of core topics. 

Visualizing STEM concepts can be hard without labs or hands-on learning tools. Now, students can see 3D content on Search for nearly100 STEM concepts across biology, chemistry and more using compatible Android and iOS devices. If students search for “Quantum mechanical model,” they can view a 3D atom up close and use augmented reality (AR) to bring it into their space. Check out how to use 3D for STEM concepts. 


3D Quantum mechanical model on Search from our partner Signal Garden.

When they’re stuck on a homework problem, students and parents can use Socratic and soon can use Google Lens to take a photo of a problem or equation they need help with. Socratic and Lens provide quick access to helpful results, such as step-by-step guides to solve the problem and detailed explainers to help you better understand key concepts.


Use Google Lens to look up homework questions and get help

Read Along helps kids develop a love of reading. Diya, the in-app reading buddy, uses Google’s text-to-speech and speech recognition technology, to offer assistance for children when they struggle, and reward them with stars when they do well. 


Use Read Along to help kids learn to read with the sound of their voice

When using Google Meet, turn on live captions to see English text. When you can’t meet teachers in person due to social distancing, you can meet them using video calls. If you're new to Meet, we’ve created a Guardian’s Guide that explains why schools choose Meet, and how you can use it at home. Teachers can also send you guardian summaries in Google Classroom to help you stay connected with your child’s work and overall progress.

And for a little help keeping your family on track with virtual learning, try using Family Bell on your smart speakers and smart displays. You can add bell reminders throughout the day that announce when it's time to start an online class, take a break, or settle in for reading time. To get started, simply say “Hey Google, create a Family Bell” or tap on Family Bell in your Assistant settings. Read on for more ways Google can help keep your family on track during the school year. 

How to help kids stay safe online

Family Link helps parents and guardians keep an eye on kids while they’re online. You can approve apps and extensions, set time limits, and use content filters to set boundaries for kids. And now, you can add aschool account for a Family Link user so you can set ground rules for your child while they do their schoolwork in Google Classroom, Docs, and other websites where you sign in with Google. 

With kids spending so much time online for school and virtual playdates, it’s important to talk to them about internet safety. From password security to phishing to behavior on social media, there’s a lot to talk about. Be Internet Awesome helps kids be positive digital citizens and stay safe online. It provides free family guides, tips from teachers, and Interland, a really fun game for kids to learn about online safety.

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How to learn more about digital learning tools

If your child uses a Chromebook, learn how to set it up on home Wi-Fi,  set controls like blocking access to harmful websites, and get more information on the Chromebook Help support pages. And make sure to check out the Tech Toolkit for Families and Guardians, which has a quick video series on our products and features, best practices for family engagement, and answers to the most frequently-asked technical questions. Guardian Guides offer easy-to-understand overviews of common school tools like Google Classroom, Chromebooks, and G Suite for Education. For more resources, check out Teach from Anywhere.