Author Archives: Samantha Lieberman

Google Classroom: Making your favorite educational tools work better together

Editor’s Note: Join us for Google for Education’s product launch event, The Anywhere School 2022, to find out about the latest features to help students pursue their personal potential.

For educators, there are always a few top of mind questions: how can they optimize their time and find ways to help each student learn effectively? With Classroom, we’re working to help solve these problems so educators can focus more on teaching and students can experience new approaches to make learning more personal.

We’re announcing new features to help tackle complex challenges, like supporting individualized learning at scale. We’re also developing deeper integrations with key tools that educators and administrators use on a day-to-day basis, making everyday tasks, like grading, creating assignments, and managing class lists easier.

Practice makes progress

Built with adaptive learning technology, practice sets is a new feature in Google Classroom that enables teachers to transform their existing content into interactive assignments. When working on an assignment, students receive instant feedback on their answers, and real-time support through visual explainers and videos if they get stuck along the way. For teachers, once they set up their initial questions, practice sets provide automated grading and insights to help them quickly identify gaps in students’ understanding so they can shape future lessons. Practice sets will be globally available in beta, and in English only, for Google Workspace for Education customers with Education Plus or the Teaching and Learning Upgrade. If you’re interested in trying out the beta, express interest here.

Create interactive lessons and simplify grading with your favorite EdTech tools (coming soon)

With Classroom add-ons, teachers and students can soon access custom learning and grading experiences from more than 15 EdTech favorites including IXL, Pear Deck, Kahoot! and Nearpod. They can sign into Classroom and each add-on with the same login, removing the need to remember multiple passwords or to navigate to multiple websites to access classwork. Teachers can more easily review student work with the Classroom grader view and grades will automatically transfer to the Classroom gradebook.

In the coming months, we’ll be rolling out this feature to Classroom users with Google for Education Plus or the Teaching and Learning Upgrade. Admins will be able to choose which add-ons they enable for their schools. Subscribe to the Google for Education newsletter to get notified when this feature is available.

With the IXL add-on, browse content by skill level or subject, then preview the skill before attaching to an assignment.

Set up classes automatically with expanded SIS syncing

Last year, in partnership with Clever, we added the ability to sync the rosters from your student information system (SIS) to Classroom, so classes could be automatically created and updated. Soon, we’ll be expanding to 15 more countries with the help of SIS integration expert, Elevate Data Sync. Admins can sync class lists and timetables directly with most major student information systems, removing the need for teachers to set up their courses manually. Now, they can just click “accept” when their course is created. Schools with Education Plus that are interested in trying this out with Elevate Data Sync can sign up for the beta today.

Animation showing student rosters syncing and updating.

Admins can sync class lists directly with most major student information systems. Teachers can just click “accept” when their course is created

Prioritizing your top requests

We spend a lot of time with teachers and schools to make sure we’re developing new features and products that help with what they need most. We read every piece of feedback that is shared, anduse that information to prioritize top feature requests. Here are some of the latest improvements:

  • YouTube in Google Classroom: It’s now easier to find, evaluate, and add YouTube videos into your lessons from Classroom with larger thumbnail images and the ability to filter videos by duration. And when you or your students are watching a video, you’ll see a larger video player.
  • Grade export: We’ve added action-oriented messages that guide teachers as they sync grades with their SIS.
  • Notifications: Our notification emails are getting a refresh, so teachers and students can quickly scan emails and find key information. Later this year, teachers will even be able to reply to students from within their email notifications in Gmail. And for those of you who access Google Classroom on your mobile device, we're adding email settings functionality – so that everyone can now tailor notification settings for both email and push notifications.
Animation showing a teacher responding to a student’s comment, right from within Gmail.

Reply to students' comments, right from within Gmail.

In interviews with dozens of education leaders, we’ve heard three main themes: You need better visibility, deeper insights, and ways to support teachers at scale. We’re working on several new features, built specifically for education leaders, that will address these needs. Stay tuned for the chance to join our alpha and beta pilots, and expect lots more updates about how we’re empowering education leaders to achieve their goals and drive instructional impact.

We know that training helps build confidence when using new tools in the Classroom. Whether you’re just starting out or exploring advanced features, we have three new video-based trainings covering features that help simplify class management and accelerate grading, and lessons for students too. You can easily find all of these new lessons (available in English), and more training and instructional resources, on the Applied Digital Skills website (available now) or the Teacher Center (available later this month).

Ready to shape the future of our products? Sign up for our Google for Education Pilot Program, which is available globally.

In person, virtual or hybrid: helpful tools for back to school

As a former director at the largest school district in the United States, I’ve witnessed the challenges of preparing for the back-to-school season. It can be daunting to equip your districts, educators, students and families with the educational resources they need to go back to school with confidence. 

We recently sat down with a group of school administrators from around the world to get a sense of what they’re thinking about when using digital tools to overcome challenges for back to school in 2021. Although the term “going back to school” looks different across different schools, states and countries, here are a few of the top things administrators are thinking about to help guide you when going back to the classroom, regardless of whether you’ll be in-person, virtual or a hybrid of the two. To find more tips for how to use Google tools this upcoming school year, check out our Back to School Guide for school leaders.

Tools to enhance teaching and learning

Ruth Yeh, a teacher and technology advisor at Taipei First Girls High School, said she’s thinking a lot about how different it continues to be “to conduct classes the way we used to, and making sure all students are given the attention they need to learn and grow.” Ruth said that using Google tools, educators have been able to connect with students in real time using Google Meet, or do daily check-ins on mood with Google Forms or Google Classroom. Nothing can replace being in person – but tech tools can help bridge the gap in the meantime.

We’ve seen educators using Jamboard to have class brainstorms and discussions (all within a Google Meet!), where students can share ideas by writing and adding images in real time on a digital whiteboard. And for checking for understanding, Google Forms make conducting and grading quizzes easier – and can also be used for student check-ins. Educators are using Forms now to reach out to students with an emotional-health questionnaire and ask simple questions about how they are feeling… and then can set up time to talk to them afterwards.

Supporting students and families beyond the classroom 

“Parents and guardians are trying to help their kids with their schoolwork, but sometimes don’t understand the tools and devices,” says Femi Aina, Executive Director of IT at Atlanta Public Schools. The biggest issue: They had trouble finding Meet links for their children’s virtual classes. Atlanta Public School teachers and principals resolved this problem by providing the support and resources guardians needed to understand how to use Google Classroom and other Google for Education tools, including the Tech Toolkit for Families and Guardians video series.

Providing students and families with supplemental resources beyond the classroom curriculum can help them understand how they can use Google for Education tools to support their education. Guardians can learn how to support their children’s education through Google resources like Google Families, Guardian’s Guides to Google for Education Tools and this information on setting up Classroom email summaries for guardians. For more support resources, check out our Help Center.

Google’s commitment to data privacy and security

Chin Song, Director of Technology at Milpitas Unified, told us that he’s planning on updating policies in Google Admin Console to ensure a safe learning environment, like the new age-based access setting, and making sure all of the district’s Chromebooks are updated to the latest operating system. And Ron Caroll, Manager of Instructional Technology at Chicago Public Schools, said in addition to customizing policies to protect students’ online learning experiences, it’s equally important to bring parents and guardians along during the process. 

To inform guardians about their children’s use of Google Workspace for Education tools and how these tools protect their security online, Chicago Public Schools is planning on sharing information to help them learn more about Google’s privacy and security policies, like these frequently asked questions.

By customizing settings and updating policies, schools can support safer learning experiences for students through Google Admin console. Leverage resources to help inform families about security and privacy like the Safer Learning with Google for Education Guide, Google’s security commitments, our Be Internet Awesome Family Guide and our Guardian’s Guide to Privacy and Security

Stay up-to-date with your Google for Education products 

Mark Garrison, Chief Academic & Innovation Officer at Breck School, said his previous team typically spent summers focused on Chromebook deployment, helping schools set up and manage their devices. And Chin Song said his district has a secretary that logs every single Chromebook in a consolidated spreadsheet when deploying devices, to keep inventory management efficient. This year, they’re focusing on not only getting devices ready for in school learning, but also preparing them to go home, too.

Setting up and deploying Chromebooks ahead of the back-to-school season can help the return to the classroom be more seamless. For tips on how to set up new user accounts or pre-installing apps and extensions, check out the Chrome Device deployment guide for step-by-step instructions and this guide for sending Chromebooks home

Regardless of how your school setup will look this year, our team is working to make digital tools easier and more helpful for everyone. For more best practices on heading back to school with Google for Education tools, check out Teaching Resources and our Google for Education Back-to-School Guide.