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New Tools and Updates from Google

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September 1, 2016

Google has been very busy this summer with various updates and new tools for the classroom, and I think you’re going to love the new things that are coming!

Google Classroom

Classroom is an amazing tool that I know a lot of you have been using and Google has made it even better. Now you can keep parents in the loop with Guardian e-mail summaries.


This new feature allows you to go to your classroom and add a guardian(s) for a student. Adding parent e-mail(s) for a student allows them to receive weekly or daily summaries of their student's work and class announcements. Many schools loved Classroom but struggled to keep parents in the loop. With Guardian, that problem has now disappeared!

Google Classroom has also added some awesome new functionality to their mobile app. Now the classroom app is supporting annotations! Students and teachers can mark up documents right from their mobile device. This means students can draw and do work on their mobile devices. They can work out math problems, create diagrams and find more creative solutions than are allowed with just word processing.

This will also allow teachers to move to a truly paperless classroom. Instead of dragging home crates of papers, you can now do all of your grading from a mobile device! Annotations can be shared from teacher to student or vice versa. Whether you’re on a mobile phone or a tablet, annotations can take your classroom to the next level.

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Google Forms

Google Forms has released an amazing update that will help you move on past Flubaroo and build a self-grading quiz using no add-ons. Google Quizzes are out, and they’re amazing!

Now you can build a form, go to the settings, then turn it into a quiz. Now you can select all the right answers and assign point values right in Google Forms. In the settings you can provide immediate feedback to your students or release grades after you manually review them. It’s a great tool, and I’m happy to provide training to your district on this feature.

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Google Expeditions

I’ve had a few teachers reach out to me about Google Expeditions, and there is good news on that front as well. Google now has an iOS Expeditions app on the way that will allow you to use the tool without a VR viewer. Go check out their site, get a virtual reality kit and learn more about how you can use it in your classroom!

Chrome OS and Android Apps

Google announced in May at I/O that Android Apps are coming to Chrome devices. It seems that integration is right around the corner.

This will allow you to take advantage of the Google Play store and its wealth of apps that are available for student use. A word of warning on Android Apps and Chrome OS: early testing with them presented some issues. I’m sure once the software is ironed out, the issues with notifications from apps in Chrome will have been ironed out.

The thing to remember is that the majority of these apps are meant for a touch screen, so sometimes functionality isn’t what you think it should be. You definitely want to test those apps on a Chromebook before you deploy them out for your school to use.

Another thing to remember is that Android apps won’t be available on all Chromebook models. You can find a list of supported Chrome devices here:

Google also released an end-of-life schedule for Chromebooks. Education has embraced Chromebooks because they are very affordable as well as durable. But Google has announced an end-of-life policy for Chrome devices. When a device hits its end of life, automatic updates are no longer guaranteed. A Chrome device's life span will be at least five years. You can learn more by reading the official End of Life policy.

If you need any help or other information that’s Google related, feel free to reach out!

About the Author

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Ben Parker

Director, Technology

Ben serves as Director of Technology for the OPSRC. In this role, he will provide support to schools on technical issues and training on pressing technology topics. Ben will assist partner schools with trainings, comprehensive technology plans, e-Rate applications, technology purchasing consultation, and other school and district technology decisions.

Prior to working with OPSRC, Ben was the Director of Technology for the Locust Grove Public School District. Ben implemented a 1:1 tablet program in Locust Grove that saw 6th-12th graders go paperless in the classroom.

In his free time, Ben likes to read and play the drums.

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