Google Debuts Several New Tools for Teachers

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

Google has launched several new tools to expand its presence in schools worldwide. The company presented Quizzes, a quiz feature in Google Forms, as well as a Chrome app called Google Cast for Education that serves as a classroom projector. After a long testing period, Google also launched Google Expeditions, a virtual reality app.

All tools are available free of charge. Additionally, the tech giant also announced its partnership with TES, a popular, dedicated service for teachers that helps them find digital assets and lesson plans.

According to Jonathan Rochelle of the company’s education department, Google Classroom already has more than 10 million active users. As Mary Jo Madda of the EdSurge noted, it means that one in six schools in the United States use it.

Google stated that it has been working hard with teachers for years to develop its new features. For instance, when educators said that projectors were the most frequently-used devices in class, but somehow they remained disconnected from the students, Google worked to release the beta version of Google Cast for Education.

Google Cast for Education is a Chrome app that allows both students and teachers to share their screens wirelessly, explained product manager Max Kirsch. The app integrates with Google Classroom, and teachers can invite students to share their work with the rest of the class. The pilot teachers who were the first to test it out said that it gave them the opportunity to give the children more personal attention by walking around and talking to them.

Meanwhile, once Google identified that many teachers were using Flubaroo, a Google Sheets add-on, it started working on Quizzes. The quiz feature in Google Forms allows teachers to grade multiple choice questions automatically. Apart from giving the students immediate feedback, it also provides them with additional information to help them better grasp the topic. For example, Quizzes may redirect the students to a YouTube video that further explains a concept related to a quiz question.

Although it is mostly popular among educators, Quizzes is available to all Google Forms users and could be used for different purposes such as conducting corporate training or building individual study guides, writes Stephanie Condon of ZDnet.

Originally launched in September of last year, Google Expeditions beta version already has over 1 million users in 11 countries around the world, notes Rachel Ranosa of TechTime. As Google’s first attempt to test virtual reality in the classroom, it was limited only to a selected group of partnering schools. Now the app is available for free on the Google Play Store. It offers over 200 “virtual field trips” to famous museums and historical landmarks. The app is currently available for Android only. The Mac version will be available soon, Google says.

Google has also released Project Bloks, a toy that teaches children to code and to build circuits. Google Creative Lab partnered with the design company IDEO to create the toy. It consists of three parts: the brain board, the base board, and pucks. Students combine them together to create different programming flows.

Separate from its new features announcements, Google for Education also revealed it would join forces with TES, an online education portal for teachers and a digital service many teachers use to find information and prepare lesson plans. Google Expeditions and Google Classrooms will be integrated within TES, writes Lucas Matney of Tech Crunch. Google’s Emma Fish commented:

“Teachers can now find lesson plans compatible with Google Apps for Education, share those lesson plans using Classroom, access free training on Google tools, and even take their classes on immersive virtual journeys to bring their lessons to life with Google Expeditions and the TES portal.”