Google for Education Software Gets Updates, Improvements

(Photos: Jisc, Creative Commons)

(Photos: Jisc, Creative Commons)

Google has launched a massive update to its Google for Education software, and now this specially-created software is better capable of assisting both students and teachers in simpler forms of communication.

The first major update is for the classroom mobile app. It now supports both teachers and students annotating documents for quicker, easier communication and understanding of difficult assignments. Students can now also sketch out math problems or anything else they might need, allowing the app to be used for any kind of homework. As Nathan Ingraham of Engadget noted, this might put an end to chalkboards.

Not only is this update great for students and teachers, but parents are seeing benefits as well. Parents, once invited by the teacher, will be able to join the Google Classroom allowing them to receive daily or weekly emails, keeping them up to date on their student's curriculum progress. The emails will include upcoming announcements and important scholastic information helping parents better prepare their students for their education. They will also include test scores and assignments to provide an overview of how the student is doing.

Google has also included brand new "expeditions." These expeditions, or virtual field trips, allow learning to take place outside of a classroom setting, as Justin Diaz of android headlines points out, and provide new and interesting insights into otherwise unreachable areas for children. The best part is that if these trips sound too fantastic to pass up, Google has wisely made them available to everyone through Android devices. Google now offers over 200 different expeditions.

Cast for Education, another Chrome app for improved education, received a rather significant update as well. Cast was designed to allow students and teachers an amazing tool for communication, wirelessly sharing their screen with others — a tool that seems simplistic on its surface, but which is important in correcting students' particular problems and allowing personalized attention. Cast previously had issues with limited access, but as Mary Jo Madda at edsurge points out, it has been made available with the last Chrome update.

Dina Kachinsteva, a software engineer for the Classroom app, says "Using annotations, students can complete assignments, sketch out math problems or even create visuals of creative ideas directly on their devices."

Rounding out these new features is something to help keep track of all of them. There are now new organization features that let teachers or students to post tags and then search by the tags. Google Form, an app designed to make quizzes, was updated to allow pictures to posted alongside questions. Nate Swanner, writing for The Next Web, notes that questions are now much more interactive than they previously could be.

The ability for parents to be able to stay active in their children's scholastic lives is increasingly a focus of education technology providers. It has been made even easier with an update to Gmail's Inbox, which now groups together important notifications and emails for easier tracking of information. Now parents don't have to worry about missing an important email from the teacher or a classroom update. All of these updates have been handled with perfection, as Rachel Ranosa of Techtimes points out.

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