The new Google Workspace for Education features are the topic of our blog post today!

Google for Education has recently rolled out a slew of updates that are just too good to ignore. From turbocharging Google Classroom with AI-assisted features to pushing the boundaries of accessibility and interactivity in Google Meet, these updates aim to reshape the way we teach and learn. And guess what? They’ve hit the nail on the head.

Drawing from my own years in the classroom, I’ve dug deep into these updates to offer you an insider’s perspective. Let’s unpack how these new features can amplify your teaching practice, create more inclusive environments, and keep you ahead of the curve.

New Google Workspace for Education Features

Here are some important Google Workspace for Education features that have been recently introduced:

1. Read Along

First up, Google Classroom is introducing a “Read Along” feature. This isn’t just a reading tool; it’s an analytics-packed treasure chest. Teachers can deploy reading activities that not only enhance literacy skills but also provide real-time insights into each student’s progress. This is like adding a whole new layer of one-on-one tutoring into the regular classroom setting. I can recall countless times when I could have used a tool like this to differentiate instruction more effectively.

2. Practice sets

Another feature I find exciting in Google Classroom is “practice sets“. Teachers can integrate their own teaching resources, but here’s the kicker—the AI will recommend resources too. That means you can blend your teaching style with machine-suggested resources for a more tailored learning experience.

When I was still teaching, collecting data and tailoring interventions was an exhaustive process. This feature seems like a leap in the right direction, saving teachers’ time and offering more relevant interventions for students.

3. Creating interactive videos

You can now attach a YouTube video to assignments in Google Classroom and—wait for it—embed interactive questions within the video. Imagine a student watching a video on photosynthesis, and at the crucial moment where chlorophyll is mentioned, a question pops up asking them to define it. This is an immediate understanding check, making the learning process more interactive and dynamic. From my experience, videos often serve as passive learning tools, but this update changes the game. It turns a simple video view into an active engagement activity.

4. Chromebooks

Chromebooks are getting a solid upgrade with the Screencast feature. The beauty of Screencast now lies in its cross-platform flexibility; you can watch these screencasts on any desktop or tablet via a web player. Moreover, the demo tools are a sweet addition. Picture this: instead of gathering students around a single device to show them how to navigate a new software, you can use Screencast’s demo tools to illustrate it seamlessly.

To up the ante, they’ve introduced a ‘cast moderator’ feature, letting you or your students securely project screens to a central display. In my years as a teacher, I found that screen-sharing capabilities like this can significantly boost engagement and collaborative learning.

5. Google for Education App Hub

On to the Google for Education App Hub—think of it as a marketplace but for educational tools and apps. It’s a one-stop-shop, showcasing apps that integrate directly with Google Workspace for Education and Chromebooks. The App Hub is designed to make life easier for both teachers and admins.

Say goodbye to the days of scouring the web for Classroom-compatible tools. The App Hub puts them right at your fingertips, complete with Classroom add-ons to directly integrate into your assignments.

And let’s not overlook the Student Information System (SIS) integrations for class and grade management. These are life-savers, honestly. Plus, you’ve got app licensing that can be managed directly within the Google Admin Console, making the procurement and deployment of new tools smoother than ever.

Final thoughts

From my years in both the classroom and the research sphere, I’ve seen how even the smallest tweak to a teaching tool can have a significant impact on student engagement and outcomes. Take the tile pairing in Google Meet as an example. It’s a simple feature, yet its implications for creating a more inclusive and equitable learning environment are far-reaching. This is precisely the kind of innovation we need in edtech—tools that are teacher-informed, research-backed, and pedagogically sound.

That being said, no tool is a magic bullet. These features are incredibly promising, but their effectiveness ultimately hinges on thoughtful implementation. As educators, it’s our job to take these tools and use them strategically to complement our teaching styles and meet our students’ diverse needs. I think of technology as not just a tool, but as a partner in education. And with partners, the relationship is always a two-way street.

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