Sunday, December 4, 2016

3 Google Updates Announced at Education On Air 2016

Christmas came a little early for attendees of Google’s 2016 Education On Air virtual conference.

As part of the opening keynote presentations, Google added in a short section to reveal several new updates for G Suite for Education (formerly Google Apps for Education). These updates included:
  1. New ways for students to log into Chromebooks
  2. Parents no longer need Google accounts for Classroom email summaries
  3. Graduating students can move email and Drive files to personal accounts
Education On Air is a (somewhat) annual event where educators from around the world offer free professional development sessions as live video presentations through Google Hangouts. I have been fortunate to present at each EduOnAir since the first one. This year my session was on “Fantastic Feedback Tools for Google Doc” which you can find here: EduOnAir link

You can view all of the recorded sessions from this year at:

As for the three new G Suite for Education features, see below for all the details…

1) New ways for students to log into Chromebooks

Logging into a Chromebook got easier a while back when Google gave admins the ability to pre-populate their domain name in the login box. That way students only had to type in their username, and not the “” portion. However, this could still be a challenge, especially for younger children.

During Education On Air, Google announced two new ways for students to log into a Chromebook: badges and pictures.

Badges - Recently Clever developed a system that allows students to log into their Chromebooks with physical badges. Basically each student gets their own Clever Badge with a unique QR code. The students then hold their badge up to the webcam of their Chromebook, which automatically logs them in.

You can get more details on Clever Badges at their website:

Pictures - A second new option for logging in is to use a set of chosen images in place of a password. This system has been developed by Cloudwise, a Netherlands company. With this option, instead of letters, numbers, and symbols, the student’s password is a series of pictures. When they student goes to log in, they are presented with a grid of images, and they need to click on the pictures that make up their password to log in.

For more information you can visit their website at:

2) Parents no longer need Google accounts for Classroom email summaries

Earlier this year, Google rolled out a new Classroom feature (see here for details) that allowed parents and guardians to sign up for periodic email summaries. Basically the teacher would send out invites to the parents’ email addresses, and then they would opt into the system, which would then send them emails with the latest Classroom announcements, assignments, overdue work, upcoming due dates, and more.

The biggest problem with the new system was that it required parents have a Gmail account. Although many people do have Gmail accounts, not everyone does, so this provided an unfortunate hurdle.

However, during Education On Air, Google announced that parents and guardians will no longer need to have Gmail accounts to sign up for the Classroom summaries. It would appear that any valid email address will do.

As of the writing of this blog, the help page from Google still mentions the need for a Gmail account, so this update may still be in the process of rolling out.

3) Graduating students can move email and Drive files to personal accounts

The third and final new feature announced is the upcoming ability for students to transfer their emails and Drive files to a personal Google account when they graduate. Up to now this has always been a pain point for schools. Students spend years creating and communicating within their school G Suite for Education account. When they graduate, it has been a challenge to take their files with them. The best options so far have been a paid service such as Grad Gopher (see my review here) or a free tool such as Google Takeout.

However, sometime in early 2017 we will now get a new tool that will let students transfer their emails and files. This is great news for schools as it gives proper respect to the content students are creating all through their school years. As students use Google tools to tackle real world problems, write stories, and connect with others around the world, they will now be able to take that data with them to college or into their personal lives.

It remains to be seen if there will be any limitations to this service, or if it will be open to all users in the school. If so this would mean the same transfer tool could be used when a teacher retires or takes a job in another school district, or when a student moves and enrolls in a new school.

Watch the new feature announcement

For even more details, see below for the Google video announcing these new features:

Post by Eric Curts. Connect with Eric on Twitter at and on Google+ at


  1. Super excited about students being able to take their work to a gmail account! I never understood why the process had to be so hard! And the Google Classroom announcement is awesome... well and the log in procedures seem pretty great too! Google geeking out!

  2. Very thoughtful and useful updates for users and parents! Even when I worked at the middle school level, there were always challenges getting students logged in.

  3. Trying to understand the logging in with picture. Went to the website but having trouble navigating. Is this a paid service? If so has anyone found the cost yet?

    1. If you click on that link for the clever website, it will take you to a page with a video. At the bottom is a choice to 'sign up for badges'. You fill out your information and they will get in touch with you. Clever usually is a free service. I didn't see anywhere where it said this part would be paid.

    2. Marcy, The login with pictures is provided by Cloudwise (not Clever).

  4. I was just testing out the new parent feature where they do not have to have a Google account to receive email summaries, but as of 10am Central parents are still being redirected to create a Google account. Is this new release a gradual roll out? Also, do you know if calendars have to be made public for the dates to show in the parent summaries?

  5. CBSE Schools in Hyderabad
    Awesome features.
    It is very helpful for all students including graduate students and parents too.Log in problems will be overcome.For graduate students they do not need to carry their files along with them.Parents can easily get the periodic e mail summaries with non google accounts.
    And finally thanks for sharing this.

  6. It appears the Clever is offering logging into THEIR service via badges, not logging into a chromebook...unless I'm missing something!

  7. Wow ! Thanks for the 3) Graduating students can move email and Drive files to personal accounts !!! It's wonderful and usefull !! :)

  8. Yep! Christmas came a little early for attendees of Google’s 2016 Education On Air virtual conference

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