Wednesday, January 24, 2024

16 Updates to Make Google BETTer

This week Google is in London at BETT, the world’s biggest educational technology exhibition. At the event, companies from all around the world show off their latest and greatest innovations for educational technology.

Google is using this opportunity to showcase new updates for Google Workspace for Education. These updates include new features for Google Classroom, Docs, Accessibility, Chromebooks, AI, and more!

Although I have never been to BETT yet (definitely a goal for the future!) I wanted to share these new updates with you. See below for my rundown of my favorite new updates that Google is announcing. For each item I give the gist of what is new as well as how these updates can make teaching and learning BETTer.

๐ŸŽ Google Classroom Updates

The following  Google Classroom updates are coming soon or have already arrived.

๐Ÿง‘‍๐Ÿค‍๐Ÿง‘ Classroom Groups
  • This update is certainly one of the more commonly requested features in Google Classroom.
  • For years we have been able to choose which students get which assignments, but this had to be done manually every time.
  • Later this year, educators will be able to define groups of students in Classroom.
  • With these custom groups, teachers can assign different content to each group.
  • This can help to differentiate lessons, activities, and assessments to students' needs.
  • Edition availability: For Teaching and Learning Upgrade and Education Plus users
  • Launch Timing: Coming later in 2024

๐Ÿ”— Share Class Templates and Classwork Pages 
  • Soon in Google Classroom, instruction leaders and educators will be able to share links to class templates and Classwork pages within their organization, facilitating greater collaboration across classes.
  • Edition availability: Education Plus
  • Launch Timing: Coming soon

๐Ÿ—“️ Classroom Due Dates in ChromeOS
  • For students who use Chromebooks, it will be easier than ever to stay up to date on Classroom assignments and due dates.
  • Coming soon to ChromeOS, students will be able to see their assignments right on their home screen.
  • Simply by clicking on the Chromebook date in the bottom right corner, a Classroom widget will appear above the calendar to show which assignments are done, or due soon, or missing.
  • Launch Timing: Coming soon

➕ More Classroom Add-ons
  • Add-ons have been a great way to easily integrate third-party tools right inside of Google Classroom.
  • Some add-ons we currently have include Pear Deck, Kahoot, Edpuzzle, BookWidgets, and more.
  • Soon Classroom will be getting a new batch of add-ons from partners such as Kami, Quizizz and Flip.
  • And later this year any developer will be able to create add-ons for Google Classroom. Developers can express their interest here - Google Form link
  • Edition availability: For Teaching and Learning Upgrade and Education Plus users
  • Launch Timing: New add-ons coming soon
⚙️ More SIS Integrations
  • Schools have been able to save loads of time by integrating their Student Information Systems with Google Classroom.
  • This allows for automation of class creation, student enrollment, and grade exports.
  • Coming later this year, grade exporting will be available for users of PowerTeacher Pro.
  • Also class setup and student enrollment will be coming for users of Aspen, Infinite Campus, Skyward, and PowerSchool.
  • Edition availability: For Teaching and Learning Upgrade and Education Plus users
  • Launch Timing: Coming in 2024

▶️ Classroom Interactive Video Activities
  • This feature allows teachers to add interactive questions to YouTube videos and assign them to students in Classroom.
  • Questions can include both multiple choice and open-ended formats.
  • As the students watch the video, your questions pop up, allowing them to answer and get immediate feedback.
  • Teachers can see details on all their students' progress on the questions.
  • Edition availability: For Teaching and Learning Upgrade and Education Plus users
  • Launch Timing: Available now

  • Soon this feature will also get the option for AI to help generate the questions for the video!

๐Ÿงฐ Classroom Resources Tab
  • The new Resources tab in Classroom makes it easy for educators to access and manage resources such as practice sets and video activities in one space - Resource link
  • Create, copy or delete existing resources.
  • Share resources with other teachers via quick links.
  • Edition availability: For Teaching and Learning Upgrade and Education Plus users
  • Launch Timing: Available now

๐Ÿ“Š Classroom Analytics
  • Classroom analytics gives educators data on assignment completion, grade trends and Classroom adoption.
  • Teachers can then drill down to the student-level to see how individual students are doing to see how they can be supported.

  • District staff can see data on higher level such as building summaries.

  • Edition availability: For Education Plus users
  • Launch Timing: Available now

✅ Practice Sets Updates
  • With Practice Sets teachers can create interactive assignments by creating their own questions or capturing problems from PDF's.
  • The built-in AI will then find support materials for those concepts to help students as they work through the questions.
  • Teachers can now add their own text-based hints and YouTube videos as support materials - Resource link
  • Teachers can now share their Practice Sets with other educators in their school district.
  • A new update now allows you to import questions from a Google Form into a Practice Set, allowing you to convert existing quizzes - Resource link
  • Edition availability: For Teaching and Learning Upgrade and Education Plus users
  • Launch Timing: Available now

๐Ÿ“„ Google Docs Updates

The following Google Docs updates are coming soon or have already arrived.

✍️ Electronic Signatures
  • Google has integrated eSignature directly in Google Drive for Docs and PDFs.
  • This makes it easy for you to request and add signatures to contracts, forms, and other documents.
  • Edition availability: For Education Plus users
  • Launch Timing: Coming soon

๐Ÿ”‘ Accessibility Updates

The following Accessibility updates are coming soon or have already arrived.

๐Ÿ”Š Text-to-Speech in Reading Mode
  • Reading Mode has been a helpful tool to support all readers by creating a clean version of just the text from the web page, with images, videos, and other elements removed.
  • As needed, the reader can change the font, the size of the text, the spacing between the lines, the color for the text and background, and the width of the reading panel.
  • Now Reading Mode in ChromeOS is getting a text-to-speech feature, to read the text aloud in natural-sounding voices.
  • Launch Timing: Piloting now

๐Ÿ“„ PDF Text Extraction
  • Screen reader users on ChromeOS will be able to extract text from PDFs using Optical Character Recognition, making 360 billion PDFs that didn't work with screen readers now accessible.
  • Launch Timing: Available now

๐Ÿ“Œ Meet Tile Pinning
  • Google Meet is giving hosts the option to pin multiple video tiles for everyone else in the meeting, for example to use for a sign language interpreter to always be seen, as well as adding closed captions for 30 additional languages
  • Edition availability: All editions
  • Launch Timing: Coming soon

๐Ÿค– AI Updates

The following Artificial Intelligence updates are coming soon or have already arrived.

✨ Duet AI
  • Google provides AI through many tools such as Bard, NotebookLM, and more.
  • Now they are offering Duet AI as a way to integrate AI directly into many of the most common Google tools such as:
    • Draft and refine emails in Gmail
    • Write and refine document drafts in Docs
    • Generate plans for any project in Sheets
    • Create original images from text within Slides
  • For more information see my detailed blog post and video covering Duet AI
  • Edition availability: For all editions with an extra Duet AI license
  • Launch Timing: Available now

For more information see my detailed blog post and video covering Duet AI

✈️ AI Track of the Google for Education Pilot Program
  • For a great way to stay up to date with the latest AI developments in the Google products, there is a new AI track of the Google for Education Pilot Program.
  • The pilot program gives educators early access to new AI features to test them out and provide feedback.
  • This feedback can help identify bugs, see how the tools are being used, and help improve them for schools.
  • Your Google for Education Admin can complete the interest form at
  • Launch Timing: Available now

๐Ÿ’ป Chromebook Updates

The following updates are coming to Chromebooks.

๐ŸŽž️ Screencast Updates

Screencast for Chromebooks is a fantastic tool that lets you and your students record your screen, webcam, and voice, annotate on the screen, generate a transcript, translate the transcript, and edit the recording. I have been using this tool for a while now, and am thrilled to see a new update!
  • Screencast is getting an update to its editing feature. You will now be able to:
    • Select specific passages in the transcript to skip in the video. In the past you could only do this by choosing pre-selected large chunks of text, but now you will have very granular control.
    • Mute the audio in portions of the video.
    • Add chapters and titles to the transcript and video for easier reading and organization.
  • For more details on Screencast in general see:
  • Launch Timing: Coming soon

๐Ÿ Conclusion

Any that's it! It is great to see these new features and options coming to Google Workspace for Education. What updates are you most looking forward to?

For more details, see Google's blog posts about these announcements:

Post by Eric Curts
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