Google Classroom updates with new features for distance learning

Google Classroom has been updated and has paid special attention to distance learning, introducing new features

Distance learning became a necessity during the coronavirus pandemic and Google decided to update Classroom and Meet features to meet the new needs of teachers and students. The Cupertino-based company also launched a new app, called Assignments, to help kids with their homework.

Google's goal is to introduce a range of tools and update existing ones so as to lighten not only the load of teachers and students, but also that of families supporting them in distance learning. During the quarantine, videocall apps have been critical for maintaining contact between professors and students, but also for securing remote work. Microsoft Teams saw more than 200 million participants per day, compared to Zoom's 300 million and Google Meet's 100 million. Now the company is aiming to become a reference for schools with new features for Google Classroom.

Google Classroom, the new functions

The first update to Classroom concerns new widgets, which will be available for both students and teachers. The latter in particular will be able to send a link to invite students in their class to take the course, an option that was previously unavailable. In order to enroll, the student had to search from their account among the courses available online. The feature will serve to allow teachers to communicate with their students anywhere, including sharing content on WhatsApp or other messaging apps.

Google has also thought about protecting original course content. G Suite Enterprise for Education customers will receive reports on the originality of content, so they can immediately identify whether a student has copied from a web page or a classmate. The service will soon be available in other languages, including Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Norwegian, Swedish and Indonesian. And assignments deemed to be plagiarism will be able to be easily shared with students, parents and school administrators.

School leaders will also be able to get more information about what's going on in school, with new dashboards from Data Studio that will show active classes and track student and teacher engagement during class.

Google Meet, the new features

New features are coming to Google Meet as well, starting in September 2020, with a grid view of 7×7 contacts, just like you can already do in Teams and Zoom. In addition, Jamboard will also be integrated into the chat so users can write down ideas, brainstorm and collaborate. For teachers, it means the ability to explain by writing and to question learners by inviting them to give the answer directly on the board and in writing.

Another feature coming soon, but from October, the ability for teachers to divide Meet chats into small working subgroups and monitor online attendance. Finally, question-and-answer and survey features will also arrive for G Suite Enterprise for Education users, but most importantly, the ability to record meetings and upload them to their account so students can always access and retrieve them.

Google Assignments for online homework

A new feature for teachers is Assignments, an app that will allow teachers to more quickly assign homework to their students, analyze it and grade it. The tool allows you to automatically create and distribute personalized copies of the assignment directly to the student's Drive folder in the class. A way to help both students and teachers with homework, but most importantly another tool to check that the student is not tempted to copy from their friends and provide original work.