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(Cross-posted on the Google for Work Blog)

In a little over two years, Drive has become the cloud storage and sharing solution for more than 190 million people worldwide who use it regularly at home, work and school. For many of the 30 million students and educators using Google Apps for Education, Drive has even replaced their bookbags. Why lug around piles of paper or overstuffed binders when every type of document or file can be retrieved from the nearest Chromebook, tablet, smartphone or browser?

Earlier this year, we introduced Drive for Work—a premium version of Google Apps for Work—and now we’re bringing that same power to schools. Today we’re announcing Drive for Education, an infinitely large, ultra-secure and entirely free bookbag for the 21st century.
Drive for Education will be available to all Google Apps for Education customers at no charge and will include:
  • Unlimited storage: No more worrying about how much space you have left or about which user needs more gigabytes. Drive for Education supports individual files up to 5TB in size and will be available in coming weeks. 
  • Vault: Google Apps Vault, our solution for search and discovery for compliance needs, will be coming free to all Apps for Education users by the end of the year. 
  • Enhanced Auditing: Reporting and auditing tools and an Audit API easily let you see the activity of a file, are also on the way. 
All of this comes with the same world-class security that protects all Drive users. Every file uploaded to Google Drive is encrypted, not only from your device to Google and in transit between Google data centers, but also at rest on Google servers. As always, the data that schools and students put into our systems is theirs. Classroom, which recently launched to Google Apps for Education users, makes using Drive in school even better by automatically organizing all Classroom assignments into Drive folders. And Google Apps for Education remains free to nonprofit educational institutions with no ads or ads-related scanning.

We want educators and students who use Google Apps for Education to be able to focus on the learning experience—not the technology that supports it. With Drive for Education, users can put an end to worries about storage limits and more easily maintain a safe, effective and compliant learning environment.

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 (cross-posted on the Google Research blog and Google Cloud Platform blog)

Modern mathematics research is distinguished by its openness. The notion of "mathematical truth" depends on theorems being published with proof, letting the reader understand how new results build on the old, all the way down to basic mathematical axioms and definitions. These new results become tools to aid further progress.

Nowadays, many of these tools come either in the form of software or theorems whose proofs are supported by software. If new tools produce unexpected results, researchers must be able to collaborate and investigate how those results came about. Trusting software tools means being able to inspect and modify their source code. Moreover, open source tools can be modified and extended when research veers in new directions.

In an attempt to create an open source tool to satisfy these requirements, University of Washington Professor William Stein built SageMathCloud (or SMC). SMC is a robust, low-latency web application for collaboratively editing mathematical documents and code. This makes SMC a viable platform for mathematics research, as well as a powerful tool for teaching any mathematically-oriented course. SMC is built on top of standard open-source tools, including Python, LaTeX, and R. In 2013, William received a 2013 Google Research Award which provided Google Cloud Platform credits for SMC development. This allowed William to extend SMC to use Google Compute Engine as a hosting platform, achieving better scalability and global availability.
SMC allows users to interactively explore 3D graphics with only a browser
SMC has its roots in 2005, when William started the Sage project in an attempt to create a viable free and open source alternative to existing closed-source mathematical software. Rather than starting from scratch, Sage was built by making the best existing open-source mathematical software work together transparently and filling in any gaps in functionality.

During the first few years, Sage grew to have about 75K active users, while the developer community matured with well over 100 contributors to each new Sage release and about 500 developers contributing peer-reviewed code.

Inspired by Google Docs, William and his students built the first web-based interface to Sage in 2006, called The Sage Notebook. However, The Sage Notebook was designed for a small number of users and would work for a small group (such as a single class), but soon became difficult to maintain for larger groups, let alone the whole web.

As the growth of new users for Sage began to stall in 2010, due largely to installation complexity, William turned his attention to finding ways to expand Sage's availability to a broader audience. Based on his experience teaching his own courses with Sage, and feedback from others doing the same, William began building a new Web-hosted version of Sage that can scale to the next generation of users.

The result is SageMathCloud, a highly distributed multi-datacenter application that creates a viable way to do computational mathematics collaboratively online. SMC uses a wide variety of open source tools, from languages (CoffeeScript, node.js, and Python) to infrastructure-level components (especially Cassandra, ZFS, and bup) and a number of in-browser toolkits (such as CodeMirror and three.js).

Latency is critical for collaborative tools: like an online video game, everything in SMC is interactive. The initial versions of SMC were hosted at UW, at which point the distance between Seattle and far away continents was a significant issue, even for the fastest networks. The global coverage of Google Cloud Platform provides a low-latency connection to SMC users around the world that is both fast and stable. It's not uncommon for long-running research computations to last days, or even weeks -- and here the robustness of Google Compute Engine, with machines live-migrating during maintenance, is crucial. Without it, researchers would often face multiple restarts and delays, or would invest in engineering around the problem, taking time away from the core research.

SMC sees use across a number of areas, especially:
  • Teaching: any course with a programming or math software component, where you want all your students to be able to use that component without dealing with the installation pain. Also, SMC allows students to easily share files, and even work together in realtime. There are dozens of courses using SMC right now.
  • Collaborative Research: all co-authors of a paper can work together in an SMC project, both writing the paper there and doing research-level computations.
Since launching SMC in May 2013, there are already more than 20,000 monthly active users who've started using Sage via SMC. We look forward to seeing if SMC has an impact on the number of active users of Sage, and are excited to learn about the collaborative research and teaching that it makes possible.

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Editor's note: Charles Best leads DonorsChoose.org, a nonprofit organization which provides a simple way to address educational inequity. At DonorsChoose.org, public school teachers create classroom project requests and donors can pick the projects they want to support.

In 2000, I was teaching history at a Bronx public high school. My colleagues and I dreamed of the microscopes, books, and field trips we wanted for our students, but we lacked the funding to bring them to life. That sparked the idea for DonorsChoose.org, a crowdsourcing platform for teachers looking to secure micro-funding for their classroom needs.

A few months ago, we entertained what we thought was a hypothetical question from Google: "What would it take to support every project in the San Francisco Bay Area?" We quickly realized there was nothing hypothetical about it when Google funded all 700+ projects a few weeks later.

And it didn't stop there.

Over the past few months, we've worked with to Google to flash-funded every project on DonorsChoose.org in 11 different communities.
We were inspired as we saw Google’s generosity and impact: $3.5 million in projects supporting 3,293 teachers and 288,331 students in 2,051 schools. For one-third of those teachers, it was their very first project to be funded on DonorsChoose.org.

Now, Mr. Craig can expand his school garden in Detroit, where his students with physical and mental disabilities grow fresh produce and sell it at the local farmer’s market. In Pittsburgh, Ms. Casciato’s AP Calculus students got graphing calculators and a bonus — individual notes of inspiration from their local Googlers. And Mrs. Barbeau’s students in Los Angeles now have a 3D printer to help them design and build a robot roller coaster.

Yet the impact reaches beyond the art supplies, musical instruments, and technology that over 150 Googlers hand-delivered. News of this generosity inspired more teachers in each community to sign up and post projects. In cities like Seattle and Los Angeles, we saw five times as many teachers sign up this year as we did during the same time last year. We've also seen more partners and donors step up to support their local classrooms. Google’s kindness has proven contagious.

This flash funding is just the latest initiative in our valued partnership with Google that has also brought coding and advanced science, technology, engineering, and math courses to students across America.

If you’re interested in supporting a classroom classroom, head to DonorsChoose.org to find your favorite project.

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(Cross-posted on the Google Chrome Blog.)

Chromebooks are fast, easy to use and secure. They bring the best of the cloud right to your desktop, whether that’s Google Drive, Google+ Photos or Gmail. Today, in partnership with Adobe, we’re welcoming Creative Cloud onto Chromebooks, initially with a streaming version of Photoshop. Initially, this will be available for U.S.-based Adobe education customers with a paid Creative Cloud membership—so the Photoshop you know and love is now on Chrome OS. No muss, no fuss.

This streaming version of Photoshop is designed to run straight from the cloud to your Chromebook. It’s always up-to-date and fully integrated with Google Drive, so there’s no need to download and re-upload files—just save your art directly from Photoshop to the cloud. For IT administrators, it’s easy to manage, with no long client installation and one-click deployment to your team’s Chromebooks.
Head to Adobe.com to apply for access!

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Editor's note: Teachers and students from St. Albans City School will speak about their trail mapping project in a Tech & Learning webinar, to be held Wednesday September 24, 2014 at 10am PST / 1pm EST

St. Albans City School in Vermont knows how to take learning outside of the classroom. Last year 7th and 8th grade students participated in The Light Project, studying the relationship between streetlight coverage and crime rates and presenting a prioritized list of repairs to local decision makers. The school was eager to bring the same spirit of community to a new project, so this past Spring they decided to hit the trails.

The Friends of Lake Champlain, a local nonprofit, had noticed that trail erosion in the nearby Hard'ack and Aldis Hill recreation areas was causing runoff and pollution to find its way into the local lake. Teachers challenged 7th and 8th graders to walk the trails and map the conditions online. Laura Eichorn, a teacher at St. Albans City School, explains their approach: "We designed this project to solve a real problem in our community. Students interviewed engineers, surveyed the community, gathered data on trail erosion, and interacted with a variety of adults in hopes of improving the local trail system."

The school decided to use Nexus 7 tablets for trail documentation and related research, and Google Play for Education to distribute apps, books, and videos to students. Working in teams of five and armed with their tablets, students used the MyTracks app to capture location information and noted areas of erosion, trail widening and excessive mud.
Students from St. Albans City School map trails in the Hard'ack and Aldis Hill recreation areas
Even though they didn’t have access to Wi-Fi on the trails, students were still able to use the offline feature of Google Apps on the Nexus 7 devices to do their work. Some students used Gmail to communicate with one another about their trail findings, others used Drive to share documents. They used shared Docs to input data and comment on each other’s findings. “The students quickly picked up on how to use the Nexus 7 and enjoyed working together on the devices,” says Matt Allen, an Innovation Specialist at the school. “Plus, they became interested in learning more about technology.” The data students gathered was entered into Google Earth so that Sinousity Flowing Trails, a trail development company, could map out and identify the areas of concern.
Teams used the MyTracks app to chart their location and document problem areas
An overview of a trail segment. Each pin represents an area flagged by the students
The work had an immediate impact, resulting in the closure of one trail for repairs and helping to preserve the park and maintain safety. Students are eager to learn more about trail surveying and mapping technologies, and St. Albans City School is now looking to return to the park reserves to dig deeper into the field of trail engineering.

Hear from Laura, Matt, teacher Val Loucy, and students from St. Albans City School in tomorrow’s Tech & Learning webinar at 10am PST / 1pm EST.

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What if students and teachers from around the world could work on projects together in real-time without ever leaving their classrooms? Pope Francis recently joined students in Australia, Cameron, Israel, Turkey and South Africa for a Hangout on Air to celebrate the launch of Scholasa new education initiative sponsored by the Vatican that aims to connect 500,000 schools across the world to enable e-learning and remote teaching using Google tools.


A social component of the platform uses Google Hangouts to connect students and teachers globally, so if students at a middle school in Ghana want to learn what it’s like to be a student their age in Peru, they can teach each other through an open and collaborative environment. Schools can also post shared projects on the platform, like the “40 Days of Hope” project by Seton Catholic High School, which aims to raise $3,000 to provide parasite medication and feed 40 people for a year in Nicaragua.

Later this year, Scholas will integrate more tools through Google Apps for Education and Classroom to create an even more personalized learning experience for each student. The Scholas platform aims to foster education through dialogue because when students can share and communicate openly, there’s no limit to what they can learn.

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(Cross-posted on the Google Research Blog)

Google is passionate about online education. In addition to our own Course Builder project, we’re also partners with edX, a not-for-profit that shares our desire for scalable, quality education for everyone. Their software, Open edX, lets people make educational content and deliver it online to anybody, anytime, anywhere. It powers their own site, edx.org, and is also used by companies and universities worldwide.

Today we’re very pleased to announce that you can now sign in to edx.org with your Google or Facebook account:
Until recently, users who wanted to take advantage of the high quality content on edx.org needed to create a new account first. This is a painful, error prone process―really, who wants to worry about yet another password? So we added the ability to use over 60 external authentication providers to Open edX, with support for everything from open standards like OpenID or OAuth 2.0, to custom university single sign-on systems. For their edx.org site, edX decided to let users pick between Google, Facebook, and a custom username and password.

If you run Open edX, you can also use this feature now. The authentication module is extensible so you can add any third-party provider you want if your favorite is not yet supported. And the feature is completely configurable, so you can pick whatever third-party authentication systems are best for your users, including none at all. It’s totally up to you.

By simultaneously increasing user choice, convenience, and security, we hope to make open online education even easier and safer to use, whether people pick Course Builder or Open edX for authoring and delivering courses. We’re very grateful to our partners at edX for working with us in this exciting field.

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(Cross-posted on the Google Students Blog.)

Chromebooks are college-bound this fall. Introducing the Chromebook Lending Library.

The Chromebook Lending Library is traveling to 12 college campuses across the U.S. loaded with the latest Chromebooks. The Lending Library is a bit like your traditional library, but instead of books, we're letting students borrow Chromebooks (no library card needed). Students can use a Chromebook during the week for life on campus— whether it’s in class, during an all-nighter, or browsing the internet in their dorm.
Chromebooks are a new type of computer that helps students get things done faster and easier. They have the battery life you need to study all night and are light enough to slip easily into a bag or backpack. With Google Maps, Drive, and Gmail, important information is stored in the cloud, so students no longer need to worry about losing documents, pics, music, and more. The days of losing a paper are over!

We hope you can swing by the Chromebook Lending Library for a little study break this fall. Check out chromebook.com/forcollege for all the details and spread the word with #ChromebookforCollege. And if the tour isn’t hitting your campus this fall, you can follow along on Twitter and Google+.

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(Cross-posted on the Official Google Blog, Google Drive Blog and the Google for Work Blog.)

Imagine trying to keep track of another person’s real-time edits in a document—using only your ears. Or trying to create a table from spreadsheet data—without being able to clearly see the cells. Whether you’re backing up a file in Drive or crunching some numbers in Sheets, it should be easy to bring your ideas to life using Google’s tools. But if you’re blind or have low vision, you may need to rely on assistive technologies such as screen readers and Braille displays—and that can make working in the cloud challenging. While screen readers can parse static webpages (like this blog) relatively easily, it’s much harder for them to know what to say in interactive applications like Google Docs because the actions they need to describe are much more complex.

With these reasons in mind, today we’re announcing some improvements to Drive and all our editors—Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, and Forms—specifically designed with blind and low-vision users in mind.
Improved screen reader support in Drive and Docs 
In June, we introduced a new version of Drive that’s sleeker, easier to navigate and much faster. But just as importantly, the new Drive also includes better keyboard accessibility, support for zoom and high-contrast mode and improved usability with screen readers.

Across Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings and Forms, you’ll find that it’s now much easier to use a screen reader, with nicer text-to-voice verbalization and improvements to keyboard navigation. You’ll also notice other updates, including:

  • Support for alternative text on images in Docs, so you can tell a screen reader what they should say to describe an image 
  • Better support for using a keyboard to edit charts and pivot tables in Sheets 
  • Additional screen reader improvements specifically for Docs, Sheets and Slides, including support for spelling suggestions, comments and revision history 
  • The ability to quickly search the menus and perform actions in Docs, Slides and Drawings (and soon Sheets and Forms)—even if you don’t know the action’s key sequence 
Collaborating with others is easier too: in Docs, Sheets, Slides or Drawings, screen readers announce when people enter or leave the document, and you’ll now also hear when others are editing alongside you.

Refreshable Braille display support 
If you use a Braille display, you can now use it to read and enter text in Docs, Slides and Drawings. With Braille support, your screen reader’s settings for character echoing are automatically followed. Braille also dramatically reduces the lag between when you press a key and when it’s announced by your screen reader, and improves the announcements of punctuation and whitespace. Learn how to enable Braille support in our Help Center.

Get up and going faster
The first time you use a screen reader or a Braille display, getting up to speed can be a daunting task. But it’s simpler with new step-by-step guides for Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms and Drawings.
You can also access the in-product “Help” menu at any time without interrupting your work, or use the updated shortcut help dialog to easily search through keyboard shortcuts if you don’t remember them.

Finally, we’re offering phone support for Google Drive accessibility questions. If you get stuck, visit support.google.com/drive to request a phone call and someone from our team will reach out to you.

What’s next
As Laura Patterson, CIO, University of Michigan puts it, "The latest improvements in Google Drive and Docs for users of assistive technology are a major step forward and exemplify Google's commitment to making their products available to all members of our community.” We’re pleased the community has welcomed these improvements, and will continue to work with organizations to make even more progress.

Everyone, regardless of ability, should be able to experience all that the web has to offer. To find out more about our commitment to a fully accessible web, visit the new Google Accessibility site at www.google.com/accessibility.

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Three months ago we announced the launch of our Google Educator Groups (GEG), a program aimed at supporting communities of educators who learn, share and inspire each other to meet the needs of their students through technology solutions, both in the classroom and beyond. With 124 groups already off and running, educators are expanding their social and professional networks and gaining skills to deliver the best possible education through open technology across 23 different countries.
GEG meet-ups in India, Philippines, and Australia
GEG provides a space for educators to meet, collaborate and learn both online and in-person. Google+ communities connect group members and serve as an online hub for communication, but leaders also coordinate in-person events and workshops for their group. Whether you’re a teacher, professor or principal, anyone is welcome to join a GEG. Each group is organized by a local volunteer (GEG leader) and is entirely independent from Google.

We recently launched the website in 11 more languages to help support growth of the program in countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Thailand, Russia and many more. We couldn't be more excited about the growth of the program and the positive feedback we're hearing from those participating around the world.

If you’re interested in joining a GEG or starting a new one please visit www.google.com/landing/geg to learn more, spread the word and get involved. See you in GEG!

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(Cross-posted on the Official YouTube blog.)

Editor's note: Kevin Cahill is the CEO of U.K. charity Comic Relief, whose mission is to drive positive change through the power of entertainment. 

This September, as millions of young people head back to the classroom, we’re opening our digital doors to a brand new type of school--and you’re all invited.
The School of YouTube will see many of your favorite YouTube stars learn or teach something new. From figure-skating to salsa dancing, baking a cake to landing a plane, you’ll be able to watch a whole range of weird and wonderful lessons during the week of September 8 to 12.

We all know that YouTube is already like a huge virtual school--a place where people come to learn, to teach, to hang out and make friends--so it makes perfect sense to celebrate this for one week. And the best thing about this school is that you’ll be able to make a real difference to young people who desperately need your help.

The stars of the School of YouTube will be asking for donations to help some of the millions of people around the world who don’t have the opportunity to go to school or get an education. These kids may be struggling to survive on city streets, in slums or in refugee camps. Or they may be in a situation like 10-year-old Daniel from Ghana, who has very little time to get an education because he has to work long shifts in a dangerous gold mine so that his family can afford to eat.

Getting an education is by far the most powerful route out of poverty for these children and that’s where the School of YouTube comes in.

Money raised from donations will go to the U.K. charity Comic Relief, to help give kids an education across some of the world’s poorest countries. And even just £10 or $17 can pay for a Zambian orphan to go to school for two months where they also get a healthy meal--often the only one they’ll eat all day.

So hands up, who’s ready for a lesson at the School of YouTube? If you laugh a little or learn a little, please give a little.

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(Cross-posted from the Official Google Thailand Blog

Rain, hail or monsoonal flood, nothing stops the learning at Matthayom Watnairong school in Bangkok. During 2011 when it was too wet to get to school, students and teachers used their own Google accounts to conduct virtual lessons over Hangouts and Drive to share course materials. The experience demonstrated how cloud based tools can support learning, so in 2012 they rolled out Google Apps for Education to the whole school.
Students at Matthayom Watnairong school, Bangkok
Matthayom Watnairong is one school among over a million students and teachers that have gone Google in the last two years. Since 2012 we have been working with Thai educators at over 500 educational institutions in every province to unlock the potential of the web for learning...and we're just getting started.

Technology gives us unprecedented access to knowledge and ways to communicate, but it’s not enough to give teachers and students apps and devices. For technology to enrich learning you need the right infrastructure in place as well as support and training.

We’ve worked with the Ministry of Education and institutions across Thailand to ensure they have the right infrastructure in place to support a digital learning environment. This includes running technical workshops and consultations, training teachers in how to implement technology in the classroom effectively and establishing guidelines with the Ministry to help Thailand’s educational institutions become cloud-ready.

In the last two years we’ve been inspired and humbled to see the power of technology to transform education. Students and teachers at Surathampitak School for example have moved from a “talk and chalk” style of learning to being able to give and receive feedback in real time using Google Docs. Teachers at Chalermkwansatree School have moved from paper based courses to creating websites for each subject using Google Sites which makes it easy for students to access what they need and for teachers to share their resources with other teachers.

Moving to cloud based tools has also helped Thai institutions save money and go green. Since moving from on premise servers to Gmail and Google Drive, Pibulsongkram Rajabhat University now save 3, 200,000 Baht annually on server maintenance and printing costs. While Mahidol University now get student feedback instantly with Google Forms instead of having to issue hundreds of paper feedback forms.

We’re humbled to be helping equip students across Thailand with the skills they’ll need in the 21st century and to be part of a broader transformation of Thailand’s education system. To learn more about Google for Education programs go to http://www.google.com.au/edu

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Editor's note: Millions of students across the United States and around the world head back to school this week, many returning to schools using Google Apps for Education to help them work - and learn - better together. We asked 5 educators to share how they use Google Apps to meet their leaning goals and be more productive. If you're interested in using Google Apps for Education at your school, please visit our site.

Who we interviewed

Tia: How do you use Google Apps for Education and what impact have you seen? 

Sandy: My school serves a large population of students who are newly-arrived to the US. As a teacher of students still learning English, I am constantly doing check-ins and quick, informal assessments using Google Docs and Google Forms. The results of these assessments give me valuable information about student understanding and helps inform future lessons.

Andrew: Google Apps was a game changer at my school. Once we brought in the tools, collaboration between teachers and students increased dramatically. Immediately we began using Google Sites for digital portfolios — students could document and reflect on their work, and teachers could easily view and comment.

Susan: My students also use Google tools to publish and share work throughout the year. In Digital Photography class, students save and organize photographs in Drive, reflect on and discuss their work in Blogger, and share important and current resources using Sites. Animation and Art students build Online Design Journals using Presentations, inspired by the work that Karen Brennan at ScratchEdu is doing at Harvard.

Blanca: I've been using Google Docs to support English Language Learners for years. In one program we have been involved with, Building Family Literacy, students use Google Docs to write about their journeys to America and receive immediate feedback from teachers. Being able to share feedback in so many different formats - through chat, text and voice comments - is incredibly valuable in helping my students improve their writing.

Kian: This technology is an efficient entry point to reach young people. Most students are familiar with smartphones, but there is still a digital divide in how they use other technology. They may know how to share a photo, but not how to do research or craft a professional email. With Google Apps for Education we are helping our students be more informed individuals who ask questions and explore the world through technology.

Tia: What is the biggest time-saver you’ve noticed since using Google Apps for Education? 

Andrew: I can't say enough about “single sign on”. When students sign into Google Apps, they sign into a host of other educational apps. Once students and teachers had one login for EVERYTHING, we spent less time troubleshooting low level issues. It gave back time to teach and work.

Susan: On a school level, programming, room assignments, teacher schedules, student schedules and even locker assignments, are now built with Docs and Calendar, (an underused, amazing Google App) and shared with all faculty on a private Google Site. Before Google Apps, everyone called the office to find information. Now, as our principal says, we are all playing on the same team.

Kian: With Google you have the space to store things and the capacity to seek and find. It is so easy and user-friendly. With Gmail, the internet and apps, there are tons of ways to empower students — you give them access to the entire world in seconds.

Tia: What are some ways that teachers use Google Apps for Education to work together

Sandy: It really just keeps everyone organized and on the same page.

Andrew: The School at Columbia prides itself on an integrated curriculum, where students study the same concept throughout their day. Therefore it was imperative that teachers in all disciplines were coordinated. Google Apps allowed us to independently contribute ideas to a planning document and conduct face to face meetings more effectively.

Kian: For teachers, Google Apps brings the world a little closer. If you are a Social Studies teacher whose students are learning about Abraham Lincoln, you can use Google Classroom to easily send a YouTube video on the former president to students. Then a teacher can easily send a quiz made in Google Forms. All the communication happens efficiently and immediately.

Blanca: Giving and receiving feedback is critical in the learning process. But it's not just the feedback that a teacher gives a student that impacts learning- it’s the feedback the student gives back to the teacher that creates the loop where learning happens on both sides of the desk. This is one reason why using Google Apps for Education as an administrator working with teachers can be so powerful. The tools enable the feedback process from which learning, trust and capacity building can begin.

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(Cross-posted to the Google Research Blog)

Computer Science (CS) education is receiving an increasing amount of attention from media and policy makers. Education groups have been working for years to build the infrastructure needed to support CS both inside and outside the school environment, including standards development and dissemination, models for teacher professional development, research, resources for educators, and the building of peer-driven and peer-supported communities of learning.

At Google, we strive to increase opportunities in CS and be a strong contributor to the community of those seeking to improve CS education through our engagement in research, curriculum resource development and dissemination, professional development of teachers, tools development, and large-scale efforts to engage young women and underrepresented groups in computer science. However, despite these efforts, there are still many challenges to overcome to improve the state of CS education.

For example, many people confuse computer science with education technology (the use of computing to support learning in other disciplines) and computer literacy (a very basic understanding of a limited number of computer applications). This confusion leads to the assumption that computer science education is taking place, when in fact in many schools it is not.

Women and minorities are still underrepresented in computer science education and in the high tech workplace. In her introduction to Jane Margolis’ Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race, and Computing, distinguished scientist Shirley Malcolm refers to computer science as “privileged knowledge” to which minority students often have no access. This statement is supported by data from the College Board and the National Center for Women and Information Technology.

Poverty also has a significant but often ignored impact on access to technology and quality computer science education. At present there are more than 16 million U.S. children living in poverty; these children are the least likely to have access to computer science knowledge and tools in their schools and homes.

There are many organizations and programs which focus on CS education, working hard to address these issues, and others. This gives Google the unique opportunity to analyze gaps in existing efforts and apply our resources towards programs that are most needed. In so doing, we hope to help uncover new strategies and create sustainable improvements to CS education.

Achieving systemic and sustained change in CS education is a complex undertaking that requires strategic support that complements both existing formal school programs and extracurricular education. Google is proud to be a member of the community committed to making tangible improvements to the state of CS education. In future blog posts, we will introduce you so some of the programs and resources that Google has been working on.

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What do wearable sensors, natural nitrogen depletion, aromatic alarm clocks, and diazotroph bacteria have in common? Maybe not so much at first glance, but they're all inspirations behind a few of the 15 finalist projects in this year's Google Science Fair. And now it's your chance to cast your vote for the Voter’s Choice Award.

Through September 14, you can select which of the 15 Global Finalists has the greatest potential to change the world. These projects were selected from amongst thousands of entries earlier this year and represent nine countries from across the globe. These bright budding scientists have all turned their passion for science and engineering into a project that can change the world for the better, and have found inspiration from their world around them: whether it’s using technology to help care for a relative, using chemistry to improve the environment, or developing a method to help prevent cyberbullying. Oh and did we mention that all of them are 17 or younger?

The winner of the Voter’s Choice Award will receive a $10,000 grant from Google to help develop their project. We will announce the winner at the Google Science Fair awards ceremony in Mountain View, CA on September 22nd, where we will also announce our age category and grand prize winners.

Head to googlesciencefair.com before September 14 to support these young scientists with your vote and let us know which project you think will change the world.