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Editor's note: Through his work with Reading Rainbow, LeVar Burton continues to inspire generations of students to love reading. Getting an early start on celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week, we asked LeVar about educators that inspired him. He shares some stories from his childhood in today’s guest post, and he’ll share more during his keynote, “The power of storytelling to inspire students,” during our Education on Air conference. Register today and tune in for LeVar’s talk on May 8th at 11:15am ET.

Teachers seem to run in my family. My elder sister, my son and two nieces are all educators, and my mother, Erma Gene Christian, was a high school English teacher before becoming my first teacher. I know firsthand how hard these unsung heroes work, and especially how important a teacher can be in a child’s life.

One of the most indelible memories from my childhood happened one day when I was learning to read. My favorite aunt Hope, my mother’s youngest sister, was visiting from Kansas City. We were sitting together in a chair in the living room and I was reading aloud while my mother listened from the kitchen where she was preparing a family meal. Things were going fine until I got stuck on a word. I stopped cold in the middle of a sentence. The word was one I thought I knew, but I didn’t yet have the inner confidence to know that I could read it. I will never forget the infinite patience that Aunt Hope displayed and the gentle nudges of support she gave me. “Go on,” she’d whisper, “You know this word. I know you can sound it out.”

I still remember the word —it was “pretty” — and when my aunt finally said the word to me it was a revelation. She gave me the confidence I needed to trust myself; to trust that I did know these words. I was a reader. This is what teachers do for their students every day.

It’s from my mother, Erma Gene, that I learned the allure of storytelling. Throughout my childhood, mom always had several books going simultaneously, switching from one to the other seamlessly, deriving pleasure from each turn of the page, no matter what the genre. I learned from my mom—and eventually from my own experiences reading, and from exposing children to the joy of books through Reading Rainbow—that storytelling is an elemental part of the human experience, regardless of whether the medium is a print book or a digital book. We know that kids are reading more than 200,000 books a week on the Reading Rainbow App. They are using their devices not just for games or movies, but to read.
Here's me with the first educator who inspired me, my mother.
Children are drawn to stories, and with good storytelling we can teach kids anything. I have seen the light go on in a child’s eyes when he or she falls in love with a story. I’ve seen that light get brighter when they realize that they can read the stories for themselves. This light is the beginning of a lifelong love of reading, and from there a lifelong love of learning. For me, literacy means freedom, and literacy begins with storytelling. You get a child’s attention when you give them a good story. If we fail to take advantage of this, we are letting the opportunity of a lifetime—of our lifetime and theirs—pass us by.

Hear more about the power of storytelling from LeVar Burton during his Education on Air keynote on May 8 at 11:15am ET or check out his Reading Rainbow website.

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Editor's note: Today’s post comes from Dianne Darlington, a Google Apps Certified Administrator and director of technology at Tullahoma City Schools, a school district in Tennessee that includes four elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school.

Our teachers at Tullahoma City Schools have discovered (and fully embraced) the benefits of incorporating timely, interactive material into the classroom—whether it’s a recent YouTube video or a breaking news article. Recognizing that technology plays a key role in learning, we recently expanded our use of Google Apps and Google Classroom throughout our schools. Now, teachers across the district use Apps and Classroom to assign projects and provide feedback to students, and students in grades three through nine bring home Chromebooks to continue learning outside the classroom walls.

After passing Google’s IT Admin Certification program, I worked with our technology team to think about how we could further use Google Apps in our schools. Our superintendent, Dan Lawson, presented us with the perfect opportunity. The Tennessee Department of Education rolled out new standards for social studies at the beginning of last school year, and we needed to revamp our educational content for each grade level. His vision was to create digital textbooks that were highly shareable, modifiable and cost-effective. We decided the best way to accomplish this was by using Google Docs. Since teachers were already familiar with Google Apps through our 1:1 Chromebook program, the digital textbooks were a huge success.

A digital textbook is a textbook that lives on a desktop, laptop or mobile devices and is easily editable to provide educational content that is as timely and relevant as possible. Creating the textbooks is as simple as editing in Docs. Teachers often tell me they love creating interactive and engaging content by embedding YouTube videos, games, music and links to websites. For example, when the Curiosity rover landed on Mars, we upgraded our social studies textbooks to include a video of the rover landing from NASA and written content from media sources. Students are more engaged when they’re reading content in their textbooks about an event that happened within the past few days.
Digital textbooks are as fun and engaging for the students as they are for the teachers. The easy ability to edit encourages teachers to update the textbooks with pertinent information based on current events and new material. Whether a teacher wants to insert a recent video or make grammatical changes, she can update the digital textbook instantly. The new version is readily available to students via the textbook library on the class website. With Google Docs’ offline mode, teachers can even edit information when they don’t have access to WiFi.

Once other schools in Tennessee heard about our digital textbooks, they wanted to create them for their students, too. Six school districts asked to use our material, mainly to print physical textbooks at a price of $8 instead of paying a publisher $80, but some are also downloading them digitally and using a 1:1 model as well. Open-source digital textbooks reinforce our mission of relating content to the student, rather than teaching for a standardized test. With Docs, we’ve provided students more timely and engaging information, and we’re excited to roll out digital textbooks across all core subjects in the next three years.

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Editor's note: During Education on Air, Google’s free online conference May 8-9, we'll be discussing how we can help prepare students for their future. One member of our opening panel is Jaime Casap, Google’s Global Education Evangelist. In advance of the conference, we asked Jaime to share some of his personal views about the power of high expectations to inspire students. For related resources, check out Reach Higher, the First Lady's effort to inspire all students to take charge of their future by completing their education beyond high school. Resources include a toolkit to host a College Signing Day, which many schools are doing May 1st.

I grew up in Hell’s Kitchen, New York, in the 1970s and ‘80s; it was a tough neighborhood that visitors avoided. I wanted out, and while I was the captain of my high school basketball team, I was way too short and slow to make it in the NBA. Despite the challenges of being a first-generation American raised by a single mother on welfare, I had help and support from amazing teachers like Ms. Riddick who encouraged me to work hard to develop the skills I needed to finish high school, attend college and graduate.

Research indicates that low-income minorities are less likely to finish high school, attend college and get a degree. Only 15 to 19 percent of minorities attend college and fewer than nine percent graduate with a Bachelor's degree. There’s a direct correlation between the level of education attained and income level. In other words, education disrupts poverty. While many issues are embedded into the conversation about poverty and education, I can personally relate to something called “Low Expectation Syndrome.” Low Expectation Syndrome is fed by the conditions surrounding low-income minority students. They see failure all around them. They see their childhood friends drop out of high school, and they see more of their friends go to jail than college.

What’s my response to Low Expectation Syndrome? As part of my role I talk to as many students and educators as possible. I don’t ask students what they want to be when they grow up. Instead I ask students to think about what problem they want to solve. I then challenge them to think about the knowledge, skills and abilities they’ll need to solve that problem. What classes can they take? What blogs and journals should they read? Who should they meet and collaborate with? What educational path will prepare them to solve that problem?

I tell students they have amazing capacity and potential. I tell them to ignore the negative and disregard the impossible. I tell them to use stereotypes and statistics as motivation. I tell them not to be ashamed of who they are and where they come from. I tell them they’ll one day be the person in a meeting who has a different and valuable perspective. To put themselves in that position, they need to work hard and get the education to solve the problem that motivates them.

I wouldn’t be writing this post if not for my experience with higher education, which is why I support the First Lady’s Reach Higher effort & hope many schools will consider hosting College Signing Days to celebrate students. As First Lady Michelle Obama says: “Education is the key to success for so many kids. And my goal specifically is to reach out directly to young people and encourage them to take charge of their futures and complete an education beyond high school.” As I tell students every day, the antidote for Low Expectation Syndrome is to have impossibly high expectations for themselves and each other — and then reach even higher.

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(Cross-posted on the Google for Work Blog.)

Editor's note: We’re jumping into our Delorean to explore how some of our favorite historical figures might have worked with Google Apps. Today, on the anniversary of Isaac Newton’s knighthood, we imagine his research in a Google Apps universe.

In April 1705, Isaac Newton was knighted for his many accomplishments. Since we’re self-admitted history nerds (how better to appreciate the advancements we enjoy now?) we asked ourselves: what if the Isaac Newton of 1705 used today’s Google Apps?

Newton was one of history’s foremost masters of mathematical formulation. What if he had been able to archive and automate his complex formulas in Sheets? We imagine he might have used the product function, =PRODUCT(factor1, factor2), to test different values for his second law of motion: force equals mass times acceleration (f = ma) — showing how apples of different sizes fall with different rates of acceleration from a tree.
While writing his famous Principia, Newton might have solicited feedback from his colleagues, like mathematicians Isaac Barrow and John Collins, by creating a Google Group and inviting them to edit in Docs. Working in Docs would have been helpful for keeping track of his notes while developing calculus — it might even have helped to avoid a heated debate with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who claimed he discovered it first. There’s no dispute over who first documents an idea when there’s access to revision history.
Newton famously feared criticism and was no stranger to controversy, so we imagine he would have been a strong advocate of using technology to keep his research secure. Should he have any concerns about a collaborator secretly passing sensitive information to his rival, Robert Hooke, he could adjust the sharing settings. He could even restrict the ability to view, share, download or print his treatise on optics after he’d already shared it.
Newton communicated through writing by hand — it’s estimated that he left behind about 10 million words of notes, letters and manuscripts — but we think he might have used Hangouts for urgent conversations. If Newton needed to speak with his colleagues at the Royal Society about whether Leibniz was guilty of plagiarism, he’d meet with them face-to-face on a Hangout. Or, if his wig wasn’t looking particularly great that day, he could’ve started a group chat and shared pictures of his calculus notation as evidence (maybe even including a few emoji to lighten things up).
As a professor at the University of Cambridge, Newton lectured about optics and presented his research about the properties of light. He might have shared illustrations of prisms to explain rainbows and the color spectrum, uploading the images to a shared Drive folder rather than passing around delicate hand-drawn sketches. Using Drive’s Optical Character Recognition, he could turn his handwritten notes into searchable text. Old notes he wrote on refraction and diffraction would be easy to find and reference as he developed new theories on the nature of light. As one of the most important thinkers and scientists of all time, how valuable would it have been for him to so easily archive and pull up his every great thought and idea?
Sir Isaac Newton’s findings changed our understanding of the world around us and are still relevant to our lives 300 years later. But even more inspiring is the way his curiosity and intellectual daring influenced generations of thinkers to be relentless in pursuing new ideas — a principle (pun intended) that drives us here at Google.

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(Cross-posted on the Google for Work Blog.)

Editor's note: Chromeboxes help businesses and schools update employees and students with timely information and create a sense of community. To learn more about using Chromebox for digital signage and how it can help your business or school work smarter, join Chrome Live today.

Schools and universities across the country use digital signage to share announcements, news and schedules. Chromeboxes give students waiting in dorm lobbies for friends or standing in the cafeteria line for lunch the opportunity to learn about campus events on the go. And digital signage apps for Chrome built by Rise Vision, one of our content partners, power many of these digital experiences that go beyond traditional campus fliers.

Here are three ways academic institutions are using Chromeboxes for digital signage to better engage and inform students:

Personalizing content at Siena College

Siena College, a private liberal arts college in Loudonville, New York, prizes its close-knit community of 3,000 students. In this intimate class setting, individual departments manage their own content featured on Chromeboxes for display. IT and display managers don’t have to be involved in day-to-day content updates, and each department is nimble and flexible with their content. For example, the Student Senate features content from the athletics and academic departments on several of its screens and those departments directly update their content to ensure it’s relevant and timely.

Cutting IT costs and time at University of Toronto Mississauga

The University of Toronto Mississauga uses its 25 digital signage displays to profile professors, highlight research projects and market events to their more than 12,600 undergraduate students. Their previous display technology required extensive IT time to configure and update. Since Chromeboxes automatically update with new features and security fixes, IT can spend time on other tasks. Chromeboxes have also freed up the University’s budget, since they’re much more affordable than their previous display equipment, which cost $1,300.

Reducing power use at Manor Independent School District

The 20 digital signage displays in the Manor Independent School District notify the 8,000 K-12 students about announcements, lunchroom menus, upcoming events and recent posts from a live Twitter feed. Previously, the schools relied on netbooks to power their screens, which consumed a lot of power, were noisy and crashed often. Chromeboxes, which don’t have fans or spinning hard drives, were a natural fit as the district sought more eco-friendly display solutions. As universities and school districts continue improving their digital display technology, they’re finding better ways to deliver informative and entertaining content to teachers and current and prospective students. Join Chrome Live to learn how to use Chromebox for digital signage at your school.

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(Cross-posted on the Google for Work Blog.)


We built Classroom to help teachers spend less time on paperwork, and more time with their students. Since we launched, we’ve also heard from teachers and professors that they’d love to be able to use Classroom to collaborate with other educators.

Teach together: Whether it’s a substitute, a teacher’s aide or a department chair, almost every teacher and professor is supported by other educators. So starting today, you can have multiple teachers in a Classroom class. To try it out, just go to your class’s About page and click “Invite teacher.” Additional teachers can do almost everything the primary teacher can do: they can create assignments or announcements, view and grade student submissions, participate in the comments on the class “stream,” invite students and even get email notifications – everything except delete the class.

Dani Raskin, a special education teacher at Clarkstown High School South in New York, has been helping us test out this new feature. “It’s really important for me to be able to work closely with other teachers who also teach my students, but we don’t always have prep time together,” Dani said. “We are now able to split the workload: both of us can provide direct feedback via comments and grading. It really fosters an authentic sense of teamwork and collaboration."
Prep for your classes in advance: We know how much planning goes into every class you teach, and now we’re making it a little bit easier to do some of that planning in Classroom. You can save announcements and assignments as “drafts” and wait to send them to students until you’re ready. And similar to Gmail, any time you start creating a new announcement or assignment, it’ll be automatically saved as a draft. This works with multiple teachers as well, so all the teachers in a class can collaboratively prep assignments in advance, and even make changes to each other’s posts on the fly.
We’re also making some other updates you’ve told us will make Classroom easier to use:

  • Autosaved grades: If you can’t get all of your assignments graded in one session, but still want to return them to students at the same time, grades will now be auto saved as you enter them. You can choose when to return them to students.
  • Better notifications: Teachers and students will now receive email notifications when a private comment is left on an assignment. 

For schools here in North America and in Europe, we know you’re working hard as you round the corner into the end of the year. We are, too, and we’ll have more Classroom news for you before school’s out for summer.

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(Cross-posted on The Google for Work blog)

Editor's note: During Education on Air, Google’s free online conference May 8-9, we'll be discussing how we can help prepare our students for their future. To investigate this issue in more depth, we commissioned The Economist Intelligence Unit to conduct global surveys of senior business executives, teachers, and students, ages 11-17 and 18-25. Editor Zoe Tabary will share the findings during the kickoff session for Education on Air, but here’s a preview.

As technology becomes more pervasive, traditional trades disappear and the world of work becomes more globalised, the skills considered to be valuable for the future are shifting.

Problem solving, team working, and communication (a trifecta commonly known as “21st century skills”) are the most-needed skills in the workplace, according to our recent surveys of business executives, students and teachers. Digital literacy and creativity— and the latter’s close relative, entrepreneurship—are expected to grow more important in the next three years.

Business survey: Which of the following would you say are the most critical skills for employees in your organisation to possess today? Select up to three.
Source: Economist Intelligence Unit
Incorporating these skills in existing education systems, however, is far from straightforward. Teachers report that lack of time in a strictly regulated curriculum is the biggest barrier to teaching 21st century skills, while digital literacy is one of the areas where they would most like further training (31%).

Meanwhile, the young have become more comfortable learning on their own, especially on topics of interest: 62% of teachers report that students are becoming more independent and able to gather information themselves. As one expert interviewed for the report puts it, “young people have an innate affinity with technology, and it would be a shame not to utilise that effectively”.

Countries all over the world are devising new innovative approaches to teaching and learning based on these changing trends. For example Singapore’s ‘Teach less, learn more’ initiative aims to help schools and teachers to engage more effectively with students, so that they connect with what they are they are learning and how and why they are learning it.

To hear more about the full research findings, register for the free online conference.

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(Cross-posted on the Google for Work Blog.)

Last month we announced Education on Air — our free online conference taking place May 8-9, 2015 — and asked what you wanted to hear about. Today we released the schedule of sessions, based largely on what we heard from you. We’ll emphasize innovation — 44% of you voted for this — as well as how to empower students and use Google tools effectively. It was clear from our second poll that you also want practical examples, so our speakers will go beyond theory and share their specific advice for enacting change.

Here’s a look at what you can expect over the two-day conference:

Friday, May 8: Leading for the future

Tune in from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET to hear from educators, business and policy leaders, students and researchers, whose keynotes will challenge you to innovate and improve education. In our kickoff session, panelists will tackle the question “What are the skills of the future?” and will touch upon results from an Economist Intelligence Unit survey. You’ll also hear panels of different perspectives about some hot topics for educators, including how technology is transforming learning and how students are guiding their own learning.

In addition to these panels, our keynote speakers will share their personal passions for the future of education. You’ll hear from Actor, Education Advocate, and Host of Reading Rainbow LeVar Burton, Google Senior Vice President of People Operations Laszlo Bock, education leader and Order of Canada honoree Michael Fullan, and Sir Michael Barber, chief education advisor to Pearson and former Chief Adviser to the Secretary of State for Education during the first term of British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Educators and school leaders like Ryan Bretag, education researcher and Chief Innovation Officer of Illinois’ District 225, and students like Brittany Wenger (2012 Google Science Fair winner) will also share their perspectives.

Saturday, May 9: Shaping the classroom today

Over 100 sessions will be led by educators from 12 countries and 29 U.S. states, all specifically designed to offer practical advice and examples. Whether you’re interested in the track for educators, administrators, IT or “anyone,” we invite you to join for the sessions that are most interesting to you. 

Presenters will discuss tools and techniques that you can implement easily, affordably and immediately. Many sessions highlight how Google tools like Google Apps, Earth, Chromebooks and Android tablets can support learning and help educators save time. Others will relate to themes including collaboration and community, computer science and STEM, creation and creativity, digital citizenship, literacy and professional development.

Here’s a flavor of the range of sessions:


Visit the Education on Air site to see the full line-up of sessions and make sure to register; because even if you can’t join us live, if you register we’ll notify you when the recordings are available to view.

We hope to “see” you there!

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Across Sweden, teachers are discovering how Google Apps for Education and bringing technology into the classroom can free up their time for teaching and help students learn.

The stories we’re hearing from Swedish schools that have gone Google show that when equipped with the right tools, students and their teachers are excited about learning. They’re also able to work better together since Google Apps enables collaboration between students, while teachers are able to help guide along the way with real-time feedback. Not only are they able to learn basic skills faster, students also continue to find imaginative ways to work and research with Apps and Chromebooks. Here’s a taste of what we’re hearing from Swedish educators about the changes happening in their schools:

City of Gothenburg: Today, 8,000 students in the city’s secondary schools use Google Apps for Education, and in the 2015-2016 school year, 40,000 primary school students will also have access to Google Apps. “Teachers tell us they save time because they can share documents or even entire folders with their classes in just a few clicks,” says Fredrik Breitholtz, group manager of IT for Gothenburg. “They also say the comment features in Google Docs are a better way to support students as they write their assignments.”

Sollentuna Municipality: The city’s schools began to use Google Apps in 2011, at the same time city government did. “When we started using Google Apps, we went from sitting in computer rooms working alone to this new platform a platform for collaborative learning and sharing,” says Andreas Cassne, Information and Communication Technology Strategist for Sollentuna’s Education Department. “When everyone in the school organization is just a click away, it’s so much easier to work together to achieve higher learning goals.”

City of Malmö: Every school in the city has used Google Sites to create its own website, including calendars and document folders – all through Google Apps. “It makes it easy for teachers, students and parents to access the information they are looking for,” says Mats Johnsson, Head of the Information and Communication Technology Unit for Malmö Compulsory Schools. “For our schools, this means that all material is available for students and educators – no more lost papers, and the easy access and visibility has been praised by teachers and students.”

Simrishamn Municipality: After spending a few frustrating years managing expensive PCs and software licenses, the city switched to Google Apps and Chromebooks and now offers one-to-one devices to all students in grades 4 and up. “Google Apps for Education has changed the way teachers and students can work together in different school projects,” says Lotta Persson, development manager for Simrishamn. “The ‘share’ button has made all the difference. The possibility to give instant feedback in a document or presentation has also greatly improved how teachers help students.”
Teachers at Simrishamn give students real-time feedback as they work
The good news for Swedish schools that want to bring similar transformation to classrooms is that the country’s Data Inspection Board has approved the use of Google Apps for Education in a recent review conducted with Simrishamn Municipality. This approval will open doors for other schools and municipalities in Sweden that want to use Google, and we’re looking forward to even more success stories about sharing knowledge in classrooms.

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(Cross-posted on the Google Canada Blog.)

Every day students are learning in new ways, with technology and tools we could only dream of back when we were in school. But with more educational apps available than ever before, a busy teacher or admin can use some help choosing the right digital resources for their students. That’s why today, we’re launching Google Play for Education along with Android tablets to Canadian schools.

Built just for schools and educators, Google Play for Education is a “one-stop shop” for engaging, educator-approved and instantly shareable content for classrooms, offering access to thousands of curated, teacher-approved apps as well as hundreds of free classic books. Canadian schools will also be able to choose from five classroom-ready Android tablets that come with access to Google Play for Education for students of all ages.

Bill MacKenzie and a student from Upper Grand District School Board team up with Google Play for Education
The teachers of Ontario’s Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) were among the first in Canada to use Google Play for Education. UGDSB subscribes to the philosophy called universal design for learning, which aims to give each student an equal opportunity to succeed and empowers teachers to reduce barriers to learning in order to meet the individual learning needs of students. The district realized the potential for technology to enable students to access learning, express their ideas, and demonstrate their understanding in new ways.

Bill MacKenzie, IT-Program Liaison for UGDSB, says that introducing the Android tablets to staff and students has been seamless: “Teachers noticed that the students felt comfortable using the devices and that it made the classroom more interactive. The technology and breadth of resources has accommodated the different learning styles of our students.”

Each tablet holds up to five student log-ins, so students have control and ownership over all the content in their own accounts. The tablets also come loaded with an additional selection of Google apps like Docs, Chrome, Gmail and Earth.

Google Play for Education has apps for both Android tablets and Chromebooks, for students in grades from K-12. In addition to a wide range of flexible digital tools, schools can find subject-specific apps ranging from English Language Arts and Mathematics to World Languages and Science. Teachers can browse content by grade, subject or educational goal, and read tips from other teachers to get new ideas for classroom activities. Once selected, teachers can purchase using a school PO, then instantly distribute apps to student devices.


According to Bill, the tablets have provided UGDSB students with new ways to enjoy learning: “Students love sharing their photos and documents in Google Drive across devices by bumping one device to another, what students call ‘high fiving.’”

Canadian schools already using managed Chromebooks can turn on Google Play for Education by visiting play.google.com/edu. To talk to an expert about setting up Android tablets and Google Play for Education for your school, visit the Google for Education website.
 

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As an IT admin you want your organization to be free to focus on getting stuff done. But part of your role is also to make sure you stay on top of legal compliance. Today we’re making it a little bit easier to do both with two new Hangouts features.

Over the next few days, we’ll roll out an admin option that lets you manage Hangouts chat history in your organization, so that you can make certain that it’s either on or off. People in your school or university can have the freedom to chat with whomever they want — whether that person is part of your organization or not — and you can be sure that new employee conversations stay personal and private, because they’ll disappear shortly after taking place.
We’re also adding Google Apps Vault support for Hangouts chat. With Vault support for chat, organizations of all sizes can quickly find and preserve chat messages. This is a great way to safeguard business-critical information for continuity, compliance and regulatory purposes.

Find out how to tailor Hangouts to best suit your organization's compliance needs.

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Our involvement with Sci Foo Camp since 2006 has taught us that the best way to get people interested in science is to give them the opportunities and tools to further develop their interest. To do this, we aim to support scientists of all ages, museums, maker events, and science programs and encourage hands-on exploration through efforts like Google Science Fair and Maker Camp.

Today, we’re introducing a new way to share our love for science with even more people: Google Field Trip Days. Throughout 2015, 13 science museums across the US and London will open their doors to more than 35,000 students in resource-challenged public schools. Each museum will plan their own unique program – from Google Field Trip Weeks at the Museum of Science in Boston to sleepover Google Field Trip Nights at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Google Field Trip Days will often include free admission, transportation and lunches for kids who attend, as well as a welcome from volunteers from local Google offices.
The Pacific Science Center, Seattle Washington
We believe in the power of hands-on learning through meaningful educational programs, and the impact that one person can make on a student’s life. Through these wonderful institutions, kids will have access to interactive and highly visual exhibits, collaboration with experts, engineering workshops and even IMAX screenings. We hope that these experiences spark kids’ imagination and inspire them to discover and create with science!

Here’s the full list of participating museums. Featured exhibits and visit dates will vary. You can find details and updates about specific Field Trip Days on the museum websites.

California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco CA 
Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose, San Jose CA 
Computer History Museum, Mountain View CA 
Museum of Science, Boston, Boston MA 
Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Chicago IL 
National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC 
National Museum of Mathematics, New York NY 
National Museum of Natural History, Washington DC 
New York Hall of Science, Queens NY 
Oregon Museum of Science & Industry, Portland OR 
Pacific Science Center, Seattle WA 
The Tech Museum of Innovation, San Jose CA 
Science Museum, London, London UK 

We’re thrilled to support these incredible institutions, give students the chance to explore, and bring Field Trips to even more museums in the future in order to continue supporting making and science of all kinds, for all ages.

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Over the past couple of years, Google’s Course Builder has been used to create and deliver hundreds of online courses on a variety of subjects (from sustainable energy to comic books), making learning more scalable and accessible through open source technology. With the help of Course Builder, over a million students of all ages have learned something new.

Today, we’re increasing our commitment to Course Builder by bringing rich, new functionality to the platform with a new release. Of course, we will also continue to work with edX and others to contribute to the entire ecosystem.

This new version enables instructors and students to understand prerequisites and skills explicitly, introduces several improvements to the instructor experience, and even allows you to export data to Google BigQuery for in depth analysis.
  • Drag and drop, simplified tabs, and student feedback
We’ve made major enhancements to the instructor interface, such as simplifying the tabs and clarifying which part of the page you’re editing, so you can spend more time teaching and less time configuring. You can also structure your course on the fly by dragging and dropping elements directly in the outline.
Additionally, we’ve added the option to include a feedback box at the bottom of each lesson, making it easy for your students to tell you their thoughts (though we can't promise you'll always enjoy reading them).
  • Skill Mapping
You can now define prerequisites and skills learned for each lesson. For instance, in a course about arithmetic, addition might be a prerequisite for the lesson on multiplying numbers, while multiplication is a skill learned. Once an instructor has defined the skill relationships, they will have a consolidated view of all their skills and the lessons they appear in, such as this list for Power Searching with Google:
Instructors can then enable a skills widget that shows at the top of each lesson and which lets students see exactly what they should know before and after completing a lesson. Below are the prerequisites and goals for the Thinking More Deeply About Your Search lesson. A student can easily see what they should know beforehand and which lessons to explore next to learn more.
Skill maps help a student better understand which content is right for them. And, they lay the groundwork for our future forays into adaptive and personalized learning. Learn more about Course Builder skill maps in this video.
  • Analytics through BigQuery
One of the core tenets of Course Builder is that quality online learning requires a feedback loop between instructor and student, which is why we’ve always had a focus on providing rich analytical information about a course. But no matter how complete, sometimes the built-in reports just aren’t enough. So Course Builder now includes a pipeline to Google BigQuery, allowing course owners to issue super-fast queries in a SQL-like syntax using the processing power of Google’s infrastructure. This allows you to slice and dice the data in an infinite number of ways, giving you just the information you need to help your students and optimize your course. Watch these videos on configuring and sending data.

To get started with your own course, follow these simple instructions. Please let us know how you use these new features and what you’d like to see in Course Builder next. Need some inspiration? Check out our list of courses (and tell us when you launch yours).

Keep on learning!

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Editor's Note: Today’s guest author is Geeta Ajetrao, the Head Teacher of Digital Learning at Arthur Phillip High School (APHS). Geeta helped guide the successful adoption of technology at APHS and is currently responsible for implementing the school’s digital policies and overseeing digital curriculum.

At Arthur Phillip High School a public secondary school in Parramatta, Australia, we educate 1,500 students in grades 7-12. They come from 65 different countries, and over 90 percent of them speak a language other than English at home. Recognised for our long-standing commitment to digital education, administrators and teachers at Arthur Phillip wanted to make teaching and learning more fluid by improving and enhancing our ever  expanding digital education structure.
Our school first embraced digital education five years ago when the Australian Government's Digital Education Revolution (DER) provided all high school students in grades 9-12 with laptops. To build on this, our teachers designed interactive wikis hosted on school servers so students could communicate with them and other students. When our wiki environment exceeded the capacity of the school servers and DER was discontinued, we needed to find a cost-effective solution that would let our students continue to benefit from digital learning.


One hundred Chromebooks were purchased for a pilot group of students and teachers to test out Google Apps for Education, and both students and teachers alike were enthusiastic about them. Our teachers said Google Drive “made it easy for them to plan interactive lessons,” which would keep the students engaged for an entire period. In Ancient Egypt history class, students start up their Chromebooks in no time - unlike their old laptops. Students can navigate to the site their teacher created to watch and discuss a YouTube video or annotate a map in Google Maps. Chromebooks have created student-centred lessons, allowing students to move at their own pace as teachers provide them with immediate feedback.

Today over 600 of our students in grades 7-9 currently have Chromebooks, and in three years they will be available to every student. Our students now feel more empowered and confident in their abilities. This is especially true for our NSEB (Non English Speaking Background) students whose language literacy skills have improved since we started using Chromebooks in the classroom. Students get customised lessons based on their strengths, and allow teachers to provide them with resources, so they can improve.


Since we introduced a digital learning environment, suspensions have decreased by 50 percent, and attendance has risen significantly. What I’ve noticed most is that the school has a calmer vibe--more students are engaged and excited about their lessons, rather than being bored or distracted. Chromebooks have changed the way our students think about learning. Most importantly, they know it doesn’t have to stop once they leave the classroom.