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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, in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we imagine how Marie Curie’s discovery of radioactivity, which won a Nobel Prize and revolutionized modern cancer treatment, might have played out in a Google Apps universe.

Consider what Marie Curie accomplished in the face of adversity and with few resources. Despite being refused a place at the French Academy of Sciences and almost denied her first Nobel Prize for being a woman, she continued her work undeterred, securing a second Nobel Prize in Chemistry and developing methods for treating cancer with radiation therapy. To celebrate her, we explore how she might have worked in a different time — by using some of the tools we use today.

The radioactivity in Curie’s lab was so strong that it harmed her health — archivists today still use protective gear to handle her papers. Instead of carrying these radioactive documents, Curie could have kept them in the cloud with Google Drive, allowing for easy access whenever and wherever she needed them, without risking her well-being. Drive’s organization features could also have helped her organize her files and notes in folders, easily distinguishable by color and category.
Her easy access to files would also be secure with Drive’s built-in security stack. And to prevent anyone from stealing her discoveries, Marie Curie could have conveniently protected all of her files using the Security Key for 2-step verification along with password protection. This would ensure that she was the only one who had complete access to all of her work (she may even have thrown on a screen protector to shield her work from spying eyes on the train). To share the right documents with only the right people, Marie could have used sharing controls to give different groups access to relevant research.

With the voice typing feature in Google Docs that supports 40 languages, she could have dictated her numerous notes in her native Polish without stopping her research. She could have then used Google Translate to convert her papers into other languages, so that the wider global science community could see what she was working on.


Curie could have used Gmail’s Priority Inbox to create labels and organize her messages related to research, teaching and fundraising. Each label filters emails into its own section in her inbox, making it easy to notice new emails when they arrive. She might have created a “Physicist Community” label for correspondences with Pierre and other influential scientists like Henri Becquerel and Albert Einstein. She might also have used a “Fundraising” label to organize messages from members of the press and government who funded her research, including U.S. presidents Warren G. Harding and Herbert Hoover.
Even Marie Curie could have been the victim of seemingly neverending reply-all email threads. With Gmail, she could have avoided these distractions by muting the message so responses are automatically archived. For example, Curie could have muted the message from her Sorbonne colleagues who abused “reply all” in RSVP emails or broke out into a physics debate, letting her focus on important emails only.
With Google Hangouts, Curie could have broadcast her physics classes to a global audience using Hangouts on Air. As the first woman professor at the Sorbonne in Paris, making her classes available online could have given more women access to lectures from a renowned physicist during a time when many universities wouldn’t admit female students. She might even have started her own grassroots movement, using live video chats to bring advanced science into the homes, coffee shops, underground classrooms, etc., of whoever chose to tune in.

Marie Curie accomplished award-winning work, even without access to the most advanced lab technology of the time. It’s humbling to consider that despite any limitations she encountered, Curie’s pioneering work in radioactivity remains so relevant today as we continue to make advances in not just physics and chemistry but also engineering, biology and medicine, including cancer research, on the basis of her discoveries.

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Editor's note: In this post, we’re sharing some of the great work that colleges and universities are doing with the help of Google for Education tools. To learn more about Google’s solutions for higher education, come visit us at EDUCAUSE – the largest higher education EdTech event in the US – October 27-30 in Indianapolis, at #1110 in the Expo Hall. We’ll be demoing the latest products with Googlers, administrators, professors and students giving short presentations throughout the week. And if you can’t attend EDUCAUSE, be sure to join our webinar with University of Texas at Austin on November 17th at 2pm EST / 11am PST.

Many higher education campuses are home to tens of thousands of students, thousands more staff, and dozens of buildings and academic departments — not to mention online learners. How do you create community and enable collaboration in academic settings that are the size of small cities, while making it easy for everyone on campus to learn and work together? Millions of students, teachers and administrators at colleges and universities around the world use Google Apps for Education to access their coursework from anywhere, communicate at any time, and share ideas for academic projects. In fact, the majority of U.S. News & World Report’s top 100 universities use Google Apps. Here’s how several major universities have brought professors, students and departments closer together.

Bringing Google’s best solutions to campus 


Introducing new technology tools often means adoption delays and integration headaches. At schools like Georgetown University (case study), where Google is already the top choice of many students and faculty for email and collaboration, using Google Apps for Education for official school business was a painless transition.

The high awareness of Google Apps, and its seamless integration with other systems, was also a deciding factor at North Carolina State University (case study). “For the students, many of whom were already using Google, it really was a no-brainer,” says Sarah Noell, an assistant director in the school’s Office of Information Technology.

Schoolwide solutions unify large campuses 


At the very largest universities, like the University of Michigan (case study) which has 43,000 students, separate schools and departments often choose their own email and collaboration tools — which means there’s no consistent way to share documents or manage email across the vast university community. With Google for Education, Michigan was able to unify all of its 19 schools under one collaborative solution. “When Google Apps for Education was introduced, there was a huge sigh of relief,” says Jeff Ringenberg, a faculty member in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department. “Previously, it was very difficult for students and professors to keep their information synchronized.”

Professors and students work anytime, anywhere 


Not only do schoolwide collaboration and productivity tools unify campuses, they make it easy to tap into course syllabi, reading lists and progress reports from professors. At Brown University (case study), moving from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps meant students no longer needed to carry their laptops around – they were able to choose any device on campus or pull out their mobile phones and immediately be productive. “All you need is a web browser,” says Geoffrey Greene, Brown’s director of IT support. “It doesn’t matter if you’re on your PC at home or on your Chromebook at work; you can do anything from any machine, anywhere.”

The students running Brown Market Shares, a food distribution program, use Google Drive to share meeting agendas and customer check-in sheets. “Using a Google Doc for our weekly meeting agendas, is useful because we can each add items to it before the meeting at any time of the day or night,” says Meagan Miller, an undergraduate student and Brown Market Shares’ communications coordinator.

Security and privacy help research and learning flourish 


With anytime, anywhere access, students and teachers need assurance that their projects can only be accessed by their chosen colleagues. Brown decided to adopt Google for Education in part because the university needed to protect in-progress research while encouraging collaboration from the campus community. The University of Texas at Austin made a similar choice: “What happens in the classroom should stay in the classroom,” says Christy Tran, a student intern working in CIO Brad Englert's group. “Students can trust that they’ll have a safe learning experience.”

Better communication and feedback beyond the classroom 


At UT Austin, home to 51,000 students, it’s not easy for professors to touch base with all of their students face-to-face. Google Apps lets feedback happen outside of class time or office hours. “I may only see students in class three hours a week, but we’re working together and editing classwork all the time, even on weekends,” says Angela Newell, a faculty member of UT Austin’s McCombs School of Business. “It allows us to move projects along much faster, and we can increase camaraderie with students.”

The University of Michigan’s Jeff Ringenberg collaborates with other teachers on his Electrical Engineering and Computer Science course syllabi and exams using Google Docs. “It eliminates the need to send thousands of versions back and forth,” he says. “We’ve streamlined the process of writing an exam, which frees me up to focus on communicating with students as opposed to generating content.”

There are many more stories about colleges and universities that are are re-thinking the ways they learn and work. If you’re in Indianapolis, we hope to see you in the EDUCAUSE Expo Hall at #1110. And if you can’t make it to the conference, be sure to join our webinar with University of Texas at Austin on November 17th at 2pm EST / 11am PST.

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In a junior high class in Queens, New York, Ross Berman is teaching fractions. He wants to know whether his students are getting the key concept, so he posts a question in Google Classroom and instantly reviews their answers. It’s his favorite way to check for understanding before anyone has the chance to fall behind.

Across the country, in Bakersfield, California, Terri Parker Rodman is waiting at the dentist’s office. She wonders how her class is doing with their sub. With a few swipes on her phone, she finds out which students have finished their in-class assignment and sends a gentle reminder to those who haven’t.
Google Classroom launched last August, and now more than 10 million educators and students across the globe actively use it to teach and learn together, save time, and stay organized. We worked with teachers and students to create Classroom because they told us they needed a mission control – a central place for creating and tracking assignments, sharing ideas and resources, turning in completed work and exchanging feedback. Classroom is part of Google’s lineup of tools for education, which also includes the Google Apps for Education suite – now used by more than 50 million students, teachers and administrators around the world – and Chromebooks, the best-selling device in U.S. K-12 schools.

Here are a few of the stories we’ve heard from teachers and students who are using Classroom.

Learning better together 


We built Classroom to help educators spend less time on paperwork and administrative tasks. But it’s also proven to be highly effective at bringing students and teachers closer together. In London, fifth grader Kamal Nsudoh-Parish stays connected with his Spanish teacher while he does his homework. “If I don’t understand something, I can ask him and he’d be able to answer rather than having to wait until my next Spanish lesson,” Kamal says.

Terri, who teaches sixth grade at Old River Elementary School, also observes that Classroom can strengthen ties and improve communication. “When a student doesn't turn something in, I can see how close they are,” she says. “In the past, I couldn't tell why they didn't finish their work. I was grading them on bringing back a piece of paper instead of what their ability was.”

Resource room teacher Diane Basanese of Black River Middle School in Chester, New Jersey, says that Classroom lets her see her students’ minds at work. “I’m in the moment with them,” she explains. “We have dialogue, like, ‘Oh, are you saying I should use a transition?’ We’re talking to each other. It’s a better way.”


Removing the mundane 


By helping them cut down on busywork, Classroom empowers teachers to do even more with every school day. “I no longer waste time figuring out paper jams at the school photocopier,” says Tom Mullaney, who teaches in Efland, North Carolina. “Absent students no longer email or ask, ‘What did we do yesterday?’ These time savers may not sound like much, but they free me to spend time on things that I consider transcendent in my teaching practice.”

In Mexico City, teachers at Tec de Monterrey high school and university switched to Classroom from an online learning management system that often added complexity to their workflow instead of simplifying it. Professor Vicente Cubells says he’s found the new question feature in Classroom particularly useful for short quizzes, because he can quickly assess learning and have an automatic record of their responses and grades. “The Classroom mobile apps have also become essential for our faculty and students, we use them to stay connected even when we’re not in front of a laptop,” Cubells said.

Giving teachers superpowers 


Teachers are some of the most innovative thinkers in the world, so it’s no surprise that they’ve used Classroom in ways we never even imagined.

Elementary school teacher Christopher Conant of Boise, Idaho, says his students are usually eager to leave school behind during summer break. But after using Classroom last year, they wanted to keep their class open as a way to stay in touch. “Classroom is a tool that keeps kids connected and learning as a community, well beyond the school day, school year and school walls,” said Christopher, who continued to post videos and questions for his students all summer long.

These endless possibilities are the reason why Diane Basanese, a 30-year teaching veteran, says that Classroom is the tool she’s been looking for throughout her career. “It has made me hungrier,” she explains. “I look at how I can make every lesson a hit-it-out-of-the-ballpark lesson.”

Growing our Classroom 


Ever since we began working with teachers and students, it's been rewarding and encouraging to hear their stories, collaborate to find answers to their problems, and watch those solutions come to life at schools and universities around the world. Lucky for us, we’re just getting started.

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Sophie Diao, Doodler, on behalf of the Doodle Team

Today we’re kicking off the 2015 Doodle 4 Google art competition, where creative and curious students across the U.S. vie to take over the Google homepage for a day with their artwork. This year’s theme, “What makes me…me,” invites students K-12 to express themselves in the form of a doodle highlighting what makes them unique.

But wait don’t get out those pencils just yet. This year, there’s a twist.

Doodle 4 Google is now in its eighth year (if Doodle 4 Google were a kid, it’d be a third grader)—so we decided to mix things up a bit to let kids’ imaginations really run wild. For the first time, there are no constraints on medium: students can cook, build, cut, spin, paint, or mold their doodle–basically use any material they like as long as they incorporate the letters G-O-O-G-L-E. The Doodle team itself has used a variety of unexpected materials over the years; for example, one Earth Day, we grew a bed of flowers to spell out the doodle. So we figured: let’s open the doors for all the creative kids out there do the same.
Here you can see how I decided to express “me”! I made my doodle out of clay, baked it in the oven, and painted it with acrylic paint. The succulent was taken from my garden. See more tips from my team of Doodlers on the Doodle 4 Google website.

We anticipate a whole lot of creative use of pottery, crochet, cookie dough and more by students (although of course we want all the drawings and paintings too!), so we figured we need some help picking out the winning artwork. We have an amazing group of guest judges: professional basketball player Stephen Curry, astronaut Dr. Yvonne Cagle, director and author BJ Novak, professional soccer player Alex Morgan, Emmy-award winner Julie Bowen and animator Glen Keane (more on the judges on our site).

Together, with the Doodle Team, we’ll pick one National Winner who will have their artwork displayed on the Google homepage for millions to see, receive $30,000 towards a college scholarship, and meet and work with the Doodle team on a visit to Mountain View, Calif. Plus, their school will get to spend $50,000 on technology. Submissions are open until December 7. And for teachers, check out some classroom ideas and activities to get your young artists ready to Doodle! 

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Editor's note: Today’s guest author is Kayla Nalven, Content Specialist in Sesame Street’s U.S. Social Impact department. Through her work, Kayla aims to support the many adults in children's lives in their use of Sesame Street content and resources. She managed the content development for the “Make Believe with Math” course.

To date, more than 5,000 early childhood educators have enrolled in a free online course from Sesame Street, “Make Believe with Math”, created through Google’s Course Builder platform. The course - which will run through October 31st - emphasizes finding everyday opportunities for math in any setting and seeing pretend play as a tool for math learning.
This self-paced, three-hour experience includes videos featuring Sesame staff members, short activity challenges, discussion boards for reflection, and access to new content, so educators can bring activity ideas and strategies into their own settings.
Built with Google’s Course Builder platform, the course was a natural extension of Sesame’s legacy as the “first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC),” according to a recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Course Builder gave us a way to continue this work more literally by creating a modern online course with a goal of reaching thousands with no cost to the user; furry monsters and giggles included.

Although creating virtual classroom experiences for adults is an area we’re growing into, the process guiding us is a familiar one—in essence, it’s no different than the method behind making an episode of Sesame Street.

Our team at Sesame Street started with a goal and a concept. We wanted to make the task of incorporating math into the early childhood setting less intimidating for educators by highlighting opportunities that exist to “find the math” in everyday moments and interactions. Research describing the benefits of combining math―which relies on language as well as object/people relationships―with a highly social activity like pretend play inspired the approach featured in the course.

Next, we engaged our end users. We asked expert teachers to provide guidance on how to present information to fellow educators in a way that would add value and adhere to the standards they must follow. We developed the course curriculum based on their feedback and the Sesame Street Framework for School Readiness (which aligns with National Head Start and National Research Council math standards).

We then tested our ideas in a formal research setting. We held a focus group with educators and program directors, and heard from them that the course needed to look and feel like Professional Development―except “Muppetized”.


To ensure what we were offering felt unique, we focused on providing actionable tips and strategies that could be used by educators right away. We worked to streamline the course format and include relatable imagery and additional, single-page resources, all based on what educators told us they wanted to see and experience.

We then held a pilot offering in August, and monitored closely to ensure educators were completing activities successfully and finding value in every aspect of the course.

After the pilot, we knew there was still more work to be done. We followed up with participants and listened closely to their feedback. The data from the first launch was promising. We saw an above-average percentage of course completion, and educators told us there was a strong likelihood that they would implement strategies offered in the course in their own settings.

Finally, we set our sights on iterating. For the current offering, we applied what we learned from rich Course Builder analytics and survey data to continue making this online learning experience worthwhile for educators. We also partnered with multiple states to offer credit/contact hours to educators in those states who complete the course.

We hope to continue learning from our users so we can offer more free trainings directed at educators, parents, and community providers―and continue doing what we do best: reaching learners wherever they are. Course Builder was a natural platform to enable us to do just that.

So get your thinking caps and imaginations ready, and join us in class! Register now at www.sesamestreet.org/makebelievewithmath. The course will run through October 31st, so don’t wait until the “number of the day” is 0.