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

Since we introduced Chromebox for meetings just over two years ago, many of you have enjoyed how our devices make meetings simple and easy. Companies such as Flipkart, PwC, Pinterest and the State of Wyoming are spending less time setting up their conference calls and more time collaborating as groups across regions in rooms of all sizes with Chromebox for meetings.

Today we’re making this easy collaboration available in smaller spaces and also improving remote device management. Say hello to the Acer Chromebase for meetings, an all-in-one secure video-conferencing device optimized for use in small meeting areas with up to two people. It's a secure, self updating, easy to manage unit that builds on Chrome and WebRTC innovations for sharper video, audio and screen sharing. Guest account support makes it simple to join a meeting even without a Google account: Just click a meeting link invitation and you’re connected.

Meet from more places, with more particpants

So now, you can collaborate and meet over video from a dedicated device at home, your desk at work or a phone room. And since meeting in smaller spaces creates additional opportunity to work together across larger groups, we've also recently expanded the number of meeting participants to 25 people for Google Apps customers. After testing Chromebase for meetings in its offices, SignalFx sees the benefits.
“Using Chromebase for meetings has been an amazing experience from the start! Right out of the box, it's easy to use and lets us collaborate quickly. The centralized management option allows for full control and oversight, and the price is amazing as well." — Heidi Olson, Executive Assistant / Office Manager, SignalFx
Chromebase for meetings gets technology out of the way; just plug it in, connect it to your network and you’re up and running securely.
Chromebase for meetings is ideally suited for capturing audio and video in personal and shared workspaces:
  • Large 24-inch adjustable touchscreen display
  • Integrated, adjustable HD camera
  • 4 microphones and 2 stereo speakers

Improved management tools for meeting devices

We're also happy to announce new features to our remote fleet management tools. Administrators can receive alert notifications and track health of their fleet of Chrome devices for meetings. They can remotely diagnose and troubleshoot audio, video quality and bandwidth problems. Administrators can also customize the interface using their own background images.

Chromebase for meetings availability

Chromebase for meetings is available at $799 from our partners in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland and Australia. The cost includes the first year’s management and support fees. We'll soon after expand availability to additional countries where Chromebox for meetings is available today. You can learn more about Chromebase for meetings on our website. Sign up here to try two Chromebase for meetings devices at no cost for 30 days and receive a special promotion pricing of $549 per device with first year’s management and support fee included.*

 *Subject to approval and limited to the first 1,000 signups

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Are you a university student looking to learn more about open source software development? Look no further than Google Summer of Code (GSoC) and spend your summer break working on an exciting open source project, learning how to write code.

For twelve years running, GSoC gives participants a chance to work on an open source software project entirely online. Students, who receive a stipend for their successful contributions, are paired with mentors who can help address technical questions and concerns throughout the program. Former GSoC participants have told us that the real-world experience they’ve gained during the program has not only sharpened their technical skills, but has also boosted their confidence, broadened their professional network and enhanced their resumes.

Students who are interested can submit proposals on the program site now through Friday, March 25 at 19:00 UTC. The first step is to review the 180 open source projects and find project ideas that appeal to you. Since spots are limited, we recommend a strong project proposal to help increase your chances of selection. Our Student Manual provides lots of helpful advice to get you started on choosing an organization and crafting a great application.

For ongoing information throughout the application period and beyond, see the Google Open Source Blog, join our Google Summer of Code discussion lists or join us on internet relay chat (IRC) at #gsoc on Freenode.

Good luck to all the open source coders out there, and remember to submit your proposals early — you only have until Friday, March 25 at 19:00 UTC to apply!

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(Cross-posted on the Chrome Blog.)

This year, for Music in Our Schools Month, we wanted to help make learning about music a bit more accessible to everyone by using technology that’s open to everyone: the web. We built a set of experiments that let anyone explore how music works. It’s called Chrome Music Lab, and you can check it out at g.co/musiclab.

You can play with sound, rhythm, melody, and more. Chrome Music Lab is all built for the web, so you can start playing instantly, whether you’re on a tablet, phone, or laptop. Just like today’s Clara Rockmore doodle, the experiments are all built with the Web Audio API, a freely-accessible, open web standard that lets developers create and manipulate sound right in the browser. We’re also providing open-source code so that others can build new experiments based on what we’ve started.

Exploring music can help spark curiosity in all kinds of ways. We hope these experiments inspire you – whether they give you a new perspective on music, make you more curious about math and science, or even make you think of new ways to teach or code.

So crank up the volume and start playing at g.co/musiclab.

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Editor's note: If you’re in the Austin area today for SXSWedu, come visit the Google Fiber Space (201 Colorado Street) to attend a range of sessions on innovation in the classroom throughout the day. See the full schedule of sessions at the Google Fiber Space. Can't make it? Don't fret, all presentations will be added to the schedule after the event.

What’s the secret to inspiring the next generation of innovators? Today SXSWedu in Austin, Texas, we’ll hear thoughts about this topic from a host of speakers, including Monica Martinez, regional director at EdTechTeam, and a panel of Google Science Fair student winners.

While inspiration comes in many forms, it’s clear that technology, along with support from teachers, parents and advisors, is key to motivating students to make a difference in their communities and beyond. Here’s an overview of what these inspiring speakers will be sharing.

Empowering a culture of technology and mentorship
“Everything I’ve done in my career involves using technology to become more efficient,” says Monica Martinez. “I want to inspire educators and teachers to do the same, to solve problems and create workflows that would otherwise be cumbersome.” As regional director at EdTechTeam, her goal is to help educators embrace tools, such as Google Apps for Education, to better manage their work.

Martinez has been passionate about technology since childhood, when she started using her uncle’s computer for school projects and to teach herself how design. She built a career in design and educational technology — the two topics that have inspired her SXSWedu session about creating the ultimate workflow for educators with Google Apps.

“Teachers often are concerned that they don’t have enough time in the day to get everything done,” Martinez says. This problem is compounded when teachers feel ill-equipped to use new technology. Martinez leads workshops to show teachers how easy-to-use technology can help with their daily tasks.

Beyond the efficiency benefits, technology helps to create a culture of empowerment. When educators model new technology, they can inspire students to do more with the tools at their disposal.

“Telling students to think critically, experiment with new things and collaborate is fine, but if they don’t see their teachers, mentors and advisors doing the same, the message isn’t as strong and sometimes lost,” says Martinez.
Topic: Efficient workflows with Google Apps
Presenter:
Monica Martinez, Regional Director, EdTechTeam
When: Tuesday, March 8th, 2016, 12:30 - 1:00 pm
Inspiring the next generation of creators
Kavita, Elif, Naomi and Deepika are young inventors who will be speaking about how to motivate future innovators, explorers and pioneers. Aside from being Google Science Fair finalists and winners, these four young people have something else in common: supportive and dedicated mentors.

“Many teenagers are sitting at home all over the world with big ideas and questions, but they don’t know how to get started making a difference. Teachers, parents and mentors in their communities can play a powerful role by supporting these students,” explains Andrea Cohan, program lead for the Google Science Fair.

Students that participate in the Google Science Fair are able to explore and interact with science, engineering and their communities — global and local — in a way that enriches the typical classroom experience.

From finding sustainable alternatives for manufacturing and water purification to improving air quality, the students on this panel have no shortage of world-changing ideas. For example, Elif, who is from Istanbul, Turkey, found a way to use banana peels to produce bio-plastic as a replacement for traditional petroleum-based plastic in her project, Going Bananas.

SXSWedu attendees are in a position to positively impact students’ lives. “You can help them find the resources they need to get started, discuss their ideas with them and simply be a supportive sounding board. Every student on this panel attributes part of their success to the mentors, like you, in their lives,” Cohan says.
Topic: #Howcanwe inspire the next generation of innovators, explorers and pioneers? Moderator: Stephan Turnipseed, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, Destination Imagination
Panelists: Google Science Fair winners Kavita Selva, 2013 Google Science Fair finalist Elif Bilgin, 2013 Google Science Fair Science in Action winner Naomi Shah, 2011 Google Science Fair winner, ages 15-16 Deepika Kurup, 2015 Google Science Fair National Geographic Explorer Award winner
When: Tuesday, March 8th, 2016, 1:15 - 2:00 pm
To hear from these speakers and more, join us for these sessions at the Google Fiber Space. If you can’t make it in person, follow #GoogleEdu to stay up to date and check the event page where we'll post the presentations. We also encourage all students ages 13-18 (from anywhere in the world!) to participate in the 2016 Google Science Fair, which is open for submissions until May 17.

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Editor's note: If you’re in the Austin area for SXSWedu, come visit the Google Fiber Space (201 Colorado Street) to attend a range of sessions on innovation in the classroom today, Monday, March 7 and tomorrow, Tuesday, March 8. See the full schedule of sessions at the Google Fiber Space.

The audience today at SXSWedu has a lofty task in front of them: inspiring and motivating the future generations to innovate, create and make a positive impact on the world. Today, we’re introducing three of the many educational technologists who are hosting sessions at the Google Fiber Space on how technology can help students excel in the classroom and in their future careers.

Jason Carroll, Global Products Manager at Texthelp, will discuss how literacy, accessibility and dyslexia tools help students learn to love reading. Erin Mindell Cannon, Research Education Program Manager at Google, and Abby Bouchon, K12 Education Outreach Specialist at Google, will share tools and resources computer science educators can use to inspire a passion for technology in the classroom. Here’s a brief snapshot of what these speakers will be sharing. If you won’t be at SXSWedu, all presentations will be linked to the schedule after the event.

Technology inspires struggling students to be confident
While children are naturally curious about the world, they often lose this love of learning when they feel frustrated. “The biggest barriers to students achieving academic success is lack of effective strategies to help students when they are struggling,” Carroll says. It can be tricky for teachers to create individual lesson plans when they have classrooms of 30 or more students, all with different learning styles. Tools like Texthelp make it easier for educators to provide personalized learning plans and help students gain confidence.

Reading proficiency is an important building block for academic success, but mastering the skill can be frustrating for students of all levels. Technology can help students improve their reading proficiency fast and practice reading aloud at their own pace. With Texthelp’s Fluency Tutor, for example, students can record themselves reading, practice until they feel confident about their effort and share the recording with their teacher. “My daughter loves using it. She’ll record herself reading a passage then listen to it. If she’s not satisfied with it, she’ll re-record it until she’s happy,” Carroll says.
Student dashboard in Fluency Tutor from Texthelp
Tools like these keep students engaged and allow teachers to measure progress over time, but ”it’s more than just handing over the device,” Carroll says. When you combine hands-on instruction with technology, each student gets personalized attention and encouragement.
Topic: Help Struggling Learners Succeed with Texthelp's Read&Write for Google Chrome Presenter: Jason Carroll, Global Products Manager, Texthelp
When: Monday, March 7th, 9:30 - 10:00 am

Topic: Discover the Future of Reading Supports with Texthelp's Fluency Tutor for Google Presenter: Jason Carroll, Global Products Manager, Texthelp
When: Monday, March 7th, 1:15 - 2:00 pm
Confidence in the classroom is everything
Erin Mindell Cannon and Abby Bouchon, who work with Google to inspire students of all backgrounds to learn computer science, believe educators play a critical role in boosting confidence. Google has published three studies on K-12 CS education and found that a key factor for guiding women to major in computer science (CS) in college is encouragement from parents, educators and peers. On the flip side, students can be discouraged from exploring CS because of the lack of diverse role models. “In another research study, we found that parents and students associate computer scientists with the stereotype of white males who wear glasses,” Bouchon says. Educators can promote a diverse range of role models and make sure the school subject is accessible and engaging for students and teachers from different backgrounds.
Google igniteCS students from Colorado School of Mines' Discover Technology group use binary cards to get middle school students excited about Computer Science
Students can be inspired if they feel that the work they are doing benefits society. “If a student believes she’s capable of creating a new technology that can make a positive impact on the world, that’s a motivator,” Cannon says. Students who understand the practical applications of the technology skills and the positive impact they can have in their community -- such as designing a mobile app that geotags local graffiti and organizes a volunteer event to clean it up -- are more likely to excel in the classroom.
Topic: Celebrating Computer Science Educators Presenters: Erin Mindell Cannon, Research Education Program Manager at Google, and Abby Bouchon, K-12 Education Outreach Specialist
When: Monday, March 7th, 3:45 - 4:30 pm
Interested in learning more about how technology motivates students to succeed? Stop by the Google Fiber Space at 201 Colorado Street to check out these sessions and more today, March 7th.

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Editor's note: If you’ll be in the Austin area for SXSWedu, come visit the Google Fiber Space (201 Colorado Street) to attend a range of sessions on innovation in the classroom on Monday, March 7 and Tuesday, March 8. See the full schedule of sessions at the Google Fiber Space and stay tuned for more posts over the next few days about other session topics and presenters.

If SXSW is about emerging talent in the film and music space, SXSWedu is the convergence of educational creativity and social change. At this year’s South by Southwest EDU (SXSWedu) conference, we’ll be there highlighting some unique ways schools are truly changing what it means to get an education by giving students the tools to think creatively and carve their own learning path.

We talked with three educators and technologists who will be giving sessions in the Google Fiber Space next week: Bill MacKenzie on how his students are creating a 360-degree virtual reality experience; Emily Henderson on expanding the classroom walls to take field trips across the world; and Vincent Giersch on creating music in a collaborative way.

Students pursue their passions with virtual reality videos
When students used virtual reality in the classroom for the first time, they leapt out of their seats and were transported to a different world. But Upper Grand District School Board took the experience one step further by having students create their own virtual reality experiences. Using a Theta 360-degree camera, students in grades 6 through 8 create videos that encourage them to think creatively and develop a new perspective on the video development process, such as storyboarding with 3D imagery.
Students from Upper Grand District in Ontario, Canada creating documentary-style videos together
The videos allow students to give parents and others an inside view of what it’s like to go to school at Upper Grand District. Students have created documentary-type videos showing students playing dodgeball in PE class, interacting with teachers in class and walking down the halls during break. They also have created videos that benefit the community as a whole. For example, Bill MacKenzie, IT and Program Liaison at Upper Grand District School Board, responsible for developing IT strategy and training teachers how to use technology in the classroom, wanted to convince the board of trustees to invest more in parking lot safety. Students created a 5-minute video using time lapse photography to show an hour of cars coming and going during morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up, and in essence, transported the trustees to that moment in time.

Google Cardboard gives an immersive experience for people who can’t physically be there,” MacKenzie says. “We ask kids, ‘What’s a problem you want to solve?’ and empower them to put their thinking caps on and find a solution using technology.”

A global classroom that encourages curiosity and positive change
As students use technology to give them a global perspective, it’s clear how important it is to increase students’ universal awareness and love for the environment. Maps and pictures from around the world encourage students to think about places from a different perspective, sparking curiosity and engagement.

With Google Expeditions, students are able to take immersive virtual reality field trips to the farthest corners of our planet. For example, students in the Samburu Expedition traveled to north-central Kenya to learn about the unique qualities of elephant families and how harmful poaching is to the elephants and ecosystem.
Teacher view on a tablet
“After the field trip, Google mapping tools enable students to go nearly everywhere, learn about anywhere, create rich experiences and share their stories right from their Chromebooks,” says Emily Henderson, Google Geo Education Program Manager.

Students are also using maps and data visualization to positively impact their communities. Using My Maps, a group of Roots & Shoots students in Syosset, New York plotted human, environmental and animal characteristics in their neighborhood to show their community places to celebrate nature in a dense urban environment and highlight local animal shelters. Students are telling stories important to them with the data collected and displayed on maps. Henderson says, “We want to inspire a new generation of global citizens who analyze the past, understand the present and protect its future.”

Creating new music scores and performing them together in real time
As the classroom becomes more collaborative, music students are turning individual projects into group projects using software called Flat for Education. When students compose together, they share their knowledge by combining their music creation ideas and learn from each other’s work. For example, a small group of students can write the parts for their own instrument using the collaborative music notation editor Flat and then perform the end result of individual efforts together.

“When we created Flat for Education, we finally provided the easiest tool to help students learn how to compose together and allow them to create their own music,” says Vincent Giersch, CTO and co-founder of Flat. “We want students to be able to make magic and learn in a way that is engaging for them.”
Music score in Flat
Interested in learning more about these topics? Join us at SXSWedu to hear MacKenzie share tips for introducing virtual reality in classes, Henderson talk about the cool places students are traveling with Google Maps, and Giersch discuss how technology can help music students collaborate creatively.

If you’ll be in the Austin area this week, come visit us at the Google Fiber Space to attend a range of sessions on innovation in the classroom. See the full schedule of sessions and stay tuned for more posts throughout the week.

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Brian LeVee, Product Manager

Writing a book report or creating a lesson plan from scratch is no easy task. Sometimes it’s even difficult to know where to start!

That’s why today, we’re introducing new templates in DocsSheets, and Slides, designed by experts like Reading Rainbow and Google Science Fair to make your schoolwork even better, easier.

Reading Rainbow, the third longest running children's TV series in US history and award-winning digital service, has been inspiring children to read for over 30 years. Reading Rainbow created a lesson plan and a book report template in Docs to help teachers and students get things done.

The Google Science Fair is an annual online science and engineering competition open to teens globally. In the competition, young scientists have tackled issues like world hunger, life-threatening diseases and the energy crisis. Use GSF’s science fair template in Slides for a head start on your next project—or for this year’s GSF.

So whether you’re working on your next project at home or on the bus ride home - get a head start with new templates in DocsSheets, and Slides - all available on the web, Android and iOS.