digital learning tools
Screencast and Figma Added to Chromebooks as Google Unveils Slate of New Features and Integrations
Google for Education today announced a slate of new apps and functions for Chromebooks, Google Classroom, and Google Meet as well as planned integrations with popular ed tech apps expected to launch later this year.
During a livestreamed announcement, Google for Education leaders introduced the Screencast app now built into Chromebooks running M103; Screencast allows students and teachers to easily record, review, trim, transcribe, translate, and share a lesson or project. Users can also draw on the screen using a mouse or stylus during their recording, and the user’s face and voice is recorded along with the on-screen content, Google said.
The recordings are automatically saved into the user’s Google Drive folder. Each is transcribed automatically, and when the recording is viewed, the transcript appears at the right, the transcription is searchable, and clicking on a section of the transcript jumps the recording to the associated section of the video.
The Screencast feature is available now, Google said, for users whose Chromebooks are running the latest update.
Cast Moderator is another new feature for Chromebook users that will begin piloting this summer, Google said. Enabling teachers — and students with teacher approval — to wirelessly cast their Chromebook screen to a central display, Cast Moderator will become available this fall to select users of Google TV devices. Learn more or sign up for updates on availability of Cast Moderator at goo.gle/castmoderator-interest.
Figma, a browser-based collaborative design software, is another new app coming to Chromebooks, Google announced. Figma will be available this summer through a free beta for US classrooms using Chromebooks, Google said, and schools can apply starting today to participate in the beta by visiting Figma.com/chromebooks. The free Figma licenses can be managed from within the Google Admin console, and implemented similar to the way Google Docs licenses are assigned, the company said.
Practice Sets, Google Classroom’s AI-powered helper previewed in a March announcement, will soon be available to all educators using a Teaching and Learning Upgrade within Google Classroom, or any institution using Google Workspace for Education Plus, the company said today. Practice Sets gives students hints for solving problems and immediate feedback on their answers — and it can turn teaching content into interactive assignments and automatically grade responses, Google explained in a previous blog post.
Educators can sign up to participate in the Practice Sets beta at goo.gle/practicesets-beta.
Enhanced accessibility features were also announced today; voice dictation, high-contrast mode, and other accessibility tools can now be configured per user and will remain in place across all Google workspaces, the company said.
Read Along, the free Android reading app for young students, is being introduced this month in a free web version, Google said. Anyone with internet access and any Google account will be able to try out the new online version of Read Along; school admins can enable Read Along on the web through the Google Admin console.
Google Meet also has new features, the company announced. Education Plus users and Teaching and Learning Upgrade users will see that Meet calls can now be auto-transcribed into a Google Doc. Also, Meet now has a Picture in Picture function so teachers can present or view in one tab while viewing four tiles of students in a Meet call. Other new features for Meet include livestream polls and Q&As and livestreaming directly to YouTube, Google said. Learn more about new Google Meet features on the company’s blog post about the updates.
Finally, Google leaders announced that Classroom add-ons will launch “in the coming months” for Education Plus users and Teaching and Learning Upgrade users. The add-ons — which will be controlled within the Admin console — will allow Google Classroom integration with more than 15 popular ed tech apps and platforms including IXL, Pear Deck, Kahoot, Nearpod, Newsela, and others to be announced.
“Teachers and students can soon access custom learning and grading experiences … they can sign into Classroom and each add-on with the same login, removing the need to remember multiple passwords or to navigate to multiple websites to access classwork,” Google said in a new blog post. “Teachers can more easily review student work with the Classroom grader view and grades will automatically transfer to the Classroom gradebook.”
To be notified when the add-on feature is available, subscribe to Google for Education updates.
Learn more about all Google for Education’s announcements on today’s Google Classroom blog post.
Kristal Kuykendall is editor, 1105 Media Education Group. You can be reached at [email protected].