Embrace Enhanced Security & Accessibility with New Google Classroom & YouTube Updates

As we roll through the final months of 2021, Google continues to put out fresh updates that can help your classroom hit the ground running next semester. That includes recently announced upgrades to Google Classroom and YouTube, as well as security and accessibility improvements that can help your students engage with their digital learning tools with a greater level of stability and ease.

Here are just a few of the most important Google updates announced this past summer and fall. For more information on Google updates announced in the first half of the year, check out our previous Google update digests from March 2021 and July 2021. We also have Google update digest from early November, covering updates to Docs, Sheets, Drive, and more.

Keep Everything Safe and Up-to-Date with Classroom

Since the onset of widespread remote learning last year, Google has been continuously upgrading Classroom to help it meet the needs of today’s remote and hybrid learners.

This has included making necessary security updates to their core video meeting system. In particular, students will now be directed into a waiting room before joining a video call and those not appearing on the class roster will now need to be admitted by the class teacher before being allowed to participate in the video call.

On the teacher side, Google has made a couple noteworthy upgrades that are sure to save educators time while facilitating remote and hybrid learning.

The most noteworthy of these upgrades is the ability to automatically sync classroom rosters with an existing student information system (SIS) via Clever. In practice, this much-requested feature mitigates the need for manually creating new classes in Classroom, so long as information in the school’s SIS is kept up to date (Note: this feature is only available to Google Workspace for Education Plus users at this time).

Reach More Students with Improved Accessibility Features

In addition to larger, app-based upgrades, Google has also rolled out several smaller (though no less impactful) improvements geared towards helping all students more fruitfully engage with their digital learning.

The first of these upgrades is available now in Google Meet. In that app, users can now utilize the app’s live captioning system in five new languages: Spanish (Spain and Latin America), French, Portuguese, and German. While this feature remains in beta at this time, its core functionality can presently help improve information sharing, learning, and collaboration in multilingual classrooms and districts.

Meanwhile, over in Google Docs, Google has improved the way the platform delivers suggestions while in braille mode. To that end, users utilizing assistive technology, including screen readers and refreshable braille displays, can now receive detailed suggestion information in line with the rest of the text.

Finally, Google has rolled out a new font across all of Workspace that was developed with vision impaired users in mind. This font, Atkinson Hyperlegible, is now available across all of Google’s core apps, including Docs, Slides, and Sheets.

Enhanced Privacy and Control Options

As part of a larger initiative to improve privacy and security for all users, Google is currently rolling out a number of upgrades to Google Workspace for Education designed to keep students in particular from accessing unsafe or unsuitable content while working through their school’s domain.

Several of these changes have already rolled out, including the introduction of new age-based settings on September 1, 2021. These settings require primary and secondary institutions to indicate the age for all users, including if those users are under 18. Those who are under 18 will receive a different user experience when utilizing Google apps and services going forward.

The most notable of these UX changes can be seen over on YouTube, where K-12 users marked as under 18 will no longer be able to post videos, comment, or live stream using their school Google account. These students will still be able to view videos sent to them by their teacher, however.

You can read more about these privacy and security upgrades – including the new default K-12 Chrome user experience – over on the Google for Education blog.

Stay Up-to-Date on the Latest from Google

No matter which Google apps or services your classroom or district uses, the LTC is here to help you make the most of your digital teaching capabilities. That’s why we offer a variety of Google-focused professional development opportunities, as well as free, online courses designed to help you grow your Google knowledge on your own time.

As a Google Cloud Partner, we can also help you find the resources you need to make full utilization of Google’s latest updates a reality in your district. A great place to start is over on the LTC Community, where you can problem-solve and share resources with other educators in our topical Google Network.

Creating a Google Classroom Community ROE 47

When used to its full potential, Google Classroom is more than just a place to post announcements and files. Learn to create an inviting, differentiated, collaborative learning space that facilitates better learning experiences for students. This workshop will help you organize your digital file-sharing, develop a grading and feedback workflow, and integrate engaging and enriching tools into Google Classroom.

Creating a Google Classroom Community ROE 35

When used to its full potential, Google Classroom is more than just a place to post announcements and files. Learn to create an inviting, differentiated, collaborative learning space that facilitates better learning experiences for students. This workshop will help you organize your digital file-sharing, develop a grading and feedback workflow, and integrate engaging and enriching tools into Google Classroom.

Advanced Uses of Google Classroom

Google Classroom provides teachers and students with a powerful learning space that can effectively organize and manage digital coursework during both remote and in-person learning. This session will explore the Google Classroom’s advanced features as well as how this platform can integrate with dozens of web applications and other digital tools. Join us to see how Google Classroom can assist in streamlining your workflow and engaging your students in a remote, hybrid, or in-person learning environment.

Creating a Google Classroom Community ROE 8

When used to its full potential, Google Classroom is more than just a place to post announcements and files. Learn to create an inviting, differentiated, collaborative learning space that facilitates better learning experiences for students. This workshop will help you organize your digital file-sharing, develop a grading and feedback workflow, and integrate engaging and enriching tools into Google Classroom.

Learn Safer and Easier with Updates for Google Classroom, Workspace & Chrome OS

Google Updates Summer 2021 Blog

Back on June 22, Google revealed a roadmap of its upcoming product and software updates during its The Anywhere School online event. That roadmap featured a cornucopia of exciting developments, including useful enhancements for Google Classroom, Google Workspace for Education, Chrome OS, and more.

Taken together, these updates are geared toward helping educators and school leaders continue their efforts toward making virtual learning easy, accessible, and adaptable to the changing needs of today’s classrooms.

Chances are, your school or classroom can take advantage of these updates starting as soon as the fall 2021 semester. Take a look and see what Google has in store when it comes to making their already-popular apps and tools even more productive and safe.

Greater Ease and Adaptability with Google Classroom

Over the past year and a half, Google Classroom has become a mainstay in schools large and small across the world. Millions of teachers and student participated in remote learning through the platform, with many schools utilizing Google Classroom as their primary learning management system (LMS).

Now, Google is positioning Classroom to meet the education community’s evolving needs, starting with small, quality-of-life improvements like streamlined roster import. This update for Google for Education Plus users will allow teachers to automatically set up class rosters and sync them with their student information system (SIS) using Clever (which requires a separate subscription).

Another small update coming later this year will allow teachers to schedule assignments across multiple classes. This will make it easier to uniformly assign projects and tests across multiple sections of the same course without spending extra time initiating assignment each individually.

Google Meet will also see some upgrades in the near future, including the ability to add co-presenters to any video conference. At the same time, those moderators will have more breakout room options, including the ability to force call participants into and out of said breakout rooms.

On the larger side, teachers in districts with the Teaching and Learning Upgrade or Education Plus can look forward to add-ons directly within their Classroom interface. These add-ons will provide immediate access to an assortment of popular digital education tools and apps – all without needing to navigate to a separate third-party website or app.

Google plans to launch the add-on beta with modules from nine popular providers, including Edpuzzle, Kahoot!, Nearpod, Newsela, Adobe Spark for Education, BookWidgets, and more. Admins will be able to pre-install these add-ons for teachers and students, too, making it easy to get up and running with new integrated add-ons.

For more on new Google Classroom features coming this year, check out Google’s blog post on the topic.

Quicker Collaboration with Google Workspace for Education

Google Workspace for Education (formerly known as G Suite for Education) is also receiving a bevy of upgrades in the coming months, many of which will make its core apps and tools even more interconnected and practical for collaborative digital learning.

One such feature involves the introduction of so-called “smart chips” into Docs, Sheets, and Slides. These “chips” are able to detect certain types of inputs and intelligently connect them to other resources within the user’s Drive or contact book. For example, a user who types in the name of a document in their Drive or an individual in their contact book will be given the option to immediately link that resource using an interactive, inline tile.

Google Docs, meanwhile, will soon receive an upgrade to its existing grammar suggestion engine. Education Plus customers will notice this upgrade as their documents automatically scan for and highlight offensive or stylistically tricky words and phrases. The engine will then offer suggestions to the user, though both elements can be easily turned off by admins.

At the same time, Google Workspace for Education is introducing a handy way to quickly jump from a doc or slide presentation into a Google Meet video conference. With just a click of the Google Meet icon up in the right-hand corner of an open resource, teachers will be able to join a call and open their current resource at the same time, saving valuable classroom time along the way.

Finally, Google is doubling down on its commitment to keeping Workspace a safe space for students and teachers to interact and participate in the learning process. To do that, they’ll soon launch new admin-level security options that make it easier to detect and address potential internal threats, including accidental malware sharing. New Drive trust rules will also roll out in beta for Education Standard and Education Plus customers in the coming months, allowing those admins to more precisely determine how files are shared within their institution.

For more information on upcoming Google Workspace for Education features, check out Google’s blog post on the topic.

Manage a Safer Chromebook Fleet

As the number one device in K-12 classrooms around the world, it’s no wonder that Google is keeping their Chromebooks front of mind in their next round of updates. That means that users can expect optional software upgrades for Chrome OS in the near future, as well as new options for admin-level access and management.

Following in line with updates announced earlier this year, network administrators will soon find new options for managing an institution’s Chromebook fleet within the Google Admin Console. This includes a devoted page for the new Chrome Insights Reports, which list which devices in the fleet are reaching their AUE and how admins should plan for new hardware purchases, accordingly.

Google is also taking cues from smart phones when it comes to another new Chromebook feature. At an administrator’s discretion, teachers and students (especially young learners) will soon be able to log into their device using a six-digit PIN. New users will be prompted to set up these PINs on their own, and future devices will come standard with this feature enabled.

Inclusivity and accessibility have also been notable imperatives for the Chromebook development team lately. That’s why, in the coming months, users will be able to utilize Google’s new Live Caption system on their Chromebooks, as well as a full-panning mode in the operating system’s existing full-screen magnifier. Switch Access will also receive an upgrade in August, making it easier for users to utilize alternative USB and Bluetooth devices to control their cursor.

To see what else Google has in store for new Chromebook and Chrome OS software, check out Google’s blog post on the topic.

Keeping You in the Loop about the Latest Google Updates

All in all, educators have a lot to look forward to this summer and throughout the rest of 2021 when it comes to Google app and tool upgrades. The Learning Technology Center (LTC) is here to help you understand all of these updates and plan for their immediate implementation into your current digital learning environments.

As a Google Cloud Partner, we can also help you find the resources you need to make full utilization of Google’s latest updates a reality for your district.

If you have questions about any of Google’s newly announced improvements, contact the Regional Educational Technology Coordinator (RETC) for your area. You can also learn more about using Google’s current education apps over in our free online courses collection or about Google Workspace for Education updates announced during spring 2021 on our blog.

App Smashing with Google Classroom and Forms

Learn how to import grades from Google Forms into Google Classroom and other tips and tricks in Forms. Also, learn about using and reusing Rubrics in Google Classroom.

Learn How to Use Google Classroom!

At the start of the 2018 school year, Google launched its largest update of Google Classroom ever! With the update, Google significantly changed many of the core features of Google Classroom. To assist teachers in understanding this update RETC Ben Sondgeroth has created an in-depth video playlist on all things Google Classroom. No matter if you are new or a seasoned veteran to using Google Classroom, this video playlist is for you! Click the menu icon in the top left corner of the video screen to find all the videos on the playlist.

For more great video content be sure to subscribe to the LTC YouTube Channel!


Google Classroom Playlist