In today’s world of Internet, we have fast and easy access to plenty of information on almost anything. All it takes is pressing a few buttons and everything we want to know is brought to our mobile or computer screen. Classrooms are becoming more connected and learning has become more creative, thanks to the efforts of the major tech companies which are pouring their resources into bringing teachers, students and institutions on the same platform. The biggest player in this educational technology sector is obviously Google. They keep on unleashing new productivity and collaboration tools as a part of their G Suite for education and the best part is that it’s all free. Let us have a look at some of these applications and tools and how they can be effectively used to improve the education system.
- Google Scholar
This application lets you look for scholarly material from a single place. The authenticity of the information increases, as it does not show public web content that we generally see on a search engine. It is free to use and can be easily accessed by anyone to search information in any field of study including such sources as abstracts, articles, and books. It contains links to the original articles or the full text and one can also save the acquired material and reference for future use.
- Google Classroom
Released in 2014, this application is for schools that seek to simplify creating, distributing and grading assignments in a paperless way. It integrates many of the Google’s services (Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar) in order to help educational establishments switch to a system that would be completely paperless. Assignments are created and distributed among students with the help of Google Drive and classroom communication is provided through Gmail. Teachers can simply add students directly from the Google Apps directory or generate a code, which the student can enter to gain access to the class.
Email has proved to be the best method of communication in the online world and Gmail is the indisputable leader in this field. It is one of the most popular, secure, powerful and free mailing clients on the Internet. Its online storage facility, device synchronization and email notification facility can be exploited by the schools to send messages to their students, parents or school staff. Report cards can be sent separately to the students and parents easily and quickly. As stated earlier, Gmail can be used together with other services to improve productivity.
- Google Alerts
One of the lesser known services provided by Google, this free application is a content change detection and notification service that sends emails to the user when it finds new results about the topic for which the alert has been set. Instead of browsing the internet for the same topic frequently, which at times can be tedious and frustrating too, one can set an alert using this simple tool and get notified whenever new information is available online. Students and teachers can use this tool to stay abreast of the latest developments in the field of their interest.
- Google Hangouts
Google Hangouts, one of the most popular applications provided by Google, is a free video conferencing tool available to teachers and students. It has got some distinctive features which sets it apart from the crowd. Apart from being integrated with other Google services like YouTube, Gmail and Calendar, it allows one to communicate with up to ten users at a time. Teachers can use this service to help their students, or the students can clarify their doubts even when they are at different places at that time. Schools can invite guests to motivate their students through video conferencing or a renowned faculty can be invited to take a class online. This amazing app has already occupied the center stage and has gained popularity among the educators too.
- Google Drive
Google Drive is a cloud-based storage that allows one to store their files online. Apart from storing almost all types of files online, it also allows the users to synchronize files across their devices and share the files. Schools can use this service to provide all the learning and academic materials online at one place and share the link with the teachers and students so that they can gain access to the required folder. As mentioned earlier, assignments can be uploaded for the students by the teachers in separate folders for different classes and the students can also submit their finished homework there. Features like Google Docs, Slides, Sheets and Forms complete the package.
- Google Books
Gone are the days when we had to purchase a book for studying or take library membership in order to study any book there. Google Books, a service offered by Google, has brought the library into our pockets. It is a digital library containing over 25 million scanned books, giving us unprecedented access to almost every book. It is a boon for the students who do not have access to a library and is also helpful for teachers as they can also have a look at any concept from various angles.
Thus, as seen above, the advancement in technology has contributed remarkably in revolutionizing our education system and Google has been at the forefront of this mission right from the beginning. Since the introduction of G Suite for Education (previously known as Google Apps for Education) more than ten years ago, they have consistently worked hard and produced some powerful tools and solutions that have left us wondering about the vast potential of these applications and the role that they can play in improving the schooling system. With more than 70 million members worldwide and a pretty high growth rate, Google is steadily moving with its aim of increasing innovation, participation and creativity among the students and teachers. With such powerful tools at our disposal, we should take advantage of them and make education more creative and less boring.
Author bio: Paul Bates is an EdTech expert and blogger writing about education, technology, and entrepreneurship for a variety of online magazines and blogs. Recently, along with some other bloggers, he has contributed his expertise to an article about education in South Africa.