G Suite for Education is a set of cloud-based tools that enable educators and students to work together online. This version of G Suite includes all the core Google apps such as Gmail and Google Docs, with the addition of some school-oriented tools such as Google Classroom. If you work in an education setting, G Suite for Education will not cost you a cent — and Google has pledged that it will remain free forever.
Digital teaching with G Suite
G Suite changes the way that educators communicate, collaborate, and teach while preparing students to learn in the same way they will one day work — online. From kindergartens to research universities, over 90 million people around the world are already using G Suite for Education to teach, study or manage faculty and students.
As more schools and colleges switch to operating remotely, with teachers and students both working from home, G Suite for Education is becoming an indispensable toolset. This ensures the continuity of education delivery. When you’re teaching or running courses remotely, G Suite helps you build a virtual communication and collaboration environment to replace real-life interaction.
Which apps are included and what can I do with them?
If you’re not familiar with G Suite, all the apps are cloud-based and accessible from any device. This means you access them over the internet with a login password, rather than installing software onto your computer. You can share documents with other users and collaborate in the same file at the same time. On top of that, all changes are updated automatically, giving you real-time information.
Gmail allows schools to use their own domain to create email accounts for users. It’s secure and easy to carry out searches and create archives. The administrator can access all email accounts which can be useful when monitoring or controlling student email.
Calendar lets you schedule and share meetings and events, as well as receive and send reminders to colleagues and students. You can also create multiple calendars, e.g. a personal calendar, a classroom calendar, and a faculty calendar.
Docs is a collaborative word processor, like an online, pared-down version of Microsoft Word. This means that multiple users can work on one document together, in real-time. The person who creates the document can grant edit, comment, or view access to documents.
Sheets is Google’s own spreadsheet software for recording data and crunching numbers. It’s a great tool for administrators to track school data and trends. Using Sheets in the classroom especially helps teach students valuable data management skills. It works like Excel, but it’s totally cloud-based with a very user-friendly design.
Drive offers unlimited cloud storage space to schools. In other words, you can organize and share documents and folders in one place and access them remotely from anywhere.
Forms is a survey tool allowing you to collect information, set quizzes, and analyze the results in real-time.
Slides is like a simpler, collaborative version of PowerPoint, that allows the whole team to work together on multimedia presentations in real-time.
Meet offers video and voice conferencing for small groups of up to 25 people.
Classroom is a digital learning environment where instructors can set assignments, communicate with students and grade work.
Sites lets you or your students create a simple website to host materials, curriculum or projects — without any web design or coding skills.
Jamboard app allows students to share ideas and collaborate on a cloud-based whiteboard via tablet or web browser.
Groups lets you share class handouts, materials, and links with students, parents and other teachers. It’s also useful for sending email announcements to parents.
Vault gives you control over data and security settings.
How secure is G Suite for Education?
G Suite for Education is designed to meet the security standards required of schools. Moreover, Google’s advanced settings give you control over your data.
- Secure Servers. All G Suite apps have enterprise-grade access controls so data stays private and secure.
- Data Loss Protection helps to ensure that important data is saved.
- No ads. G Suite for Education’s core services do not contain advertising and student data from primary and secondary students is not used for targeted ad profiling.
- Compliant with legislation. G Suite for Education meets FERPA, COPPA and data protections standards.
- Student Protection helps keep young people safe online. This means that administrators can set controls and create reports to monitor interactions online. You can block certain keywords pertaining to violence or inappropriate conversations then notify the admin when used by students.
- Vault allows you to control data retention, search your domain’s data and carry out audits.
If you work in a large institution and need more advanced privacy and security controls, you may want to pay for the Enterprise edition. This is an upgraded version of G Suite for Education with enhanced security options.
Help getting started
One of the leaders in the field of digital education is teacher and Google Certified innovator Alice Keeler. Her Teacher Tech website and blog offers hundreds of tips, tutorials and templates on everything from teaching maths remotely to coding for kids.
Teach remotely via Google Classroom
Google Classroom is an impressive virtual learning environment that Google designed in conjunction with teachers. Here’s an overview of what you can do with it:
- Create and manage classes. Students log in with a special code, so you can see who is present and keep information private.
- Communicate with students via the Stream, just as if you were standing at the front of a real classroom. Students can ask questions and interact with you in the chat box.
- Provide materials and resources in the Classwork section.
- Share videos, set quizzes and other activities.
- Set assignments and give feedback to students.
Using Google Sheets for remote teaching and education management
You might think of spreadsheets as data management software for administrators. They also make a handy addition to the teacher’s toolkit, however, especially when you are delivering classes remotely.
Class brainstorming and project work
In an online learning environment a spreadsheet can be used a bit like a whiteboard or a place to collect information. Students (or groups of students) can submit ideas, links or comments via a Google Form, and you can set the information to appear automatically in a Google Sheet. If you are presenting to the class via Google Meet or other video conferencing software, you can simply share your screen to show the spreadsheet. If you’re not familiar with Google Forms, check out our step by step guide on how to connect Forms to Google Sheets.
Help students organize their own work
Working remotely and digitally is as much a challenge for students as it is for teachers. Pupils can quickly acculate a lot of documents and folders, making it difficult for them (and you) to find things. A spreadsheet offers a flexible and fast way for students to collect, organize and share information in a tabular format. Students can use a spreadsheet as a way to prepare and share a portfolio of work or a research plan, for example. Rather than sending emails back and forth with updates, which is incredibly time-consuming for you, you can check each student’s portfolio or project progress directly in their spreadsheet, via Google Sheets’ share function.
Google Sheets can be used to record which students turn up to (online) class and to share that data with school administrators. For a completely automated system, use Sheetgo’s attendance management workflow template. The teacher fills out their own Google Sheet, marking which students are present or absent at each class using the tick boxes and dropdown menus. Each teacher’s spreadsheet is connected to the administrator’s master sheet, via Sheetgo connections. The data flows automatically from the teacher’s spreadsheet to the administrator’s spreadsheet, giving school managers an instant overview of attendance across the school, without the need for emails or calls.
Want to track attendance directly from Google Classroom? The program doesn’t have an inbuilt attendance system but it’s easy to create a system using Google Forms and Sheets. Read more here.
Monitor student grades
Spreadsheets can also be used to audit assignments, monitor student performance and share data with other staff in the school or university.
Record all your students’ grades in one secure place and share that data with school administrators automatically using Sheetgo’s Gradebooks Management template. Teachers log student grades for each assignment in their own spreadsheet. Sheetgo connections transfer the data to the manager’s master sheet automatically. Here, the automated dashboard provides an at-a-glance overview of achievement levels per class or per assignment.
Boost G Suite for Education with add-ons
Given that the entire set of apps is completely free, it’s pretty hard to beat G Suite. Especially if you’re a teacher or school administrator looking for a set of collaboration and administration tools. And while remote learning has drawbacks for both educators and learners, working with these apps can help both parties learn valuable transferable skills and work more productively.
Google apps are extremely flexible, none more so than Google Sheets. And there’s a host of third-party add-ons available to help you do even cooler stuff with spreadsheets. For inspiration and ideas, check out our list of the top 5 Google Sheets add ons for education.