Digital teaching with Google for Education
Google changes the way that educators communicate, collaborate, and teach. Importantly, it also prepares 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 Google for Education to teach, study, or manage faculty and students.
As more schools and colleges start to operate remotely, with teachers and students both working from home, online education has become more prevalent than ever. As a result, Google for Education has become an indispensable toolset to deal with this challenge. When you’re teaching or running courses remotely, Google 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 the Google Workspace, 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 in real-time.
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 is useful for monitoring or controlling student email.
Google Calendar lets you schedule meetings, share events, 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.
Google 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.
Google 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. Likewise, using Sheets in the classroom can help teach students valuable data management skills. It works like Excel, but it’s totally cloud-based with a very user-friendly design.
Google 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.
Google Forms is a survey tool allowing you to collect information, set quizzes, and analyze the results in real-time.
Google Slides is like a simpler, collaborative version of PowerPoint, that allows the whole team to work together on multimedia presentations in real-time.
Google Meet offers video and voice conferencing for small groups of up to 25 people.
Google Classroom is a digital learning environment where instructors can set assignments, communicate with students, and grade work.
Google Sites lets you or your students create a simple website to host materials, curriculum, or projects — without any web design or coding skills.
The Jamboard app allows students to share ideas and collaborate on a cloud-based whiteboard via tablet or web browser.
Google Groups enables you to share class handouts, materials, and links with students, parents, and other teachers. It’s also useful for sending email announcements to parents.
Google Vault gives you control over data and security settings.
How secure is Google for Education?
Google for Education is designed to meet the security standards required of schools. On top of that, Google’s advanced settings give you personal control over your data.
- Secure Servers: All Google apps have enterprise-grade access controls so data stays private and secure.
- Data Loss Protection helps ensure that important data is saved.
- No ads: Google for Education’s core services do not contain advertising. In addition, student data from primary and secondary students is not used for targeted ad profiling.
- Compliant with legislation. Google Workspace for Education meets FERPA, COPPA, and data protection 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.
- 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 Google Workspace for Education Plus edition. This is an upgraded version of Google for Education with enhanced security options.
Getting started with Google for Education
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. It allows you to:
- 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 chatbox.
- 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
School administrators use spreadsheets every day for data management. However, sheets can also make a handy addition to the teacher’s toolkit, especially when you’re delivering classes remotely.
Class brainstorming and project work
In an online learning environment, a spreadsheet can function 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’re presenting to the class via Google Meet or other video conferencing software, you can simply share your screen to show the spreadsheet. Unfamiliar with Google Forms? Check out our step-by-step guide on how to connect Google Forms to Google Sheets.
Help students organize their own work
Working remotely and digitally is a challenge for students as well as for teachers. Pupils can quickly accumulate 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. Sending emails back and forth with updates is incredibly time-consuming. Instead, you can check each student’s portfolio or project progress directly in their spreadsheet, via Google Sheets’ share function.
Google Sheets is ideal for recording which students turn up to (online) class and sharing that data with school administrators.
For a completely automated system, try 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. Learn more here.
Monitor student grades
Google Sheets lends itself to other educational admin tasks too. You can audit assignments, monitor student performance, and share that data with other staff.
To record your students’ grades and share that data with school administrators automatically, try Sheetgo’s Gradebooks Management template. Firstly, teachers log student grades for each assignment in their own spreadsheet. Secondly, Sheetgo connections transfer the data to the manager’s master sheet automatically. As a result, you get an at-a-glance overview of achievement levels per class or per assignment, all in one automated dashboard.
Boost Google for Education with add-ons
Given that the entire set of apps is completely free, it’s pretty hard to beat Google Workspace. For teachers or school administrators looking for a set of collaboration and administration tools, it’s one of the best options available. Although remote learning has drawbacks for both educators and learners, working with Google Workspace 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.
Editor’s note: This is a revised version of a previous post that has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.