Today is the start of the BETT conference in London, the world’s largest educational technology trade show. Google made headlines early by announcing over a dozen updates to popular classroom tools such as Google Classroom, Drive, Meet, and ChromeOS. There’s a lot to unpack! Here’s a summary of everything that was announced at the 2023 BETT conference!
Note: Items marked with $ require the education plus or teaching and learning editions of Google Workspace for Education.
Google Classroom Updates
There were three important updates to Google Classroom:
- $ Practice sets exit beta and will be available as a premium Google Workspace feature (Spring 2023)
- $ Interactive YouTube videos (beta launching this spring)
- $ Organize classes by grading period (Spring 2023)
Personally, I’m very interested in creating interactive YouTube videos. This new feature will allow teachers to add multiple-choice questions to YouTube videos and view data on student responses. You can sign up to beta-test this new feature by filling out this form.
If you’re a teacher, check out my detailed blog post on these new Google Classroom features.
Google Meet Updates
Remote teaching may be a thing of the past, but Google continues to enhance its flagship video conferencing tool:
- $ View Google Slide speaker notes while presenting from Meet (available now)
- $ Manage slides with a co-presenter through Meet (Spring 2023)
- $ Expanded language support for closed captioning (later in 2023)
- AI-powered hand-raise detection (Spring 2023)
The auto hand-raise detection is such a simple but fun feature! As someone who spends a LOT of time in virtual meetings, I’m eager to give this one a try!
Google Doc Updates
It’s been a little more than a year since Google announced the concept of a “smart canvas” and introduced us to “smart chips.” Today’s updates continue to expand the idea of using Google Docs as a collaborative workspace that connects multiple tools together:
- $ Voting chips (Spring 2023)
- $ Timer & stopwatch chip (available now)
- $ Custom building blocks (Spring 2023)
I have been eagerly anticipating the ability to create custom building blocks for Google Docs. The ability to quickly save and insert a rubric, directions, or lesson plan template will be a tremendous time saver for teachers!
There are some nice new updates coming to Chromebooks and the Chrome browser:
- Reader mode for Chrome (Spring 2023)
- Expanded language support for Screencast (Spring 2023)
- Record clicks & keyboard shortcuts with Screencast (Spring 2023)
- Web player for Screencast videos (Spring 2023)
- Improved controls for Cast Moderator (Spring 2023)
First, it’s nice to point out that these updates will be available to all users regardless of which edition of Google Workspace you are using. The development of a cross-platform viewer for Screencast videos is really important. As a teacher, I was reluctant to create content using Screencast because they were only viewable on Chromebooks. The web player will allow Mac and PC users to view these videos as well.
Google Admin Updates
There were a few more technical updates tucked away in Google’s official blog post that might interest IT administrators:
- $ Deploy custom Meet backgrounds (Spring 2023)
- Expanded transparency on data collection & storage policies (Spring 2023)
- Group-based policy management for device and user & browser settings (later in 2023)
The last update is a pretty big deal. Currently, device and user & browser policies can only be applied to organizational units. Later this year, IT administrators will be able to use Google Groups to apply policies. This will add a lot of flexibility to managing teacher and student permissions.
Whew, that was a lot of updates! If there are any more announcements, we’ll be sure to share them with you! If you are a teacher or K-12 system administrator, you might be interested in a more detailed discussion of these features over on the Chromebook Classroom blog and podcast.