Chromebooks have truly found one of their core callings in the world of education. Their collaborative, accessible, and sustainable features have made them a popular choice for K-12 classrooms. With automatic updates for up to 10 years and a remarkable track record of zero reported ransomware attacks to date, Chromebooks are reliable and secure devices for both students and teachers. As we step into 2024, Google is taking education to the next level with the launch of 15 new Chromebook models and an array of exciting features and controls to facilitate teaching and management at scale.
New Chromebooks and new tools for Educators
Educators require powerful devices to plan and teach effectively, whether in the classroom or remotely. In addition to the launch of Chromebook Plus, Google is introducing 15 new Chromebooks (six designed for Advanced Use and nine for Learning Anywhere) in 2024 to continue equipping both teachers and students with the tools needed for modern learning.
Enhancements in editing tools are also on the horizon, with upcoming features in Screencast that will allow educators to trim recordings at the sentence level, add and remove paragraph breaks, add chapters and titles to transcripts, display chapter titles in videos, and more.
More connected educational tools
Soon, students will be able to view their upcoming events in Calendar and assignments in Google Classroom from one convenient location – the ChromeOS home screen. This integration will make it easier than ever for students to stay organized and on top of their coursework since all school-based calendar events will show up with a simple click on the date on the ChromeOS shelf.
The Google for Education App Hub, which showcases apps compatible with Google for Education tools, is expanding its reach to more countries and languages. It features apps that integrate with add-ons, student-information-system sync, and app licensing. Additionally, new partners, such as Bloxels, Padlet, ThingLink, SnapType, and Texthelp, are joining the app licensing program, further enriching the educational experience.
New accessibility features
Accessibility is clearly a critical aspect of digital education. To ensure that all students can engage with educational content effectively, Google is introducing AI-powered features like Optical Character Recognition (OCR) in Chrome, allowing screen reader users to extract text even from PDFs. This functionality will enhance accessibility for countless learners.
Reading mode is also receiving updates, including integrated OCR, read-aloud capability, and line focus: where ChromeOS will highlight text lines as they are read aloud. Additionally, Google is adding natural-sounding text-to-speech (TTS) voices to ChromeOS, a move that can significantly improve reading comprehension. We all know how robotic the current iteration is, so this is a big step forward for certain.
Easier and more secure device and account management
One of the clear wins with ChromeOS is ease of management. Google is taking this a step further in this area by enhancing the Chrome Education Upgrade, providing administrators with more than 1000 policies to manage fleets at scale. New additions include the device hub with smart notifications, centralized fleet information, revamped device details page, and expanded group-based policies. Moreover, Google is exploring the integration of AI-powered capabilities into the Admin console to simplify fleet management.
Last year, Google introduced data processor mode for ChromeOS, granting schools more control and transparency over personal data. This feature, which has gained popularity in the Netherlands, will now be made available to all European countries, starting with Norway, Belgium, and Denmark. New features, including the ability to turn off all Optional Services, will give administrators greater control over what features students can access.
Phone and tablet management with Endpoint Management Solutions
Recognizing the diversity of devices used in educational environments, Google is introducing the Endpoint Education Upgrade, an extension of the Chrome Education Upgrade. This new feature empowers administrators to manage Android and iOS devices alongside Chromebooks effectively. With advanced account and device management controls, schools can keep their data secure.
Endpoint Education Upgrade includes advanced admin and security controls, enabling administrators to regulate device installations, user access, and data accessibility. In the event of lost or stolen devices, administrators can set up rules for alerts, locate devices using audit logs, prevent unauthorized access with Context-Aware Access, and remotely wipe devices using advanced mobile management.
This is a pretty big announcement, and it is going to take Google some time to roll out all of these features. We’re looking forward to testing some of them as they arrive and seeing what sorts of new Chromebooks come in this fleet of 15 new EDU-focused devices. It looks all set for Google to have a very big 2024 when it comes to ChromeOS in the classroom, and it’s encouraging to see them continue pushing forward instead of resting on their prior successes. We’ll keep an eye on the new features and let you know as they arrive.