The world is currently almost on stand-still due to COVID-19 pandemic. This period has birthed a lot of technological solutions and many more are still undergoing development to help find a way to mitigate the impact of the virus which has forced almost every economic sector on a lockdown, apart from the digital sector. The education sector is one of the worst hit. UNESCO on May 11, 2020 REPORTED that a total of 1.235 billion learners were forced to temporarily quit studies, until governments ease the lockdown.
With academic learning on stand-still, great tech companies such as Zoom, Google, Microsoft, and even Facebook enhanced their already existing solutions to accommodate a larger audience that would give teachers and students something that is close to a face-to-face classroom experience. Of all the above tech companies, Google, which had already been interacting with educational institutions prior to the pandemic, proffered a more favourable solution. Some of the already exiting solutions were Google Classroom and G-suite for Education. It had to rebrand its video conferencing tool, Hangout, to Google Meet, expanding its efficiency to accommodate more users, up to 250 users.
Let us have a brief look at the functionalities of these tools;
Google Classroom is developed to simplify file sharing among students and between the teacher and the student. It is a free service which makes it easy and cost-free for teachers to distribute and grade assignments with ease.
The tool works with other existing google tools, such as Google drive, google doc, sheets and slides for writing, Gmail/G suite and calendar for scheduling. To use this tool, the teacher will simply invite the student to join the class by sending a private code to the student. The student will simply click on the code to connect or join the class.
Each class creates a separate folder in the respective user's Drive, where the student can submit work to be graded by a teacher. Mobile apps, available for iOS and Android devices, let users take photos and attach to assignments, share files from other apps, and access information offline. Teachers can monitor the progress for each student, and after being graded, teachers can return work along with comments.
Google Meet is a video conferencing platform, which enables users to make video calls with up to 100 or 250 users per high-definition video meeting, depending on the G suite package the user has. The platform allows users to join pre-scheduled meetings from calendar events, choose a link, enter meeting code and even dial in from their phones if the invitation includes a phone number. Google Meet integrates with G-Suite versions of Google Calendar and G mail and shows the complete list of participants and scheduled meetings. It shows a "join" button for users to connect to the meeting and provides options to mute and turn off the video during the meeting.
Google Meet allows users to dial in phone numbers to access meetings, thus enabling users with slow or no internet connection to call in. However, dial-in numbers are only available to the G Suite enterprise edition customers. With Google Meet you can view everyone in a grid with the main speaker/teacher being highlighted. The speaker/teacher gets enlarged at the center of your screen in grid view when she is presenting her screen. Google Meet uses a speech-to-text technology which makes it possible to automatically show the written captions live in the meeting. This is ideal for anyone just looking to follow along or for DEAF PEOPLE. This feature is available as an automatic service in any Google Meet session. Users can turn them on for themselves. Lectures/meetings can be recorded and stored for future reference and assessment. And above all, Google Meet is more secure than other video conferencing tools. It encrypts messages but doesn’t use end-to-end encryption. Messages are encrypted “in transit”. This means that they are only encrypted between your device and Google’s servers. This is what makes it impossible for hackers to interrupt a meeting or lectures during calls, like they do on other similar platforms.
G SUITE FOR EDUCATION
G Suite for Education is a suite of free Google tools and services that are tailored for schools and homes chools. It is available globally to all educational institutions that are government-recognized, formally-accredited and delivering nationally or internationally-approved certifications at primary, secondary, or tertiary level. It takes about 2 weeks to process an application to use G suite for education; however, in response to COVID19 global school closures, Google is expediting school approvals for this tool. Google reserves the right to determine an organization's eligibility for G Suite for Education
THE THREE PACKAGE COMBINATION
A combination of Google Classroom, Google Meet & G Suite for Education delivers a powerful e-learning experience that makes both the teacher and the student to feel they are physically seeing each other face-to-face. What happens is that the students and teacher are signed up on G Suite for education and are granted access to Google classroom and Google Meet. With Google Meet, the teacher conducts a video conference lecture where all the students are available and can interact directly with the teacher, the teacher even shares a lecture slide or note with her students, and can record the lecture for future reference and assessment. With Google classroom, she can conduct exams and quiz with her students and grade them accordingly. All of these activities are enabled by the use of internet and computer devices, such as laptops, smart phone or tablets. Everyone stays in his location (i.e., home or wherever is convenient).
What are you still waiting for?
Go ahead and sign up your school to these tools. They are free. However, if you are having difficulty training your staff on how to use these tools, send a mail to [email protected] or [email protected] and either Boldscholar Research Ltd or Chuxem Link shall assist you to train your teachers on the use of these tools.
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