Editor's note: Through his work with Reading Rainbow, LeVar Burton continues to inspire generations of students to love reading. Getting an early start on celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week, we asked LeVar about educators that inspired him. He shares some stories from his childhood in today’s guest post, and he’ll share more during his keynote, “The power of storytelling to inspire students,” during our Education on Air conference. Register today and tune in for LeVar’s talk on May 8th at 11:15am ET.

Teachers seem to run in my family. My elder sister, my son and two nieces are all educators, and my mother, Erma Gene Christian, was a high school English teacher before becoming my first teacher. I know firsthand how hard these unsung heroes work, and especially how important a teacher can be in a child’s life.

One of the most indelible memories from my childhood happened one day when I was learning to read. My favorite aunt Hope, my mother’s youngest sister, was visiting from Kansas City. We were sitting together in a chair in the living room and I was reading aloud while my mother listened from the kitchen where she was preparing a family meal. Things were going fine until I got stuck on a word. I stopped cold in the middle of a sentence. The word was one I thought I knew, but I didn’t yet have the inner confidence to know that I could read it. I will never forget the infinite patience that Aunt Hope displayed and the gentle nudges of support she gave me. “Go on,” she’d whisper, “You know this word. I know you can sound it out.”

I still remember the word —it was “pretty” — and when my aunt finally said the word to me it was a revelation. She gave me the confidence I needed to trust myself; to trust that I did know these words. I was a reader. This is what teachers do for their students every day.

It’s from my mother, Erma Gene, that I learned the allure of storytelling. Throughout my childhood, mom always had several books going simultaneously, switching from one to the other seamlessly, deriving pleasure from each turn of the page, no matter what the genre. I learned from my mom—and eventually from my own experiences reading, and from exposing children to the joy of books through Reading Rainbow—that storytelling is an elemental part of the human experience, regardless of whether the medium is a print book or a digital book. We know that kids are reading more than 200,000 books a week on the Reading Rainbow App. They are using their devices not just for games or movies, but to read.
Here's me with the first educator who inspired me, my mother.
Children are drawn to stories, and with good storytelling we can teach kids anything. I have seen the light go on in a child’s eyes when he or she falls in love with a story. I’ve seen that light get brighter when they realize that they can read the stories for themselves. This light is the beginning of a lifelong love of reading, and from there a lifelong love of learning. For me, literacy means freedom, and literacy begins with storytelling. You get a child’s attention when you give them a good story. If we fail to take advantage of this, we are letting the opportunity of a lifetime—of our lifetime and theirs—pass us by.

Hear more about the power of storytelling from LeVar Burton during his Education on Air keynote on May 8 at 11:15am ET or check out his Reading Rainbow website.


(Cross-posted on the Official Google Blog.)

Would you enter your email address and password on this page?

This looks like a fairly standard login page, but it’s not. It’s what we call a “phishing” page, a site run by people looking to receive and steal your password. If you type your password here, attackers could steal it and gain access to your Google Account—and you may not even know it. This is a common and dangerous trap: the most effective phishing attacks can succeed 45 percent of the time, nearly 2% of messages to Gmail are designed to trick people into giving up their passwords, and various services across the web send millions upon millions of phishing emails, every day.

To help keep your account safe, today we’re launching Password Alert, a free, open-source Chrome extension that protects your Google and Google Apps for Work Accounts. Once you’ve installed it, Password Alert will show you a warning if you type your Google password into a site that isn’t a Google sign-in page. This protects you from phishing attacks and also encourages you to use different passwords for different sites, a security best practice.

Here's how it works for consumer accounts. Once you’ve installed and initialized Password Alert, Chrome will remember a “scrambled” version of your Google Account password. It only remembers this information for security purposes and doesn’t share it with anyone. Next, if you type your password into a site that isn't a Google sign-in page, Password Alert will show you a notice like the one below. This alert will tell you that you’re at risk of being phished so you can update your password and protect yourself.

Password Alert is also available to Google for Work customers, including Google Apps and Drive for Work. Your administrator can install Password Alert for everyone in the domains they manage, and receive alerts when Password Alert detects a possible problem. This can help spot malicious attackers trying to break into employee accounts and also reduce password reuse. Administrators can find more information in the Help Center.

We work to protect users from phishing attacks in a variety of ways. We’re constantly improving our Safe Browsing technology, which protects more than 1 billion people on Chrome, Safari and Firefox from phishing and other dangerous sites via bright, red warnings. We also offer tools like 2-Step Verification and Security Key that people can use to protect their Google Accounts and stay safe online. And of course, you can also take a Security Checkup at any time to make sure the safety and security information associated with your account is current.

To get started with Password Alert, visit the Chrome Web Store or the FAQ.


(Cross-posted on the Google for Education Blog.)

Editor's note: We’re jumping into our Delorean to explore how some of our favorite historical figures might have worked with Google Apps. Today, on the anniversary of Isaac Newton’s knighthood, we imagine his research in a Google Apps universe..

In April 1705, Isaac Newton was knighted for his many accomplishments. Since we’re self-admitted history nerds (how better to appreciate the advancements we enjoy now?) we asked ourselves: what if the Isaac Newton of 1705 used today’s Google Apps?

Newton was one of history’s foremost masters of mathematical formulation. What if he had been able to archive and automate his complex formulas in Sheets? We imagine he might have used the product function, =PRODUCT(factor1, factor2), to test different values for his second law of motion: force equals mass times acceleration (f = ma) — showing how apples of different sizes fall with different rates of acceleration from a tree.

While writing his famous Principia, Newton might have solicited feedback from his colleagues, like mathematicians Isaac Barrow and John Collins, by creating a Google Group and inviting them to edit in Docs. Working in Docs would have been helpful for keeping track of his notes while developing calculus — it might even have helped to avoid a heated debate with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who claimed he discovered it first. There’s no dispute over who first documents an idea when there’s access to revision history.

Newton famously feared criticism and was no stranger to controversy, so we imagine he would have been a strong advocate of using technology to keep his research secure. Should he have any concerns about a collaborator secretly passing sensitive information to his rival, Robert Hooke, he could adjust the sharing settings. He could even restrict the ability to view, share, download or print his treatise on optics after he’d already shared it.

Newton communicated through writing by hand — it’s estimated that he left behind about 10 million words of notes, letters and manuscripts — but we think he might have used Hangouts for urgent conversations. If Newton needed to speak with his colleagues at the Royal Society about whether Leibniz was guilty of plagiarism, he’d meet with them face-to-face on a Hangout. Or, if his wig wasn’t looking particularly great that day, he could’ve started a group chat and shared pictures of his calculus notation as evidence (maybe even including a few emoji to lighten things up).

As a professor at the University of Cambridge, Newton lectured about optics and presented his research about the properties of light. He might have shared illustrations of prisms to explain rainbows and the color spectrum, uploading the images to a shared Drive folder rather than passing around delicate hand-drawn sketches. Using Drive’s Optical Character Recognition, he could turn his handwritten notes into searchable text. Old notes he wrote on refraction and diffraction would be easy to find and reference as he developed new theories on the nature of light. As one of the most important thinkers and scientists of all time, how valuable would it have been for him to so easily archive and pull up his every great thought and idea?

Sir Isaac Newton’s findings changed our understanding of the world around us and are still relevant to our lives 300 years later. But even more inspiring is the way his curiosity and intellectual daring influenced generations of thinkers to be relentless in pursuing new ideas — a principle (pun intended) that drives us here at Google.


Today at Chrome Live, we showed how Chrome continues to make the way we work faster, simpler and more secure, while businesses like Netflix, Pinterest and Chico’s shared how Chrome for Work is bringing innovation to their workplaces.

We also announced new Chrome products and features that make it simpler to bring Chrome to work, including:

  • Chromebook integration with Box for more ways to bring your files to the cloud: Now, you can seamlessly access your Box documents from a Chromebook, just as you would access your local documents. This means that with your Chromebook, you’ll have access to even more applications, no matter where you are.
  • Bringing face-to-face meetings to larger rooms: Last year, we launched Chromebox for meetings so you can have face-to-face conversations with colleagues in remote offices and still feel like you’re in the same room. Today, we announced a new version of Chromebox for meetings that powers meeting rooms fitting up to twenty people. The hardware in the bundle includes a Chromebox powered by Dell, Asus, and HP, a pan tilt zoom camera, and more; just bring your own display. From huddle rooms to large conference rooms, you can now affordably bring video meetings to more office spaces.
  • Improvements to Chrome management for Chrome-dedicated devices: A few weeks ago, we announced over a dozen Chrome partners in the digital signage space. We’ve also improved ongoing reporting to monitor the health of your kiosks and signage at all times. You’ll get alerts from Chrome management if a screen goes down and can remotely reboot the device to get it back online without dispatching a technician. You can also get live updates about system usage and capture screen grabs to see exactly what viewers see.
  • Bringing Chrome management pricing flexibility to more places: We’re adding pricing flexibility to Chromebook management at a subscription fee of $50/year and announcing availability in seven new countries: Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, India, UK and France.

If you weren’t able to attend the live session, you can still watch the event on demand. Feel free to share your thoughts, impressions and questions using #chromelive15 on social media.


(Cross-posted on the Google for Education Blog.)

We built Classroom to help teachers spend less time on paperwork, and more time with their students. Since we launched, we’ve also heard from teachers and professors that they’d love to be able to use Classroom to collaborate with other educators.

Teach together: Whether it’s a substitute, a teacher’s aide or a department chair, almost every teacher and professor is supported by other educators. So starting today, you can have multiple teachers in a Classroom class. To try it out, just go to your class’s About page and click “Invite teacher.” Additional teachers can do almost everything the primary teacher can do: they can create assignments or announcements, view and grade student submissions, participate in the comments on the class “stream,” invite students and even get email notifications – everything except delete the class.

Dani Raskin, a special education teacher at Clarkstown High School South in New York, has been helping us test out this new feature. “It’s really important for me to be able to work closely with other teachers who also teach my students, but we don’t always have prep time together,” Dani said. “We are now able to split the workload: both of us can provide direct feedback via comments and grading. It really fosters an authentic sense of teamwork and collaboration."

Prep for your classes in advance: We know how much planning goes into every class you teach, and now we’re making it a little bit easier to do some of that planning in Classroom. You can save announcements and assignments as “drafts” and wait to send them to students until you’re ready. And similar to Gmail, any time you start creating a new announcement or assignment, it’ll be automatically saved as a draft. This works with multiple teachers as well, so all the teachers in a class can collaboratively prep assignments in advance, and even make changes to each other’s posts on the fly.
We’re also making some other updates you’ve told us will make Classroom easier to use:

  • Autosaved grades: If you can’t get all of your assignments graded in one session, but still want to return them to students at the same time, grades will now be auto saved as you enter them. You can choose when to return them to students.
  • Better notifications: Teachers and students will now receive email notifications when a private comment is left on an assignment. 

For schools here in North America and in Europe, we know you’re working hard as you round the corner into the end of the year. We are, too, and we’ll have more Classroom news for you before school’s out for summer.


It’s easier than ever to share ideas across the world. But as technology keeps advancing to connect us, so do the techniques of those with bad intentions. The number of records breached in 2014 was staggering; weak usernames and passwords remain the leading cause. The introduction of 2-Step Verification added a layer of security for your Google Account, but we knew more could be done.

That’s why Google, working with the FIDO Alliance standards organization, developed the Security Key — an actual physical key used to access your Google Account. It sends an encrypted signature rather than a code, and ensures that your login cannot be phished. And using this key saves you time — when you need to verify your Google Account on a Chrome browser, the key’s light will flash. Just tap it and the signature sends automatically. In fact, when we rolled the Security Key out to Googlers last year, they loved that it was so much faster than when they had to enter a code.

New Google Apps controls to manage Security Keys

Businesses like Yelp and Woolworths started piloting the Security Key at work and have been looking for ways to scale adoption. Cameron Roberts, Google Apps SME at Woolworths Limited told us, “We have a large workforce and it’s imperative that all of our accounts are secure. The Security Keys are a great step forward, as they are very practical and more secure.” Ryan de Temple, IT Engineer for Security at Yelp said, “As we roll Security Keys out to our users, we realized the importance of a management toolset to audit and revoke keys, as well as reports on key enrollment activity.”

In the coming weeks, Google Drive for Work admins will be able to easily deploy, monitor and manage the Security Key at scale with new controls in the Admin console with no additional software to install. IT admins will see where and when employees last used their keys with usage tracking and reports. If Security Keys are lost, admins can easily revoke access to those keys and provide backup codes so employees can still sign-in and get work done

Admins can order Security Keys from online retailers or directly from a manufacturer. Multiple models are available and prices start at $6 per key. You can have a smaller model permanently in the USB slot, so it’s available at your fingertips or carry a larger removable model on your keychain or in your wallet. We hope you also take advantage of what the Security Key can do to help protect your organization. Learn more.


(Cross-posted on the Google for Education Blog.)

Editor's note: Chromeboxes help businesses and schools update employees and students with timely information and create a sense of community. To learn more about using Chromebox for digital signage and how it can help your business or school work smarter, join Chrome Live on April 22.

Schools and universities across the country use digital signage to share announcements, news and schedules. Chromeboxes give students waiting in dorm lobbies for friends or standing in the cafeteria line for lunch the opportunity to learn about campus events on the go. And digital signage apps for Chrome built by Rise Vision, one of our content partners, power many of these digital experiences that go beyond traditional campus fliers.

Here are three ways academic institutions are using Chromeboxes for digital signage to better engage and inform students:

Personalizing content at Siena College

Siena College, a private liberal arts college in Loudonville, New York, prizes its close-knit community of 3,000 students. In this intimate class setting, individual departments manage their own content featured on Chromeboxes for display. IT and display managers don’t have to be involved in day-to-day content updates, and each department is nimble and flexible with their content. For example, the Student Senate features content from the athletics and academic departments on several of its screens and those departments directly update their content to ensure it’s relevant and timely.

Cutting IT costs and time at University of Toronto Mississauga

The University of Toronto Mississauga uses its 25 digital signage displays to profile professors, highlight research projects and market events to their more than 12,600 undergraduate students. Their previous display technology required extensive IT time to configure and update. Since Chromeboxes automatically update with new features and security fixes, IT can spend time on other tasks. Chromeboxes have also freed up the University’s budget, since they’re much more affordable than their previous display equipment, which cost $1,300.

Reducing power use at Manor Independent School District

The 20 digital signage displays in the Manor Independent School District notify the 8,000 K-12 students about announcements, lunchroom menus, upcoming events and recent posts from a live Twitter feed. Previously, the schools relied on netbooks to power their screens, which consumed a lot of power, were noisy and crashed often. Chromeboxes, which don’t have fans or spinning hard drives, were a natural fit as the district sought more eco-friendly display solutions.

As universities and school districts continue improving their digital display technology, they’re finding better ways to deliver informative and entertaining content to teachers and current and prospective students. Join Chrome Live to learn how to use Chromebox for digital signage at your school.