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

What do a student in Florida, a special advisor to the Ministry of Education in Finland, a filmmaker, a veteran teacher, and a researcher for the Economist Intelligence Unit have in common? They’re all speakers — just a handful of the 130 — who shared their ideas during Education on Air.

We wanted to tackle the question of how to help students become digital leaders, and it turns out we weren’t the only ones. More than 53,000 people registered for Education on Air, the free online conference we held last week on May 8 and 9. Educators, parents, students, business people and citizens from 201 countries showed their passion for improving education. The posts on Google+ and the comments on Twitter showed that the messages of the speakers really hit home. For example they often quoted Michael Fullan’s "stop boring students" and Lisa Bodell's "change is a choice." Today we wanted to provide some highlights of the event.
You might imagine it would be difficult to recap the highlights from more than 60 hours of programming, but we noticed a handful of common themes. Speakers and participants seemed to broadly agree about the challenges we face in our education systems, the changes we want to see and the steps we need to take to get there. It feels as if people around the world are joining forces to tackle big issues and achieve their goals together.

Check out the highlight reel that includes the most prominent themes from the conference:

  • The skills and mindset that will prepare students for the future 
  • The need to let students and teachers learn from failure 
  • The importance of giving students choice and voice 
  • The power of technology to open doors 

If you missed Education on Air, don’t worry. All the sessions are available on demand, so you can check out any of the keynotes, panel discussions and workshops that you missed. Just like the live conference, you can tune in from anywhere.

Stay tuned to this blog to get more news from Education on Air, including the “Skills of the Future” research you heard highlighted by Zoe Tabary of the Economist Intelligence Unit. We also want to hear from you. Let us know what you’d like to hear about at our next event. Add your voice in the comments under this tweet and this Google+ post.

Go ahead, get involved. Anyone can do it — even Gus.


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

Editor's note: Jason Markey is the Principal of East Leyden High School and was one of the panel members discussing student empowerment as part of Education on Air last Friday. We received a lot of questions about this topic and the approach at Jason’s school so we asked him to write this blog post to share more.

At Education on Air I connected with amazing educators and leaders, and learned from sessions like Jennie Magiera’s “Power to the pupil,” Michael Fullan’s “Three ways to drive system-wide change,” and Laszlo Bock’s “Making work rule.” These sessions offered everything from system-wide ideas on implementing change to building a culture for our teachers resulting in more successful schools to the steps we can take to further empower our students. I enjoyed speaking on the student empowerment panel on Friday and wanted to share a bit more about our approach at East Leyden High School.

Over the past several years, Leyden has introduced a 1:1 program with one Chromebook per student and Tech Support Internship (TSI) to support our technology initiative and offer real-world learning experiences. Having a 1:1 program means that students now have a direct line to their teachers and administrators. They write emails and Tweets to share their opinions, preferences and questions. We’ve seen our students, with the support of school administration, unite through a hashtag.

I believe that student empowerment is about introducing more choice into the classroom and opening up more opportunities for students to share their voices. My experiences at Leyden have affirmed something I’ve always believed: education, at its core, is about relationship-building and community-building. Students, like everyone else, want to feel that they’re part of a community. They want to be active participants, choosing to learn and think about and discuss the things they find relevant.

Every TSI student pursues an independent learning pathway, with options including computer programming, app development, web design or a project of her choice. TSI students have made the course their own, and often come up with new programs, like a new student orientation to introduce first-year and transfer students to Chromebooks and Google Apps. In addition TSI students volunteer their time for tech support — they’re learning skills that range from troubleshooting to communicating professionally. Here’s a video to give you a flavor of what goes on in TSI.

They also use our school hashtag, #leydenpride, to share news about our school — from athletic successes to club events and academic achievements. Twitter has become a way for us to spread positivity, share and listen, and build community and student ownership. As an example, here’s a student perspective from East Leyden Senior Maja Bulka.

As teachers and administrators, we’ve made a concerted effort to empathize with our students and see through their eyes. We do this in informal ways — through #leydenpride, for instance — as well as through more formal programs. For instance, the assistant principal and I (along with all new teachers) shadow a student for one day each year so we can better understand what it’s like to go straight from gym to an AP calculus test. Aside from shadowing, I spend as much time as I can talking to students and sitting in on classes. If we don’t understand what students have to say, we won’t be able to build the environment to engage, support and empower them.

If you want to hear more ways that educators are empowering students you might want to check out some of the recorded sessions from Education on Air like Jennie Magiera’s session “Moving beyond Genius Hour: empowering students all day” or David Chan’s session “It’s all about students: student tech programs.”


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

It’s teacher appreciation week here in the U.S., and for me, that means celebrating the teacher who has had absolutely the most impact on my life: Mike Zamansky. Mr Z, as he is affectionately known, has been making Computer Science cool at Stuyvesant High School for more than 20 years, and what I learned in his classes has put me on the path I’m still on today. So from me and everyone at Classroom to Mr. Z and every other teacher who inspires their students: Thank you for doing just that.

A year ago, we marked Teacher Appreciation Week in the U.S. by telling you that Google Classroom was on its way. This year, we’re excited to celebrate this milestone by adding some new Classroom treats in our mobile app that will make it even easier for you to keep track of your classes, no matter where you are or what device you’re on:

  • Grade assignments from your phone or tablet, and add private feedback to give students guidance, encouragement, constructive criticism or personalized feedback. 
  • You can create and edit assignments on the go, including the ability to make a copy for every student. 
  • Just take a photo to create a post or assignment, so you can easily share those whiteboard notes with the class or assign the math problem that you jotted down on that napkin. 
    You’ll see these new features rolling out this week, and you can find more about how they work here.

    We also wanted to take a moment to look back: since Classroom became available, students have turned in more than 70 million assignments and we’ve added more than 20 new features that you told us were important:
    • The ability to have multiple teachers in a class, so that teaching teams can work together. 
    • Prep for classes ahead of time with draft assignments and posts
    • Autosaved grades allow you to grade in batches. 
    • A mobile app for Android and iOS lets you access your classes anywhere, even without cellular data or a WiFi connection. 
    • With the teacher assignments page, you can view all of your assignments and track student progress in one place. 
    • Stream settings give you control over class discussions; plus you can mute individual students and view deleted items. 
    • Archive your finished classes and save everything for next semester. 
    • Download grades as a batch, easily exporting them to any gradebook.
    • 48 new visual themes and the ability to upload your own so you can customize your class. 
    • +mentions let you instantly add students or other teachers into a conversation, making it easier to follow a comment thread. 
    • Students can mark assignments as “done” when they don’t need to submit anything online. 
    • And many more... 
     Look for more updates from us soon. Now we’re off to (virtually) hug a favorite teacher. Join us!


      Editor's note: Today’s guest post comes from Thomas Saueressig, Senior Vice President and Global Head of IT Services, Cloud Delivery & Services, SAP SE. At SAPPHIRE NOW, which takes place May 5 to 7, SAP executives will discuss how SAP introduced Android for Work to shift its mobile strategy and support a variety of devices while keeping data secure. SAP is a leader in enterprise application software with more than 291,000 customers in 190 countries. 

      Work and play no longer live separately — in fact, a recent Gartner survey showed that nearly half of employees surveyed spend more than an hour each day using their personal devices for work. Whether using the same device for everything or using separate smartphones for corporate and personal use, we all want tools that help us do more, in less time.

      My team is dedicated to introducing technology that meets our employees’ needs and adheres to strict data security regulations. Last year we had more than 74,500 employees and just as many devices. We supported multiple platforms as we have a device agnostic strategy, but supported just one Android vendor. Now with Android for Work, we support a variety of vendors and device types and give our employees the option to use their preferred device.

      I have peace of mind knowing that Android for Work isolates corporate and personal information, so our IT team can easily manage SAP-owned data while personal information stays private. In the past when an employee left the company, we had to wipe his device of all information, business or personal. Now, we can manage SAP data remotely without having any interference with employees’ personal information. Our employees feel at ease knowing that Android for Work stores data from their personal and corporate apps separately, so personal apps have no access to business data — and vice versa.

      Android for Work integrates with SAP Mobile Secure, our cloud-based enterprise mobility management solution that saves our IT team time and improves mobile experiences for employees. For instance, we’ve streamlined how we distribute apps to employee devices — no easy task given the 70+ SAP-owned apps our employees use on a regular basis, including SAP Fiori, Cloud for Customer, Concur and SuccessFactors.

      With our new mobile strategy, Android for Work complements our mobile strategy and bridges the gap between work and private life while keeping data secure. Our employees are empowered with consumer-focused tools that not only help them work smarter, save time and keep innovating, but also maintain their privacy and peace of mind.


      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.