Online education amid COVID-19: What all Google is doing?


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Google’s efforts for online education

The onset of the Coronavirus pandemic globally has forced people into their homes to avoid any interaction with people and maintain social distancing. This has led to the concept of ‘work from home’ and ‘study from home’ getting popularised more than ever. While the education sector is one of the sectors that have been affected by the virus, tech companies and even schools are doing their bit to make online education convenient for children amid difficult times. Although things are beginning to get back to normal in India and schools might reopen soon, it’s still best advised to stay at home and stay safe.

Among the various companies, Google has introduced a number of initiatives so that kids can acquire knowledge while at home.  Here’s a look at what efforts Google has made for the same.

Google’s online education efforts

1. YouTube Learning Destination

Google’s popular video streaming platform YouTube introduced the YouTube Learning Destination for kids, teachers and anyone to acquire knowledge related to a plethora of subjects such as physics, math, and biology, language skills, photography, yoga and more. The educational section on YouTube is available in various languages such as English and Hindi, with Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Marathi, with more languages being added soon.

In order to access the feature, all you need to do is head to YouTube on Android, iOS or even web and look for Learning or YouTube Learning in the search bar. The result will appear on the top and you can click on it to get access to a number of videos on the same. It can also be accessed via the Explore section of YouTube. YouTube Learning Destination doesn’t provide kids with videos as per the school syllabus and concentrates on generic educational videos. However, Google states that it acts as “a handy resource to supplement curriculum learning for students or general skill-building.

To recall, YouTube Learning Destination was introduced way back in 2015 and currently focuses on topics users can learn while at home, for instance, dealing with anxiety, coping with stress, wellness and fitness, etc.

2. Free Google Meet for all

Apart from online education tools, video calling is one way that became way too popular for people to communicate during the COVID-19 lockdown period. Giving competition to popular video-calling platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and more, Google rebranded its Hangouts Meet and introduced for us Google Meet. The video calling feature has received tons of features to help people easily converse via videos. The major update is free to access to Google Meet premium features for all until September 2020. This can be used by office-going professionals, teachers, students, and anyone to talk via videos. Since Google Meet allows up to 100 people on a single video call, teaching becomes easier on the platform.

For educational purposes, children and teachers can use the G Suite for Education for streamlined learning experience and management of the students. Teachers can also provide assignments with ease and provide feedback to students too. 

Other features include the live captioning featuring so that it gets easier to know what a person is saying on the video chat, video and audio preview, ability to set different layout and screen settings, screen-sharing feature, various controls for the host of a video call, integration with Google and Microsoft apps, all clubbed with security and privacy features.

3. Teach from Home Hub

Google has also introduced the Teach from Home Hub for both the teachers and students to get various tips as to how to go about the remote learning and teaching while at home. The portal includes resources from UNESCO and ISTE for the same. The website provides teachers, students and other G Suite users tips on how to conduct online teaching sessions from both the teachers’, as well as, the students’ part.

The website tells people how they can use the various Google tools for the purpose in an optimised way. The Teach from Home Hub is also available in Hindi. Additionally, Google has introduced the EDU Hub, specifically for the current Coronavirus situation worldwide so that people can indulge in distance learning and get hold of relevant resources for the same.

Google’s future efforts

Google spokespersons (Satya Raghavan, Director, YouTube Partnerships, India / Bani Dhawan, Head of Education – South Asia, Google) have suggested that Google will keep on working to provide more and more online resources for e-learning. Google, in an email interaction, said, “The COVID-19 outbreak has forced us to think and execute learning in an online environment, at scale and with speed. YouTube learning hub and Teach From Home are part of our first response to help educators and students in maintaining teaching and learning continuity.

It is further suggested that Google has witnessed an increase in the subscriber count of Edu and learning channels on YouTube with video searches being more about homeschooling, throwing light on people’ inclination towards online education and e-learning.

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