The She Word: Kawana T. King, lawyer and “force for good”

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating the powerful, dynamic and creative women of Google. Like generations before them, these women break down barriers and defy expectations at work and in their communities. Over the course of the month, we’ll help you get to know a few of these Google women, and share a bit about who they are and why they inspire us.

In this installment of the She Word, we talked to Kawana T. King, a lawyer in our New York office. In addition to JD, she’s earned the title of “hostess with the mostess”—just ask anyone who’s attended her annual Christmas party.

How do you explain your job at a dinner party?

I usually don’t … I like leaving work at work. But if I need to explain, I say that I provide legal counsel for our advertising products.

Why are you proud to be a woman at Google?

In Google’s legal department, we have four female vice presidents. There’s a lot of talk in tech about needing more women in leadership positions, but I get to witness that everyday. It’s really inspiring.

k

Why did you decide to pursue law, and why practice it at Google?

Growing up I was always told that I argued too much, so becoming a lawyer seemed to be a “natural fit.” Throughout my career, I’ve practiced law across various industries, like entertainment and financial services. Working at Google, I get to bring legal expertise to the development of groundbreaking products and services. And one of the best parts about Google is that I’m not just here to be a lawyer—there are opportunities to pursue personal interests, like our diversity efforts, as well.

If you could ask one woman from history a question … who would it be and what would you ask?

I would ask Harriet Tubman what gave her the strength to face her fears and take action. We are all faced with obstacles that we must overcome, but it’s hard to get past the intimidation. All tips help!

What advice would you give to women starting out in their careers?

Know your worth, display confidence and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. If you doubt yourself, you invite others to do the same.

What do you hope to accomplish on behalf of women everywhere?

Quite simply … I’ll pay it forward. I’ve been lucky to have powerful and positive female influences in my life (hi Mom!). By exhibiting character, confidence, and a strong work ethic, I hope to be a force for good in another young girl’s life.

How do you spend most of your time outside of work?

I love traveling—Paris and Thailand are my all-time favorite spots. I’ve also gotten hooked on traveling for Carnival, which is an annual festival that occurs in various countries. So far, I’ve celebrated Carnival in  Trinidad, Barbados and Miami. My next trip is to Italy—I’m taking my mom for her 65th birthday!

Using technology to empower students and turn them into critical thinkers

Editor’s note: Google for Education Premier Partners are working with schools to host the ExploreEDU event series, where schools can share their first-hand experiences with other educators. Today’s guest author is Kyle Black, a high school English teacher from First Philadelphia Preparatory Charter School, which hosted an ExploreEDU event on March 21-22 with Promevo. To see if there’s an event near you, visit the ExploreEDU site.

In a world dominated by technology, a good education depends on digital know-how—in addition to problem solving, clear communication and organizational skills. Students need both digital and soft skills to guide them through college, into the workplace and beyond.

In my five years on the job, here’s what I’ve learned about teaching a generation of students to use technology in responsible and impactful ways:

1
A student uses Google Classroom to turn in an assignment.

1. Empower students to take control of their learning

High school students are learning how to work independently and use technology to explore new concepts. When AP English students come across a word they don’t know in Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” for example, they can look it up on their Chromebooks rather than ask me for the definition. Students love proving me wrong about facts related to classic literature like “The Crucible” by researching on their Chromebooks—and their eyes light up when their point of view is validated. With classroom technology, we’re teaching students to take charge of their own learning and engage in healthy debate.

2. Quiz students often to assess understanding

Every day my students take mini-quizzes via Google Forms so I can gauge whether they understand the topic I just covered or if I need to modify my instruction. When teaching semicolons, for instance, my students take a four-question quiz using their Chromebooks to identify sentences that use semicolons correctly. If 75 percent of the class gets a question wrong, I know to back up and explain the concept in a different way or provide more examples. This not only improves their academic performance, but it also it teaches them the importance of clear communication and continuous feedback.

2
A student works on a Google Doc where feedback was provided via comments.

3. Turn feedback into a critical thinking exercise

It’s common for students to accept a teacher’s revisions to their work without considering why specific changes are made. By making the feedback process interactive, students are encouraged to think critically before accepting edits at face value. For example, when I’m reviewing essays or creative writing, I often suggest incorrect or ridiculous changes using comments and suggested edits in Google Docs—and my students know this type of feedback is coming. Typically, half of my edits will require students to think deeply before hitting the “accept” button. It forces them to play a more active role in their learning, and to constantly challenge ideas.

I believe that teaching students digital and critical thinking skills matters more than teaching them how to ace a test. To prepare students for lifelong success, we must encourage them to brainstorm new ideas and embrace the new tools at their fingertips.

Using technology to empower students and turn them into critical thinkers

Editor’s note: Google for Education Premier Partners are working with schools to host the ExploreEDU event series, where schools can share their first-hand experiences with other educators. Today’s guest author is Kyle Black, a high school English teacher from First Philadelphia Preparatory Charter School, which hosted an ExploreEDU event on March 21-22 with Promevo. To see if there’s an event near you, visit the ExploreEDU site.

In a world dominated by technology, a good education depends on digital know-how—in addition to problem solving, clear communication and organizational skills. Students need both digital and soft skills to guide them through college, into the workplace and beyond.

In my five years on the job, here’s what I’ve learned about teaching a generation of students to use technology in responsible and impactful ways:

1
A student uses Google Classroom to turn in an assignment.

1. Empower students to take control of their learning

High school students are learning how to work independently and use technology to explore new concepts. When AP English students come across a word they don’t know in Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” for example, they can look it up on their Chromebooks rather than ask me for the definition. Students love proving me wrong about facts related to classic literature like “The Crucible” by researching on their Chromebooks—and their eyes light up when their point of view is validated. With classroom technology, we’re teaching students to take charge of their own learning and engage in healthy debate.

2. Quiz students often to assess understanding

Every day my students take mini-quizzes via Google Forms so I can gauge whether they understand the topic I just covered or if I need to modify my instruction. When teaching semicolons, for instance, my students take a four-question quiz using their Chromebooks to identify sentences that use semicolons correctly. If 75 percent of the class gets a question wrong, I know to back up and explain the concept in a different way or provide more examples. This not only improves their academic performance, but it also it teaches them the importance of clear communication and continuous feedback.

2
A student works on a Google Doc where feedback was provided via comments.

3. Turn feedback into a critical thinking exercise

It’s common for students to accept a teacher’s revisions to their work without considering why specific changes are made. By making the feedback process interactive, students are encouraged to think critically before accepting edits at face value. For example, when I’m reviewing essays or creative writing, I often suggest incorrect or ridiculous changes using comments and suggested edits in Google Docs—and my students know this type of feedback is coming. Typically, half of my edits will require students to think deeply before hitting the “accept” button. It forces them to play a more active role in their learning, and to constantly challenge ideas.

I believe that teaching students digital and critical thinking skills matters more than teaching them how to ace a test. To prepare students for lifelong success, we must encourage them to brainstorm new ideas and embrace the new tools at their fingertips.

Diverse protections for a diverse ecosystem: Android Security 2016 Year in Review

Today, we’re sharing the third annual Android Security Year In Review, a comprehensive look at our work to protect more than 1.4 billion Android users and their data.

Our goal is simple: keep our users safe. In 2016, we improved our abilities to stop dangerous apps, built new security features into Android 7.0 Nougat, and collaborated with device manufacturers, researchers, and other members of the Android ecosystem. For more details, you can read the full Year in Review report or watch our webinar.

Protecting you from PHAs

It’s critical to keep people safe from Potentially Harmful Apps (PHAs) that may put their data or devices at risk. Our ongoing work in this area requires us to find ways to track and stop existing PHAs, and anticipate new ones that haven’t even emerged yet.

PHA protections Android 2016

Over the years, we’ve built a variety of systems to address these threats, such as application analyzers that constantly review apps for unsafe behavior, and Verify Apps which regularly checks users’ devices for PHAs. When these systems detect PHAs, we warn users, suggest they think twice about downloading a particular app, or even remove the app from their devices entirely.

We constantly monitor threats and improve our systems over time. Last year’s data reflected those improvements: Verify Apps conducted 750 million daily checks in 2016, up from 450 million the previous year, enabling us to reduce the PHA installation rate in the top 50 countries for Android usage.

Google Play continues to be the safest place for Android users to download their apps. Installs of PHAs from Google Play decreased in nearly every category:

  • Now 0.016 percent of installs, trojans dropped by 51.5 percent compared to 2015
  • Now 0.003 percent of installs, hostile downloaders dropped by 54.6 percent compared to 2015
  • Now 0.003 percent of installs, backdoors dropped by 30.5 percent compared to 2015
  • Now 0.0018 percent of installs, phishing apps dropped by 73.4 percent compared to 2015

By the end of 2016, only 0.05 percent of devices that downloaded apps exclusively from Play contained a PHA; down from 0.15 percent in 2015.

Still, there’s more work to do for devices overall, especially those that install apps from multiple sources. While only 0.71 percent of all Android devices had PHAs installed at the end of 2016, that was a slight increase from about 0.5 percent in the beginning of 2015. Using improved tools and the knowledge we gained in 2016, we think we can reduce the number of devices affected by PHAs in 2017, no matter where people get their apps.

Working together to secure the Android ecosystem

Android security updates in 2016

Sharing information about security threats between Google, device manufacturers, the research community, and others helps keep all Android users safer. In 2016, our biggest collaborations were via our monthly security updates program and ongoing partnership with the security research community.

Security updates are regularly highlighted as a pillar of mobile security—and rightly so. We launched our monthly security updates program in 2015, following the public disclosure of a bug in Stagefright, to help accelerate patching security vulnerabilities across devices from many different device makers. This program expanded significantly in 2016:

  • More than 735 million devices from 200+ manufacturers received a platform security update in 2016.
  • We released monthly Android security updates throughout the year for devices running Android 4.4.4 and up—that accounts for 86.3 percent of all active Android devices worldwide.
  • Our carrier and hardware partners helped expand deployment of these updates, releasing updates for over half of the top 50 devices worldwide in the last quarter of 2016.

We provided monthly security updates for all supported Pixel and Nexus devices throughout 2016, and we’re thrilled to see our partners invest significantly in regular updates as well. There’s still a lot of room for improvement however. About half of devices in use at the end of 2016 had not received a platform security update in the previous year. We’re working to increase device security updates by streamlining our security update program to make it easier for manufacturers to deploy security patches and releasing A/B updates to make it easier for users to apply those patches.

On the research side, our Android Security Rewards program grew rapidly: we paid researchers nearly $1 million dollars for their reports in 2016. In parallel, we worked closely with various security firms to identify and quickly fix issues that may have posed risks to our users.

We appreciate all of the hard work by Android partners, external researchers, and teams at Google that led to the progress the ecosystem has made with security in 2016. But it doesn’t stop there. Keeping users safe requires constant vigilance and effort. We’re looking forward to new insights and progress in 2017 and beyond.

Diverse protections for a diverse ecosystem: Android Security 2016 Year in Review

Today, we’re sharing the third annual Android Security Year In Review, a comprehensive look at our work to protect more than 1.4 billion Android users and their data.

Our goal is simple: keep our users safe. In 2016, we improved our abilities to stop dangerous apps, built new security features into Android 7.0 Nougat, and collaborated with device manufacturers, researchers, and other members of the Android ecosystem. For more details, you can read the full Year in Review report or watch our webinar.

Protecting you from PHAs

It’s critical to keep people safe from Potentially Harmful Apps (PHAs) that may put their data or devices at risk. Our ongoing work in this area requires us to find ways to track and stop existing PHAs, and anticipate new ones that haven’t even emerged yet.

PHA protections Android 2016

Over the years, we’ve built a variety of systems to address these threats, such as application analyzers that constantly review apps for unsafe behavior, and Verify Apps which regularly checks users’ devices for PHAs. When these systems detect PHAs, we warn users, suggest they think twice about downloading a particular app, or even remove the app from their devices entirely.

We constantly monitor threats and improve our systems over time. Last year’s data reflected those improvements: Verify Apps conducted 750 million daily checks in 2016, up from 450 million the previous year, enabling us to reduce the PHA installation rate in the top 50 countries for Android usage.

Google Play continues to be the safest place for Android users to download their apps. Installs of PHAs from Google Play decreased in nearly every category:

  • Now 0.016 percent of installs, trojans dropped by 51.5 percent compared to 2015
  • Now 0.003 percent of installs, hostile downloaders dropped by 54.6 percent compared to 2015
  • Now 0.003 percent of installs, backdoors dropped by 30.5 percent compared to 2015
  • Now 0.0018 percent of installs, phishing apps dropped by 73.4 percent compared to 2015

By the end of 2016, only 0.05 percent of devices that downloaded apps exclusively from Play contained a PHA; down from 0.15 percent in 2015.

Still, there’s more work to do for devices overall, especially those that install apps from multiple sources. While only 0.71 percent of all Android devices had PHAs installed at the end of 2016, that was a slight increase from about 0.5 percent in the beginning of 2015. Using improved tools and the knowledge we gained in 2016, we think we can reduce the number of devices affected by PHAs in 2017, no matter where people get their apps.

Working together to secure the Android ecosystem

Android security updates in 2016

Sharing information about security threats between Google, device manufacturers, the research community, and others helps keep all Android users safer. In 2016, our biggest collaborations were via our monthly security updates program and ongoing partnership with the security research community.

Security updates are regularly highlighted as a pillar of mobile security—and rightly so. We launched our monthly security updates program in 2015, following the public disclosure of a bug in Stagefright, to help accelerate patching security vulnerabilities across devices from many different device makers. This program expanded significantly in 2016:

  • More than 735 million devices from 200+ manufacturers received a platform security update in 2016.
  • We released monthly Android security updates throughout the year for devices running Android 4.4.4 and up—that accounts for 86.3 percent of all active Android devices worldwide.
  • Our carrier and hardware partners helped expand deployment of these updates, releasing updates for over half of the top 50 devices worldwide in the last quarter of 2016.

We provided monthly security updates for all supported Pixel and Nexus devices throughout 2016, and we’re thrilled to see our partners invest significantly in regular updates as well. There’s still a lot of room for improvement however. About half of devices in use at the end of 2016 had not received a platform security update in the previous year. We’re working to increase device security updates by streamlining our security update program to make it easier for manufacturers to deploy security patches and releasing A/B updates to make it easier for users to apply those patches.

On the research side, our Android Security Rewards program grew rapidly: we paid researchers nearly $1 million dollars for their reports in 2016. In parallel, we worked closely with various security firms to identify and quickly fix issues that may have posed risks to our users.

We appreciate all of the hard work by Android partners, external researchers, and teams at Google that led to the progress the ecosystem has made with security in 2016. But it doesn’t stop there. Keeping users safe requires constant vigilance and effort. We’re looking forward to new insights and progress in 2017 and beyond.

Helping to close the education gap

Even after four years of primary education, 130 million students around the world haven’t mastered basic subjects like reading and math. Limited access to quality materials, under-resourced teachers, and barriers to learning outside the classroom present challenges for many children.

Through Google.org, we’ve given more than $110 million over the past five years to help close gaps in education—whether globally through early and ongoing support for innovators like Khan Academy or focused specifically on how we can support future technologists through our support for CS education organizations. Today, we’re expanding on those commitments with our largest dedicated portfolio of $50 million over the next two years to support nonprofits who are building tech-based learning solutions that tackle these challenges. To start, we’re funding nine organizations around the world that we will also support with Googler volunteers in areas like user experience design, translation, offline functionality and data analytics. By the end of 2017, our goal is to give grants to education nonprofits in 20 countries. And later this year, we’ll be looking for the next round of innovators to join them.

GEI EDU Grant-graphic0.png

Our education grants will focus on three areas where technology can help: giving more students access to quality learning materials, supporting teacher development, and reaching students in conflict zones. Get to know some of our grantees below, and learn about the ways they’re using technology to help close the education gap.

Giving kids the right materials

Around the world, students in low-income communities have to learn with fewer books, out-of-date texts, and materials that are culturally irrelevant or even in the wrong language. Technology can bypass the geographic and financial boundaries that block educational resources from reaching students, while also making those resources more engaging, interactive and effective.

GEI EDU Grant-graphic1.png

One of our first grantees in this area is the Foundation for Learning Equality, which builds free open-source software to bring online materials—including books, video tutorials and quizzes—to the 4.3 billion people who lack consistent access to the internet. Their new platform, Kolibri, runs on numerous devices and helps educators access, organize and customize digital content, even in the most remote locations. So far they’ve brought 7,000 videos and 26,000 interactive exercises offline for students in about 160 countries.

Our funding, along with Google volunteers providing technical support, will help Learning Equality build a bigger content library and scale their reach to hundreds of thousands of new students. This summer, Google engineers and product experts are volunteering to spend four weeks working side-by-side with Learning Equality’s product team in areas such as UX/UI, content integration, and video compression technology.

Keeping teachers trained and engaged

Having a great teacher is one of the best predictors of a student’s academic success, but in many countries there simply aren’t enough of them. By 2030, India alone will need 3 million new primary school teachers just to keep up with its growing population of students.

Google.org is helping local leaders invest in digital tools that offer teachers quality training and confidence-building tools that encourage creativity in the classroom. The first of these grants goes to Million Sparks Foundation’s ChalkLit, an app-based platform that combines bite-sized, curriculum-aligned content with an online community to support first-rate teaching. Google engineers volunteering their time and skills will advise the Million Sparks team on how to optimize the ChalkLit app for teachers in low-bandwidth and offline environments.

Helping students learn in crisis

Thirty-two million primary school-aged students can’t reach traditional classrooms because of violent conflict and displacement. Quality primary education is especially important to kids who, living in camps or other hard-to-reach settings, are highly vulnerable to poverty and exploitative labor.

One interesting approach to this problem comes from Google.org grantee War Child Holland, whose game-based method, Can’t Wait To Learn, children affected by conflict from falling behind by providing a year of lessons and exercises that align with a host country’s curriculum.

Data collected from Can’t Wait To Learn’s first deployments in Sudan showed that students learned significantly from the approach, with boys and girls progressing at equal rates. Supported by Google product experts who are volunteering to help build their product road map and expand their tech team, War Child Holland aims to reach significant numbers of children in the Middle East and Africa the next five years.

GEI EDU Grant_A.png

Brigitte Hoyer Gosselink, Education lead Google.org in SF office.jpg

Brigitte Hoyer Gosselink, Education lead Google.org in SF office

GEI EDU Grant_2.png


We’re continuing to work with these grantees, and are aiming to expand our efforts throughout the next year. If you’d like updates on our program, please let us know. We look forward to continuing this work to make education more equitable for children around the world.

Helping to close the education gap

Even after four years of primary education, 130 million students around the world haven’t mastered basic subjects like reading and math. Limited access to quality materials, under-resourced teachers, and barriers to learning outside the classroom present challenges for many children.

Through Google.org, we’ve given more than $110 million over the past five years to help close gaps in education—whether globally through early and ongoing support for innovators like Khan Academy or focused specifically on how we can support future technologists through our support for CS education organizations. Today, we’re expanding on those commitments with our largest dedicated portfolio of $50 million over the next two years to support nonprofits who are building tech-based learning solutions that tackle these challenges. To start, we’re funding nine organizations around the world that we will also support with Googler volunteers in areas like user experience design, translation, offline functionality and data analytics. By the end of 2017, our goal is to give grants to education nonprofits in 20 countries. And later this year, we’ll be looking for the next round of innovators to join them.

GEI EDU Grant-graphic0.png

Our education grants will focus on three areas where technology can help: giving more students access to quality learning materials, supporting teacher development, and reaching students in conflict zones. Get to know some of our grantees below, and learn about the ways they’re using technology to help close the education gap.

Giving kids the right materials

Around the world, students in low-income communities have to learn with fewer books, out-of-date texts, and materials that are culturally irrelevant or even in the wrong language. Technology can bypass the geographic and financial boundaries that block educational resources from reaching students, while also making those resources more engaging, interactive and effective.

GEI EDU Grant-graphic1.png

One of our first grantees in this area is the Foundation for Learning Equality, which builds free open-source software to bring online materials—including books, video tutorials and quizzes—to the 4.3 billion people who lack consistent access to the internet. Their new platform, Kolibri, runs on numerous devices and helps educators access, organize and customize digital content, even in the most remote locations. So far they’ve brought 7,000 videos and 26,000 interactive exercises offline for students in about 160 countries.

Our funding, along with Google volunteers providing technical support, will help Learning Equality build a bigger content library and scale their reach to hundreds of thousands of new students. This summer, Google engineers and product experts are volunteering to spend four weeks working side-by-side with Learning Equality’s product team in areas such as UX/UI, content integration, and video compression technology.

Keeping teachers trained and engaged

Having a great teacher is one of the best predictors of a student’s academic success, but in many countries there simply aren’t enough of them. By 2030, India alone will need 3 million new primary school teachers just to keep up with its growing population of students.

Google.org is helping local leaders invest in digital tools that offer teachers quality training and confidence-building tools that encourage creativity in the classroom. The first of these grants goes to Million Sparks Foundation’s ChalkLit, an app-based platform that combines bite-sized, curriculum-aligned content with an online community to support first-rate teaching. Google engineers volunteering their time and skills will advise the Million Sparks team on how to optimize the ChalkLit app for teachers in low-bandwidth and offline environments.

Helping students learn in crisis

Thirty-two million primary school-aged students can’t reach traditional classrooms because of violent conflict and displacement. Quality primary education is especially important to kids who, living in camps or other hard-to-reach settings, are highly vulnerable to poverty and exploitative labor.

One interesting approach to this problem comes from Google.org grantee War Child Holland, whose game-based method, Can’t Wait To Learn, children affected by conflict from falling behind by providing a year of lessons and exercises that align with a host country’s curriculum.

Data collected from Can’t Wait To Learn’s first deployments in Sudan showed that students learned significantly from the approach, with boys and girls progressing at equal rates. Supported by Google product experts who are volunteering to help build their product road map and expand their tech team, War Child Holland aims to reach significant numbers of children in the Middle East and Africa the next five years.

GEI EDU Grant_A.png

Brigitte Hoyer Gosselink, Education lead Google.org in SF office.jpg

Brigitte Hoyer Gosselink, Education lead Google.org in SF office

GEI EDU Grant_2.png


We’re continuing to work with these grantees, and are aiming to expand our efforts throughout the next year. If you’d like updates on our program, please let us know. We look forward to continuing this work to make education more equitable for children around the world.

Google Classroom: Now open to even more learners

When you picture a “typical” classroom, what do you see? A chalkboard, desks in neat rows, and kids with backpacks? In today’s world, we know that learning can happen almost anywhere, both in and outside of school. A kitchen table might be the go-to desk for a homeschooled student, a community center might host an after-school program for coding, and a nonprofit organization might hold a workshop for adults on resume writing and job skills.

We see value in bringing technology to people who want to learn, no matter the setting. That’s why we’re opening up Google Classroom to users without G Suite for Education accounts. Now, teachers and students in many different environments can teach or attend classes, manage assignments and instantly collaborate—all with their personal Google accounts. Starting today, these new Classroom users will be able to join existing classes and over the coming weeks, they’ll have the ability to create their own classes as well. Schools interested in using Google Classroom should still sign up for G Suite for Education.

Classroom for consumer launch.gif

Starting today, G Suite for Education administrators will see updated Classroom settings that give them new controls over who can join their classes from personal Google accounts or from other G Suite for Education domains. This update gives schools more flexibility in how they collaborate with other organizations and students: For example, student teachers or visiting students can now easily integrate into their host school or university’s Classroom set-up.

Over the past few months, we’ve worked with a number of organizations to understand how a more open Classroom can meet their needs. Youth For Understanding (YFU) is an organization that hosts virtual exchange programs for students who could not otherwise study abroad. YFU piloted Classroom during a 15-week virtual exchange among students from 5 countries, with 700 students and 24 facilitators.

YFU found Classroom valuable because it worked across devices and needed nothing more than an Internet connection. Using Classroom, YFU reported that “the ‘technological intimidation factor’ was no longer the primary challenge in running virtual exchanges.” Instead, the organization can put their focus where it belongs—on the program’s intercultural content.

We believe that Classroom can make technology work effectively in any learning relationship between an instructor and student, no matter what shape that takes. We’re excited to see new educators and learners join the Classroom community, and are looking forward to seeing how they’ll use it to meet their needs. Whether you’re a homeschooling parent or an instructor at a tutoring center, we’d love to hear your stories about how Classroom helps foster teaching and learning as you try it with your students. You can also continue to share feedback with us directly in Classroom. And if you have further questions, check out our FAQ to learn more about these changes.

Google Classroom: Now open to even more learners

When you picture a “typical” classroom, what do you see? A chalkboard, desks in neat rows, and kids with backpacks? In today’s world, we know that learning can happen almost anywhere, both in and outside of school. A kitchen table might be the go-to desk for a homeschooled student, a community center might host an after-school program for coding, and a nonprofit organization might hold a workshop for adults on resume writing and job skills.

We see value in bringing technology to people who want to learn, no matter the setting. That’s why we’re opening up Google Classroom to users without G Suite for Education accounts. Now, teachers and students in many different environments can teach or attend classes, manage assignments and instantly collaborate—all with their personal Google accounts. Starting today, these new Classroom users will be able to join existing classes and over the coming weeks, they’ll have the ability to create their own classes as well. Schools interested in using Google Classroom should still sign up for G Suite for Education.

Classroom for consumer launch.gif

Starting today, G Suite for Education administrators will see updated Classroom settings that give them new controls over who can join their classes from personal Google accounts or from other G Suite for Education domains. This update gives schools more flexibility in how they collaborate with other organizations and students: For example, student teachers or visiting students can now easily integrate into their host school or university’s Classroom set-up.

Over the past few months, we’ve worked with a number of organizations to understand how a more open Classroom can meet their needs. Youth For Understanding (YFU) is an organization that hosts virtual exchange programs for students who could not otherwise study abroad. YFU piloted Classroom during a 15-week virtual exchange among students from 5 countries, with 700 students and 24 facilitators.

YFU found Classroom valuable because it worked across devices and needed nothing more than an Internet connection. Using Classroom, YFU reported that “the ‘technological intimidation factor’ was no longer the primary challenge in running virtual exchanges.” Instead, the organization can put their focus where it belongs—on the program’s intercultural content.

We believe that Classroom can make technology work effectively in any learning relationship between an instructor and student, no matter what shape that takes. We’re excited to see new educators and learners join the Classroom community, and are looking forward to seeing how they’ll use it to meet their needs. Whether you’re a homeschooling parent or an instructor at a tutoring center, we’d love to hear your stories about how Classroom helps foster teaching and learning as you try it with your students. You can also continue to share feedback with us directly in Classroom. And if you have further questions, check out our FAQ to learn more about these changes.

Journey Under the Earth’s Surface in Street View

More than a thousand miles off the coast of Australia is the remote country of Vanuatu, an archipelago of 80 tiny islands—brimming with lush green jungles, pristine black sand beaches, and nine erupting volcanoes.

Vanuatu 2

Walk the beaches of Ambrym 

Starting today in Google Maps, we invite you to join us on a journey to the edge of one of the largest boiling lava lakes in the world on the Vanuatuan island of Ambrym. To get  inside  the active volcano, we partnered with explorers Geoff Mackley and Chris Horsly, who repelled 400 meters into the Marum crater with a Street View Trekker collecting 360-degree imagery of the journey down to the molten lava lake, which is roughly the size of two football fields. 

You only realize how insignificant humans are when you’re standing next to a giant lake of fiery boiling rock.

Geoff Mackley

V 3

Marum Lava Lake 

“Standing at the edge and feeling the heat lick your skin is phenomenal,” said Chris Horsly after returning from his descent into the crater. “I hope that by putting this place on the map people will realize what a beautiful world we live in.”

v 4
Marum Lava Lake 

Ambrym is defined by the desolate 39 square mile volcanic caldera hosting two active volcanic cones called Benbow and Marum. But the tropical island is also home to more than 7,000 people who live in the rainforest down the mountain. While the volcano has played a significant role in defining their history due to unpredictable eruptions and influence on agriculture and environment, they’ve learned to live in harmony with this beautiful yet deadly natural phenomena.

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Chief Moses in the local village of Endu explains, “We believe that the volcanoes Marum and Benbow are devils. If you go up to a volcano you have to be very careful because the two volcanoes could get angry at any time. We believe that Benbo is the husband and Marum is the wife. Sometimes when they don’t agree there’s an eruption which means the spirit is angry so we sacrifice a pig or fawel to the volcano.” As part of the Google Maps journey, Chief Moses of Endu invites you to take a walk through his village and hopes you’ll be inspired to visit this sacred place he calls home. Following Cyclone Pam a few years ago, the country has been rebuilding its infrastructure. Now Chief Moses and his village are ready to welcome travelers back to Vanuatu to experience its stunning beauty and learn about its cultural traditions. He believes making Vanuatu more accessible to the world is a key step in the island’s recovery and ability to  establish a sustainable economy and preserve its culture.

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Village of Endu

In Street View you can wander the streets of 81 countries and visit incredible historical and natural sites around the world like the Samburu National Park in Kenya, The Grand Canyon, or  New Zealand’s Great Walks. Today, for the first time, Street View is going beneath the surface and into the heart of the earth—enjoy exploring Vanuatu’s Marum Crater and Endu village at Ambrym.