Chromebooks have been absolutely vital for remote learning over the last year and Google continues to improve on the tools available to educators and students on the Chrome OS platform.
Google announced in its blog that a new update coming in March will deliver dozens of additional software features including a built-in screen recorder and enhanced accessibility features alongside more than 40 new Chromebooks coming this year (via Engadget).
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Google had little to say about the new hardware other than suggesting that there will be a considerable variety of options including Chromebooks with stylus support, dual-cameras, touchscreens and LTE connectivity. Presumably, they are leaving that up to the hardware manufacturers to reveal and we'll certainly bring you the news of the latest Chromebooks as soon as they launch. Fortunately, Google was much more forthcoming on its own software.
One of the most notable is the addition of a built-in screen recorder, an incredibly useful tool for teachers and students trying to illustrate a specific task on their Chromebook. As you can see in the GIF below, it functions a lot like the standard screen capture tool with the ability to select the entire screen or simply a specific window or portion of the screen. It will then give you a record button in the middle of the screen and display a countdown until you are live.
ChromeVox is the screen reader that is already included in Chrome OS, which was originally intended specifically for users with some form of visual impairment, but it has also proven to be an asset for many other education users as well. The feature is getting a number of updates in March to bring improved tutorials to help get started, the ability to search its menus, and more natural voice switching when reading different languages.
Google Meet is getting some attention as well with enhancements to audio, video and reliability reportedly coming as part of the March update. Google Classroom as well with improved grade entry, student engagement tracking, better offline support and easier image handling. There are over 50 updates in total centered around education coming to the platform as part of this update.
While not everyone loves Chromebooks, they have quickly become the de facto device when it comes to education and Google certainly appears to be doing everything in its power to keep it that way.