Previewing a new Classroom

As a former high school math teacher, I know all too well that teachers spend a ton of valuable time doing things other than teaching—waking up early to grade quizzes, collecting and returning piles of paper assignments, and battling copy machine paper jams. But with today’s technology it doesn’t have to be this way. Many teachers and professors have found ways to use technology to be better educators and avoid busy work. We spent the past year working closely with many educators to understand the systems they use to simplify their workloads, so they can get back to doing what they love—teaching.

Today, in honor of Teacher Appreciation Day, we’re announcing a preview of Classroom, a new, free tool in the Google Apps for Education suite. It helps teachers create and organize assignments quickly, provide feedback efficiently, and communicate with their classes with ease. Classroom is based on the principle that educational tools should be simple and easy to use, and is designed to give teachers more time to teach and students more time to learn.

With Classroom, you'll be able to:

  • Create and collect assignments: Classroom weaves together Google Docs, Drive and Gmail to help teachers create and collect assignments paperlessly. They can quickly see who has or hasn't completed the work, and provide direct, real-time feedback to individual students.
  • Improve class communications: Teachers can make announcements, ask questions and comment with students in real time—improving communication inside and outside of class.
  • Stay organized: Classroom automatically creates Drive folders for each assignment and for each student. Students can easily see what’s due on their Assignments page.

We know that protecting your students’ privacy is critical. Like the rest of our Apps for Education services, Classroom contains no ads, never uses your content or student data for advertising purposes, and is free for schools.
Starting today, teachers and professors can apply for a preview of Classroom. Based on the requests we receive, we’ll be inviting a limited number of educators to try Classroom in about a month. By September, Classroom will be available to any school using Google Apps for Education. Since we want to make sure Classroom plays well with others, if you’re a developer or partner, sign up to learn more about integrating with Classroom.

We’ve been working with more than a dozen pilot schools and universities to try out Classroom and provide feedback—and we can’t thank them enough. We can’t wait to hear your feedback, and to work together to make Classroom even better.

New mobile apps for Docs, Sheets and Slides—work offline and on the go

Every year, phones and tablets get better, and more of you are starting to use your mobile devices not just to view, but also to create and edit content. And while the Drive app is a convenient place to store your stuff, we want to make it easier for you to quickly find, edit and create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations on the go. Starting today, you can download new, standalone mobile apps for Docs and Sheets—with Slides coming soon. Need to find a spreadsheet? Go to the Sheets app. Need to create a document? Go to the Docs app. They’re all right there at your fingertips.

When you open the new apps, you’ll see your most recently edited files, which means less time searching and scrolling.

The apps also come with offline support built in, so you can easily view, edit and create files without an Internet connection. Now, if you have a brilliant idea for a best-selling novel while traipsing through the Amazonian rainforest (or you know, something more probable, like during flight takeoff) problem. You can jot down your idea in the Docs app on your phone, even when you’re offline.

You can get the apps on Google Play [Docs] [Sheets] and in the App Store [Docs] [Sheets]. If you don’t have time now, over the next few days you’ll be prompted to download the apps when you go to edit or create a document or spreadsheet in your Drive app. And of course, you’ll still be able to use the Drive app to view and organize all of your documents, spreadsheets, presentations, photos and more.

So enjoy the Amazon—we’re looking forward to buying that novel someday. And in the meantime, just remember: even if a crocodile eats your phone, your files are safe in the cloud!

Preparing for basketball madness with the Chrome Web Store

For those of you who follow college basketball in the US, today is National Bracket Day where millions are frantically filling out their brackets and preparing to follow their favorite teams' bids to the national college basketball championship. Luckily, I can use apps from the Chrome Web Store to help me follow the tournament like a pro.

Whether you're a loyal fan of your alma mater or college basketball powerhouses, you can get the most current news, scores, videos and photos all in one place with apps like FanFeedr and LockerPulse.

If you're watching multiple games at once, don't miss an upset with Are You Watching This?! Sports. This app shows you a scoreboard of all games you care about happening right now. You can also create personalized TV channel lineups for local cable and satellite TV providers that are automatically adjusted to your time zone.

You can even relive some of the best plays of the tournament with photos delivered by the Sports Illustrated Snapshot and create your own channels around your favorite college basketball teams.

These are just a few apps to help you stay on top of your games and bracket. You can find these and more sports apps in the Chrome Web Store or learn how other Google products can enhance your game experience on

Appy Holidays from the Chrome Web Store

The winter holidays are my favorite time of the year: I get to spend quality time with friends and family and eat lots of delicious food. However, between booking airplane tickets, sending greeting cards and looking for the perfect gifts, the pre-holiday season can be busy...and even a bit stressful. This year though, I feel much more in control thanks to the apps I discovered in the Chrome Web Store’s Holiday collection.

If you are looking for last minute holiday gifts, try Gilt for Chrome. Within the app, you can find the latest designer fashion items on sale and search for specific items and sizes like “men’s shoes size 11.”

I also recommend Amazon Windowshop. You can use the app to browse through millions of products in a slick way. For example my cousin really likes cupcakes: a search in the app shows me cupcake related products organized across categories like books, groceries and clothing, helping me find unique gifts.

For those of you still planning your trip home, check out Hipmunk. Hipmunk sorts all available flights to your destination by “agony” -- a mix of price, duration, and number of connections. You can see all the flights that meet your needs in a single view.

Finally, if you are late like I am in sending holiday cards, I suggest checking out Stupeflix Video Maker. In the app you can select a theme (my favorite one is “Celebrate”), insert pictures, text, and music, and create a free 60-second greeting that you can email or post on YouTube and Facebook. Or, you can simply create beautiful photo slideshows with DropMocks and comemories.

There are hundreds more apps to discover at the Chrome Web Store.

Happy Holidays!