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How Tring School creates a culture of student sharing that improves classroom results

20 January[ —]

Editor’s note: Leading up to Bett, one of the largest education technology conferences in the world, we're highlighting teachers, students and administrators who are using educational technology to help schools flourish and make learning more interactive and impactful. In this post, Chris Lickfold, Director of Learning at Tring School in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom, explains how technology has encouraged their school’s 1,500 students to become more curious, independent learners. Over the next few months, we'll be sharing more Impact Portraits on the blog. And check out @GoogleForEdu and #BETT2017 to learn what we're talking about at Bett. Chris Lickfold will be speaking at Google’s teaching theatre at 11 a.m. on Jan. 26.

Traditional measures like attendance rates and grades are important benchmarks for a school’s performance, but they don’t paint a complete picture of student success. They don’t, for example, indicate whether students are engaged with their classwork or are inspired to discover knowledge.

Last year we brought Chromebooks to Tring School and trained teachers and students to use G Suite for Education. We were fortunate to be in a school environment that was already reaching its goals, but we saw an opportunity to improve further by creating a culture of sharing and engagement.

Shortly after bringing Google tools to students at Tring School, we saw students becoming more independent in their learning—and more curious about the world than we could have imagined. For example, when conducting primary research, we saw students collecting upwards of 300 data points using Google Forms, versus just a handful before the rollout of Google tools. Now, we're beginning to see the impact of student-led learning in more traditional performance benchmarks. In our science classes, 21 percent more students performed above their expected level in 2016 compared to 2015. And 20 percent more students reached average levels in 2016 compared to 2015.

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Students take ownership of learning—and ask teachers for support when they need it

With a few hundred Chromebooks and Google Classroom, we were able to fully appreciate our students’ proficiencies and challenges. Because Chromebooks allow for real-time collaboration, teachers can see school work in progress and offer support to students as they’re working on assignments instead of providing feedback after classwork was already completed. Students like the privacy of communicating within Classroom, and they’re less self-conscious about asking for help. Teachers are also able to direct students to specific resources they need. And the portability of Chromebooks lets teachers and students to share and respond to feedback even when they’re not in a classroom together.

“The increased feedback and interaction with teachers improved my marks,” one of our Year 11 students told us. “We never had this level of detail or ability to ask specific questions back within the work.”

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Richer, more contextual learning environments

Chromebooks and G Suite have buttressed our flipped learning approach and given students more autonomy over how they learn and what they learn about. It’s easy to provision content on Chromebooks; teachers in our modern foreign languages department add tools like Google Maps so students can immerse themselves in the locations of the languages they’re studying. Students in our design and technology department can work on projects at their own pace. In other words: Students, not teachers, decide how they’ll meet learning goals.

As students work with their chosen resources, such as digital textbooks, teachers can tailor feedback and guidance for individual students—something they wouldn’t have had the time or tools to do in the past. G Suite applications help increase students’ accountability and lets teachers track homework more efficiently than paper-based methods, and that saved time can go back into working with students one-on-one.

Students share classwork with each other simply because it’s so easy to do so. Teachers don’t need to encourage sharing—it’s become part of learning. All in all, Google’s tools have helped us build a culture of sharing that’s not only fun and engaging for students and teachers—it actually delivers better results.

Read the full Tring School Impact Portrait and check out g.co/EduImpact for stories of impact from around the world.


App Security Improvements: Looking back at 2016

19 January[ —]

In April 2016, the Android Security team described how the Google Play App Security Improvement (ASI) program has helped developers fix security issues in 100,000 applications. Since then, we have detected and notified developers of 11 new security issues and provided developers with resources and guidance to update their apps. Because of this, over 90,000 developers have updated over 275,000 apps!

Android app security improvements

ASI now notifies developers of 26 potential security issues. To make this process more transparent, we introduced a new page where developers can find information about all these security issues in one place. This page includes links to help center articles containing instructions and additional support contacts. Developers can use this page as a resource to learn about new issues and keep track of all past issues.

Developers can also refer to our security best practices documents and security checklist, which are aimed at improving the understanding of general security concepts and providing examples that can help tackle app-specific issues.

How you can help:

For feedback or questions, please reach out to us through the Google Play Developer Help Center. To report potential security issues in apps, email us at security+asi@android.com.


See how G Suite and DocuSign help real estate brokers close deals faster

19 January[ —]

G Suite helps teams cut through clutter and get right down to business: accomplishing more with less rigmarole. In November, we welcomed DocuSign to the Recommended for G Suite Program to trim time businesses spend on e-signatures and approvals. This G Suite integration makes it easy to fast-track signatures with multiple signers, which is especially valuable for our customers in the real estate industry.

Sereno Group, a real estate brokerage firm in California, uses DocuSign and G Suite to schedule signings, maintain communication between agents and clients, and easily exchange paperwork. By using less complicated tools, agents can build their business and clientele faster.  

“When our tools are easier to use, agents can spend less time managing paperwork and devote more time to their clients,” said Tim Proschold, VP of Group Strategy & Success at Sereno Group.

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Sereno Group agents save time by using other G Suite integrations, like DocuSign for Google Drive and the DocuSign Gmail extension. Agents use Zipforms, online forms used by real estate agents, to store important deal information. Then others can go into these Zipforms, assemble important real estate, add in files or documents stored in Google Drive with the DocuSign for Google Drive integration and send materials to clients for them to sign. Tracking the status of signatures is easy with the DocuSign Gmail extension. Sereno Group agents can see the status of signatures directly in Gmail to know what’s pending and what’s complete. 

Other brokers are catching on too. Chris Lopez, broker with World Class Properties, is saving time with DocuSign and G Suite: “I sign between five and 10 documents every day and I save up to 10 minutes on each document. That frees up nearly eight hours a week for me to focus on what’s important for my clients.”

These real estate agents are clearly on to something. According to DocuSign, Sereno Group real estate agents are using DocuSign tools more and more — last year they used 18,000 envelope signatures up from 5,500 the year before. To learn more about how to use G Suite and DocuSign for your business, sign up for this webinar on February 7, 2017 at 10am PST / 1pm EST.

How Devonport Boys High School is building the next generation of entrepreneurs

19 January[ —]

Editor’s note: Leading up to Bett, one of the largest education technology conferences in the world, we're highlighting teachers, students and administrators who are using educational technology to make learning more interactive and impactful for their students. From our Impact Portraits series, Ben Forte shares how Devonport is creating a more collaborative, entrepreneurial environment for its 1,200 students using technology. Check out @GoogleForEdu and #BETT2017 to learn what we're talking about at Bett. To hear more from Ben, visit Google’s teaching theater at Bett on Thursday Jan. 26 at 1:30 p.m.

When you walk into a startup or big tech office, it’s not out of the ordinary to see ping pong tables, vending machines for gadgets or open spaces without walls or cubicles. But these environments aren’t standard in the education system. In fact, most schools think that this type of modern, open space would create chaos and limit the ability to learn.

When I joined Devonport Boys High School, I set out to prove the opposite. I believed that by creating open spaces and giving students the technology and tools they need to think like entrepreneurs, they’d learn far more than in a rule-bound, confined environment. To support this idea, we created the Learning Commons: a dedicated space including a big room with an artificial lawn and bean bags, a separate room with whiteboard-ready desks, and small meeting rooms, custom built for collaboration and group discussions.

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At the same time, we overhauled our technology. Chromebooks and G Suite for Education were so affordable that each student was allotted a device, letting us distribute technology to more students and teachers than ever before. We replaced outdated systems with Google tools to personalize learning and encourage greater collaboration. The result was a measurable increase in student participation, including a 60 percent increase in students accessing their accounts outside of school.

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Empowering students to be digital ambassadors

Often when schools adopt new learning technology, teachers and administrators take responsibility for introducing the required resources and processes. At Devonport, we asked students to participate in the roll-out, and they embraced the opportunity. They created department- and subject-specific websites using Google Sites, and set up others for clubs and extracurriculars like Biology Society, Chess Club, Astronomy Club and Debate Club. This student-led project helped foster an entrepreneurial mindset and reorganize the departments and clubs. And now students, teachers and administrators can easily access shared event calendars, photos and resources with Google Drive.

Students also use Hangouts and Chromebooks outside of the classroom to hold meetings for student-run clubs and extracurricular activities. During the meetings, they take notes in Google Docs for everyone to view, and to help those who missed the meeting get up to speed. The portability of Chromebooks allows students to collaborate regardless of their physical location.

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Meeting students where they are with personalized resources and parent involvement

With G Suite for Education, teachers can create a customized learning path by sharing videos, articles and additional assignments with each student based on their areas of improvement. By tracking their progress and giving every student one-on-one feedback during and after class, teachers are meeting students where they are, and challenging students to push themselves.

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Collaborative spaces and tools allow students and teachers to work closely together.

Parents are a big part of students’ education, and we wanted to create a better communication channel between parents and teachers. We created a Parent Portal on Google Sites, which lets teachers share updates and feedback with parents about their child’s learning. This not only creates a positive relationship for the school and parents, but also helps parents identify how they can help their children at home and outside of the classroom.

Teachers are also making learning content more dynamic by incorporating videos and online activities. Our psychology department truly adopted the digital mindset and replaced the textbook with Google Sites, including online videos, links to articles and recorded lesson plans.

We want our students to be inspired to think creatively, to become the next generation of digital entrepreneurs, inventing ways to improve our schools, their lives and the world through technology. With the help of G Suite and Chromebooks, we’re on our way.

Read the full Devonport Impact Portrait and check out g.co/EduImpact for stories of impact from around the world.


Showcase your art in new ways with Tilt Brush Toolkit

19 January[ —]

Tilt Brush is a tool for creators of all backgrounds and styles to make art in virtual reality. Sketches made in Tilt Brush stand on their own — you can film your sketches, take 2D snapshots, export them as 3D objects. However there hasn't been an easy way to add animation, interactivity, or sequencing to your art. That is, until now.

Today, we're introducing the Tilt Brush Toolkit, an open source library for bringing your Tilt Brush art to other creative projects. With the toolkit, the next generation of artists can create narrative, interactive, and immersive content using Tilt Brush sketches.

The Tilt Brush Toolkit includes Python scripts and a Unity SDK with everything you need to make movies, interactive stories, video games, music videos, or other projects using assets created in Tilt Brush. We’re sharing all of our brush shaders, our audio reactive code, a streamlined Unity import pipeline, file format conversion utilities, and several great examples so hobbyists and professionals can showcase their Tilt Brush art in new places, on new platforms, and in new ways.  

Share your projects using the #TiltBrush hashtag, and we’ll highlight our favorites from @googlevr.


A virtual trek through Petra with Google Cardboard

18 January[ —]

Last year, we launched a virtual tour of Petra and more than 30 historical sites across Jordan in Google Street View. The interactive Maps experience took visitors on an intimate journey into Jordan’s lost city of stone—and now, we’ve made this historic trek even more immersive with a 360º experience for Google Cardboard.  

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We’ve used 360º mapping, aerial imagery and millions of photos stitched together, to recreate six of Petra’s most beautiful and iconic panoramas for you to explore. Audio narration, interactive hotspots and sound effects guide you as you follow the footsteps of the ancient Nabataeans. This 2000-year-old civilization miraculously transformed the harshest of deserts into an oasis of life and culture.

Wander through the winding pathway of Al Siq to the Treasury, Petra’s most famous landmark. Look all around in 360º to explore every detail of this elaborate carved facade recognizable from movies like “Indiana Jones” and “Transformers.”

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Make your way past Petra’s carved theatre and hidden tombs until you reach Al Deir, or the Monastery. No trip to Petra is complete without staring up in awe at its grandeur. The doorway alone is eight meters tall!

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Of course, nothing can compare to visiting Petra in real life. But now anyone with an internet connection can trek this remarkable UNESCO Heritage Site like never before—and we hope this 360º experience inspires a new generation of tourists to come to visit the rose-red city for themselves. Start your tour now on your mobile phone at g.co/PetraVR.


Don’t let a spotty connection stop you from searching

18 January[ —]

Whether you’re a commuter reading the news with a spotty network, a farmer looking up crop prices with no service in the fields, or just driving through a tunnel, all is not lost when your search is interrupted by a bad connection. Now on the Google app for Android, even if your search fails, Google will deliver your results as soon as a connection is available—so you can keep searching with a single tap.

Mobile networks can sometimes be inconsistent or spotty, which means that even if you have a connection when you start your search, it might fail before you get your results back. With this change, search results are saved as soon as they are retrieved, even if you lose connection afterwards or go into airplane mode. So the next time you lose service, feel free to queue up your searches, put your phone away and carry on with your day. The Google app will work behind-the-scenes to detect when a connection is available again and deliver your search results once completed.

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And if you’re worried about data charges or preserving battery life, don’t fret. This feature won’t drain your battery, and by fetching streamlined search results pages, it minimally impacts data usage.

So before you head out the door, make sure the Google app is running the latest version for Android, and the next time you hit a spotty network, your results are covered.


Silence speaks louder than words when finding malware

17 January[ —]

In Android Security, we're constantly working to better understand how to make Android devices operate more smoothly and securely. One security solution included on all devices with Google Play is Verify apps. Verify apps checks if there are Potentially Harmful Apps (PHAs) on your device. If a PHA is found, Verify apps warns the user and enables them to uninstall the app.

But, sometimes devices stop checking up with Verify apps. This may happen for a non-security related reason, like buying a new phone, or, it could mean something more concerning is going on. When a device stops checking up with Verify apps, it is considered Dead or Insecure (DOI). An app with a high enough percentage of DOI devices downloading it, is considered a DOI app. We use the DOI metric, along with the other security systems to help determine if an app is a PHA to protect Android users. Additionally, when we discover vulnerabilities, we patch Android devices with our security update system.

This blog post explores the Android Security team’s research to identify the security-related reasons that devices stop working and prevent it from happening in the future.

Flagging DOI Apps

To understand this problem more deeply, the Android Security team correlates app install attempts and DOI devices to find apps that harm the device in order to protect our users.

With these factors in mind, we then focus on ‘retention’. A device is considered retained if it continues to perform periodic Verify apps security check ups after an app download. If it doesn’t, it’s considered potentially dead or insecure (DOI). An app’s retention rate is the percentage of all retained devices that downloaded the app in one day. Because retention is a strong indicator of device health, we work to maximize the ecosystem’s retention rate.

Therefore, we use an app DOI scorer, which assumes that all apps should have a similar device retention rate. If an app’s retention rate is a couple of standard deviations lower than average, the DOI scorer flags it. A common way to calculate the number of standard deviations from the average is called a Z-score. The equation for the Z-score is below.

Z-score for Dead or Insecure devices
  • N = Number of devices that downloaded the app.
  • x = Number of retained devices that downloaded the app.
  • p = Probability of a device downloading any app will be retained.

In this context, we call the Z-score of an app’s retention rate a DOI score. The DOI score indicates an app has a statistically significant lower retention rate if the Z-score is much less than -3.7. This means that if the null hypothesis is true, there is much less than a 0.01% chance the magnitude of the Z-score being as high. In this case, the null hypothesis means the app accidently correlated with lower retention rate independent of what the app does.

This allows for percolation of extreme apps (with low retention rate and high number of downloads) to the top of the DOI list. From there, we combine the DOI score with other information to determine whether to classify the app as a PHA. We then use Verify apps to remove existing installs of the app and prevent future installs of the app.
Android security checkups for DOI devices
Difference between a regular and DOI app download on the same device

Results in the wild

Among others, the DOI score flagged many apps in three well known malware families— Hummingbad, Ghost Push, and Gooligan. Although they behave differently, the DOI scorer flagged over 25,000 apps in these three families of malware because they can degrade the Android experience to such an extent that a non-negligible amount of users factory reset or abandon their devices. This approach provides us with another perspective to discover PHAs and block them before they gain popularity. Without the DOI scorer, many of these apps would have escaped the extra scrutiny of a manual review.

The DOI scorer and all of Android's anti-malware work is one of multiple layers protecting users and developers on Android. For an overview of Android's security and transparency efforts, check out our page.


Making Google+ work better for you

17 January[ —]

For the past few years, we’ve been doing a lot of listening on the Google+ team, and we’ve learned a lot.

Listening to your feedback inspired us to introduce a new Google+ focused on helping you connect around shared interests a little over a year ago. Your feedback led us to launch more than 50 updates across Android, iOS and web to ensure the new experience serves you even better than the previous one. Big changes like powerful tools for Community moderators, image comments and joining the G Suite family were all thanks to your input.

After all of these updates, more people are discovering vibrant Communities and creating inspiring Collections than ever before. So it’s in this same spirit that we’re pleased to add three new much requested updates, rolling out over the next couple of weeks, to Google+.

Hiding low-quality comments

We’re making it easier to have good conversations by hiding lower quality comments on posts, so you can focus on the comments that matter most. If you’d like to see all the comments on a post, you can always click or tap “View more comments.”

Hiding low quality comments

Showing you more of what matters

To help you see more of the stuff you care about, we’ve adjusted Google+ to make the best use of your screen size and show you less white space and more posts. Photographers share big, beautiful images on Google+ every day, so we’ve also added zoom functionality to photos on Google+ web to let you get up close and personal with the images you’re interested in.

Paris full and zoom

Bringing back Events

Finally (drumroll please!), we’re bringing Events over to the new Google+. While there’s more to be done to improve the experience, beginning January 24th you’ll be able to create and join events on Google+ web as you have in the past. Please note that Events will not be available for G Suite at this time.

With this latest round of updates, we believe the new Google+ is really your Google+— designed around your suggestions, requests and needs. It also means it’s time to say goodbye to classic Google+ on the web, which we’ll be turning down on January 24.

Just because we’re bidding adieu to classic Google+ doesn’t mean we’re done working on the new one. Our aim is to make Google+ the best place to connect around the things you care about, so please use the “Send Feedback” link in the apps and on the web to keep the feedback coming. We’re listening.











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