The coronavirus outbreak has changed how we live and work overnight. One of the fields most impacted by this sudden change has been education, including Google Classroom. As hundreds of thousands of schools across the world have moved their lessons online, administrators have had to find new ways for educators to teach their students.
The result has been a massive spike in demand for online teaching services, like Google Classroom. As a result, major companies must move quickly to support educators.
Google Moves Fast to Handle New Demand
Google Classroom is a free web service provided by Google that helps teachers hand out assignments and hold lessons over the internet. The service has been around since 2014 but has never been used at such high levels before.
Demand for Google classrooms doubled between the beginning of March and early April. Now, Google says the platform has more than 100 million active users. Other Google services are seeing similar jumps in demand — the brand’s videoconferencing platform, Google Meet, is adding two million new users every day. Their broader education platform, G Suite for Education, now supports 125 million active users.
Online education tools are seeing similar numbers — online quiz-making tool Quizlet, for example, reported a 400 percent increase in users from Italy and China as the coronavirus spread. Google Classrooms and the broader shift to online learning drive much of this growth.
Part of this user increase came from the Italian school system, which was able to move online with help from Google. The company was contacted by Italy’s Minister of Education in March, who asked if Google could shift lessons to the web.
While the task took a few “sleepless days and nights,” according to Javier Soltero, a Google VP in charge of G Suite, the company was successful in bringing Italy’s school system online.
The company has also taken steps to make it as easy as possible for teachers around the world to get started quickly. To use Google Classrooms, teachers at qualifying institutions need to apply for a G Suite for Education account. It usually takes two weeks for one of these applications to be approved, but Google is now expediting the process. The company has also made many premium G Suite features free until September 30.
Challenges Facing Online Learning
While Google has faced a few challenges — students, for example, quickly found out they could boot other participants from Meet calls and began kicking their teachers out of class — the company has been quick to respond. So far, there haven’t been any major roadblocks. This setup has made the platform a preferable alternative to other teaching and web-conferencing options, like Zoom, which experts have revealed as not secure under increased scrutiny.
Google Classrooms and other online education platforms will face serious challenges over the rest of the year as schools remain closed. While Google has handled security better than other platforms, keeping these tools secure will likely become harder over time. Hackers are ramping up attacks on widely-used services hoping to take advantage of the current chaos.
Google Classroom Become Essential During Quarantine
While it’s not clear how long current shelter-in-place and social distancing policies will remain active, experts believe that we may still be at home in the fall, when schools would typically reopen. Educators may need to prepare for a year of schooling that’s taught entirely online.
Online learning services are important right now, but they may become even more central if schools stay closed. The increased demand could create new challenges for Google and other businesses. These companies will likely need to find ways to handle rapidly growing user bases and defend data as hackers continue to target essential web services.
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