Google updates Classroom with new tools for students, parents and teachers

Google Classroom, the company’s platform that brings together Google Apps for Education and a number of tools for managing classes and content, is getting one of its regular summer updates today (right in time before the next school year starts).

While Classroom has traditionally focused on offering tools for teachers and students, this new version now also brings in parents and guardians. Parents can now automatically receive summaries of their kids’ work so they can know exactly how they are doing in any given class (helicopter parents will surely love this feature, though students may not be so happy about it). This feature is optional, and teachers can opt in parents to daily or weekly emails.

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For students (and teachers), the updated version of the Classroom mobile app now features the ability to annotate documents collaboratively, making it easier for teachers and students to collaborate outside of the classroom, but also for students to sketch out math problems or create visuals to go with their assignments. Similarly, teachers can use annotations to grade assignments, mark up a student’s homework assignment or highlight passages in a document they are sharing with their class.

For teachers, the new version doesn’t bring all that many other changes, but Google has made some updates to how they can manage the activity streams at the center of Classroom — and Google Forms now allows them to add images to questions and multiple-choice answers.

Inbox by Gmail, Google’s next-gen email tool, is now also available to Google for Education users, and Expeditions, Google’s platform for bringing basic virtual reality experiences to the classroom, is adding quite a few new expeditions to its lineup. In total, Expeditions now features more than 200 different virtual reality experiences.

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