​Survey Says: Google Releases New Slides 'Q&A' Polling Feature, Laser...

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​Survey Says: Google Releases New Slides 'Q&A' Polling Feature, Laser Point, and Updates to Classroom

By Mary Jo Madda (Columnist)     May 4, 2016

​Survey Says: Google Releases New Slides 'Q&A' Polling Feature, Laser Point, and Updates to Classroom

Google’s released a slew of goodies, just in time for Teacher Appreciation Week—and EdSurge got the inside scoop on all the details.

For fans of Google Slides, here’s an announcement that’s right up your alley—specifically because you won’t have to hack “polling” your presentation listeners with a third-party tool anymore.

On May 4, Google announced a new feature in Google Slides entitled Slides Q&A, currently available on the Google Slides website, and for Android and iOS devices. With Q&A, users can now insert a link into a Slides presentation, and listeners or audience members can submit questions from their laptops, phones, and/or tablets. Additionally, the audience can vote on which question they would like answered the most, as shown in the video below.

“Because audiences can now vote ‘up’ and ‘down’ on questions, this allows presenters and audience members to interact in a new way,” says Google rep Brooks Hocog of the app, shown in the video below.

In Google Slides Q&A blogpost, Google Slides Engineer Michael Frederick also made two other Google Slides announcements.

  • First, users can now present slides to a Hangout from an iPhone or iPad; essentially, with the Slides app, users can present to any screen using Chromecast, AirPlay or Hangouts.
  • Second, Google has introduced a new laser pointer feature.
Web view of Q&A feature.

Shree Bose, first-ever winner of the Google Science fair and a current Harvard student, was the first to debut the new Q&A feature publicly during a talk at Google New York City offices, during which students submitted more than 170 questions and voted 800 times. Bose believes that the Q&A feature doesn’t only have potential implications for teaching practices, but also for students who may be afraid to ask for help or clarification.

“As a student myself, I've definitely been lost and confused in class before… [This feature] takes away the fear of asking questions, especially when you're lost and confused in class,” said Bose in an interview with EdSurge, adding, “There's no doubt in your mind that other students who have up-voted your question are also confused.”

Over the past few years, various startups have popped up to address this discrepancy and offer audiences a polling option, including Poll Everywhere and Socrative. Though this new feature technically competes with Poll Everywhere's main value-add, Poll Everywhere CEO Jeff Vyduna celebrates the announcement. "Live Q&A is a spectacular experience in modern presentations," he says, adding that his tool works in PowerPoint, Keynote and Google Slides. "We will continue to make the premiere Q&A tool out there."

Updates to Google Classroom

Since Google launched Classroom back in August of 2014, the company reports that its added more than 50 updates since then. On National Teacher Appreciation Day (Tuesday, May 3), the Education team announced two more additional updates—one that exists now, and one coming later in the year.

  • First, educators can now schedule announcements, assignments and questions to post at a particular time or at a future date. Those sceduled postings (as well as draft postings) will show up the “Saved posts” section of the class stream. Users are emailed notifications or pinged on their mobile phone when scheduled postings go live.
  • Later this year (the specific date not yet determined), Classroom will add a email notification feature where parents and/or guardians can sign up to receive “daily or weekly email digests of their student’s progress,” Google reports.

With all these new Slides and Classroom features, looks like only one question remains... are PowerPoint-style presentations still the best way to teach?

Wait for It… Acquisitions and Deadlines

Aside from new feature releases, it’s been quite the week for Google, with various teams tackling fairs to acquisitions. Over at the Google Education offices, team members are gearing up for the next Google Science Fair project submission deadline, scheduled for May 17.

Over at Google for Work, a Monday blogpost announced that it had acquired startup, Synergyse, to supply better tutorials on how to use Google Apps. According to Peter Scocimara, Senior Director of Google Apps Operations, Synergyse built a “virtual coach inside of the Google Apps interface” on Google Cloud Platform. With interactive modules searchable by topic in Google Apps, Synergyse will help get users “up to speed quickly,” Scocimara says, on how use Google Apps including Gmail, Calendar, and—you got it—Slides.

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