Welcome to the new school year! Hopefully everyone's enjoyed the summer break and that first early morning alarm wasn't too much of a shock!
A week into the new term, and I've had three teachers message me asking "When is Google going to appear on Hwb then?" Well, we finally have a confirmed date - September 24th. That's two weeks today!
Google on Education will appear in your Hwb waffle (that 9 square icon you use to go to J2E, Office etc when logged in to Hwb) on, or shortly after, the 24th September. (I added 'or shortly after' because whilst the roll out starts on 24th September, tech companies often like to spread such roll outs out over a few days to ensure there's no major bug in the system).
The Welsh language version will not be available from day 1. Whilst some Google services already have appeared in Welsh (e.g. Google Keep) the translating won't be finished until 'the first few months of 2019'. Whilst some may be annoyed by this, I'm OK with it. Translating every corner of all the core Google services to Welsh is a big project, and my understanding is that Google has been working on it since at least January. Having such a huge set of services available in Welsh will be a big gain for the language and for Welsh language schools in particular - I can wait a few more months!
One of my big questions was how much control Hwb would give us over the Admin panel. The answer at the moment seems to be "We're not quite sure yet". They are certainly hoping to let schools access User and Device settings, this should mean that we can add new students or Chromebooks ourselves.
Extensions, Add Ons, 3rd Party
They say that they're "reviewing requests" to let schools add Chrome extensions and Add Ons. I really hope their 'review' ends up granting this ability. Extensions and Add Ons add a lot of useful functionality to Chrome and to Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms. If they end up blocking schools from adding these, that will be a very unfortunate decision.
Similarly, they aren't sure if they'll let schools use their Hwb Google accounts to sign in to 3rd party websites. Again, I really hope they allow this. Take Code.org as an example. This is a great free resource for teaching coding, and it integrates well with Google Classroom. If I subscribe as a teacher, it lets me import my Google Classroom over so that my pupils' accounts link to mine. When they complete coding challenges, I can see it on my account. This will be such an useful functionality lost if Hwb decide not to grant this request. Hopefully their review result will be positive.
Other Google Services
I mentioned in my July post that I couldn't understand why Jamboard was blocked on the Hwb version. They now explain that, since Jamboard is a relatively new app, it didn't exist when they conducted their security review into Google services. They promise that they are now conducting a review of Jamboard and of non-core apps such as Google Photos. Unfortunately, they make clear once again that Gmail access is not being considered.