Sometimes getting the right Google Meet extensions can be life-changing. Especially for a teacher.
Google Meet is a secure video conferencing tool that comes with their G Suite and G Suite for Education. They can hold up to 250 participants in a secure meeting and can allow participants to join using a computer, tablet, or phone through the app or call-in feature. Additionally, Google Meet Enterprise (which is free until July 30, 2020) allows the room creator to record the meeting, which automatically downloads into their Google Drive at the end.
If you’re like me, you’ve been living on Google Meet for the past month trying to connect with your students and staff. Video lessons, small group activities, check-ins, office hours, and staff meetings are happening daily on Google Meet.
And we aren’t the only ones. Google Meet is gaining 2 million new users a day. With many schools already utilizing the G Suite for Education, Google Meet became the default tool those schools turned to in order to stay connected with their students.
One of Google Meet’s biggest competitors, Zoom, is also a great tool for online learning. However, the controversies surrounding Zoom’s security have made Google Meet a more appealing option for educational institutions.
Unfortunately, there are many features that Google Meet is lacking out of the box. They have made announcements regarding a native rollout of some of those features, such as 16 person grid view, but a lot of those features can be implemented now.
Third-party developers have solved many of the issues that teachers are currently facing with Google Meet extensions. Here are the best ones to add today to enhance your educational experience.
1) Google Meet Grid View
Google Meet Grid View allows the user to mimic arguably the best feature Zoom offers. All participants are shown in a grid, which makes the experience of a class or staff meeting much better.
My largest issue with Google Meet was only seeing 4 of my students at one time. We rarely have a class with less than 6 people, which gave off an odd feeling. I hate knowing that others were in the chat, but were not on the main screen. Being able to see everyone at one time has enhanced the classroom experience, and has made it more appealing for my students to attend.
Google Meet Grid View gives you some options to maximize your classes and meetings, such as:
- Only showing people with video on the grid
- Highlighting the speaker (very beneficial in large meetings)
- Including/removing yourself from the grid
- “Pinning” one person so their screen is larger, but still including everyone in the grid
We have run a 70+ person staff meeting using this Google Meet extension. We were all able to turn our cameras on and interact without delay.
This is my favourite of all the Google Meet extensions so far.
2) Meet Attendance
Before starting a Google Meet session, I create an ungraded question in Google Classroom for the Google Meet class. I use this to track attendance by returning the work to the students who attend and leaving it assigned for the ones who do not.
However, there are always late attendees. I also find some students leave early due to other situations, so attendance at the end isn’t always the best option either.
Meet Attendance is an easy tool that solves the extra steps needed to see who did and did not attend your classes. You can take attendance at any time during your meet by viewing the people who are present. The list of attendees will be automatically uploaded in your Google Drive with a date and timestamp.
Meet Attendance keeps things very organized. This makes it much easier to track overall engagement with their students and identify who the non-attenders are. I use free time to contact those non-attenders individually to ensure they are receiving content to continue with my class.
3) Nod – Reactions for Google Meet
The mute button is probably the most used feature in Google Meet. Many of my students do not like speaking up during our classes, and it takes a lot to get them to. Even if they are quiet, background noise at home can be even more distracting for the teacher. Due to this, it becomes hard to read them and their understanding of the content.
Nod – Reactions for Google Meet allows students to use emoji’s and a hand raise tool to help express themselves and their understanding. There are a few emoji’s included, with a plan to add more in the future.
I use Nod by checking in with my students regularly for understanding. If I am presenting a topic and want to make sure my students are paying attention, I will ask them to send an emoji for a true or false question or a comprehension check-in. True statements get a Thumbs Up and false statements gets a Hmmm?
Additionally, I will ask students to use the Raised Hand feature to let me know that they have a question. When I am presenting, I will be on a different Chrome window. If a student uses the Raised Hand button, I will get a notification and can then go check the chat box for that student’s question. This allows me to address things in real time instead of reviewing all questions at the end.
Nod only works for students who have the Google Meet extension. Others will be unable to see emoji’s or raised hands.
4) Google Meet Push to Talk
This isn’t one of more groundbreaking Google Meet extensions, but for a large meeting with several contributors, it can be very helpful.
Google Meet Push to Talk allows users who are on mute to unmute their microphone by holding down a button on their keyboard. Although the mic button is not hard to press, it can ruin the flow of a presentation if someone isn’t ready to unmute at the right time. By using this extension, students and teachers can unmute their mics easily, say what they have to say, and mute their mics again instantaneously.
Try comparing the flow of a meeting with and without this extension. Things just sound so much more natural without hiccups or delays between speakers.
5) Tactiq Pins for Google Meet
The closed captioning feature in Google Meet is very underrated. Perhaps a student can’t have audio on, are using a malfunctioning device, or is hearing impaired. This feature allows everyone to follow along with a lesson, creating another channel for learning styles.
Where this feature lacks is the inability to see a transcript of your captions.
Tactiq Pins is one of the most helpful Google Meet extensions because it solves that exact problem. The teacher can record the entire transcript, pin important pieces in the discussion, and read the history of the conversation afterwards. Teachers can send transcripts to students to allow them to review afterwards.
Tactiq Pins pairs well with the video recording, as students can identify areas of the video they may need to review for further understanding.
Finally, Tactiq Pins encourages engagement in your video lesson. Because the extension will automatically take notes for them, each student can follow along without worry of missing something important.
6) Web Paint
I know teachers everywhere are missing their smart boards. Being able to show a document or website, and use drawing tools to highlight important pieces is tough to do without the technology. It allowed lessons to become more engaging, and remote learning is no excuse for boring classes.
Web Paint allows the teacher to use many of the drawing tools available on a smart board. When the extension is enabled, teachers can draw all over whatever is being shared on their screen to help reinforce learning.
The best part is the screenshot tool, which allows you to keep all of your markings in a digital image. Teachers can send these after lessons to help with their understanding.
7) Google Meet Enhancement Suite
Google Meet Enhancement Suite is one extension that includes a lot of the above features. However, the reason it is number 7 on my list is because it is currently offline.
When Google Meet Enhancement Suite is available, this one extension can allow the user to:
- Enable grid view
- Push to talk
- Auto-join meetings
- Quick leave
- Custom defaults (camera and mic automatically off when joining a call)
- Enabled captions
While it is offline, many of the mentioned features can be implemented using the standalone Google Meet extensions mentioned.
Google Meet has been my most widely used educational tool since our classes suspended in March. These extensions have made things much easier on the teacher’s end, which allows me to be more productive when focusing on lessons and student engagement.
Additionally, my students have been able to seamlessly continue with their entrepreneurial ventures, branding efforts, and content development while learning through Google Meet. The power of this tool is endless, but it all starts with the teacher.
Having students install all of these extensions can be difficult. To solve this, our school division remotely pushed down extensions to student and staff accounts. See if that can be an option in your school.
I encourage you to check out the above Google Meet extensions to help you with your teaching. If there are any I missed, please include them in the comments.
Take care, and good luck with your remote learning journey.
Thanks for reading!