New Google Meet update makes class feel more traditional

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Emily Djohan, Staff Writer

 Due to the pandemic, many schools have chosen to do either a hybrid method of learning or completely virtual lessons which require an effective video-communication service.  Google updated their program, Google Meet, this past November, adding useful new features to enhance its users’ experiences and adapt to virtual learning. 

The Nov. 2020 update includes four new features: Zoom-like breakout rooms, the “raise hand” button, a 30-second countdown to alert participants when a breakout room will close, and added support for dial-in participants.

“The additional Google Meet features, namely the addition of breakout rooms, make Google Meet more useful in class.  My teachers use this particular feature often now.  Anything that Google Meet can do to be as user-friendly as Zoom is, in my mind, an improvement,” said junior Natalie Parker. 

Many of Google Meet’s new features revolve around the breakout rooms.  Breakout rooms are sub-groups within an existing video call that promote individual involvement in a smaller setting.  To ensure that discussions remain on topic, moderators have the ability to move throughout breakout rooms.  Furthermore, class meetings can now support up to 250 participants and have up to 100 breakout rooms.  The large number of breakout rooms and number of participants ensure that the breakout rooms can be effective for any size class.  

At Schreiber the new breakout rooms have been relatively successful.

“Breakout rooms have worked well for me.I only worry about the occasional crash or glitch when my internet gets overloaded,” said junior Hannah Brooks.

         Another newly added feature is a timer.  The 30-second timer informs participants about the time remaining in a breakout room before they are brought back to the main meeting.  This feature has had generally positive feedback.  The main criticism is that the timer cuts discussions short.

“I honestly think it is quite ineffective.  If you are in a breakout room working on a group project and the timer runs out, everyone wastes valuable time ineffectively communicating while time ticks away,” said junior Ally Currier.

Lastly, the “raise hand” button allows participants in breakout rooms to “raise a hand” or get their teacher’s attention.  In response, the host can move to the appropriate room and respond to the question.  This feature is frequently used in Schreiber’s own Model UN club. 

“I really like the update.  As the Chief of Staff for the Model UN club, the new update makes running online meetings much easier.  With the raise hand feature, we are able to see which delegates wish to speak.  Overall, the update has been great,” said junior Gabrielle Gitman.

The new Google Meet updates have had an overwhelmingly positive review.  As Google continues to update programs, the virtual learning experience should get even better.