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Incredible opportunity to reimagine learning for what comes next: Sunder Pichai

The need to learn and teach from anywhere will not stop even after the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end, Google’s India-born CEO Sunder Pichai has said, asserting there is an “incredible” opportunity to re-imagine learning for what comes next.

Google on Wednesday unveiled more than 50 new software tools aimed at remote learning, as teachers and students continue to meet in virtual classrooms amid the pandemic.

“The need to learn and teach from anywhere won’t end, even when the pandemic does. We have an incredible opportunity to reimagine learning for what comes next. That’s why last year we made learning and education a formal focus area,” Pichai, 48, said.

He said the core mission of the company has been to organise the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful.

“The two are deeply connected. Learning is what makes information useful and what enables people to apply knowledge, to make things better for themselves, their families and their communities,” he said.

According to Google, 170 million students and educators are using Google Workspace for Education worldwide to create, collaborate, and communicate.

Google Workspace for Education is a rebranding of G Suite for Education.

In June last year, 140 million were using G Suite for Education. At present, Google Classroom helps more than 150 million students, educators, and school leaders around the world teach and learn — up from 40 million last year.

Ben Gomes, Senior Vice-President (Learning and Education) of Google, said technology allows more tools and resources to be provided that help in teaching and to enable more learning.

No matter what the background, everyone can and should have access to great learning experiences and the goal is to help people transform themselves, to help them realise their full potential, he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to blur the lines between home and classroom and it takes everyone — teachers, parents, extended families — working together to get through the school day, Gomes said.

This challenge is also compounded by unequal access to devices, poor connectivity, and sometimes the digital skills needed to use all the tools, he said.

“So, we wanted to help meet the urgent need of this moment,” he said. “While our mission didn’t change, everything got accelerated. We focused our work across Google, where we thought it could add the most value, whether that was learning for school, learning for work, or learning for life. This has never been more important than it is now.”

“Like information did in the nineties, learning is undergoing a massive transformation today,” Gomes said. “To make more learning possible, we want to use advances in technology to help meet your evolving needs.”

Avni Shah, Vice-President of Google for Education, said the past year went from being a scramble to adopt and adapt born out of unexpected and adverse circumstances to being an opportunity to reimagine what education could be.

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