Tag Archives: Canada

Making computer science accessible worldwide with CS4HS

Last summer, K-12 educators in the Boston, Mass. area gathered at MIT for a bit of summer school. They weren’t there to brush up on freshman year biology, but rather to learn a new subject, the programming language Scratch. This is a snapshot of the Google in education group’s Computer Science for High School (CS4HS) program. The teachers gathered at MIT last July had various backgrounds and degrees, but they all attended with one goal—to bring computer science (CS) education back to their schools, and their students.

From now until March 3, 2012, CS4HS is accepting applications from interested colleges and universities for our fourth consecutive year of computer science workshops. If you’re not affiliated with a college or university you can still encourage your local university, community college or technical school to apply for a grant. In the late spring, after applications close, we’ll post workshop websites of participating schools on cs4hs.com for professors looking for ideas and for teachers interested in learning more about what’s being offered.

Over the course of the three-day professional development workshops, funded by Google and held on university campuses around the world, participants learn about programming software directly from developers and full-time CS faculty. There is balance of discussion, engaging project work and presentations. The workshops prepare educators to teach programming and computing in their schools and turn their students into computational thinkers and creators.

The need for more CS professionals is increasing faster than universities are able to graduate CS students, and CS4HS hopes to address this gap with our “train the trainer” approach. We provide the universities with the support they need, so they can provide local teachers with the tools they need, so that those teachers can teach students the skills they will need.

In 2011, we funded more than 70 programs that trained thousands of educators worldwide on various aspects of CS. In 2012, we are expanding our program to include more regions and reach even more teachers. If you are affiliated with a university, community college or technical school in the U.S, Canada, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China, Australia or New Zealand and are interested in creating a three-day CS4HS workshop, we want to partner with you.

Visit www.cs4hs.com for more information and details on the types of programs we are looking to fund. You will also find curriculum modules from past workshops to use or adapt, as well as a list of participating schools from 2010 and 2011. There’s also an example of a successful program and of a stand-out application to get you started on the right track.

Help spread enthusiasm for computer science in your community: When you’re ready to apply, submit your application online by March 3, 2012.

One more present under the tree—custom video messages from Santa

Last Friday Santa opened up the Ho Ho Hotline and teamed up with Gmail to send personalized holiday phone calls to anyone you know who has been nice (or naughty, for that matter) in the U.S. or Canada. In just a few days Santa has made hundreds of thousands of calls to your friends, family and loved ones, and received many a message from you at his Google Voice number (855-34-SANTA).

Santa has one more surprise in store. Starting today, anyone in the world can create and send a personalized cartoon video message (in English only) from Santa to anyone you know, anywhere in the world, and share them through email and Google+. Watch our sample video below and create your own at SendaCallFromSanta.com.

The Gmail team wishes you a happy holiday!

(Cross-posted from the Gmail blog)

Google+ Hangouts: going beyond the status update

All too often, physical distance and frantic schedules get in the way of spending time together, especially during the holidays. But you know what? They don’t have to.

With Google+ Hangouts, you can go beyond “status updates,” and connect with the people you care about using multi-person video. For free. And today we’re rolling out a number of improvements that make it even easier to say hello to your loved ones, face-to-face-to-face.

Upgrade any conversation from long-form to live
Certain posts act as kindling for face-to-face interaction. Suppose your sister gets engaged, or your roommate lands a job, or your favorite singer shares their concert schedule. You can obviously write comments back and forth, but it’s moments like these when you really want to connect in person. That’s why we’re making it easy to start a hangout from any post on Google+.

Just click “Hangout” underneath a post that you’re passionate about, and we’ll add your invitation to the comments. If others are hanging out already, you’ll see their invitation in the comments as well.

Starting a hangout on a post (left); Joining a hangout already in progress (right)

The desire to “go live” isn’t limited to your desktop computer, of course, so we’re also bringing hangouts to Google+ Messenger on mobile devices. Simply tap the new hangout icon when the time is right, and you’ll flip from text and photos to smiles and laughter.

Google+ Messenger: tap once to start a hangout (left); tap again to continue typing (right)

The new Google+ app will be available in Android Market within a few days, and it’s coming soon to the App Store.

Broadcast and record what matters most
The Black Eyed Peas, the Dalai Lama and even the Muppets have all used Hangouts On Air to share their performances and peace talks with the world. On Air is still under active development, but today we’re doing three things to get us closer to general availability:

  • We’re turning it on for hundreds more public figures, celebrities and other Google+ users with large followings
  • We’re making Hangouts On Air completely self-service, so you can broadcast whenever you’re in the mood
  • We’re integrating it with YouTube, so once you’re off the air, we’ll upload a full-length (and private) recording to your account
Starting an On Air hangout (left); Watching an On Air hangout in the stream (right)

To get started, just look for the new “broadcast and record” option after starting a hangout. If you don’t see it yet, then don’t worry: we’re working hard to give everyone the chance to go On Air.

In the meantime, you can still watch or join On Air broadcasts directly from the stream. Just look for the red banner while reading your posts or checking your hair, and you’ll know you’re in the right place.

Dial-in friends and family, from all over the world
Not everyone has a webcam or a front-facing mobile camera, but that shouldn’t stop them from spending time with the people they’re close to. Fortunately, nearly everyone has a telephone, and today we’re making it possible to dial-in anyone, from almost any country, directly into your hangout. Calls to the U.S. and Canada are free, and international calling rates are super, super low.

Dial-in hangout participants from almost anywhere

Never miss a chance to connect
When friends and family invite you to hang out on Google+, we want to make sure the opportunity doesn’t pass you by. So we’re making active hangouts more accessible in two important ways:

  • On the right-hand side of the stream, you’ll see up to three live hangouts that you can join
  • Whether you’re at your desk or on the go, we’ll ring your device and notify you when you’re invited to a hangout
From left to right: live hangouts you can join; desktop notification in chat; mobile notification

Whether it’s sharing baby news, or your niece’s new dance moves, Google+ users continue to use hangouts to build intimate onscreen experiences. We hope these two improvements help you discover more of them, more often.

Have some fun, add some antlers
Back in NMovember, we helped the Google+ community add millions of virtual moustaches to their faces. Now that it’s December we’re introducing a pair of antlers, so by all means, unleash your inner reindeer! Looking ahead, developers will be able to create their own effects using the updated Hangouts API, so stay tuned for lots more fun.

Moustaches in Movember (left); Antlers in December (right)

By bringing people together, face-to-face-to-face, we’re hoping to make the world a bit cozier, and lift people’s spirits a bit higher. So give hangouts a try this holiday season, and let us know what you think.