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The Official Google Blog
Insights from Googlers into our products, technology, and the Google culture.

  • Providing more CS professional development for K-12 teachers with an expanded CS4HS
    For more than five years, we’ve provided free and inexpensive teacher professional development trainings in computer science education through Computer Science for High School (CS4HS). In this program, Google provides funding and support for experts to create hands-on professional development training in CS education for K-12 educators. The goal is to arm teachers with the knowledge they need to help their students succeed in the field. The program has already trained more than 12,000 teachers, and reached more than 600,000 students—and we’ve gotten great feedback over the years (a 95% satisfaction rate!).

    It’s been a great success, but there is still much more to do. So this year, we’re taking the first steps toward extending CS4HS across the globe. We’re piloting CS4HS projects in Latin America for the first time—an area where computer science education is often mistaken for computer literacy (think word processing, typing, or changing settings on your operating system rather than robotics or coding a game). We’re also introducing eight new online workshops, so teachers no longer need to be located near a CS4HS event to get quality training.

    It’s not just the “where” we’re expanding, but the “when,” as well. We’re now providing new resources for teachers to get ongoing, year-round help. Our Google+ Community page hosts Hangouts on Air with CS industry leaders, Googlers, and top educators on a regular basis. And we’ve added a new Resources page with online workshops, tutorials and information on computational thinking, robotics and more. Finally, if you happen to be in the neighborhood at the right time, sign up for one of our in-person workshops available around the world in these locations:

    Posted by Erin Mindell Cannon, Google Education Program Manager


  • From Lake Tanganyika to Google Earth: Using tech to help our communities
    Today we're joined by Dr. Jane Goodall, primatologist and founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and Roots & Shoots program. In this post, Dr. Goodall shares her thoughts on how today’s technology can enable more people around the world to make a difference in their communities. Join Dr. Goodall for a celebratory Birthday Hangout on Air today at 11 a.m. PDT/2 p.m. EDT. -Ed.

    When I first set foot on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in 1960 to study chimpanzee behavior, I carried with me notebooks, pencils and a pair of second-hand binoculars. I was, at the time, a young woman with no scientific training, but had a strong passion for learning about animals in Africa. In later years I founded the Jane Goodall Institute, dedicated to preserving the habitat of chimpanzees and other animals worldwide.
    The author connects with a member of the Kasakela chimpanzee community in Gombe. 
    Photo courtesy of JGI.

    Today, the mapping technology available to all of us is completely changing the potential for animal and environmental research. My trip in 1960 would have looked quite different today. You have much more power at your fingertips, and you don't even have to leave your home. Tools like Google Earth let you visit the shores of Lake Tanganyika with just a few keystrokes. And in Gombe, local villagers are using Android smartphones and tablets, in conjunction with Google Maps Engine and Earth Engine, to monitor changes in the forest habitat that affect chimpanzee populations. Technology makes it so easy for people to find and share information and to understand the world around them. And once we understand, we can start to foster positive change.

    The Jane Goodall Institute engages local communities from Tanzania, Uganda and across Africa to collect data on forests, wildlife and human activities using Google Android handheld devices. 
    Photo courtesy of JGI/Lilian Pintea.

    That’s one of the reasons we started the Roots & Shoots program to connect young people with the knowledge and tools they need to solve problems in their communities. The projects undertaken by these young people help them learn important science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills while developing real leadership capabilities. Today, Roots & Shoots is launching a new community mapping tutorial for young people to help them use digital mapping technology to identify and address needs in their community. If you’re an educator, we offer online professional development to help you fit our youth leadership model into your classroom and curriculum. You can sign up for the Roots & Shoots MOOC to learn more.
    Roots & Shoots groups from Uganda, Tanzania, and Republic of Congo share their projects.
    There are more than 8,000 Roots & Shoots groups in 136 countries. Photos courtesy of JGI.

    Today, on my 80th birthday, my wish is for young people around the world to think about the ways you can use technology to learn more about the wonderful world we share. Then, to take action, and inspire others to do the same. You have the power to do so much more than I did in 1960, to spark change I could only imagine back then. And you can do it no matter where in the world you are.

    Posted by Dr. Jane Goodall

  • Introducing Auto Awesome Photobombs with David Hasselhoff
    Google+ Auto Awesome is all about fun surprises that bring your photos to life. And whether it’s Benedict Cumberbatch at the Oscars or Michelle Obama at the White House, a celebrity photobomb is the ultimate surprise, turning an ordinary photo into something extraordinary.

    Now with Auto Awesome Photobombs, you too can get a celebrity photobomb—no red carpet required. We’re starting with surprise appearances by +David Hasselhoff, everyone’s favorite crime-fighting rockstar lifeguard.

    Watch your step! The Hoff joins these adventurous hikers at Machu Picchu
    The Hoff rides the waves in Big Sur
    The Hoff enjoys a breezy afternoon by the San Francisco Bay 

    Upload a new self-portrait, or a group photo with friends, and leave some room for The Hoff. He might just make your photo a little more #Hoffsome.

    Posted by Erik Murphy-Chutorian, Staff Software Engineer and Avid Photobomber

  • Transparency Report: Requests for user information up 120 percent over four years
    While we’ve always known how important transparency is when it comes to government requests, the events of the past year have underscored just how urgent the issue is. From being the first company to disclose information about National Security Letters to fighting for the ability to publish more about FISA requests, we’ve continually advocated for your right to know.

    Today, we’re updating our Transparency Report for the ninth time. This updated Report details the number of government requests we received for user information in criminal investigations during the second half of 2013. Government requests for user information in criminal cases have increased by about 120 percent since we first began publishing these numbers in 2009. Though our number of users has grown throughout the time period, we’re also seeing more and more governments start to exercise their authority to make requests.

    We consistently push back against overly broad requests for your personal information, but it’s also important for laws to explicitly protect you from government overreach. That’s why we’re working alongside eight other companies to push for surveillance reform, including more transparency. We’ve all been sharing best practices about how to report the requests we receive, and as a result our Transparency Report now includes governments that made less than 30 requests during a six-month reporting period, in addition to those that made 30+ requests.

    Also, people have been asking about how we respond to search warrants in the U.S., so we’ve created an entertaining video to explain in plain language how this process works. We apply the same rigorous standards presented in this video to every request we receive, regardless of type.

    You deserve to know when and how governments request user information online, and we’ll keep fighting to make sure that’s the case.

    Posted by Richard Salgado, Legal Director, Law Enforcement and Information Security

  • Get Your Business Online Week starts today
    Since getting online, Green Mountain Bee Farm in Fairfax, Vt. experienced a 5x increase in sales, and Christine Fitzpatrick Hair and Makeup in Birmingham, Mich. attracted 50 percent more clients. Getting online can make a big difference for small businesses—and stronger businesses makes for stronger communities. Online businesses are expected to grow 40 percent faster and create twice as many jobs as those that aren't online,* but more than half of America’s small businesses currently don't have a website.

    That’s the inspiration behind Get Your Business Online Week, when we come together with local partners to get businesses in our communities online and growing. Starting today, we’ll broadcast free virtual workshops for business owners, available to anyone with an Internet connection. Here’s a glimpse of what you can look forward to:

    • Conversations with businesses that have prospered online, like Barkbox, GoldieBlox and Dollar Shave Club
    • Step-by-step demos on building a website and getting found on Search and Maps
    • Interviews with small business experts like SmallBizLady Melinda Emerson
    • Workshops on Google tools for businesses (Google Apps, Google Trends, Google Alerts), online advertising (AdWords), and measuring your success online (Analytics)
    • Free help and advice from experts over Helpouts by Google

    We’re also teaming up with small business organizations across the country including local chambers of commerce, Small Business Development Centers and SCORE chapters to host live broadcasts of our trainings. You can find a screening closest to you on our website.

    We’re excited to welcome small business everywhere to join us for this special week. Even if you don’t own a business, we encourage you to take part by spreading the word and inviting your favorite businesses to sign up.
    See you on the web!

    Posted by Amber Shapiro, on behalf of the Get Your Business Online team

    *Source: BCG Report, "The Connected World: The $4.2 Trillion Opportunity," March 2012

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