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Google to Deploy Its Free Digital Learning Tools For 23mn Students & Teachers in Maharashtra

Image for Representation.

Image for Representation.

This makes Maharashtra the first state in the country to launch G Suite for Education and Google Classroom for the students currently engaged in online learning.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: August 7, 2020, 12:28 PM IST

As part of the policy for universal education, the Maharashtra government has tied up with Google to enable remote learning for 2.30 crore students and teachers, officials said here on Thursday. Under this collaboration, students and teachers will access blended learning programmes that combine classroom approach with online learning including free tools like G Suite for Education, Google Classroom, Google Meet and others.

This makes Maharashtra the first state in the country to launch G Suite for Education and Google Classroom for the students currently engaged in online learning, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. The state government will provide individual educators and students with their own G Suite ID to ensure all students in private or government schools in the remotest areas can experience continuity in learning, besides enhancing the teaching capabilities of educators.

“In the Corona crisis when the world is at a standstill, how to restart education is one of the primary concerns we face today. I feel this global crisis has led us from the present to the future,” Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said at the launch. Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said during these tough times, education must not stop and everyone should get access to education like before.

“With this cooperation, Google has enabled access to G Suite for Education and Google Classroom programme for our state schools, students can sit at home and learn, ask questions, clarify doubts, save lectures, etc,” he said. School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad stressed the power of the Internet to take education to the masses and reduce the learning gap.

“With an emphasis on online resources, platforms, bandwidth, and availability of technological solutions, we aim to make Maharashtra the most progressive state on education,” she said. Google India Vice-President and Country Head Sanjay Gupta said since the Covid-19 outbreak, over 32 crore children have been hit by school closures, making access to quality education even more critical.

“This collaboration builds upon our commitment to create useful tools that make information accessible over the internet so that teachers and students continue to benefit from it,” he added. Gupta said that this month, the Maharashtra government rolled out a survey asking teachers to register for the first batch of training programmes and out of the 700,000 educators across the state, Google received 150,000 sign-ups in less than 48 hours.

Google for Education solutions helps teachers provide excellent educational experiences and enable students to learn better by nurturing individual needs. Each solution has been designed to be easy to use, flexible and scalable. They are built for collaboration, secure by design, and will now be available to scores of teachers and students across Maharashtra, for free.

At the sixth Google for India event, Google announced that it will enable over 1 million teachers across 22,000 schools in India with blended learning by the end of 2020. Earlier this year, Google collaborated with FICCI Arise to ensure teachers and students can transition to remote learning seamlessly, and trained teachers in over 250 schools across 23 states to use digital tools such as Google Meet.


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Categories
Tech

Google Rolls Out Pin Encrypted Safe Folder to Let Users Safeguard Their Private Files

Image for Representation (Reuters)

Image for Representation (Reuters)

Google said that the folder is securely locked as soon as you switch away from the Files app, so none of its contents can be accessed when the app is in the background.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: August 5, 2020, 10:37 AM IST

As children share your devices for online classes and connect with friends in the social distancing times, Google has launched a new feature called Safe Folder in its Files app to help you keep personal content safe. ‘Safe Folder’ is a secure, 4-digit PIN encrypted folder that protects important documents, images, videos and audio files from being opened or accessed by others.

Google said that the folder is securely locked as soon as you switch away from the Files app, so none of its contents can be accessed when the app is in the background. “As a security assurance, it will ask for your PIN again on reentry. Even people that don’t share devices can benefit from keeping the most important files safe,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday. Google launched the Files app in 2017 to help people who live in countries such as India, Nigeria and Brazil and often run out of space on a daily basis. The app is now being used by over 150 million people globally each month.

Since launch, the app has deleted over 1 trillion files of digital clutter, which would take over 30,000 years “if you were to manually remove a duplicate, old meme or junk file every second”. It has helped save over 400 petabytes of space on people’s phones – around 1,400 years of nonstop HD video recording. The Files app has freed about 12GB of space every second, equivalent to 5,000 photos per second.

The company said that the ‘Safe Folder’ feature will start rolling out in beta for Files by Google now and will gradually expand over the following weeks. One can get the app at g.co/getfiles to keep the content safe and free up space.


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Categories
Tech

Microsoft is Reportedly Planning a Six-Phase Re-opening of Its Offices in US on January 19, 2021

Image for Representation
(Photo: Associated Press)

Image for Representation
(Photo: Associated Press)

With Covid-19 Crisis hardly showing any sign of slowing down, many tech giants like Google and Apple have extended their work from option until next year.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: August 1, 2020, 10:56 AM IST

Microsoft has reportedly chosen January 19, 2021, as the date for reopening its US offices. According to The Verge, the tech giant is planning a “hybrid workplace” for a six-phase reopening of its offices. “Stage six will be when offices are ready to fully reopen for employees to return to work,” the report said on Friday. The six stages are: Closed; Mandatory working from home; Working from home strongly encouraged; Soft opening; Open with restrictions and finally, Open. “In the US, we have established that the earliest possible date for Stage 6 is now January 19, 2021,” read an internal memo from Kurt DelBene, Microsoft’s head of corporate strategy.

“Our goal for Stage 6 is to return to normal operations while being prepared to back off to an earlier stage if a significant resurgence in the virus occurs,” the memo added. Google is planning to keep its employees working remotely until July 2021 while Apple employees will not return to offices until early next year. With the COVID-19 pandemic hardly showing any sign of slowing down, Google said it would allow employees to work from home till the middle of next year if their roles permit.”To give employees the ability to plan ahead, we are extending our global voluntary work from home option through June 30, 2021, for roles that don’t need to be in the office,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in an email to employees, according to a CNBC report.

In May, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg laid out a detailed remote-working plan to make half of his 50,000-strong workforce work from home by 2030. According to him, about half of Facebook employees would work from home five to 10 years from now. While Amazon and Apple expect their employees to return to their respective offices in January, most other tech companies have also allowed work from home till the end of the year.


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Categories
Tech

Google to Extend Work From Home Policy for Employees Until July 2021 Amid Covid-19 Pandemic: Report

Image for Representation (Reuters)

Image for Representation (Reuters)

Google is the first tech company to extend its work from home policy to next summer due to the Covid-19 crisis.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: July 27, 2020, 7:43 PM IST

Alphabet Inc’s Google will keep its employees home until at least next July, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai made the decision himself last week after debate among an internal group of top executives that he chairs, as per the report by the Wall Street Journal.

Google did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. Google had earlier said it would begin reopening more offices globally as early as June this year, but most Google employees would likely work from home until the end of this year.


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Tech

Majority of Professionals Confident About Business Revival Despite Covid-19 Crisis: Cisco

FILE PHOTO: The Cisco logo is seen at their booth at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Perez/File Photo

FILE PHOTO: The Cisco logo is seen at their booth at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Perez/File Photo

Nearly 9 out of 10 managers who responded to the survey said that they had to increase emphasis on employee well-being and work-life balance as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: July 27, 2020, 10:50 AM IST

A Cisco survey of IT and business professionals globally has revealed that 74 per cent of them think their businesses would emerge stronger, despite the challenges of the current business environment. While 82 per cent mentioned the need for greater IT support, 77 per cent were worried about maintaining customer service levels and satisfaction and another 76% feared a disruption of workflow and processes.

According to Aruna Ravichandran, VP of Marketing, Cisco Collaboration, the dramatic shift in the percentage of employees working from home created unexpected challenges. “We’re finding that best practices emerged to empower employees: 67 per cent have implemented social video conferencing ‘meetups’ to compensate for lack of face-to-face social interaction, and 54 per cent have implemented social chat channels,” Ravichandran said in a blog post this week.

The organizations that have fared best this year are typically farther along with their workplace transformation and embrace this future of work. “Having the right IT architectures allowed them to scale fast and respond quickly to meet ever-changing opportunities and challenges,” she added. Organisations are also putting employees first. Nearly 9 out of 10 managers who responded to the survey said that they had to increase emphasis on employee well-being and work-life balance as a result of the pandemic.

Additionally, 53 per cent of respondents said that trusting and empowering employees will be maintained over the long-term. “In the future, we’ll see trust continue as a hallmark of the future of work: just over 60 per cent of employers think more employees will be offered flexible/remote working arrangements,” said Ravichandran. Nearly 49 per cent said that enabling flexible working hours will?be maintained over the long-term. From 1:1 meetings and group brainstorming to real-time creative iterations and document sharing, Cisco Webex has built-in, end-to-end security that inspires trust.

Due to the unprecedented shift to remote work, leading enterprise video conferencing solution Cisco Webex supported half a billion meeting participants who generated 25 billion meeting minutes in the month of April. “I believe collaboration technology is critical as we move into the next iteration of work. Together with modernised IT architectures, Cisco Webex has proven it’s worth many times over and stands ready to meet new challenges and changing work habits,” said Ravichandran.


Categories
Tech

EdTech Firm Vedantu Raises $100 Million in Latest Funding, Valuation Jumps to $600 Million

Bengaluru-based interactive online live tutoring platform Vedantu has announced that it has raised $100 million as part of its Series D financing round. The company said that the new financing round was led by US-based Coatue along with participation from existing investors as well. With this round, Vedantu’s valuation has jumped to $600 million, making them the second most valued company in the Indian Edtech space. Interestingly, Vedantu’s announcement also comes at a time when online education in the country has been witnessing a significant surge amid the Covid-19 crisis. With this sudden shift, experts have also opined that the adoption of online learning will continue to persist in the post-COVID world.

“Vedantu has always believed in the concept of LIVE interactive classes being a superior format for online learning which creates greater learning outcomes,” said Vamsi Krishna, CEO, and Co-Founder of Vedantu. “During the lockdown, everyone is talking about LIVE classes and it is the best time for us to drive more adoption and strengthen our brand as the best destination for LIVE classes. On top of adding new categories, we will use the funds to invest in content and technology to create the world’s best LIVE teaching-learning experience,” he added.

Founded in 2014, Vedantu offers Live interactive teaching to students across grades K1 to 12, for all major boards and competitive examinations like JEE and JEFT. Vedantu said it has recorded a whopping growth of 220% during Covid-19 induced lockdown with more than 2 million students attending live classes and teachers delivering over 8 million hours of live classes. The company also entered the early learner segment by launching a coding program called “Vedantu SuperKids” that focused on children between 6 to 12 years. Vedantu claims that it has plans of launching more programs in this category soon.

“Online learning adoption in India is at an all-time high setting a new benchmark for the rest of the world. As we continue to focus on driving high-growth ventures, our investment in Vedantu marks our entry into the Indian EdTech market,” Rahul Kishore, Managing Director, Coatue said.


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Tech

Zoom Unveils All-in-One Home Communications Device For Remote Workers Amid Covid-19 Crisis

To support business professionals working remotely, Zoom on Wednesday introduced an all-in-one appliance under its new Zoom for Home category designed to enhance the video conferencing experience. The first-ever Zoom for Home device is dubbed the DTEN ME produced by partner DTEN to create an immersive and productive workspace. Priced at $599, the device has a 27-inch screen. Other features include three built-in wide-angle cameras for high-resolution video; an 8-microphone array for crystal-clear audio in meetings and phone calls; and a touch display for interactive screen sharing, whiteboarding, annotating, and ideation.

“After experiencing remote work ourselves for the past several months, it was clear that we needed to innovate a new category dedicated to remote workers,” Eric S. Yuan, CEO of Zoom, said in a statement. “I’m so proud of the team for continuing to think outside the box and prove why Zoom is the best-unified communications platform that can meet the needs of all types of users.”

“Zoom for Home – DTEN ME” works right out of the box and seamlessly connects for anyone with a Zoom Meeting license, the company said. Zoom for Home is also compatible with all Zoom Rooms Appliances, including other hardware solutions from Neat and Poly, allowing users to select the hardware they need to create the perfect work-from-home communications experience across spaces such as living rooms and mounted displays, it added. Zoom for Home devices can be set up to be IT-managed remotely through the Admin Portal or self-managed by the end-user. Currently available for pre-order, the first Zoom for Home device is expected to ship in August.


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Tech

Google Meet Crosses 100 Million Download Globally on Play Store in Less Than Two Months

Popular video conferencing app Google Meet for Android has surpassed over 10 crore downloads globally on Google Play Store. The platform doubled the install base in less than two-months time as more and more people turned to video conferencing owing to the global pandemic, reports Android Police.

According to app traffic and performance observer AppBrain, Google Meet passed 5 crore (50 million) installs or downloads mark on Google Play on May 17. AppBrain figures indicated that the app crossed 10 crore installs on July 7. According to Javier Soltero Vice President & GM, G Suite, the tech giant has seen daily usage of Meet app grow by 30 times, with hosting 3 billion minutes of video meetings daily.

The search engine giant had earlier made Meet video platform free to anyone with a Gmail account, as part of Google’s Meet expansion. Google Meet is completely free and anyone with an email address can sign up and get started. Users can see Google Meet on the left menu, with two options: Start a meeting and join a meeting.


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Tech

Digital Payments See Rebound in India as Covid-19 Crisis Fuels Online Transactions

Representative image. (Illustration: Shutterstock)

Representative image. (Illustration: Shutterstock)

Digital payment transactions have gone up by 23% in the last 30 days, a report by Razorpay said.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: July 7, 2020, 11:26 AM IST

Digital payment transactions in India have rebounded by 23 per cent in the last 30 days, full-stack financial solutions company Razorpay said in a report on Monday. The overall digital transactions declined by 12 per cent in the last 101 days, compared to a 30 per cent drop in the first 30 days of lockdown, said the report titled “101 Days of Covid-19 Era: Impact On Digital Payments”.

“The digital payments industry couldn’t escape the pandemic crisis, we witnessed a dip of 30 per cent in online payments since the lockdown began, and now seeing a rebound of 23 per cent over the last 30 days is a sign of gradual revival of the digital economy,” Harshil Mathur, CEO and Co-founder, Razorpay, said in a statement. During the 101 days of lockdown, March 24-July 2, the online education sector grew by 23 per cent as extended lockdown has led to a rise in demand for online courses.

Also, medical services are picking up as online consultations and purchases have increased by 20 per cent, said the report. To ensure health and safety from Covid-19, Indians opted to stay indoors and pay bills online. This contributed to the growth of the utilities sector by 163 per cent.

The research showed that locked up at home, people have turned to dating apps for companionship and social isolation has also led to a surge in online counselling platforms to connect with mental health experts. The social engagement sector — personal counselling, dating & matrimony websites — has witnessed a 32 per cent growth, said the report based on transactions held on Razorpay platform between March 24-July 2.


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Tech

Microsoft Launches New Digital Skills Initiative to Help 25 Million People Worldwide

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(Photo: Associated Press)

Image for Representation
(Photo: Associated Press)

The initiative provides free access to content in LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, GitHub Learning Lab and more.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: July 1, 2020, 11:58 AM IST

Microsoft announced a new global skills initiative to help 25 million people worldwide acquire new digital skills by the end of the year. The announcement comes in response to the global economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. “Covid-19 has created both public health and an economic crisis, and as the world recovers, we need to ensure no one is left behind,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said during a digital event.

“Today, we’re bringing together resources from Microsoft inclusive of LinkedIn and GitHub to reimagine how people learn and apply new skills — and help 25 million people facing unemployment due to COVID-19 prepare for the jobs of the future.” Expanded access to digital skills is an important step in accelerating economic recovery, especially for the people hardest hit by job losses.

This initiative includes immediate steps to help those looking to reskill and pursue an in-demand job and brings together every part of the company, combining existing and new resources from LinkedIn, GitHub and Microsoft. This includes the use of data to identify in-demand jobs and the skills needed to fill them, free access to learning paths and content to help people develop the skills these positions require, and low-cost certifications and free job-seeking tools to help people who develop these skills pursue new jobs.

This is a comprehensive technology initiative that will build on data and digital technology, Microsoft said. It starts with data on jobs and skills from the LinkedIn Economic Graph. The initiative provides free access to content in LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn and the GitHub Learning Lab, and couples those with Microsoft Certifications and LinkedIn job-seeking tools.

These resources can all be accessed at a central location, opportunity.linkedin.com, and will be broadly available online in four languages: English, French, German and Spanish. In addition, Microsoft is backing the effort with $20 million in cash grants to help nonprofit organisations worldwide assist the people who need it most.

One-quarter of this total, or $5 million, will be provided in cash grants to community-based nonprofit organizations that are led by and serve communities of colour in the United States. Microsoft also pledged to make stronger data and analytics — including data from the LinkedIn Economic Graph — available to governments around the world so they can better assess local economic needs. Microsoft will use its voice to advocate for public policy innovations that will advance skilling opportunities needed in the changed economy.

The tech giant also announced it is creating a new learning app in Microsoft Teams designed to help employers skill and upskill new and current employees as people return to work and as the economy adds jobs. “The biggest brunt of the current downturn is being borne by those who can afford it the least,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith. “Unemployment rates are spiking for people of colour and women, as well as younger workers, people with disabilities and individuals with less formal education. Our goal is to combine the best in technology with stronger partnerships with governments and nonprofits to help people develop the skills needed to secure a new job.”