Google is finally adding virtual backgrounds to Meet for education

Google is also rolling out more moderator features for the service.


Google has revealed some of the features it’s planning to roll out for educators later this year, as schools consider retaining online classes even if they do reopen. To start with, the tech giant will give Education users the ability to blur or change their backgrounds with presets or uploaded images. You can already do that using a Chrome extension, but making virtual backgrounds a baked-in offering makes sense, seeing as it’s one of Zoom’s most popular features.

The tech giant also plans to give G Suite for Education and G Suite Enterprise for Education users more moderator features, including the ability to end meeting for all participants to ensure that no students linger after a class is done. Moderators will also be able to mute all participants at the same time, disable in-meeting chat for participants and restrict who can present. Google plans to roll out an option that makes sure meetings can’t begin until a moderator arrives, as well.

In addition, users kicked out of a meeting won’t be able to “knock” again, and Meet will no longer show “knocks” from someone after a moderator rejects them twice. To make meetings more secure, Google will block anonymous attendees from joining any Education meetings by default. Schools can allow anonymous participants to join classes if they want to, but it will be completely opt-in.

Aside from those moderator features, Google will also roll out a larger tiled view that can display up to 49 participants at once. Education meetings will come with a hand—raising button and an integrated collaborative whiteboard, as well, and will have access to closed captions in additional languages. While all aforementioned features will be available to all education customers, Google plans to release a few premium features for Enterprise users, including a student attendance tracker and breakout rooms so educators can split classes into smaller groups.

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