The new updates to Chrome OS aim to address distance-learning challenges for kids and teachers.
iStock/ Sushiman

Trying to engage in remote learning can be hard for kids, especially when they’re working off less-than-stellar devices, or jostling for bandwidth with parents and siblings who are also stuck working and learning from home.

To help things run more smoothly for kids and teachers alike, Google is making adjustments to its Chrome OS that will allow Chromebooks to automatically adapt to network and power demands, and should result in fewer interruptions to remote learning sessions.

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For example, Google Meet will automatically adjust the video feed according to the network, dropping the framerate when the teacher or other students need to share their screen to prevent big dips in performance. Likewise, Meet will temporarily turn off video feeds if the network speed slows to prevent participants from being cut out entirely.

Google has also improved the performance of Chromebooks’ camera and video-feed performance by reducing unnecessary processing on audio and video data, freeing up more memory for other tasks.

This will make it easier for students to use apps like Google Classroom, Docs, Sheets and Slides while participating in video lessons, Google said. Teachers, meanwhile, can use features like grid view – which allows them to see all the kids in their virtual classroom on-screen at once – without Meet performance taking a hit.

“Making sure devices can handle video conferences all day while running various apps and software that require a lot of power is incredibly important,” said Google.

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“That’s why we’ve been focused on improving Chromebooks, so they can work harder in the background as teaching and learning proceed smoothly.”

Improvements haven’t only been assigned to Meet: educators and pupils who use Zoom for distance learning should also see better performance on Chromebooks, said Google.

“Google and Zoom engineering teams have been working together on service enhancements for Chrome devices. Just like Meet, Zoom will adjust video performance based on devices in use and what participants are using their devices to do.”