Google Meet updates make it difficult for students to collaborate and connect with one another


Ella Rubell '21

New Google Meet restrictions do not allow students to create their own meetings

Throughout this challenging school year, students at Ransom Everglades have used Google Meet to communicate and work with their classmates. It provided not just a way for students to attend classes, but a way for them to stay connected during the isolating pandemic.

Google Meet helped me stay in touch with my friends during this unusual time,” said Ryan Weisburd ’24.

Despite positive feedback, however, Google recently revoked students’ ability to create Google Meets. Although the Technology Services Department at Ransom Everglades had no role in this change, “The option for students to collaborate, which I think is really important in our environment, was turned off, Mrs. Linda Lawrence, the Chief Technology Officer at RE, said.  

Google constantly updates Google Meet to make the platform simpler for teachers to use and easier for students to learn. Back in the fall, if teachers did not enter the Google Meet first, they could not control which students entered the classroom. Later, when breakout rooms became available, teachers could not create them if they were not the first person in the Meet. Because of these difficulties for teachers, Google eliminated the option for students to create Google Meets.  

But the change has made it difficult for students at RE to collaborate and socialize. “Not being able to create the Meet makes it harder to stay connected to my friends,” Weisburd said. 

Elise Echarte ’23 also frequently created Google Meets to talk to her friends about social or school related topics. “Now that I can’t make Google Meets anymore, I had to start using Zoom to collaborate with my friends,” Echarte saidIt is definitely not as user-friendly as Google Meet.”  

Tprepare for meetings with Head of School Penny Townsend for either Student Government or the Consent and Sex Education CommitteeRachel Bienstock ’2would create a Google Meet to discuss with her classmates. Now that this option no longer exists, she has found herself having to hold these meetings over Zoom. “Zoom gives me a 40-minute limit on my meeting and then kicks me out. It’s just really frustrating and does not make it easy for us to work together,” Bienstock said. 

Although students’ access to Google Meet has changed, however, they still have other resources that they can use to collaborate and communicate. 

While RE students do not have much experience with creating meetings on Microsoft Teams, Ms. Jennifer Nero, the Humanities Department Chair and History and Social Sciences teacher, relies on Microsoft Teams for her classesMs. Nero also believes that Teams is a superior product. “My laptop performs much better with it while I am using OneNoteand the Teams Meeting has a much better messaging platform than Google,” she said. 

Despite these features, students are not as comfortable with creating Microsoft Teams meetings. Both Marco Zhao ’23 and Lila Diamond ’24 said that they do not regularly use meetings on Teams. “I didn’t even know that I could start my own meeting on that platform, Diamond saidThis unfamiliarity with Microsoft Teams makes Google Meet a preferable option for many students.  

The Technology Services Department acknowledges students’ disappointment with this new abrupt change. Google has informed them that they will continue to make updates to their services to enhance its features and user-friendliness. According to Mr. Andres Maruri, RE’s Technology Integration Analyst, Google plans to release an update to aid teachers. Regardless of who enters the Meet first, teachers will be able to have more control over the classroom.  

The Technology Department insisted that it loves to hear students’ feedback on new updates, such as the Google Meet changes. This helps the department improve the technology at RELawrence said that she intends to make sure The Technology Services Department is responsive to faculty and students in the effective use of technology.” The department wants to guarantee that students know their available resources and feel comfortable coming to them with any issues. 

To accomplish this, the Technology Department recently introduced a Student Technology Task Force. We want problem solvers, we want students that are insightful, that are reflective, that want to talk about the insights they gain through technology, as well as what they’ve observed to make it a better experience at Ransom Everglades,” Lawrence said. 

Echarte loved the idea of a task force. She commented that joining the task force would be a great way to talk to the Technology Department about changes that should or should not be made.