Yesterday at Google I/O (the company’s annual developer conference), Google released a major new education program called Google Play for Education that organizes and manages the way teachers share apps, books, and other learning content with their classes. The new store is scheduled to launch this fall and it aims to simplify content searching for schools, and to give teachers and students access to the same tools that are now native to the Google Play experience.
While much of the technology news that is presented at these large companies’ conferences may seem unimportant until the products are actually released – and in many cases, completely irrelevant to classrooms – this is one of the most education-relevant announcements that has been made in recent memory. It also marks the first big push into the tablet classroom by a company that is not Apple. In classrooms, iPads currently dominate the landscape, so it will be interesting to see how the Google Play For Education will play into that dominance.
The Google app store for educators will allow users to search by category, grade level, and a variety of other criteria. Users can recommend content for other teachers, and see others recommendations as well. Google has made a point of ensuring the content is classroom ready by having it pre-approved by educators.
One of Google’s aims in this project was to make sharing content with the students in their classroom simple. Currently, making sure that each student has the right apps on their device can be a pain, especially if an app needs to be purchased for every device. Google’s new product is the fact that it enables administrators to distribute applications to their entire team.
To share, a teacher needs only to ‘push’ the content to the group they designate. Additionally, the marketplace doesn’t require a teacher to use their credit card to buy (you can do bulk purchases and have them charged to an account), making the whole process a bit easier. So, a school can load up an account with funds for teachers to use, and the teacher can automatically deduct from that balance when they need to buy paid apps or content.
We’ll be interested to see how Google Play can tie in with Google Apps for Education, and how this will challenge the iPad’s current dominance in classrooms. Will the higher price of iDevices make them more ‘personal’ devices, and Android will start to dominate the classroom with their cheaper pricing? What will that mean for BYOD? We’d love to hear what you think!
There are a few highlights the Google folks want teachers and educators everywhere to know about their fancy new product. Below are a few factoids they included in the ‘about‘ page on the Google Play site:
Google Play for Education brings the innovation of Android technology into classrooms. Educators can set up and deploy large numbers of devices in just minutes or hours rather than days.
Powerful browsing tools let educators quickly discover apps, books, videos, and other content—with many recommended by teachers and categorized according to familiar Core Curriculum standards.
Convenient purchasing and delivery tools let educators buy apps in bulk using purchase orders and other payment methods that are easy for schools to manage.
After finding apps they want to use, educators can push them instantly to student devices over the air. They can send the apps to individuals or groups of any size, across classrooms, schools, or even districts.
Want to bring Android tablets or Google Play for Education to your school or district? Just fill out the expression of interest form. Google will be fulfilling requests later in the year.