Amongst all the ‘sexy’ announcements that Google made in the Google I/O Conference, one that received the least amount of focus was the release of a major new education program. ‘Google Play for Education’ has set its eyes on better organization and management of the way in which teachers push apps, books, and other learning content to student tablets.
Technology has brought major upheavals in the way we socialize, consume information, search for new things and experiences etc . But, somehow, I feel it has not been able to transform the way we look at and deliver education.
Although, we can’t blame the organization for the lack of trying and the approach has been anything but lackadaisical; what with the immense push of tablets and PCs, as learning medium, even in low-income areas. But, if not the device costs, it’s the ill-perceived extra burden of content management that has caused schools to shy away from implementing better technology.
Google’s Play for Education program may dramatically change all of this.
“When I go visit my kids’ classrooms, it looks pretty much exactly like it did when I went to school,” said Chris Yerga, Google’s engineering director at Google I/O. “Teachers told us that in education, there’s a huge gap between what’s possible with technology and what’s practical, especially with mobile technology. And then they told us it was Google’s job to fix this.”
Teachers wanted Google to make an affordable Android tablet, effective content management and app discovery tools. Google seems to be implementing the last two ideas.
Here’s what the app page has to say about ‘Google Play for Education’:
Google Play for Education is the online destination where schools can find the right tablet content and tools for their students and teachers.
With easy bulk ordering for groups, schools will be able to purchase and instantly distribute apps, videos, and books right to their students’ devices.
The program is scheduled to be available August onwards, but Google has already given a shout-out to app developers and they can start submitting apps by this summer.
FOR EDUCATORS Google promises
Android tablets in the classroom
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.
Bulk purchase with institutional payment
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.
Over-the-air delivery to student devices
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.
But there’s a catch… The school will need to set up the entire classroom on Google Apps, buy Android tablets for all the students, and create a Google Group with the tablets hooked up.
Having said that, Google Apps seem to be fairly easy to set up and I can see many educational institutions using them. The cost of an android tablet would also not be a big deterrent, given there are low-cost android tablets available in the market
With all the recent push into devices for content management at schools, ‘Google Play for Education’ could just have the right kind of management capabilities to end the ‘Tablets in Schools’ debate once and for all.
Please comment, for we would love to hear the thoughts of educators and developers about how ‘Google Play for Education’ could affect the K-12 education landscape.