Google has not been a stranger to the education sector. Google Apps for Education has been around for years and many educational organizations, K12 and high ed alike, have drank the Kool-Aid. As one who has worked in the field of public education for almost 15 years, Google’s way of live was always a strong contender, but never a complete solution. There was always the…apps are limited in functionality…files are stored where?…how does this fit with FERPA regulations?…how do we transfer all our files?…what do you do fo a video solution?…you mean I have to create an account for all my students AND teachers?… The questions were seemingly endless and as with many of Google’s solutions, where not all that elegant.
The result was that many avoided Google’s attempt at fully penetrating the education market. You could liken it to a dating couple. IT administrators and power users within schools many times used Google’s tools, but only as an add-on. They were never the goto solution or backbone suite of applications. Schools were willing to “hang out at a movie” with Google, but were never willing to make a full commitment. Marriage was just too much of a risk.
Google’s I/O 2013 keynote flirted with a marriage proposal to education. They touted statistics for Google Apps like
- 25 million users in over 200 countries
- 74 out of 100 of the top universities are using Google Apps For Education
- 7 out of the 8 Ivy League universities are using GAFE
My reaction to every company that throws out usage numbers is so what. Convince me that I should care. Are really trying to peer pressure me into your world. I am not in middle school where “Come on…everyone else is doing it” is an aceptable argument. Unfortunately, the world of public education is highly peer influence and does care immensely about the school down the street. We also have been conditioned to read research and on a minutes notice quote seminal studies like an evangelist quoting lines from the Bible. We have been made to believe that if the district with large amounts of success is using “X” then we should use “X” and all bliss will follow for us as well. The ultimate truth with educational technology is exactly what Chris Yerga said during his presentation.
“…When I go visit my kid’s classroom, it looks pretty much exactly like it did when I went to school…”
Yerga also quoted teachers who said:
“…Teachers told us that in education there is a huge gap between what’s possible with technology and what’s practical, especially with mobile technology…”
Semantically, education has changed. At its core, it has not. Google definitely wants a role in evolving educational practice. They have put the proposal on the table not only in words, but also in product. What did they reveal? For starters, Google Play for Education. This will be a game changer in app acquisition and deployment. Anyone who has completed a VPP purchase from Apple and the App Store will identify with this much more palatable process. They have also indicated a serious attempt to merge both Chrome and Android Apps. Because Google has invested in software and not hardware, the hardware options are plentiful and most importantly economical. The management piece has always been a feature, but Yerga emphasized a true “out-of-the-box”, plug-n-play scenario for tech directors. What no Summer re-imaging?
There are so many other smaller facets to Google’s proposal to education. I may have begun to sip the Kool-Aid. I may even feel a little pressured. That said, logic is a strong influence on me and Google is making very good sense now. Will they ultimately deliver? I and many IT directors hope so.`