In the space of just five years, Google has helped upend the sales methods companies use to place their products in classrooms. It has enlisted teachers and administrators to promote Google’s products to other schools. It has directly reached out to educators to test its products — effectively bypassing senior district officials. And it has outmaneuvered Apple and Microsoft with a powerful combination of low-cost laptops, called Chromebooks, and free classroom apps.
Today, more than half the nation’s primary- and secondary-school students — more than 30 million children — use Google education apps like Gmail and Docs, the company said. And Chromebooks, Google-powered laptops that initially struggled to find a purpose, are now a powerhouse in America’s schools. Today they account for more than half the mobile devices shipped to schools.
I signed our school district up for Google Apps for Education in February of 2007. After using Gmail for years, and dabbling in Google Docs (formerly Writely) I could see that Google was on to something. And it keeps getting better and better.
Every 6 months or so I try out Word online (since we are also signed up with Microsoft’s Office 365) and it doesn’t compare to Google Docs. My test is creating a document and placing a graphic in the document. Can I move it? Wrap text? Word Online still does not allow this. In Microsoft’s defense, they would rather have you use Word on your device and not a browser. Now with Microsft Intune, Microsoft is looking at competing with Chromebooks with a cloud based management system and Windows 10 S. We’ll see how well this pays off.
As for Apple, I don’t know what they are thinking. To manage devices, Apple assumes you will pay a 3rd party company for mobile device management (MDM). Unlike the Chromebook management licence, the MDM license is a yearly, per device fee. I like iPads, they are devices that can be used as a tablet and a laptop (with the addition of a keyboard), but now they are being upstaged by 2-in-1 Chromebooks that can do both also. Fortunately for Apple, the iOS software platform is better than Android, at least for now.