The news broke a few weeks back that Google Play for Education was ready for teachers. Being a faithful user of all devices Apple, I was not sure if I should really “go there” and try and dig into what Google now has to offer teachers implementing devices in the classroom. Really, my mind is pretty full – with the App Store, Apple configurator, iPads and iPad minis, maybe I should just stick to what I know.
Then I had the opportunity to Hang Out with Google Play for Education gooru, Rick Borovoy and the Director of technology from Hillsborough Township, Joel T. Handler and my mind was changed. Immediately.
Just from watching this one minute tutorial video, I think tablet setup could be done in class with the students in less time it takes to hand out one set of class textbooks. Together, everyone could open the boxes and take out the tablet. During that the time the teacher would have enough to time enter their own admin code. After that, all that’s needed is a quick circle around the room, bumping tablets to configure- and everyone is ready to go.
Looking into Google Play for Edu isn’t totally abandoning what I know about using tablets in the classroom because although I only have experience with Apple devices, I have always used Google Apps- for myself and with my students. Google Play for Edu follows the same rules as Google Apps. Downloading an app and sharing it with devices is the same process as sharing a Google Doc! All teachers need to do is purchase the app they choose (with their purchase order provided by their school, no personal credit card necessary) and “share” it with the students they choose- taking the same steps as sharing a Google doc. They can share it with the entire school, a classroom, a small group or even just an individual. Any way the teacher chooses, the app shows up immediately on any and all of the shared devices. No more waiting for apps to be approved and installed by the IT department? No more planning weeks in advance in order to make sure the apps are loaded and ready for student use? It truly feels like Google Play for Edu puts the decision making power in the hands of the teachers.
The apps in Google Play that have been previously reviewed and approved by actual teachers will have an EDU badge embedded in the description. The apps are, of course, categorized by subject- but there are other ways to search for the exact app you need. You can also look by grade level or decide if you want to just search for free or paid apps. What really stood out as different than any previous app searching experience is that you can search for apps directly aligned to a specific common core standard. In this time where most teachers have a very full plate of implementing both technology and common core at the same time, this method of searching seems like it could lead teachers to exactly what they are looking for.
It’s exciting to watch this space develop into an environment that just keeps getting more accessible for teachers and improving learning for students. Google for Education continues to add support and programs for teachers, admin and schools. One thing I do know about edtech- there isn’t a silver bullet so having multiple strong tablet choices for students just makes it more likely schools will succeed in integrating and moving to a 1:1 model. Have you had experience with Google Play for Edu? We’d love to hear about it!