Google is dominating the digital ed curriculum
Friday, June 30, 2017
Despite concerns about K-12 budgets, plans to increase gadgets and digital technology tools in classrooms are pushing ahead full-steam. The largest technology companies in the nation are vying for the top spot in the K-12 classroom market.
The recent Ed Week Survey shows Google is leading in K-12 classrooms with its innovative products. Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft have introduced a varying number of products for this segment, coupled with some aggressive marketing strategies to beat each other. For the time being, however, Google is dominating the market.
It is interesting to note why. As per the survey, most teachers and educators prefer Google products and its classroom-productivity tools due to their simplicity and user-friendly menus and options.
New tech products that don't mesh well with the existing digital platforms would add to the work and stress of the already overstretched educators. Google products easily fit into the current model, which is perhaps the reason why they have been readily adopted by most schools.
Apple was a close second at 13 percent, but the other tech giants have their work cut out for them. 42 percent of respondents said Chromebooks were the most preferred devices for K-12 instruction as well as extra-curriculum digital activities. iPads and PCs were tied at 13 percent each even though they have better privacy/security options built-in and are more durable as per users.
Along with their user-friendliness, Google products have also made a name for themselves as they can quickly overcome limitations in the ed-tech space, and their customizable properties make it easy to meet schools' distinct needs. The survey showed that educators highly value customization and personalization.
The fact that they are more affordable than Apple and Microsoft products is the icing on the cake. Google's G Suite is free for K-12 teachers and students, and its operating system is free for Chromebook manufacturers that sell the hardware.
In the rapidly-changing digital environment for K-12 ed, all tech choices ultimately focus on boosting student achievement and increasing student engagement. Internet connectivity and digital reliability are the keywords for investment per district.
Smart, cost-effective buying decisions here are not geared for disruptive solutions like other industries but ones that blend in with the with different academic and tech needs and capabilities. Apple's iPad and Mac devices are popular with students, but for districts themselves, Google is the budget-friendly and user-friendly solution. It is no wonder that Google has the dominant share of the U.S. K-12 market.
But the others don't want to give up so easily. Digital ed tech is a vast area to cover, and it is quite evident that none of the tech giants are going to give up market share, despite survey results like this one.
Microsoft, for example, is taking on the fast-changing K-12 digital landscape with special tools to help students with dyslexia learn better. The software, Microsoft Learning Tools, is designed to reduce visual crowding and highlight words so they read more easily and improve their learning skills.
Other tools and apps from the tech giant include Minecraft: Education Edition, a school-focused version of the popular game, and Intune for Education, a cloud-based app and service, along with Office 365 for education and Windows 10 S.
Apple and Mac devices help teachers improve their knowledge as well as instructional skills. Amazon Web Services offers cloud-based storage and analytics that does away with the need for physical storage or constant IT support. Amazon Inspire, online platform for educators, is one of its newer projects that seeks to offer "open" educational resources.
But technology for K-12 education isn't limited to tech tools anymore. The slow and steady growth of virtual K-12 public schools is a testament to the fact that we live in a digital age.
Whether it's learning from a remote location or with a severe disability, students in virtual schools can acquire the knowledge they need and easily. Enabling these schools with more tech power is the new focus for companies in the space.
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