How Google, Apple and other tech firms envision education

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Of all of the areas where technology is poised to make the biggest difference in Americans’ everyday lives, education is one of the most widely discussed. Tech leaders, researchers, teachers, and school administrators all discuss the future of the classroom and what lessons will look like as technology becomes more accessible and more capable.

One of the most visible companies offering both tools and hardware tailored for educational uses is Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)(NASDAQ:GOOGL). In May, the company announced a new tool called Classroom, which integrates Google Docs, Drive, and Gmail to enable teachers to create, collect, and organize assignments, improve class communications, and organize files by student and assignment. The company announced this week that it was offering Classroom to anyone with a Google Apps for Education account, with updates like an “About” page for each course, and the ability for teachers to view and comment on students’ work before it’s turned in. Zach Yeskel, Google’s product manager for Classroom, wrote in May that Classroom is intended “ to give teachers more time to teach and students more time to learn.”

Classroom is the latest in Google’s lineup of products targeted to the education market. Google Play for Education, the company’s platform for teachers and school administrators to buy and manage apps and content is available on tablets and on Chromebooks, Google’s small, affordable, web-only laptops that are growing increasingly popular in classrooms. In the second quarter of the year, Google sold 1 million Chromebooks to schools, and The Wall Street Journal reports that Chromebooks account for a fifth of U.S. school purchases of mobile computers. That’s due to how simple it is for students to complete activities with Google Apps for Education, a set of productivity tools like Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, Forms, Vault, Talk, and Hangouts.

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