Google released a major new education program today that organizes and manages the way teachers push apps, books, and other learning content to student tablets.
“When I go visit my kids’ classrooms, it looks pretty much exactly like it did when I went to school,” said Chris Yerga, Google’s engineering director at Google I/O. “Teachers told us that in education, there’s a huge gap between what’s possible with technology and what’s practical, especially with mobile technology. And then they told us it was Google’s job to fix this.” He explained that teachers said Google should make an affordable Android tablet, content management tools, and app discovery tools. So Google is starting with the last two.
Google Play for Education is like an app store designed especially for teachers with some powerful management tools built-in. Teachers will be able to visit this app store and search by categories such as age-range and subject matter. If you are trying to teach math to a bunch of first graders, you can plug in those refinements and get back a list of apps made specifically for that group. Teachers will also be able to see reviews from other teachers. After instructors select an app, Google Play for Education will push it out automatically to all the tablets associated with a defined Google Group of students.
That’s the catch — you’ll need to set up your entire classroom on Google Apps, buy Android tablets for all the students, and create a Google Group with the tablets hooked up. The only real issue here might be cost, as Google Apps are fairly easy to set up and many education institutions are already using them.
Schools are able to load accounts with funds for the app store, so a teacher can automatically deduct from that balance if they wish to license a classroom-amount of paid apps. Teachers will also be able to push out YouTube videos and books in the same way they do apps.