How Google took over the classroom

From this The New York Times article:

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.

And, most importantly:

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.

Those are some impressive numbers. Kids are growing up with an intimate understanding of how to use Google apps. Apple certainly is a player in this space, both with iPads and low-end MacBooks, but no matter the hardware, a major chunk of our kids are using Google Docs and Gmail.

Apple has iWork apps, has ported them to all the major platforms, true, and there are iCloud versions of the apps. But Google’s approach requires no app downloads, is driven by a link. There are no app installs to manage, just links to share back and forth. I’d argue the overall approach is simpler. For education, that is a vital difference. If a school district switches over from Chromebooks to iPads, there is no compelling reason for them to switch from Google Docs.



  • David Stewart

    Apple already has web versions of Pages, Keynote and Numbers…

    • rennarda

      Exactly – the iWork apps are already available as web apps on iCloud.com and are beautifully done.

      • Problem is IT departments think Apple products exist in a silo, and their charter is ubiquitous access.

  • What about iWork or Pages, Numbers and Keynote as a part of iCloud? There is a great collaboration feature out in the wild (admittedly, only since last year), it’s multi-platform and you even have great Apps on iPad and macOS (something Google don’t have). An account is free for all users. Unfortunately, iCloud is a “gate” with bad reputation which hinders using it and no one knows about this really great working apps/feature.

  • Kids are growing up with an intimate understanding of how to use Google apps

    Google’s gathering an intimate understanding of our children’s activities in and out of the classroom beginning in the 1st grade.

    As a parent I’ve been concerned about this for a while. I’m OK with schools using the tools, but administrators should make the accounts anonymous, not at all traceable. But then that violates GOOG’s business model.

  • thejokell

    “But Google’s approach requires no app downloads, is driven by a link.”

    Kind of like icloud.com?

  • JimCracky

    This very strategy was proposed to Apple many years ago by none other than Larry Ellison, who sat on Apple’s board.

    He was laughed at.

    Apple sells iPads.

  • rick gregory

    I don’t think it’s the apps that drive Chromebooks into the schools. It’s that they’re CHEAP. Combine that with the cloud apps and what is almost certainly a lower TCO (or at least one that’s competitive) and its hard to make the case for iPads. I mean, if I was forced to pick one or the other and a large part of my day was writing etc, I’d pick a Chromebook over an iPad simply because iOS does not make text editing all that simple.

  • skramer49

    What are “low end MacBooks”?