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.