Google Education: The Next Gen in Learning

Google has ventured into the Education realm, making strides in information accessibility and useful applications that enable teachers to transform their classrooms.

Think back to your 5th grade classroom experience. You may remember something like: listening to a lesson, regurgitating facts on a homework set, and shuffling hard copies of paper across classes.

But Google thinks this model doesn’t work. There is a new blended learning style that incorporates technology to truly change the educator business model.

The Google Classroom for the next generation of students sounds something like:

  • Lectures at home on YouTube through Google Education.
  • Google Doc where students type assignments and drop them into Google Drive.
  • Students entering Google Hangouts with their entire class, sharing a Google Slides presentation the teacher created to have a discussion on what they learned from the YouTube lecture.
  • Teachers type in direct comments into Google Doc assignments, in which students respond directly through follow up comments.

Google has enabled a seamless, integrated platform for educators to take their classrooms beyond the traditional means of teaching. In case you’re not familiar, here’s Google for Education in 101 seconds[1].

Google Changes the Educator Business Model

The entire educator business model changes from “direct instruction model” to teaching through blended, interactive learning techniques[2].

Cisco breaks down the changes they see in the business model between 2013-2017[3]:

cisco-image

Teachers can now spend more time in the classroom on student collaboration, discussion, and personalized learning for students. Pilot programs have shown how class participation increases with online collaboration because introverted students are more willing to comment on an online medium such as Google Classroom[2]. Discussion-based, tertiary-style lessons are more engaging and allow students to think more critically – rather than regurgitate facts[4].

Here’s KIPP Academy’s usage of Google Classroom[5]:

For students, additional value can be extracted from a blended learning model because it is more adaptive to individual student needs. Lectures can be adaptive to students with language barriers or learning disabilities. Before, these students would receive a “one size fits all” lecture and they were left behind – unable to get past their barriers in education because the system was not intended for them[3].

And the Operating Model

From an operating model perspective, the back-end administrative activities are significantly reduced. Educators can focus more time on their lesson plans, and less on managing paperwork and tedious tasks between hard copies and school systems.

From a school district perspective, the operating model is simplified with less need for software and IT resources because Google Education is entirely cloud-based[1].  Schools in a pilot program have reported reduced servers, software licenses, or maintenance plans, which are currently administrative burdens[6].

All You Need is a Chromebook

To enable the Google Education suite, educators need to just access a device with internet. Chromebooks are low cost solutions to enable school districts to make the change to Google Education.

So How Can Google Education Scale?

With the Google Education suite being free to educators and students, it is anticipated to grow to 110 million users by 2020[2].The growth comes from continued accessibility to technology, and adoption of blended learning techniques. As of 2015, 73% of U.S. teens had access to a smartphone and nearly 100% of public schools had internet access[7].  Middle school and high school students’ access to laptops for education purposes has increased to nearly 75%[7]. Such access enables Google Education to enter more school districts with little barriers to entry.

To speed adoption, Google can more heavily advertise their “Google Certified Teachers” and provide incentives to implements their single-solution model to entire school districts[8]. Google can also begin to venture into Chromebook loan programs for schools to test their solution and gain initial buy-in by showing the value add in the classroom.

The growth in Google Education adoption is anticipated and makes sense given their value proposition to schools. However, there are critical gaps that Google needs to be aware of:

  • How can they help close the education gap in minority students, rather than increase it given limited technology accessibility in low-income, minority students?
  • How can they bridge the gap for the 25% of students without laptop access for education purposes?

By partnering with programs and non-profits (such as Teach for America) that directly target these underrepresented demographics, Google could provide a comprehensive solution for students alike and transform the traditional education model as we know it.

Word Count: 790

Citations

[1]  “Google for Education 101 (in 101 Seconds).” YouTube. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXFUl0KcIkA&ab_channel=GoogleforEducation

[2] “Google Apps for Education Anticipated to Reach 110 Million …” PRNewsWire. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2016. http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/google-apps-for-education-anticipated-to-reach-110-million-users-by-2020-300107878.html

[3] Selinger, Michelle. “Education and the Internet of Everything.” Cisco. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2016. http://www.cisco.com/c/dam/en_us/solutions/industries/docs/education/education_internet.pdf

[4] Quinn, Peter. “Google schools? A chromebook case study.” Screen Education, no. 82, 2016, p. 90+. Academic OneFile, Accessed 17 Nov. 2016.

[5]  “Chromebooks for Education: KIPP Academy of Opportunity…” YouTube. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSHLuUtPKTI&ab_channel=GoogleChrome

[6] @googleforedu. “Google for Education.” Google. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2016. https://www.google.com/edu/case-studies/kipp-la-schools/

[7] Meola, Andrew. “How IoT in Education Is Changing the Way We Learn.” Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 2016. Web. 17 Nov. 2016. http://www.businessinsider.com/internet-of-things-education-2016-9

[8] Burleson, A. (2014, Jun 08). Google education event attracts about 300 in grand forks. TCA Regional News Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/docview/1533983470?accountid=11311

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3 thoughts on “Google Education: The Next Gen in Learning

  1. Great read Karla! It is fascinating how so many different products in Google’s ecosystem come into play in its Education program. (I was able to deeply sympathize with a female student’s comment in the video about how she gets frustrated when she puts her hand up in class and not gets called.) One key question I had reading this is how interactive contents customized for such new learning model can be developed and shared. I presume in order to truly make the most out of the platform and make the learning experience more interactive for students, teachers need to develop customized materials. While most instructors may choose to do it themselves, there can certainly be benefits from open-sourcing the contents. As Khan academy and many other non-profit educational organizations have developed, would there be a dedicated marketplace or platform for Google-Education-fit contents? I cannot wait to see this model to grow further and solve many issues in the education system in developing countries as well as in the US.

  2. Thanks for sharing Karla – I had no idea Google was working on this! It makes me excited to see successful companies like Google addressing social needs and helping to educate the next generation. As you mention, the traditional model of teaching leaves many students behind. People learn and excel in different ways, and it can be very disheartening to a student that tries hard to be left behind because the teacher is unable to adapt their teaching style. I certainly think that learning is much better sustained when it is more interactive and students are more engaged – versus trying to just memorize facts! You hit on a key point with how Google can use this to help bridge the education gap, versus widen it. Perhaps Google can work with municipalities to develop a shared program with public computers (libraries, perhaps even a “shared” system with government employee computers) to allow students to access these at times. Another suggestion is having Google start a donation program, and provide refurbished computers or Chromebooks to schools. Most people have little to no use for old computers and this could be a great way to spread technology!

  3. I think this recent trend of instruction differentiation is quite powerful and once adopted fully is going to make a huge impact on bringing the average student learning experience up. My biggest concern is the point about addressing funding gaps in schools to make it all possible. Although it seems from your article that the technology might be lower cost, it still puts a strain on school budgets. What I found really interesting when looking into technology adoption in classrooms is that wealthy school districts are ahead of the curve, but so are low-income districts and the space that has been more left behind is the middle-class. This is because if a school has more than a certain percentage of students getting free or subsidized lunch it qualifies for Tier 1 funding and that is how many of these schools are funding technology investments. Sometimes the disparity is massive when comparing schools. I am concerned about being able to close the gap and offer these amazing programs more widely, but am glad we are starting on the path to address the learning needs of individual children in the classroom!

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