Android in the classroom? “Google Play for Education” challenges the iPad’s dominance

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Just last week, I wrote a teacher’s review of the Nexus 7 tablet. A reader on Reddit commented that it was a shame that the review didn’t talk about the possibility of students using the tablet in a 1:1 deployment, but there are a few reasons for that:

  1. I teach adults at a university—and manage technology in that context—so my expertise is quite different from that of someone coordinating technology for a K-12 school or district.
  2. Historically, Google hasn’t done a very thorough job promoting tablets for educational use.

Yesterday, though, Google launched the Google Play for Education program. Under this program, educational institutions purchase tablets in bulk for classroom deployment, whether for a tablet cart or under a 1:1 program. The tablets come pre-configured for educational use and promise a nearly-automatic setup “fully loaded with student accounts, custom settings, and WiFi.” It looks like all you need to do is use one tablet to log in and select your class information, then physically tap every other tablet against the first one to transfer the settings over via NFC:

For content, there’s a curated “Education” section of the Play Store which includes educational apps and e-books:

Content is sorted by content area, grade level, and Common Core standards:

Google Play for Education also enables teachers and tech administrators purchasing apps to basically “put it on the tab” by using pre-paid credit established through a purchase order. Under this system, purchases aren’t required to handle credit cards:

The device lineup is currently limited to just the Nexus 7, but an as-yet-unreleased 10″ ASUS Transformer Pad and an 8″ HP Slate8 Pro will be added early next year. The ASUS Transformer in particular looks pretty fascinating: it’s the size of a typical iPad and can be paired with a detachable physical keyboard. With the keyboard, it runs $95 more than a Nexus 7, though, which is quite a premium.

Sound exciting? Check out the Google in Education page for more details!

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