Google (GOOGL) is spending $1.3 billion to make education a mobile-first experience with new tech tools. They are taking steps to set up a hub for their apps in the hopes of giving students, teachers, and parents the best chance at leading their lives the best they can. A major component of this effort involves the transformation of Chromebooks from a standard K-12 computer into an industry standard.
That vision has had some success, according to an article by Education 2.0. Chris Policinski, VP of Global Education Partnerships, said that in the five years since Chromebooks began as a classroom tool, they have the technology to be used in 30% of all elementary school classrooms across the United States. For secondary schools, they are at 40%. Policinski did note that not all Chromebooks were moving toward that utilization rate, but he went on to say that to be able to touch those percentages, Google would have to do a better job of engaging the touchscreens in schools.
No question, the future is mobile and Google has taken bold steps to set the industry up for the rise of the mobile user. The capability to have access to all areas of education without having to change phones every few days is a great point of emphasis for a mobile connected world.
One company that stands to see a huge piece of these changes is Waze. Waze integrates mobile phone data into traffic navigation that helps drivers avoid congestion. For schools, Waze has made it possible for teachers to open classrooms in the morning and give every student a smartphone so that they can listen in on traffic updates while they navigate their way to school. Since the app can include live video feeds of what’s going on, it provides students with incredible insight into traffic and accidents. It also helps the drivers of course.
Helping with all of this is that the Android and iOS platforms allow for voice commands. This allows for hands-free computing, even allowing vehicles to integrate for hands-free navigation. The app can be used for everything from an assembly line to taking notes in the classroom.
How many students would you expect are accessing their smartphones and Waze apps in school? A few years ago, Waze was created and at that time it was used primarily by its user base, as many drivers stayed in the area of Waze and Google services. What this means now is that Google is trying to entice students to utilize services such as Waze and not solely ride in taxis because the apps are free. Chromebooks have become a popular method to get into school.
If you want a close look at how the numbers compare you can check out SlideShare. Check out the details about how many devices have been used. I included two Android devices and one iPad tablet, but there are hundreds of other devices that were included in the counts. The most telling number for the growth that Google needs is clearly the increase of mobile devices from 29,134 during 2017 to 36,864 at the end of this year.
How many times a week do you think you get a notification on your phone, iPad, or laptop? Some believe you get 15 or more every time. That is not necessarily the case, but the reality is that mobile phones and tablets are an integral part of how we go about our daily lives.
Schools and campuses are working to create mobile app platforms that provide these apps, and for the growing number of students and teachers who are using these platforms in schools, the benefits are undeniable. We have been told for years that technology was not connecting with the learning process, and Chromebooks are one that appear to be making this a reality. While Waze has seen very impressive numbers, it is early in this trend. What Google has in its crosshairs is the piece that makes Waze and other services like it viable in the classroom. Google has invested $1.3 billion into starting a shift that will alter the educational landscape by 2020. It would not be surprising to see Google become the preeminent learning platform, and they are already a few steps ahead of the curve.
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