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Google Owns the Classroom (axios.com) 114

An anonymous reader writes: The NYT's Natasha Singer has a fascinating, provocative look at "How Google Conquered The American Classroom." "[M]ore than half the nation's primary- and secondary-school students -- more than 30 million children -- use Google education apps like Gmail and Docs... Chromebooks, Google-powered laptops that initially struggled to find a purpose... account for more than half the mobile devices shipped to schools."
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Google Owns the Classroom

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  • by btroy ( 4122663 ) on Monday May 15, 2017 @12:25PM (#54419785)
    Out my way, that is very true. All of my kids were initiated into the Google system since 5th grade. My older kids talked about how slow and terrible the windows PC's were, there are a few left. Then they started getting Chromebooks, complaints gone and for $100 they have a machine dedicated to them and they're pretty fast.

    They charge the machines maybe twice a week and the biggest complaint now is broken buttons, screens.
    • So, it plays in Peoria?
    • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Monday May 15, 2017 @12:43PM (#54419917)

      In some ways Google was smart about ChromeOS; it has many of the support-advantages of an OS like OSX with closed hardware, but as it was something of a clean-sheet implementation as far as software support goes it didn't have to drag-in support for legacy applications unlike OSX, which had the ability (and arguably the need) to run "System" applications from pre-OSX days. Google has arguably done a better job of permissions in Chrome than other OSes have, it's a lot harder for the end user to compromise the machine by accident, and even a user that intentionally tampers with it has some pretty hard limitations to work around for some things. If you're one to tinker to learn then this is a problem, but if you need the equipment to just work and not eat itself for lunch then it's fine.

      Chromebooks also have the advantage of being extraordinarily inexpensive in most cases. It's hard to argue with a machine that does what's needed for half the price of a Windows machine or 1/3 the price of an OSX or iOS machine.

      For myself I wish that there was an easy way to flesh-out a ChromeOS install into a full-fledged Linux workstation without having to resort to cronut and chroot or without having to nuke-out ChromeOS entierly, but thems the breaks.

    • How the times have change... If you didn't have an $2,500 Apple ][ at home in the early 1980's, your family must have been poor. A $100 Chromebook for each kid isn't that much of a big deal. Unless, of course, $100 is a big deal for some families.
    • You're talking about the older non-touch version. Right?

      Now that Chromebooks have touchscreens and can run Android, I would hope that we can still buy new non-touchscreen plain vanilla Chromebooks.

      My nieces and nephews don't need an extra way to run Android games. And my brother is an idiot. He doesn't even remember that I gave him a parental control PIN number for the Google/Android TVs I gave him. Although his kids all know it.

      There is also the issue that touchscreen Chromebooks don't have the same kind o

      • I work in a district where we have pushed Google hard for the last five years. We typically buy regular Chromebooks for most classrooms. Teachers get touch Chromebooks that flip around to make a tablet. We also tend to get those for K-2 classrooms as the touch functionality fits well with the younger kids. The plan moving forward is to keep this up as long as the price point is reasonable.
      • by darkain ( 749283 )

        Well, it IS called "parental control" for a reason!

  • It's funny, this article acts like Microsoft is about to take the classroom, and the article doesn't even mention Google:

    https://www.cnet.com/news/why-... [cnet.com]

    • The article doesn't mention education or the classroom even once. Why did you post that?
      • by tsqr ( 808554 )

        The article doesn't mention education or the classroom even once. Why did you post that?

        Did you miss the section under Microsoft wins the kids...and therefore the future? "As much as I dislike some aspects of Windows 10 S, as a way to get cheap computers into schools, it's a lot more practical than iPads. Even the conceptual graphics tools Microsoft is delivering are better and cheaper than Adobe's for kids, especially those at underfunded schools."

        More practical than iPads? Sure. More practical than Chromebooks? Not a chance.

      • Did you even read the article?

        Microsoft wins the kids...and therefore the future:

        As much as I dislike some aspects of Windows 10 S, as a way to get cheap computers into schools, it's a lot more practical than iPads. Even the conceptual graphics tools Microsoft is delivering are better and cheaper than Adobe's for kids, especially those at underfunded schools.

  • by sootman ( 158191 ) on Monday May 15, 2017 @12:30PM (#54419823) Homepage Journal

    Google's stuff is cheap or free, and schools have no money.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )

      What do you expect when you're spending $500 for an AP or $5000 for a 48-port switch? And those prices are in-bulk, if you're paying list it's closer to $1000 for an AP and $8000 for a switch, without even buying SFP modules. It's easily half a million bucks just for switches and APs for a large high school, and if the school was cabled with lots of small closets then you're looking at another $100,000 in fiber transceivers for 10G, plus the cost to the WAN provider to link at a meaningful speed back to t

      • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Monday May 15, 2017 @01:16PM (#54420171)

        Ubiquiti makes some really nice stuff - yes it is "enterprise lite", but for most schools, their network gear has the bases covered.

        After deploying TONS of UAP-AC-PROs ($130 each) and replacing lots of Meraki/Aruba/HP/Cisco gear - it's pretty hard to justify $800 to $1200 for an access point.

        Their EdgeMax series of products is also very impressive for the money.

        Brocade and Cisco have their place - but public education can get by with quite a bit less.

        • by TWX ( 665546 )

          Depends on if you want to push SGT/SGACL to make use of both wired and wireless authentication with ISE. If you want to do that all of the way to the end-AP as a sort of wireless equivalent of a switch then you need to keep within the Cisco environment at least at the final access-edge. There are ways to jump across devices that don't support these features, but not at the end.

          My goal is to prevent end-workstations from communicating with each other, full-stop. That would significantly reduce the effecti

      • There is a tremendous amount of waste in school IT systems. At my local elementary school the principal asked me to look at a proposal for their "IT infrastructure" that included racked Cisco switches, and would cost over $20k. I explained that for the amount of bandwidth they were using, a few $39 routers from the local Walmart would be more than adequate. They went with the Walmart option, and it worked fine.

        • Unmanaged switches? Just wait until the kids figure out that they can take down the entire network by plugging in both ends of an Ethernet cable to the wall jacks.

          • Unmanaged switches? Just wait until the kids figure out that they can take down the entire network by plugging in both ends of an Ethernet cable to the wall jacks.

            There are no "wall jacks" except in locked closets. Everything is WiFi.

            • by TWX ( 665546 )

              Ha ha ha.

              Oh wait, you're serious?

              HAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!

      • This. I do tech coaching with teachers in a mid-sized district. We have wireless in all schools. Our network is far more complex and expensive than people think.
        • by TWX ( 665546 )

          Yup. One WAP per classroom so that the 30+ wireless devices per room will all be able to connect, and two cables per WAP so they can do 802.11ac, back to mid-grade L2 switches in the local IDF closet, fiber link back to the MDF with a mid-grade L3 fiber switch, out to the service provider. Plus the data drops for the VOIP phone, the printer, the WIDI and/or projector, and any remaining desktop computers that teachers might still be using.

          When Cisco's Sparkboard gets education licenses that aren't ridiculo

      • Public schools don't pay for IT infrastructure. E-Rate does. On your phone bill is a line item for universal access or universal service. Those fees fund the E-Rate program. Schools can get reimbursed, based on the portion of students that qualify for free or reduced lunches, for technology and as long as they go towards educational purposes, with some exceptions. If 90% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch, the school is reimbursed 90% of the project cost. The gotcha is that the poorer d

        • by TWX ( 665546 )

          School districts also will put out for bond for equipment, or at least for cabling.

          Personally I'd rather that money borrowed against a 20 or 30 year bond pay for cabling rather than switches; cabling in-place has a decent chance of lasting 30 years while switches you're lucky to get a decade.

          E-rate is nice, but it tends to encumber where the equipment can be used. A district does not get a large pot for the whole place, it's campus by campus, and it can take a couple of years to get funded such that what w

    • Microsoft ignored the market. I remember Microsoft laughing at the Chromebook and making derogatory comments about it's capabilities. 5 Years later those chromebooks are the only computers in primary and secondary education.

      The chromebook winning had far more to do with simplified administration and global accounts than it did to price of hardware. With a Google for School the student gets and account that's the same regardless of the computer they log into, with the chromebook the school gets a computer th

    • This - exactly this. 4 years ago my school was faced with three options:
      1) Continue purchasing Office for teachers and staff and using Open/LibreOffice for students.
      2) Purchase Office365 for $99/user/year (this was before Office365 was free for Educational use.)
      3) Migrate to Google for free and maybe update Office for the couple people that need Publisher.

      Google is free and has low administrative overhead, and now has communities of teachers that are willing to help train other teachers on using it. Google

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Monday May 15, 2017 @12:31PM (#54419831)
    >> How Google Conquered The American Classroom.

    This is a question? Google won ON PRICE: free (or dirt-cheap-compared-to-Microsoft) online office suites and cheap (especially compared to Apple) tablets.
    • Yes. Price matters. Microsoft, of all companies, should know that. They won the desktop because DOS, and then Windows, were the cheapest solutions at the time.
      • Actually, Microsoft won the desktop because Windows-only software -- and lots of it -- was first to market, not insignificantly in the area of games. Mac was the weapon of choice for graphics professionals, picking up the base that mismanaged Amiga squandered.
        • Yes, but that happened because MSFT already owned the desktop long before Windows existed. When the IBM PC was introduced in 1981, it was offered with 3 OSes: UCSD Pascal, CP/M 86, and "PC-DOS" (later known as MS-DOS). Of the 3, DOS was by far the cheapest, so dominated sales. And of course software developer targeted the OS that users had. The rest is...history.
    • by stephanruby ( 542433 ) on Monday May 15, 2017 @01:23PM (#54420267)

      Not to mention simpler security.

      The machines update themselves automatically. And the user can't install applications that run in the background and slow the entire thing down. So this essentially means very little support on your end when you give one of these devices.

      Now, don't get me wrong, you may still have grandma call to tell you that she hates Google Photos because it forces her to upload all her pictures online and it's lousy at editing pictures. And that she'd rather you install the PC photo editing software she bought out of the bargain bin at Best Buy.

      To which, you tell her that can't be done. And that's it. And if for some reason, she does break her Chromebook, or it gets stolen, she'll actually be able to recover her pictures, because they will all be online. So that's one more thing you don't have to worry about.

      • It's even better than that. If the school district has a Google for Education domain, you can actually manage the devices through Google's admin console. That means you can not only make sure they are updated, but you can push updates in a staggered fashion or hold updates if you need to. Plus, depending on the model, many of the Chromebooks are very easy to repair. Screens and keyboard are pretty easy to swap out. Our district contracts this out, but if I were in a smaller district, I would be training kid
    • Google won ON PRICE

      And security, and manageability, and maintenance.

      It's totally reasonable for a single relatively low-skilled I/T person (or even a sophisticated teacher or two) to manage a fleet of several hundred Chromebooks. If one of them breaks, there's no worry about trying to recover data; it's all in the cloud. Hand the kid another Chromebook (possibly after making the parents pay for it, depending on how it was damaged). There's no way for students to misconfigure them. There's no need to worry about security, th

  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Monday May 15, 2017 @12:31PM (#54419833)
    You actually have to pay Microsoft for the privilege of their apps spying on you (Windows 10), whereas Google at least does it for free.
  • So we can expect Google to collapse and drop into utter obscurity until Microsoft bails them out and then they create an insanely great disruptive product that catapults them to the stratosphere?
  • Why the link to the middleman page at Axios instead of going straight to the NYT article?

  • My kids' school is like this - every kid gets a Google logon administered by the school. It's nice because they can access it from home to continue working on things, but not so nice because I don't like everything my children do being tracked by the Americans.

    I have no control over what's done with that information, or how it will be used in the years to come. I'm not even in the same country, so I have no legal recourse if I find the data gets shared and abused.

    It's not like it would have been that diff

  • "[M]ore than half the nation's primary- and secondary-school students -- more than 30 million children -- use Google education apps like Gmail and Docs...

    Sad that the quality of our American classrooms' output still lags the last time I heard.

  • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Monday May 15, 2017 @12:51PM (#54419983)
    If you're going to give all of the details of your entire life to Google in exchange for some minor convenience, why not start in grade school?
    • If you're going to give all of the details of your entire life to Google in exchange for some minor convenience, why not start in grade school?

      Starts before grade school. Ok, maybe Grade school before google itself spies on you, but with the likes of Spy-On-Me Elmo and No Privacy Barbie being connected to the internet for very young kids. (there was a case of one of these young kid, internet connected toys getting publicly hacked recently) your loss of privacy these days starts at birth.

    • by rhabyt ( 1501197 )
      Google gets no details from them in school. There are quite strict FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) regulations protecting the privacy of kids in school. Part of the reason that Google has won classrooms is that they are willing to put the dev time into security and anonymizing Chrome for schools. Though this is all about cost for school districts, a lawsuit over FERPA violations is part of the cost calculation. That said, ten years of learning to trust Google buys habits and loyalty, so
  • My two sons are in high school. They use Google Docs, Android phones, and gmail for all school related work. They even submit papers using Google Docs and share using various Google tools.

    I have mentioned to many co-workers that Microsoft should be very worried about their hegemony in the office when this generation comes out into the workforce and doesn't demand Office or Windows on the desktop.
    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      My two sons are in high school. They use Google Docs, Android phones, and gmail for all school related work. They even submit papers using Google Docs and share using various Google tools.

      I have mentioned to many co-workers that Microsoft should be very worried about their hegemony in the office when this generation comes out into the workforce and doesn't demand Office or Windows on the desktop.

      I doubt Microsoft are that worried.

      They still control the enterprise with an iron fist and Google aren't anywhere near replacing O365, let alone on premise exchange. As long as there's no viable competitor to MS Office, they have the business market by the short and curlies.

      Also, Google didn't take the classroom from Microsoft, Apple took it from Microsoft. Google is taking it from Apple and its resulted in a marked increase in the quality of candidates. For the last 5 years, candidates for entry leve

      • <quote><p>As long as there's no viable competitor to MS Office, they have the business market by the short and curlies.</p></quote>Sorry, should have been more specific. I'm sure MS isn't worried *now* but they probably want to ensure the next generation grows up with Office. I work for a company with 77,000 O365 accounts - we pay some ridiculously low amount for each. That's all well and good for those of us in the workforce. However, the next generation may not look so favorably.
  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Monday May 15, 2017 @01:28PM (#54420309)

    We've been using G Suite for Education at our school for a few years now, and it has been fantastic. It's exactly what schools need.

    Google clearly publishes a privacy policy here:

    https://edu.google.com/trust/ [google.com]

    Does Google sell school or student data to third parties?
    No. We don’t sell your G Suite data to third parties, and we do not share personal information placed in our systems with third parties, except in the few exceptional circumstances described in the G Suite agreement and our Privacy Policy, such as when you ask us to share it or when we are required to do so by law.

    Sometimes charity really is nothing more than charity - this seems to be the case here.

    • Thanks for this. I'm in the same boat. We switched several year ago and the impact on collaboration and ease of logins and access to student and teacher work has been so positive. That doesn't even get into tools like Google classroom.
      • Thanks for this. I'm in the same boat. We switched several year ago and the impact on collaboration and ease of logins and access to student and teacher work has been so positive. That doesn't even get into tools like Google classroom.

        As a parent, I also like how easy it makes it for my kids to share their assignments with me. Especially on high school papers, it's great that they can say "Dad, I shared my essay, can you take a look at it?". I always just add comments rather than editing, except in trivial cases where I put my edits in as suggestions. The kid addresses my feedback, then shares it with the teacher, who, if they want, can see the edit history and tell me if I'm helping too much (none ever has, even when I point it out to t

  • To be honest, I'm not sure how this is a surprise. Chromebooks are cheap, of reasonable quality and provide everything you need minus most of the viruses and problems with Windows. Administrators are also sure that kids arn't just flat out gaming on their Chromebooks (lack of space and video games) whereas on a PC you're never entirely sure. I'm sure a lot of us have heard kids or been kids who installed video games into the system.

    I mostly trust Google and believe they're mostly honest and in the Consu

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I mostly trust Google and believe they're mostly honest and in the Consumer's interest.

      I am a hen. There's a fox who has befriended me recently. He seems very nice. I mostly trust him and believe he has my interest at heart.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Google basically just delivered what Apple had tried to deliver and failed with the eMate and 1st-Gen MacBook - a simple, cheap laptop for education.

    Apple is way too busy marketing "high-end" trendy crap to give a rip about education anymore.

    • This is entirely true. I've been in educational technology long enough to remember when Apple specifically courted us because they needed us. But when the iPhone blew up, they just didn't need us anymore. They are still cordial, but their basic product design isn't exactly education-friendly anymore and they don't care.
  • Chromebooks are cheap, and you can guarantee internet access in a fixed location like a typical American school.

    Most schools gravitate toward the cheapest thing that gets the job done.

    There will always be well-funded schools experimenting with new gadgets, but most places can't afford them. Especially when the bill comes in for their sporting equipment and facilities.

  • at least at our local schools they just plop the stuff in and expected everyone to know what to do. So it hardly ever gets used.
  • and pay some ransoms time and again.
  • I love some aspects of the ChromeOS on Chromebook environment. They're relatively fast despite the price, they don't usually break, anything that goes wrong can usually be fixed by a boot cycle or removing and re-logging-in the user.

    But as a physics teacher, there are applications and tools I need that are not replicated on Chromebooks. There is no usable equivalent to Tracker Video Analysis; support for probeware is minimal and hobbled; support for USB and serial-USB lab interfaces and data collection inte

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