Monday, November 3, 2014

The Shift to Android Tablets

Google has recently released a suite of products that make managing your classroom easier. It includes:

  • Google Play for Education (GP4E), a subset of the Google Play Store interface designed specifically for the K-12 environment. It contains thousands of Chrome and Android apps vetted by CUE educators.
  • Google Classroom, a management interface that helps teachers organize assignments within their students' Google Drive.
  • Chromebooks, the laptop-style device that we have already started deploying in our schools. Chromebooks are integrated with GP4E for easy teacher management.
  • Android Tablets—in our case, the Nexus 7 tablet, a device designed to work seamlessly with GP4E. Nexus7image.png
Those of you who attended the recent Google Apps for Education Summit saw a preview of what this integrated suite of products can do to make the learning environment more productive. While there are many layers of functionality and features that you will hear more about in the upcoming weeks and months, today I will focus on the shift to Android tablets.

You might be wondering why we decided to offer the Nexus 7 as an option since we already have iPads in our district. One factor is the cost: a Nexus 7 purchased through TPP is $282, while an iPad Mini is $335. But more than just cost is the simplicity and customized user interface that these devices offer. Google designed the experience between GP4E and the Nexus 7 specifically with the education market in mind. Please note that some applications may not yet be available through Google Play for Education store, but the repertoire is growing daily.

As wonderful as iPads are, they are, first and foremost, a single-user consumer device, which means that managing them is complicated and time consuming in a school environment. 

Those of you who have a classroom set of iPads know what I mean. It takes a lot of time to set up the devices, purchase apps, and push them using a separate Mac laptop. That's a lot of work to make a consumer device work in a shared education environment. 

The Google Play for Education management console, on the other hand, makes it easier for teachers to purchase content with POs and push apps, books, and videos directly to the Nexus 7 tablets or Chromebooks—it's similar to sharing a Google Doc. 

Plus, each Nexus 7 can be shared with up to five students, who get a unique, personalized experience.

The Nexus 7 is available today through the BVSD Technology Purchase Program (TPP) and will be the preferred classroom tablet in the upcoming Tech Refresh catalog, which means that it will start being deployed en masse within 6 months. 

What does this mean for the iPads currently in our district? We will continue supporting them, just as we currently do. We recognize that schools have invested a lot of time and training in these devices. 

Stay tuned for more information about GP4E and Nexus 7 as spring approaches. Please chime in with your thoughts below about the Nexus 7 tablet and Google Play for Education.

9 comments:

  1. How many GB does the Nexus 7 pad have that is being offered by the district?

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  2. Michele, The Nexus tablet has 16GB of memory.

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  3. Google Play for Education will be turned on soon. This blog was to focus on the move to the tablets. Sorry for the confusion.

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  4. Hi Andrew, is internet necessary to use the Nexus tablet, similar to chrome books?

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  5. The internet is not required unless you are using Google Doc or other apps that require a connection. The device operates similar to an iPad.

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  6. Does this work on other android tablets? I have a samsung Galaxy Tab for my golf team and I would like to use it for my classroom as well.

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  7. The Galaxy should work fine so long as you are logged in with your bvsd.org account. If it has Near Field Communications (NFC) you may also be able to use it for configurations. It will not work for auto updates and management if it is not a BVSD device.

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