Today Google announced Google Play for Education, an initiative to get Android tablets and content into schools for K-12 kids.
The idea is that a school will sign up for Google Play for Education and then teachers will be able to select content and have it automatically sent to their students devices. They will be able to choose free content or have paid content charged to the school without needing to enter credit card details.
Content will be reviewed by other teachers and organized by grade and topic so it's easy to find the right material. As well as apps there will be video and eBook content.
Google are encouraging developers to create new educational content for K-12 students and have provided guidelines for developers. This could be a great opportunity for developers to get bulk purchases of their apps.
In his Google I/O talk announcing the initiative (source) Google Engineering Director Chris Yerga talked about how little technology is in his own kids' classrooms. This is true in my kids' classrooms too. There are barriers beyond software availability though. Tablets are expensive. 7" tablets are too small to be effective for a lot of activities while 10" tablets are heavy and more expensive. Technology also goes wrong. The Android experience is fairly smooth but devices do freeze and sometimes things just don't work, there's no time in the classroom to deal with these issues. Google is working on other parts of the problem of getting technology into schools too.
I do think that technology will have an increasing role to play in schools and I'd love to see more educational content on Android. Apps are great for tailored learning and feedback, and also for keeping kids interested and motivated.
Earlier this year we heard about the Amplify tablet, an educational Android tablet and software platform that enables teachers to plan and coordinate the use of tablets within lessons. It looks like Android will be starting to take on the iPad in the classroom in 2013.
Google Play for Education is set to launch in the fall for the new academic year.
See: Google Play for Education