Education Week - May 17, 2017 - 17
EDWEEK MARKET BRIEF
In Battle of Tech Titans,
Google Captures Market,
analysis, and data about the school
marketplace, by the Education Week
Research Center. Google's education
rivals, Apple and Microsoft, as well as
Amazon, earn mixed reviews on the
When asked which school-provided
tools educators and students use
most for instruction in their districts,
42 percent of survey respondents
said Chromebooks, far outpacing PC
laptops, at 15 percent, and PC desktops and Apple iPads, both at 13 percent. Asked what productivity suites
were in use in their classrooms, a big
majority, 67 percent, said Google's G
Suite for Education, while Microsoft's
Office 365 for education came in a
distant second, at 17 percent.
Faced with a bewildering assortment of tech choices, school officials
today make buying decisions based
on factors that include perceptions
that a product will help boost student achievement and lead to increased student engagement.
But district officials surveyed also
overwhelmingly cited another consideration-ease-of-use-in choosing ed-tech, and they appear to favor
Google for just that reason.
School districts don't want to be
forced to make new tech products
mesh with their existing digital platforms, or create more work for overstretched educators. They expect new
products to do that work for them,
said Larry Singer, a former executive at Pearson and Hewlett Packard,
who is now the CEO of Open Up Resources, a provider of openly licensed
"Something simple that fits into
the existing model has a much better
chance of being adopted than something complex," Singer said. Schools,
on their own, "don't do the integration well."
Price Wins Out
Against that backdrop, Amazon,
Apple, Google, and Microsoft have
sought to win the market by offering
products that meet a variety of classroom and back-office functions:
* Microsoft has long been a leading
producer of operating systems in the
U.S. and international markets. It also
offers a productivity suite, 365, widely
seen as a competitor to Google's G
Suite for Education. Microsoft recently
announced a new operating system
and a broad set of upgrades to its
classroom tools-regarded by industry observers as an answer to Google's
platforms-that the company argues
will give educators simple-yet-rich options to help students.
* Google creates the operating systems used in Chromebook devices
that now have a dominant share
of the U.S. K-12 market, and it offers the popular productivity tool,
G Suite, of which Google Classroom
and many other features are a part.
* Apple's iPad and Mac devices are
widely used in schools, and Apple
offers a variety of apps and tools
for students, including ones focused
on coding, music, and video. It also
offers features to help teachers improve their skills and instruction and
their use of Apple devices.
* Amazon has expanded its footprint in K-12 districts through Amazon Web Services, a cloud-based stor-
AJ Mast for Education Week
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
Tristin Dunkerson, center, uses a
VR viewer to go on a recent
Google-designed virtual field trip
to a rainforest in the classroom
of teacher Amanda Moore
at Chapelwood Elementary
A newly released survey by the Education Week Research Center found that Chromebooks-devices
using Google's Chrome operating system-are the school-provided devices that K-12 officials
say are most often used for classroom purposes in their districts, by a wide margin.
Which of the following school-provided tools do educators and students use most frequently
for instructional purposes in your district or (if you are a teacher) in your classroom?
SOURCE: Education Week Research Center
age, data, and analytics system used
by many school systems to replace
physical storage. Amazon has also
sought to ramp up schools' ability to
use its online market for purchasing,
and it has announced plans to create a platform for open educational
School districts' appetite for simple-and cheap-solutions goes a
long way to explaining the recent
success of Chromebooks, which
have browser-based operating systems, boot up quickly, and are easily
shared, many observers of the K-12
tech market say.
"It's the price point," said Kecia
Ray, the executive director of the
Center for Digital Education, when
asked to explain Chromebooks' appeal. "I don't hear anyone talking
about the bells and whistles."
But while administrators are keen
on Chromebooks' simplicity and
functionality, Ray has also heard
teachers complain about the devices'
reliance on internet connectivity
for many functions, and about their
shortage of memory, compared with
other computing tools.
Rajen Sheth, the senior director of
product management, Android, and
Chrome for business and education
for Google, said in an interview that
Chromebooks can meet districts' ambitious instructional needs.
Many Chromebook functions do
not require web connectivity, he said.
And districts can access a lot of edu-
cational materials today through the
cloud, without downloading software.
But if schools want it, some Chromebook models on the market offer
more memory, he said.
With Chromebooks and G Suite,
Google was determined to reduce
the management burden districts
face in bringing new educational
devices and platforms into the fold,
Sheth said. On that front, he believes
Google is succeeding.
Too often "the support cost for computers was much higher than the
cost of the device itself," Sheth said.
With Chromebooks, "the manageability [is] simple," and districts "could
buy tens or thousands of Chromebooks, and they didn't have to hire a
single IT person."
Microsoft, Apple Adjust
Google's popularity in the new EdWeek Market Brief survey is high despite the fact that it has faced a blast
of public criticism in recent years for
its data-privacy practices. In 2014,
during a class action that was later
settled, Google acknowledged to
Education Week that it "scanned and
indexed" email messages of millions
of students using G Suite for Education, then known as Google Apps for
The company says it has since
halted that practice. It was also one
of hundreds of companies to sign the
Student Privacy Pledge, a commit-
ment not to sell students' personal
information, or build profiles of students other than for educational purposes. Some privacy advocates, however, question whether those steps go
Microsoft is aware of Google's
strong standing in many districts, as
reflected in the survey, said Anthony
Salcito, Microsoft's vice president of
But Microsoft is also convinced
that educators who get to know the
company's platforms are won over by
a richer experience than what rivals
can offer, with tools that better prepare students for the challenges of
the workplace, Salcito said.
"When we demonstrate or show
[schools] what's possible, the light
bulb goes on, the change happens,"
he said. "We just have to do a better
job making that possible."
Similarly, Apple officials say recently unveiled tools-such as
Classroom, a new iPad app designed
to help teachers manage student
learning, and upgrades to its operating system-top Google by offering a
deeper, more personalized experience
for educators and students.
Apple wants to expand students'
"creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving and collaboration," so
they can "actually make a difference
when they get into the real world," a
One big and well-resourced company that appears to be making
a rapid ascension in K-12 districts is
School districts are turning increasingly to Amazon Web Services
for cloud-based storage, with the goal
of cutting the costs of maintaining
and updating physical servers.
In addition, school officials are
buying goods through Amazon Business for Education, an online marketplace customized to serve schools.
Amazon says millions of educational
products can be purchased online,
from books to school furniture to
In addition, Amazon said it is developing Amazon Inspire, an online
platform to allow schools to find, upload, and share open educational resources. That project is being closely
watched, as districts demand more
options in buying curricula-and as
they seek similar flexibility in making other purchases.
"Everyone in the industry is wary
of Amazon and the role they can
play," said Mike Fisher, an associate director of education for Futuresource Consulting, a British market
research firm. Compared with Google
and other players, Amazon "has different angles into the market."
Edweek Market Brief publishes
actionable intelligence about the
marketplace of K-12 education.
Created for both providers of
education products and services and
school district leaders, Market Brief's
original reporting, deep analysis and
proprietary, data-driven research
focuses on school district purchasing
and the companies and products
serving K-12 education. Market Brief
is creating a more informed and
transparent marketplace for both
product buyers and sellers.
EDUCATION WEEK | May 17, 2017 | www.edweek.org | 17