This year I finally got to realize a long held ambition and visited the Bett show in London’s ExCel Arena. BETT or The Bett Show (formerly known as the British Educational Training and Technology Show) is an annual trade show in the United Kingdom that showcases the use of information technology in education. Founded in 1985, this was the 30th anniversary of the show, and attracted over 40,000 visitors from 113 countries.
There was a lot on offer but the Tablets for Education is something that really caught my eye.
Tablets for Education platform makes it easier for teachers to manage Android tablets in the classroom. Tablets and other Android devices are found on plenty of students’ desks in primary and secondary schools already, but now Google is looking to make it official with new classroom tools to make it easier to use Google Play apps and tablets when teaching.
Google has an existing education platform – Google for Education – that’s available free for schools, giving them unlimited Google Drive storage, classroom management tools, and its suite of cloud-based apps. Plus, Google Chromebooks have found most of their success in classrooms, with the cheap, cheerful and easy to manage cloud-based laptops.
Now, Google is pushing into tablets, with two new products: Tablets for Education and Google Play for Education. Unveiled at the Bett show a week ago, Tablets for Education makes tablets more like Chromebooks, particularly making them easier to manage.
For example, they’ve been designed to be easier to do initial set up. If a teacher is handing out tablets to a class, they only need to set up a single device, and then use NFC to “tap” it to each of the other devices to get the same apps and settings. I saw this in action. Tapping one tablet off the master tablet to copy all apps and settings took but a few seconds and will be very easy for teachers to manage in the classroom.
So far, only two devices are available for Tablets for Education: the Nexus 7 and the new Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Education. Schools that already have the Nexus 7 can pay to get the Tablets for Education management tools from Google, but it’s so far not available on any other devices. The Nexus 7 is available immediately with the Tablets for Education platform, while the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Education will be available in March.
Google Play for Education is a dedicated store for educator-approved apps, with software designed specifically for the school curriculum. It’s divided into sections by student ages and includes primary-school content as well as apps for older classes. Teachers can select a free or paid-for app and have it automatically sent to the device of every student in the class – whether that’s an Android tablet or a Chromebook.
According to Google, the goal behind pushing more mobile devices into education, is to make it easier to create classrooms where children can work collaboratively or independently, accessing the tools they need as they require.