Google’s efforts to infiltrate the lucrative education sphere appear to be on track, with the company recently revealing some fresh numbers to demonstrate its growing clout in the classroom: 80 million students and educators globally use G Suite for Education, while 40 million are using Google Classroom, a web-based service that connects teachers and learners to share information, assignments, and more.
Tying these various software strands together are Chromebooks, Google’s Chrome OS-based laptops that have been taking over schools in the U.S. and internationally, which now claim some 30 million users.
And it’s against that backdrop that Google is today introducing a new place for teachers to find suitable apps and activities for use on Chromebooks in the classroom.
A hub… for education apps
Dubbed the Chromebook App Hub, the new offering is designed to help K-12 educators find useful apps and better develop their lesson plans — the App Hub is a curated marketplace that doesn’t require administrators to vet each app a teacher wishes to use to ensure that it meets efficacy and curriculum requirements.
It’s not just about finding suitable apps, however. Sometimes it may not be immediately obvious how an app should be used in a classroom environment — each app comes with examples of how it can help a teacher day-to-day in terms of lesson plans and education objectives, while it may include links to other resources.
“Although apps are great, ideas from fellow educators for how to use them in the classroom are even better inspiration,” noted Karen Greenleaf, senior program manager for Chrome OS, in a blog post.
Moreover, the service is also pitched at app developers — they can have their handiwork showcased inside the App Hub.
In terms of its purpose, the Chromebook App Hub is perhaps a little like the G Suite Marketplace for businesses, which gives companies a direct artery into more enterprise-oriented applications that may improve G Suite.
Google said that the App Hub was created in conjunction with a number of external advisors, including Dr. Roland Rios, who is president of the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA).
“With the App Hub, we will find new tools to engage students and we will connect to other teachers who are using these tools and providing lesson ideas,” Rios said. “And as an administrator, the transparency around data policies and accessibility is helpful for decision-making.”
Google debuted Chrome OS 10 years ago, though the first Chrome OS machines didn’t arrive until around two years later. The company has targeted businesses and educational institutions with Chrome OS since its inception, but it has been doubling down on its efforts of late.
For example, last year Google introduced a Chromebook loaner program for businesses called Chrome Enterprise Grab and Go, while Acer last year unveiled the first Chrome OS tablet — the $329 Chromebook Tab 10 is an education-focused tablet designed to “promote engagement and collaboration” between students and teachers. Elsewhere, Google also added a new software feature to Chrome OS that allows teachers to lock their students’ Chromebook screens during quizzes.
The new Chromebook App Hub fits into that broader push: Google wants Chrome OS and its suite of educational applications to underpin classrooms globally. It’s about locking more users into the Google software ecosystem.
In terms of availability, well, Google hasn’t given an exact date — it will be rolled out “later this year,” according to Greenleaf. However, educators can sign up to indicate their interest now.