Google Play for Education at BETT 2015

Des O Connor presenting on Google Play for Education
I enjoyed my first trip to BETT in three years last week. I followed the advice of BETT veterans (Betterans? Maybe not) and made a list of some things I wanted to find out about before I went. Top of the list was Google Play for Education. Will it make Android tablets a serious rival to iPads?

Google Play for Education is Google’s way to manage tablets and Chromebooks. Let’s look at Android tablets for now.  It is much easier and less complicated than any way of managing iPads, although there are some annoying elements. You cannot manage any old Android tablet, only ones Google approve. You also have to pay £19 per tablet to manage each one. That said the way to manage them makes a lot of sense. It works with Google Apps for Education. You can assign apps to a user. When they log in to the tablet they see their apps and get their settings. When another user signs in, they see their personal settings instead. You can assign a tablet to up to five different accounts. The accounts could be named users or they could be a name of a class, year group or key stage etc. You can change a whole range of settings too. Each app appears in The Google Apps for Education Play Store and tells you if it has been recommended by specified educators and if there are any in app purchases. This is a totally separate store to the regular Google Play Store. You can assign apps to users on the web based console in Google Apps for Education, which is free for schools to set up.

Apple’s system of setting up accounts for the Volume Purchase Programme, then downloading a spreadsheet of codes and sending it to Configurator or Meraki isn’t the easiest system to use. This one allows schools to use Play Store vouchers or purchase orders for purchasing paid apps in bulk.

Another neat touch is you can ‘bump’ one tablet with another to put all the settings in, you can see this in action below.

The setting up and management of these tablets appears to be much easier than Apple’s system. There is no doubt that there is a better selection of apps to use in the classroom on iPads but this is changing. Book Creator and Explain Everything are now available on Android. I spoke to Google about the lack of a competitor for iMovie and to me this is a major sticking point. Google approached Book Creator to develop an Android version and you would hope they can see the need for a simple yet powerful video editing tool.

We have a couple of Nexus tablets and we will be trying this and will let you know how we get on. We are also on the look out for any school we can work with who would like to buy Android tablets instead of iPads.


Tim Bleazard

Tim has over 20 years experience as a primary school teacher, twelve of them as an ICT co-ordinator. In 2009 he was seconded to Challenge City Learning Centre and used the opportunity to assist schools in their understanding and use of a range of new and emerging technologies. He joined the team as a Curriculum Innovation Consultant in 2012. Tim is a qualified E-Safety Mark Assessor, CEOP Ambassador, Apple Professional Development Authorised Trainer and a Google Certified Teacher. Tim’s role includes evaluating a range of mobile devices (Apple, Android and Microsoft) and advising on their appropriate use in schools. Tim is passionate about blogging, programming and using creative digital technology such as video, animation, photography and audio to raise attainment across the curriculum. He leads the very successful ‘Media Literacy Leaders’ project in partnership with Bradford UNESCO City of Film, the British Film Institute and Cape UK.

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