Google and the Educational Market - What's Next?
The New York Times article How Google Took Over the Classroom describes the success Google has had in convincing schools to adopt the Chromebook and Google applications at the expense of Microsoft and Apple. The article's point is that a lot of Google's success is due to Google's marketing which tends to be "bottom-up" with its focus on working directly with teachers to generate both classroom adoption and demand; this is distinguished from from working through more cumbersome "official" district level channels.
This reminds me a bit of how pharmaceutical companies advertise directly to consumers on network television with their "Ask your doctor about…" call-to-action tagline.
As the article points out, this action by Google helps bypass the schools' centralized purchasing system's ability to negotiate the specifics of what data Google collects about individual students and what Google does with these data.
I don't get a sense from the article that school systems are ever provided with in-depth information about what specifically Google does with the data. Were I Google, the ability to track behavior over time for individuals as they mature would be an almost irresistible benefit. One reason is that this would give Google a potential insight into difficulties that some students might have adapting to the real-world mix of systems and applications they will face in college and the working world. Longitudinal data on individuals over time would seem especially valuable as a source of insight into overcoming transition difficulties associated with variations across systems in file management, tagging and labeling, search, and accessibility of still-important "legacy" applications.
Note that I've never been an "all my eggs in one basket" type of computer user. While my core computer is a MacBook Pro I also used Windows 10, a Chrome OS machine, and an Ubuntu Linux machine on a regular basis. I use Google services across all these devices and on my mobile devices as well. I'm definitely not "anti-Google."
Still, I don't really know what happens to my own data even when I use Google's "delete history" features. Is my history really deleted?
I also have questions about Google's performance as a marketing company. The money it makes from its advertising business has enabled it to try out a lot of good and bad ideas over the years. Some of these ideas might not have been tolerated by companies that have a more disciplined or profit sensitive approach to new product development. Would Google have been able to sustain its push into the educational market without its advertising dollar cushion? What happens to Google's educational efforts (and its pricing) if the cushion dries up?
Your guess is as good as mine; what do you think?
Copyright (c) 2017 by Dennis D. McDonald