A snapshot of Google’s uphill battle getting Android into schools

ipad school

In May at its annual developer conference, Google announced plans to launch a new Android app store, called Google Play for Education, for teachers this fall. But there’s some new evidence that it’s in for a tough battle with Apple.

According to a new survey, iPads are far and away the most desired mobile device among educators. When asked which devices their districts had adopted or planned to adopt in the next one or two years, 81 percent of educators said the iPad, compared with just 31 percent for a Google Chromebook (and 20 percent for an iPod Touch).

That’s not surprising given Apple’s aggressive push in education – last year, it sold 4.5 million iPads to schools and reported one billion downloads for iTunes U. But it gives an indication of just how big a gap Google may have to close. The survey involved 558 educators and was sponsored by News Corp.’s education arm Amplify. It was conducted by Interactive Education Systems Design.

Amplify, which sells schools an Android tablet packaged with content for K-12 classrooms, has been a vocal proponent of Google’s platform. The company has argued that Android’s open nature enables more school-specific customization, that it’s easier to securely deploy and manage a large number of Android tablets over the air, and that it’s a better value for budget-constrained schools.

According to the report:

  • About 60 percent of educators said mobile technology had been adopted in 25 percent or more of the schools in their district
  • 35 percent said mobile tech had been adopted in 75 percent or more of their schools
  • 21 percent said mobile technology had not been adopted in any of the schools in their district

Respondents from districts with low-levels of adoption or no adoption said cost remains the biggest challenge, while the lack of technology infrastructure is another huge hurdle . Other issues include the difficulty of device management and concerns about security and theft.

Also, even though educators say they want to be able to match each student with a device, only 12 percent of respondents say they can do that now, while 51 percent report that they share class carts of mobile devices.

Over the next one or two years, Amplify reports that mobile technology adoption is more likely to come from districts that have already begun adoption rather than from districts that have not introduced the technology into any of their schools.

That will likely only exacerbate the digital divide that already exists in schools.

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