Google, Microsoft and Apple are vying for the coveted K–12 market. These three corporate giants have products and services they say will help overwhelmed educators carry their workload, boost student achievement and increase student interest. In some ways, all the products offer similar solutions, but there are also differences in the functions they are capable of supporting. Today, we are going to break down what each product is capable of achieving in the classroom.
Over the last few years, Google Classroom has grown at exponential rates. Seeing the need in schools for inexpensive, easy-to-use solutions, they worked to develop solutions — and that effort paid off. Chromebooks account for 42% of school-provided devices.
- Google has consistently provided the more cost-conscious system. Chromebooks are inexpensive enough to replace if need be and Google Classroom is with free with G Suite Education
- The design is intuitive and easy to use, making it easier to adopt in classrooms. It includes features enabling teachers to create and share assignments with their classes. Students can work together online and teachers can send reminders to students
- A feature exclusive to Google is they provide a way for parents or guardians to receive updates on their child’s performance
- G-Suite can be run on any device with an internet connection
- Many features of Google Classroom require an internet connection. In areas or schools with connectivity issues this can be a frustrating problem
- There is no gradebook function
- Chromebook offers very little memory on devices, which hinders running some classroom programs
- There have been student privacy concerns. In 2014, a class action lawsuit was filed against Google for data mining millions of students’ emails. It was settled and Google stopped the practice
Microsoft made splashes recently with their Surface Laptop and Windows 10 S becoming available on less expensive devices. Now, the cost is competitive with Chromebook. The two systems are similar, but Microsoft did take the opportunity to address some issues educators have with Google.
- Microsoft devices offer more memory storage, so internet connections are not required to operate the device’s functions
- Microsoft Teams on Office 365 Education give students and teachers a platform for collaboration. Teams was originally released as a tool for businesses to use. Duplicating the program into education gives students experience using a program they could encounter in their adult lives (along with all the other Microsoft Office products)
- Partnership with Microsoft offers access to innovative, high-tech experiments that can be conducted in classrooms with inexpensive materials
- Microsoft Classroom has a lot of versatility. It can integrate with over 30 learning management systems and deliver grades to a third-party gradebook. Quizzes can be created and shared easily with students. It also has co-teaching functionality
- Microsoft Classroom doesn’t offer a way to send automatic updates to parents or guardians
- There is no built-in way to monitor students’ devices like Apple offers, but it is possible with a third-party application
Where Google and Microsoft have very similar capabilities and devices, Apple sets itself apart. Not trying to offer inexpensive options, the company relies on brand loyalty and the quality of their products to entice schools into adopting their systems.
- Arguably, Apple’s biggest asset is its name. People recognize it and want it. With the brand of Apple people expect a level of quality and many are already familiar with how their systems function
- Apple’s Teaching Assistant enables teachers to control students’ devices — turning them off and on
- Teachers can look to see what is on a student’s screen
- Can only be used on iPads™
- Savvy students figure out quickly when a teacher is watching what they do and how to block it by switching the device to airplane mode
- Compared to Google and Microsoft, the functions available are limited
Each company brings something unique to the classroom. While some school districts have chosen to go exclusively with one company, others adopt a hybrid model dependent on their needs.