Google Tools

The Rise of Google in K-12

Recently, I attended the annual conference of ISTE, the largest educational-technology organization in the United States (last year’s conference had over 20 000 participants, from all 50 states and 81 countries). ISTE focuses on K-12 rather than higher education, but it was a chance to get a glimpse of educational trends shaping our incoming freshmen and beyond. And what I saw through that window was one word: Google.

Everyone was talking about Google tools. Google-related panels filled out faster than many others. And this was for a reason: because they come at a price point that schools can easily afford (many Chromebooks are under $200), Chromebooks account for more than half of the notebooks and tablets sold to K-12 schools. That has a strong additional implication: more than half of American K-12 students now use Google tools like Google Docs for their schoolwork. A survey of K-12 school officials found over two-thirds of them saying Google productivity tools were used more frequently in their districts or schools than Microsoft or Apple alternatives.

What does this mean for us in higher education?

Today’s K-12 students are tomorrow’s freshmen. So what K-12 students are used to now is what our students will be used to in the very near future. We are likely to get increasing numbers of students arriving at BU who don’t know how to save a Word doc. We can expect them to chafe at the less efficient workflow of emailing or uploading Word docs, especially on shared assignments. We can still ask them to use Word where appropriate, but Google Docs will likely be what they’re comfortable with.

In the BU pipeline

To make working with G Suite (the Google tools like Docs and Sheets) easier, Ed Tech is working with Google to explore the new CourseKit software, which helps connect Google tools more effectively with Blackboard and existing faculty workflows. CourseKit is currently still in beta and it will be a while before it’s up and running at BU, but we are working on it.

Boston University’s Educational Technologists provide faculty and academic staff tools to enhance teaching while leveraging available and emerging learning-centered technologies.


About the Author: As Lead Educational Technologist with the Office of Digital Learning & Innovation, Amod Lele helps faculty navigate a wide array of technologies for use in their classes and professional life.