Google Shutters Play For Education

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Google has announced that it will stop the sale of Google Play for Education licenses next month, but the company will continue to support schools that have already purchased licenses.

“As of March 14 or later, Google will no longer sell Google Play for Education licenses. We’re committed to providing schools with the best-in-class tools for the classroom, including Chromebooks, which are the #1 selling device in US K-12 education, and a strong and growing ecosystem of educational apps. We’ll continue to support our Google Play for Education customers and the devices that they have purchased.”

Google said it will continue to support the tablets already using Play for Education apps.  In addition, educational apps will continue to be available for purchase in the standard Google Play Store that everyone can access, writes Jacob Kastrenakes for The Verge.  While the Play for Education apps were only able to be downloaded on a limited number of tablets, the regular education apps can be used on all Android tablets on the market today.

While Play for Education was launched in the U.S. in 2013, it only made its way to Canada and the UK last year.

The collection of apps was introduced during Google I/O 2013 in an effort to offer apps to teachers and administrators that were designed specifically for classroom use.  The apps were organized by subject and grade level, from kindergarten through the 12th grade, with many apps coming from partners such as NASA and PBS.

Textbooks are available to rent or purchase from the top five higher-education publishers, which offers college students the flexibility to read course materials on a tablet or mobile device, saving both time and money.

Officially launching in 2013 in the United States, Play for Education allowed schools to choose from three “classroom ready” tablets, including the 7-inch Nexus 7, 10-inch Asus Transformer Pad, or 8-inch HP Slate 8 Pro.  Costs for each device begin at $229, with an additional $30 per device for management capabilities.

Teacher-approved educational apps are available for schools to purchase in bulk, allowing students to instantly receive videos, apps, and other content through the cloud, reports Stephanie Mlot for PC Magazine.

The company originally launched the store in an effort to promote the use of Android tablets in schools across the country.  However, Chromebooks, including those with touchscreens, seem to have taken on the role of most used technological device in schools, and Google appears to be setting its sights on making major changes to ChromeOS that would make the devices even more capable in the classroom.

While nothing official has been said about why the company decided to do away with Play for Education, an unnamed Google partner executive believes the reason to include capability issues, such as the limited number of student profiles that can be put onto a single device, in addition to competition from Apple’s iPad.  Although Google came through with a large marketing push last year, the executive told Joseph Tsidulko for CRN, “I’m not sure it ever clicked.”