The education technology market has become increasingly attractive for companies including Microsoft, Google, Apple and Samsung. Recently, Google unveiled Connected Classrooms, a competing program that will connect K-12 teachers with virtual field trip resources and best practices. The program, launched November 4th, is designed to boost teacher collaboration and cultivate digital skills in students, according to E-School News.
Google+ already offers virtual field trips service, but the Google+ Education Partnership Team sees Connected Classrooms as a more formal way for teachers to locate virtual field trips and connect with other educators in a thriving community.
"This is really just the beginning of where we see Connected Classrooms going," said Lisa Jiang, Google+ Education Partnerships Lead. "We see this as an opportunity to not just attend a virtual field trip, but for teachers to become more proactive in using digital tools to help equip their students with the skills they need for digital citizenship."
Virtual field trip providers connect directly with educators through Connected Classrooms to gauge interest in various virtual field trips, coordinate schedules, and more.
Virtual field trips will be streamed through Google Hangouts and then recorded and made available on the organization's YouTube channel.
More than 20 organizations —including the Philadelphia Museum of Art and National Geographic Education— have partnered with Connected Classrooms. Teachers can search the service to find upcoming virtual field trips.
Google teamed up with edX to develop a new site that will host courses online. The website, MOOC.org, will be open to use by academic institutions, businesses, and individuals to create and host massive online open courses. In 2012, Google released Course Builder, an experimental platform for online education. In a partnership with edX, the Google team will apply their experience of Course Builder to the open-source Open edX platform that will be the basis of MOOC.org.
Another entrant in this market, Samsung Electronics America, is offering schools a technology that it claims will help close the âdigital divide.' In Arizona, the Eloy Intermediate School District has deployed Samsung School across 15 classrooms. It is the first school in the U.S. to use Samsung's classroom technology.
Samsung School's digital classroom package includes a fleet of Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablets, interactive whiteboards with large format displays, and wireless printers, all tied together by classroom management software meant to create a dynamic learning environment.
Recently, Microsoft said that it plans to offer schools access to an ad-free version of its search engine Bing and free use of its Surface tablets in an effort to compete with Google and Apple, the two biggest names in the education technology business.
Schools who sign up for the company's Bing for Schools program will not only see their internet search results insulated from advertisements and adult content, but they will also get free tablets and other tools. The new Bing for Schools initiative is designed to improve digital literacy for students by putting technology in classrooms, help students learn how to use the power of search, and make sure they can do so in a safer, ad-free environment.