Watch Out Google, Microsoft is On the Rise in Education

image courtesy of

image courtesy of

Those that know me know how much of a Google fanboy I am. From the Android Wear watch on my wrist, to the Chromebook on which I write this post, I love Google products and services. And as an EdTech specialist, I have been quick to promote Google Apps for Education to schools and districts. I even run a Google Educator Group for teachers in Washington State. But I have to be honest, of late I've had the feeling that Google isn't as committed to education as one of it's biggest competitors:  Microsoft.  

I mean, really, in the last year, what has Google brought to the table? Sure, they've continued to improve upon their core suite of apps. I know they are committed to making Google Classroom more robust. But beyond that, the only new thing that comes to mind is the Google Cardboard Expeditions program, which is designed to bring inexpensive virtual reality learning experiences to students--an idea that has lots of great potential.

By contrast, this last year has seen Microsoft bring more new tools to the table.  Most notably, the acquisition of Minecraft and Microsoft's commitment to bringing it to schools shows me they mean business.  Other education related tools that Microsoft has released recently include OneNote Class and Staff Notebooks (now with the ability to integrate with LMS's via the LTI standard), Office MixSway (now available on iPad) and Office365 integration with Edmodo.  To top it off, in the very near future, Windows 10 will be officially available and free for everyone in the first year.

Honestly, it's really good to see Microsoft show such a long overdue commitment to the education space.  It means more and better tools for teachers and students.  

What do you think?  Is this Google fan boy way off base here?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

First Impressions: Comparing #Google Apps to #Office365

As many of you know, I recently accepted a new position at a school district closer to home.  Interestingly, this district decided to go with Microsoft's Office 365 as its cloud based storage/collaboration platform, whereas my previous district  was using Google Apps.  In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I am somewhat of a Google FanBoy, but at the same time I like to keep abreast of the latest developments with all educational technology tools.  

My initial impressions are that Office 365 is a clean and simple user interface, but that it is not as developed or mature as Google's.  In particular, Google Drive has many more features, such as the ability to connect additional apps, compared to SkyDrive which is simply a file creation and management tool.  Perhaps some would take issue with this, but it is my initial impression anyway.

On the plus side for Skydrive is that the actual file editing interface and functionality are what most people are comfortable with as it looks and acts just like traditional Office docs.  So if you value that aspect, then it makes sense.  However, I have come to value morethe collabration aspect of document editing and have found that Google's tools in that regard are second to none. 

 As I use Office 365 more, I will post more thoughts here.  I would be interested to hear from those of you in other districts that have also gone "Microsoft".  How has it been for you?